The word tradecraft itself, although once used to describe the corpus of knowledge one must possess to practice some given trade, has now become the term mostly used to describe the tricks of the spy's trade, even making archaic the more descriptive term “spycraft”.

What you are learning right now from SpyPedia are real-world tradecraft terms used by spies belonging mainly to the Five Eyes, an alliance of intelligence agencies between the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. You may also find them in countries where English is a second or third language, as in India. The Cold War could be to blame for this, as it exposed the purposefully dark world of espionage to the zeitgeist through spy fiction; most notably that of John le Carré



ABWEHR - German military intelligence organization from 1866 to 1944.

ACCESS AGENT - A talent spotter, performs reconnaissance for recruiters.

ACORN - Slang for someone who is performing an function within intelligence.

ACTION DIRECTE - An underground group in France.

ADFGVX CIPHER - Introduced by the Germans in World War I, it is based on an ancient idea of associating letters with positions on a grid.

AGENT / ASSET - A person obtaining intelligence for an intelligence service, under control of a CASE officer

AGENT-IN-PLACE - A government employee who is influenced to cooperate with a foreign country to influence national policy, or a deep-cover agent with influence among the members ofa target group. government instead of defecting; now working for two employers instead of one

AGENT-OF-INFLUENCE - A person who works within the government or media ofa target

AGENT PROVOCATEUR - for example a cop posing as member of a subversive group and enticing riots etc.

AIR America - CIA front company

AIS – Argentina's intelligence agency.

ALLIANCE BASE - Alliance Base is the cover name for a secret Western Counterterrorist Intelligence Center (CTIC) that was allegedly established in 2002 in Paris. According to a Washington Post article, Alliance Base is funded by the CIA and its French equivalent, the DGSE. It allegedly hosts officers from Great Britain, France, Germany, Canada, Australia and the United States and is used for intelligence exchange and operational planning.

ALPHA Group, The

AMAN - Israel's military intelligence

ASIO - Australian Security Intelligence Organisation

ASIS - Australian Secret Intelligence Service

AL AMN AL-KHAS – Iraq's security service.

AMAN – one of Israel's intelligence agencies.

AMERIKA – underground metaphor for a fascist USA reminiscent of Nazi Germany.


ANALYSIS / SPY ANALYSIS - Drawing conclusions about raw information by assessing its significance and by collating it with other information.


ASALA - underground group in Armenia.

A.S.I.O. - Australian Security Intelligence Organization.

A.S.I.S. - Australian Secret Intelligence Service, a department of ASIO.

ASSASSINATION - Assassination is a sudden, usually unexpected act of murder committed for impersonal reasons, typically with a political or military leader as its target.

ASSAULTER - A member of a SWAT team responsible for making a forced entry.

AUM SHRINKYO – Underground group in Japan with expertise in germ and chemical warfare.

A.V.B. – Hungary's security service, the Allami Vedelmi Batosag.


BABYSITTER - Bodyguard

BACKSTOP - An arrangement between two persons for the express purpose of substantiating a cover story or alibi

BAG JOB - Surreptitious entry, break and enter.

BAGMAN - An agent who pays spies and bribes authorities

BANG AND BURN - Demolition and sabotage operations

BAKER, Josephine - Spy

BAKIN – Indonesia's security service

BATF – A US security service, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms

BERIA, Lavrentiy - Spy

BETTY BUREAU – FBI slang for a female support person who has worked for the FBI her entire career

BfV – Germany's security service, the Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz (und Terrorismusbekämpfung)


BIRDWATCHER - A spy in British intelligence slang

BLACK BAG JOB - Secret entry into a home or office to steal or copy materials

BLACK FLAGGED - An agent or intelligence officer who is to be interrogated and summarily shot if apprehended

BLACK OPERATION / FALSE FLAG - Covert operation that is not attributable to the organization performing them and involves a significant degree of deception

BLACK PROPAGANDA - A disinformation that is deniable by (and not traceable to) its source, mostly a smear campaign usually consisting ofcharacter assassination

BLAKE, George - Spy

BLIND DATE - the first meeting with an unknown person

BLOWBACK - A deception planted abroad by an intelligence agency to mislead another country that returns to the originating nation with bad consequences

BLOWFISH - A mathematical algorithm for computer encryption of text that purportedly can only be cracked by brute force if the pass-phrase is unknown

BLOWN - Discovery of an agent's true identity or a clandestine activity's real purpose

BLUE-ON-BLUE - friendly fire, inadvertent hostile engagement between allies

BLUNT, Antony - Spy

BND - Germany's intelligence agency, the Bundesnachrichtendienst

BOMBE - Polish electro-magnetic device created to help decipher Enigma cipher machine settings; early precursor to the modern computer

BONA FIDES - Proof of a person's claimed identity

BOX – The MI5, British slang for this internal security service

BRAINWASHING - Refers to the concept that the human mind can be altered or controlled by certain psychological techniques.

BREVITY CODES - A system of code-words used by members of a surveillance team

BRICK AGENT - An FBI agent who works inside a field office. Also see STREET AGENT

BRIDE AGENT - An agent who acts as a courier from a case officer to an agent in a denied area

BRUSH CONTACT / BRUSH PASS - A clandestine, momentary contact between two agents who are passing information, documents, or equipment

BRIDGE AGENT - An agent who acts as a courier from a case officer to an agent in a denied area

BSS - Belgium's security service

BUCAR - An FBI car

BUPO - Switzerland's security service

BURNED / BLOWN - When a case officer or agent is compromised

BVD - Netherlands' security service


C3I / C4I - Command, control, communications and intelligence - Command and control refers to the ability of the military commander to direct and coordinate his forces. Communications are required to enable this coordination. Intelligence is the knowledge relevant to the coordination of forces. Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance are methods of obtaining intelligence. Tends to be known as C4I when computers are added to the mix

CALL-UP - A police term meaning a situation where a SWAT team has deployed


CAMP SWAMPY - CIA's secret domestic training base (also known as "The Farm"

CAMP X - Canada's WWII secret domestic training base associated with the MI6

CANARY TRAP - A canary trap is a method for exposing an information leak, that involves giving different versions of sensitive information to each of a group of suspects and seeing which version gets leaked

CANNON - A thief who steals back the inducement offered by the spies to an informant, defector or turncoat. Probably borrowed from sports, as in a billiard shot that strike two balls with the cue ball

CARABINIERI - Italy's federal anti-terrorist police

CARNIVORE - computer program designed by the FBI to collect electronic communications from a specific user targeted in an investigation

CASE OFFICER - staff officer of an intelligence agency, also called an OPERATIONS OFFICER, AGENT HANDLER or CONTROLLER

CBI - India's security service

CENTER - Moscow headquarters of the KGB

CHAMBERS, Whittaker - Spy

CHASE CAR - Security detail or bodyguard vehicle that follows the subject

CHEATING - Command of the target from in front of the target during floating box surveillance as opposed to static surveillance. May be performed by pavement artists or wheel artists. See also COMMAND OF THE TARGET

CHEKA - Russian secret police founded in 1917 by the Bolshevik party, forerunner of the KGB 

CHENG PAO K'O - (Political Security Section) China's intelligence agency

CHICKEN FEED - Low grade information offered to a double agent, used to establish him as someone with access to intelligence

CHIEF OF STATION / STATION CHIEF - The officer in charge at a CIA station, usually in a foreign capital

CHILDS, Julia - WWII British intelligence operative who then became a well-known chef


CHILDS, Morris (Moishe Chilovsky) - Spy

CHOBETSU - One of Japan's security services


CIA - a US intelligence agency

CIPHER / CODE - A system, usually an algorithm, for disguising a message by replacing its letters with other letters or numbers or by shuffling them

CLANDESTINE OPERATION - actions that are meant to be undetected

CLASSIFIED INFORMATION - An intelligence operation designed to remain secret

CLEAN - Unknown to enemy intelligence

CNT - Crisis Negotiation Team. Used by police in situations involving hostage-takers or barricaded suspects. Their true role is not to negotiate, but rather to obtain intelligence to facilitate an assault by the SWAT team, and to distract the suspect to divert his attention from the coming assault

COBBLER - Specialist who creates false passports, visas, diplomas and other documents

CODEBOOK - A list of plain language words opposite their codeword or code number

COHEN, Morris (two-guns) - Spy

COLOSSUS - An electronic device that helped solve German cryptograms; the world’s first electronic computer

COMINT - Acronym for COMmunications INTelligence

COMMAND OF THE TARGET - Active visual observation of the subject of the surveillance operation. Used during pedestrian and vehicle surveillance

COMMANDO - A civilian, military, or paramilitary combat group using irregular tactics. Commando can refer to an individual, a cell, a squad, or the organization asa whole.

COMMIT - A surveillance operative performing the commit function is watching a location to determine the direction that the target takes (or "commits" to)

COMPARTMENTALIZATION - Parcelling of information to limit access to information only on a "need to know" basis

COMPROMISED -  When an operation, asset, or agent is uncovered and cannot remain secret

COMPUTER FORENSICS - Used in espionage to retrieve intelligence from stolen laptops or PCs

CONG AN BO - Vietnam's security service

CONRAD, Clyde Lee - Spy

CONSUMER - Person or an organization on the receiving end of intelligence obtained by spies. Also see PRODUCT.

CONTROLLER - Officer in charge of agents (a handler)

COOKED INTELLIGENCE - distorted intelligence passed on to a double agent, containing some truth


COPLON, Judith - Spy

COUNTER-ESPIONAGE - spying directed against an enemy's spy system, such as by recruiting agents in foreign intelligence organs

COUNTER-INTELLIGENCE - the activity of preventing the enemy from obtaining secret information, including but not limited to spy-catching

COURIER - One who delivers documents, money, etc.

COUSINS - Slang for CIA operatives

COVER - Persona, profession, purpose, activity, fictitious image maintained by an undercover operative. Must be consistent with the agent's background and presence in the target area

COVERT ACTION AGENT - a spy who works to reorient an entire nation's politics in favor of his country

COVERT ACTION OPERATION - An operation designed to affect foreign affairs; may be lethal or non-lethal

COVERT CELL/ CLANDESTINE CELL - A method for organizing a group of people to more effectively resist penetration by an opposing organization. Each people in the cell know the identities of only the other people in their cell.

COVERT OPERATION - those actions for which the government will deny knowledge or responsibility

CRABB, Lionel (Buster) - Spy

CRYPTOLOGY - The science of secret writing in all its forms using CRYPTONYMS and CODEWORDS

CS GAS – a form of tear gas scientifically known as the compound 2-chlorobenzalmalononitrile (also called o-chlorobenzylidene malononitrile, used by cops, SWAT teams, and the military.

CSE – Canada's signal intelligence agency - Communications Security Establishment

CSIS - Canadian Security and Intelligence Service - Canada's spy agency

CT - Counter Terrorism

CULPER SPY RING (the) – Intelligence gathering operation of General George Washington

CUT-OUT - A cut-out is a mutually trusted intermediary, method or channel of communication that facilitates the exchange of information. One step in security beyond a COVERT CELL, the cut-out knows only the provenance and destination of what he / she / it is conveying


DAGGER – Starting in the 1970s, the CIA is rumored to use a quick disguise kit called the “Dagger”, the contents of which reportedly fit into a small paper bag and is rumored to completely transform a person in less than 5 minutes, to the point you could never recognize them. Even today, its exact contents are classified secret

DAM - France's military intelligence agency.

DANGLE - A person sent by the intelligence agency of his or her own country who approaches an opposite intelligence agency in the hope of being recruited as a spy in order to allow a double agent operation, for the purpose of intelligence collection or disinformation.

DARPA - Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (USA)

DATA RECOVERY - Euphemism for the back door built into all US encrypting programs

DCI - The Director of Central Intelligence

DCSS - Denmark's security service

DDIS - Denmark's intelligence agency

DDO - The Deputy Director of Operations of the CIA, and head of all HUMINT operations; formerly the DDP

DDP - The Deputy Director of Plans (see DDO)

DEAD DROP / DEAD-LETTER BOX - A secret location where materials can be left for another party to retrieve

DEAD TELEPHONE - A signal or code passed with the telephone without speaking

DECOY - Subterfuge meant to distracts adversary's attention

DEEP-COVER AGENT – Agent under permanent cover

DEFECTOR - A person who has renounced his/her country of citizenship

DEZINFORMATSIYA (Disinformation) - The Soviet and Russian term for Disinformation operations: operations designed to pass false information to the enemy (ex: RT, Sputnik in Russia, and Breitbart, Infowars, Limbaugh and Fox News opinion shows in the US)

DGI - Cuba's intelligence agency

DGSE - France's intelligence agency.

DHS - Department of Homeland Security - USA agency

DIA - A US intelligence agency, the Defense Intelligence Agency.

DICKINSON, Velvalee - Spy

DIRECTOR - The cable address of CIA Headquarters.

DIRTECH - The headquarters cable address of the Office of Technical Service

DIRTY TRICK - Covert sabotage carried out by a security service or intelligence agency, ranging from pranks to assassination

DISCARD - An agent whom a service will permit to be detected and arrested so as to protect more valuable assets

DIVERSION - Distracts adversary's attention. Could be a DECOY

DLB - Acronym for dead-letter box. Also see DEAD DROP / DEAD-LETTER BOX

DO / DODO - The Directorate of Operations of the CIA and the Directorate of Operations Duty Office, where all espionage communications worldwide are managed from CIA Headquarters

DOPE BOOK - A notebook kept with a sniper rifle for the purposes of recording the atmospheric conditions, range, lighting, and resulting hit or miss of every shot fired

DOPPELGANGER A look-a-like. See also LOOK-A- LIKE

DOUBLE AGENT - A spy who pretends to be working against one country but who is in fact working for that country’s opponent; often a conduit for Disinformation

DRUMMOND, Nelson - Spy

DRY CLEAN - Actions agents undertake to determine if they are under surveillance

DRY CLEANING - Active counter surveillance and anti- surveillance against pavement artists and wheel artists

DREYFUS AFFAIR (THE) - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dreyfus_affair

DREYFUS, Alfred - Spy (The Dreyfus Affair)

DS - Bulgaria's security service, the Drzaven Sigurmost.

DSD - Australia's signal intelligence agency, Defence Signals Directorate.

DST - France's security service.

DUBOK - Russian term for a dead- letter box. Also see DEAD DROP.

DUKES, Paul - Spy

DUQUESNE SPY RING (THE) - The largest espionage operation case in the history of the United States that ended in 33 convictions. The FBI uncovered this NAZI spy ring operating within the United States during World War II and was run by Frederick Joubert Duquesne, a South African who became a naturalized American citizen in December 1913. The ring was established in order to gather information that could be used in the event the United States entered the war. It was assigned to find holes in American military forces and preparedness before the United States entered the war and to find ways to destabilize the country and its morale


DZERZHINSKY SQUARE - Historic site in Moscow of Lubyanka Prison, longtime headquarters of the Soviet security organs, including Cheka, NKVD, and KGB and now the FSB, successor of the KGB. Underground corridors are rumored to have led from the Cellar to an industrial sized meat grinder connected to the Moscow sewers to get rid of the bodies. A 15-ton iron monument of Dzerzhinsky was moved to the Fallen Monument Park, replaced by a memorial to the victims of the Gulag. (See CELLAR)


E&E - Evade & Escape

EARS ONLY - Material too secret to commit to writing

EEI - Essential Elements of Information; an outline to be used for collecting intelligence on a particular topic

ELINT - ELectronic INTelligence; derived from the interception of radiation sources such as radars

ELLIPTICAL CONVERSATION - Says one thing but means another

EMERALD CITY (The) - The code name the Special Surveillance Team used for the CIA Headquarters Building during their exercises

ENIGMA - A cipher machine used by the Germans to encode messages during WWII

ESCORT / ESCORT OFFICER - The operations officer assigned to lead a defector along an escape route

ESPIONAGE - Clandestine collection of intelligence bya non-domestic intelligence agency.

ESS - Acronym for Environmentally Stable Strategy, a concept used in strategic game-theory.

ETA - An underground group in Spain

EVOC - An acronym for Emergency Vehicle Operation Course, taught at the FBI academy in Quantico

EXCOM - The Executive Committee of the CIA, made up of the deputy directors and chaired by the executive director

EXDIR - EXecutive DIRector

EXECUTIVE ACTION - Assassination

EXFILTRATION OPERATION - A clandestine rescue operation designed to bring a defector, refugee, or an operative and his or her family out ofharm's way.

EXPATS - Citizens of one country who live in another.

EYE (The) - The person on the surveillance team who has the target under visual observation at any given moment.

EYES ONLY - Documents that are intended for the eyes ofone specific person only.


FALN - An underground group in Puerto Rico

FALSE FLAG RECRUITMENT - Impersonation by a spy while recruiting an informant, defector, agent, etc

FBI (The) - Federal Bureau of Investigation. U.S. domestic counterintelligence service and federal law enforcement agency

FDS - One of Mexico's security services

FIBONACCI SYSTEM - A system of non-carrying addition used for one-time pad codes. For example, (Fib) 999 + 222 = 111

FILLING - The act of inserting material in a dead drop

FILM LOOP - A loop of film used to project or record a sequence of images on a continuous basis

FINESSE - Sensitive disguises developed by the CIA using a Hollywood consultant and contractors

FIRST CHIEF DIRECTORATE (First CD) - The foreign intelligence arm of the KGB, now known as the SVR

FLAPS AND SEALS - The tradecraft involved when making surreptitious openings and closings of envelopes, seals, and secure pouches

FLASH - The highest precedence for CIA cable communications

FLIP - A U Turn made by the target during a vehicle surveillance operation

FLIR - Forward-Looking InfraRed device

FLOATER - A person used one time, occasionally, or even unknowingly for an intelligence operation

FLOATING BOX - A method of surveillance where a team of operators establishes a containment box around the target wherever he/she goes

FMLN - Frente Farabundo Marti para Liberacion Nacional, an underground group in El Salvador

FOLLOW - A surveillance team is executing a follow when they are shadowing a moving target. See also FLOATING BOX. A follow begins when the target exits the stakeout box and a surveillance operative attains command of the target. See also COMMAND OF THE TARGET

FOOTFALL DETECTOR - Vibration sensor designed to detect walking humans

FOOTS (FEET) - Members of a surveillance team who are working on foot and riding as passengers in a surveillance car

FORENSICS - The use of science and technology to investigate and establish facts in criminal or civil courts of law

FOREST (The) - New location of KGB headquarters outside of the Moscow Ring Road

FOUR-BAGGER - Disciplining an errant agent by FBI headquarters, consisting of censure, transfer, suspension, and probation

FRA - Sweden's military signals intelligence agency

FREQUENCY FLOODING - A technique that allows an ordinary telephone to become a covert listening device

FRIEND - Slang for an agent, informant, or mole providing information to a handler

FRIENDS - General slang for members of an intelligence service, specifically British slang for members of the Secret Intelligence Service

FRONT - A legitimate-appearing business created by an intelligence agency or security service to provide cover for spies and their operations

FSB - Russia's federal security service, successor to the KGB's Second Chief Directorate (internal counterintelligence)

FUCHS, Klaus – Spy

FUNKSPIEL - Impersonation during electronic communications. Derived from the German phrase for "radio game"

FUNNY PAPER - Slang for the counterfeiting and forged documents section of an intelligence agency or security service


GAD - The Graphics and Authentication Division of the Office of Technical Service, responsible for operational disguise and false documentation capabilities for the CIA

GAMBIT - A highly sensitive disguise developed for the CIA with the help of their Hollywood consultant. It was first used in Indochina in 1971

GCHQ - Britain's sigint agency, Government Communications Head Quarters

GHOST SURVEILLANCE - Extremely discreet and seemingly omnipresent surveillance, working mostly out of the view of the target

GIA - an underground group in Algeria

GID - Iraq's main intelligence organization, Da' Irat al Mukhabarat al-Amah

GHOUL - Agent who searches obituaries and graveyards for names of the deceased for use by agents

GOUZENKO, Igor - Spy

GRANVILLE, Christine - Spy

GRAYMAIL - Threat by a defendant in a trial to expose intelligence activities or other classified information ifprosecuted

GREAT SEAL BUG (The) -  Also known as the Thing. A highly succesful Soviet mission in which a listening device was implanted within a copy of the Great Seal of the United States which was presented as a plaque to the United States Ambassador to the Soviet Union, W.  Averell Harriman

GRU - Russian military intelligence, the Glavnoye Razvedyvatelnoye Upravleniye

GSS - Israel's security service (also called Shin Beth)

GUAN-XI - An access agent for China's intelligence agency

GUOANBU - One ofChina's security services

GUILLAUME AFFAIR (The) -  espionage scandal

GUSTAV WEBER - Hitler's double, used by the Fuhrer's bodyguards to stymie the Allies as to his whereabouts. Shot in the forehead immediately after Hitler'sdeath


HALL, Ted - Spy

HAMAS - An underground group in Palestine (now in power)

HANDLER - A case officer who is responsible for handling agents in operations

HANSSEN, Robert - Spy

HARD MAN - An experienced operative who can survive in a hostile environment and who has killed

HARD TARGET - A surveillance target who is actively maintaining secrecy and may not reveal that he/she has detected the surveillance team.

HARI, Mata (Margaret Gertrude Zelle) - Spy

HEZBOLLAH - An underground group in Lebanon, alleged to have operating units in Latin America with links to major drug dealers

HISS, Alger – Spy

HOLE (The) - The special security enclosure where the KGB's Kapelle device was kept

HONEY POT - A female agent using romance to compromise a target. Mata Hari, Raven, lady, femme fatale

HONEY TRAP - Slang for use of men or women in sexual situations to intimidate or snare others

HOLLIS, Roger - Spy

HOOLIGAN TOOL - A specialized tool much like a crowbar, developed by fire departments for prying open doors and windows. Also used by SWAT teams

HOSPITAL - Russian slang for prison

HOSTILE / HOSTILE SERVICE - Terms used to describe the organizations and activities of the "opposition services," aka "the enemy."

HOSTILE RECRUITMENT - Recruitment by threat or force of an uncooperative informant, mole, or agent-in-place

HUMINT - Intelligence collected from human sources

HUNTING PACK - Slang for surveillance team

HVA - East German foreign intelligence service


IAKHBAL - Israeli police unit that fights organized crime.

ICBM - An acronym for instant calm breath method, a way to overcome the flight- or-fight reflex (panic). Also reduces hyperventilation.

ICBM - Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles. Capable of international nuclear assaults from almost any range

ILD - One of China's security services.

Illegal - An intelligence officer operating in a foreign nation without the protection of diplomatic immunity.

Illness - Russian slang for someone under arrest.

IMINT - Acronym for image intelligence.

Infiltration - The secret movement of an operative into a target area with the intent that his or her presence will go undetected.

INFORMANT - A legitimate member of a target group providing intelligence to the surveillance team.

INFO WAR - Information Warfare, modern propaganda through (mis)information

Innocent Postcard - A postcard with an innocuous message sent to an address in a neutral country to verify the continued security of an undercover operative.

INTELLIGENCE OFFICER - A trained member of an intelligence agency, an employee on salary.

INTERPOL - International police body that coordinates the intelligence gathering and investigative activities of member police forces.

INVESTIGATIVE SPECIALIST - The FBI's name for a surveillance operative (vehicle or foot). Pay grade GS-7 to GS-10. See also SSG.

IRA - An underground group in Northern Ireland.

ISTIKHBARAT AL ASKARIYA - Libyan military intelligence.

ITAC - An acronym for International Terrorist Assessment Center, located in Washington DC.


JARKING - Bugging a weapons cache, often rendering  weapons unusable.

Jedburghs - OSS and SOE term for teams dropped into Europe before D-Day to help  resistance groups.

JETRO - one of Japan's intelligence agencies.

JIHAZ AMN AL DAOULA - Egypt's security service.

JOE - A deep-cover agent.

JRA - Japanese Red Army, an underground group in Japan.


KANT, Noor Inayat - Spy

KELL, Vernon - Spy

Kelley Investigation - Brian Kelley was a veteran CIA agent and spy hunter who worked for the agency for 22 years after another 20 years in the U.S. Air Force counterintelligence. Despite his experience and talent, Kelley was suspected of being a Soviet spy and was investigated for more than two years by the FBI.

KEMPEI TAI - Japan's secret police.

KEYLOGGER - A software or hardware device or program used to capture the keystrokes any actions of a computer user,  often without their knowledge.

KGB - The Soviet Union's all-powerful intelligence and security service during the Cold War.

K-LINE - SVR internal security and investigations section.

KOANCHO - Japan's counterintelligence and security service.




L5 - 4096 bit encryption algorithm

L-Pill - A poison pill used by operatives to commit suicide.

LADY - Honey pot.

LAKAM - One of Israel's intelligence agencies (Ministry of  Defense).

Legend - A spy's claimed background or biography, usually supported by documents and memorized in  detail.

LETTERBOX - A person who is acting as a go- between. Also see CUT-OUT.

LINK DIAGRAM - Connections being analyzed in a complex police investigation or counterespionage case. See problem- solving matrix.

LLB - An acronym for live-letter box, an address used to receive communication to be forwarded to an intelligence agency.  See also DLB.

Lucy spy ring (the) - German Anti-Nazi information network that operated out of Switzerland.  A  better  way  of describing it would be a series of inter- connected networks operating in several countries with the goal of bringing about the downfall of  the Nazi regime.

LODY, Carl - Spy

LONETREE, Clayton - Spy

LONSDALE, Gordon - Spy

LOOK-A-LIKES - decoys used to confuse hit squads and surveillance teams.

LSD - An acronym for d-lysergic acid diethylanide, a hallucinatory drug discovered in 1943 by Dr. Albert Hofmann, a researcher at witzerland's Sandoz corporation, a pharmaceutical manufacturer.

Subsequently monopolized by the CIA for its MKULTRA project that developed methods for secretly controlling people.


M-19 – Underground group in Columbia.

MACLEAN, Donald - Spy

MASINT - Measurement and signature intelligence; a form of technical collection that uses signatures that do not fit into the traditional scope of IMINT and SIGINT.

MASKIROVDA – Russian name for deception techniques designed to fool US spy satellites. Recently used by India's counterintelligence agency to conceal nuclear testing from the  CIA.

MAY, Alan Nunn - Spy

MATA HARI - Honeypot, femme fatale,

MBRF – One of Russia's intelligence agencies.

MERCURY FULMINATE - An initiating agent for detonating PETN. See PETN.

MI5 - The British domestic counterintelligence service; officially known as the Security Service.

MI6 - The British foreign intelligence service; officially known as the Secret Intelligence Service.

MICE - An acronym for money ideology compromise ego

MILLER, Richard - Spy

MILF - Moro Islamic Liberation Front

MIN/MAX - A concept in strategic game-theory.

MITI - one of Japan's intelligence agencies.

MKULTRA - US research program

Mole - An agent of one organization sent to penetrate a specific opposite intelligence agency by gaining employment; a term popularized by John Le Carre.

MONTENEROS - an underground group in Argentina.

MOSSAD - one of Israel's intelligence agencies, noted for its expertise in wet affairs. Literally translated as "institute". Never referred to as the MOSSAD, but rather simply called MOSSAD.

MST - Landless Rural Workers Movement, an underground group in Brazil.

Music Box - Slang for a clandestine radio.

Musician - Slang for a clandestine radio  operator.


Naked - A spy operating without cover or backup

NAICHO - One of Japan's intelligence agencies.

NARCOTHERAPY HYPNOSIS - CIA interrogators use hypnosis to force regression in the prisoner to make him believe he is talking to his spouse.

NEUROLINGUISTICS - A branch of psychology used by intelligence agencies and security services to covertly manipulate unsuspecting  human targets.

NEUTRON BOMBARDMENT - Used by security services like Britain's MI.5, America's FBI, Germany's BfV, and France's DST to detect microdots and invisible writing in postal  mail. Originally developed by the Atomic Weapons Research Establishment in Britain for use by MI.5.

NICHOLSON, Harold - Spy

NIGHTCRAWLER - A talent spotter who prowls bars and nightclubs looking for  government employees, military personnel, etc. who can be compromised using booze, drugs, or sex. Also see TALENT SPOTTER.

NINJAS - Slang for members of a SWAT team.

NITROUS OXIDE - An anesthetic inhalant used to render sleeping targets unconscious during surreptitious entry by goon squads.

NMI - Norway's security service.

NSA - US sigint intelligence agency and security service, the National Security Agency.

NSS - Bulgaria's security service.

NSTL - FBI's national security threat list

Nugget - British term for the bait (money, political asylum, sex, or career opportunity) offered to a potential defector.

Nursemaid - Russian term for the security service officer who accompanies  delegations to other countries to prevent anyone from defecting.


OBS - Croatia's intelligence agency, the Obavestajna Bezbednostna Sluzba.

OFFENSIVE PENETRATION OPERATION - Infiltration of an agent into a target group  or organization.

OFFSITE - A covert site or facility situated away from a field office.

OG - Acronym for original gangmembers, now in their thirties and forties, who supply cocaine and heroin to street gangs.

Okhrana - Secret police under Russian tsars 1881-1917.

One-time Pad - Strings of  random numbers for singular, one-time use as a key in enciphering  and  deciphering messages. the proper use of a one-time pad renders a message mathematically unbreakable.

OP - observation post.

OPEN-SOURCE - intelligence gained from public materials.

Operation Gold (also known as Operation Stopwatch by the British) - Was a joint 1950′s American-British operation which was funded by the United States and involved creating a secret tunnel half a kilometer long which entered the Soviet-occupied zone in East Germany.

OSA - Official secrets act, usually a law to enable governments to conceal their mistakes from their own  population.

OSINT - Open Source Intelligence; intelligence information derived from publicly available sources.

OSS - Office of Strategic Services; the U.S.'s WWII intelligence, sabotage, and subversion organization. Was at first dubbed by some "Oh So Secret," "Oh Such Snobs," “Oh So Social”.

OSTER, Hans - Spy

OUTRIDER - A wheel artist responsible for ensuring that the target does not get outside the floating box of  surveillance vehicles. See also FLOATING BOX.

OVERT TARGET - Deliberately attempts to draw attention and drain the resources of an intelligence agency or security service. Occasionally a decoy.


PARALLEL-LINE/INCIDENTAL- CAPACITANCE - A method of telephone, telex, and communications eavesdropping that is virtually undetectable.

Paroles - Passwords to identify intelligence personnel to each other.

Pattern - The behavior and daily routine of an operative that makes his or her identity unique.

PAVEMENT ARTIST - Outdoor surveillance specialist operating on foot.

PEEP - photographer.

PERIMETER SURVEILLANCE - Used to alert the surveillance team when the target enters or leaves a specific area.

PELTON, Ronald - Spy


PETN - Pentaery-thritol tetranitrate, a plastic explosive favored by intelligence

agencies and security services. See mercury fulminate.

PFLP - an underground group in Palestine.

PHOTINT - Photographic intelligence, usually involving high-altitude reconnaissance using spy satellites or aircraft.

PHILBY, Kim (Harold A. R.) -Spy

PICKET SURVEILLANCE - Focuses on times and places when target is likely engaged in activities of interest to the surveillance team. Also called chokepoint surveillance. Named after the openings in a picket  fence.

PICKUP - When the target of a surveillance operation is first spotted inside the stakeout box.

Pig - Russian intelligence term for traitor.

PINHOLE CAMERA - Video camera with fiber-optic lens attachment.

PITTS, Earl Edwin - Spy

Plaintext - The original message before encryption.

Playback - To provide false information to the enemy while gaining accurate information from him or her.

Pocket Litter - Items in a spy's pocket (receipts, coins, theater tickets, etc.) that add authenticity to his or her  identity.

POLLARD, Jonathan - Spy

Portland spy ring (the) - Soviet operation which took place around Portland, England during the late 1950′s until 1961. It was established to obtain information about the capabilities of the British nuclear submarine fleet. The ring was comprised of five main players (although others may have been involved) and all were illegal resident spies, operating without the cover of the Soviet embassy and therefore without diplomatic immunity. Harry Houghton (was he the ringleader?) had served in the Royal Navy during World War II, reaching the rank  of Master-at-Arms. After leaving the Navy he joined the civil service and was assigned to the British Embassy in Warsaw, Poland where he served as a naval attache. He was later transferred to  the  Admiralty  Underwater Weapons Establishment in Portland, England where the Royal Navy tested undersea  warfare equipment.

PROBLEM-SOLVING MATRIX - A grid-based notation system used by police investigators and counterespionage officers when dealing with complex cases.

PRODUCT - Finished intelligence that has been evaluated by an intelligence agency and is ready for distribution to consumers. Also see CONSUMER.

PROFESSIONAL-NAME - Nom de guerre of a spy.

PROFILE STOP - Random stop and search by police, based on a suspect's race, minority status, economic status, religion, physical appearance, travel status, location, etc.

PROFILING - Stereotyping a group or "type" of person to assess potential dangers, suspects

Profumo Affair (the)

Provocateur - An operative sent to incite a target group to action for purposes of entrapping or embarrassing them.

Purple - American name for the Japanese diplomatic cipher machine used from 1939-1945.

PSB - one of China's secret police agencies.

PSIA - one of Japan's security services.

PSYCHIC COMBAT - A condition of active psychological warfare operations between two covert adversaries.

PSYCHODYNAMICS - The CIA's psychological profiling system, used in combination with psychobiographic analysis.



QUANG BO - Vietnam's military intelligence agency.

QODS - One of Iran's security services.

QRF - quick reaction force.


RADINT -Intelligence gathered from radar.

RAID - An acronym for Rapid Assessment and Initial Detection, consisting of teams of National Guardsmen who assist civilian authorities after a suspected biological/toxin/chemical attack on a population center.

RADOLFI, Alexander (Sandor  Rado) -Spy

Raven - A male agent employed to seduce people for  intelligence purposes.

RAW - India's External Intelligence Agency

RCMP - Federal Police agency in Canada similar to the FBI in the USA. Acronym for Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Also known as RCM Police.

Red - American name for an early Japanese diplomatic  cipher machine.

RED BRIGADE - an underground group in Italy.

REDL, Alfred - Spy

REILLY, Sidney (Sigmund Georgievich Rosenblum) -Spy

RENT-A-GOONS - Operatives proficient in hand-to-hand combat, used as muscle support when direct physical confrontation is likely.

Resident (Rezident) - KGB or GRU (Soviet and Russian military intelligence) chief of station in any foreign location.

RESISTANCE - A civilian underground organization, consisting of cells (1 to 10 persons), circles (a group of cells), and sections (a group of  circles).

RG - France's police intelligence security service,  Renseignements Generaux.

RICHER,  Marthe (Marthe Betenfeld) - Spy

RING - A network of  spies or agents.

Rolled-up - When an operation goes bad and an agent is arrested.

ROSENBERG, Ethel - Spy

ROSENBERG, Julius - Spy

ROSCOE - handgun.

RUDOLF, Ivonovich Abel - Spy

RUDOLF, Roessler - Spy

RUSE  DE GUERRE - subterfuge

RZ - An underground group in Germany. Literally translated as revolutionary cell



SAFEHOUSE - A dwelling place or hideout unknown to the adversary.

Sanitize - To delete specific material or revise a report or other document to prevent the identification of intelligence sources and collection methods.

SAPO - Sweden's security service.

SASHA KVAP – Spy / Russian mole inside Hitler's bunker during the final months of  World War II. Subsequently poisoned by the KGB in 1955.

SAVAK - one of Iraq's security services.

SCIF - Acronym for Secured Compartmentalized Information Facility (in Fort Gillem, GA, USA) where Clipper is housed.

SECRET CLASSIFICATIONS - Confidential, Secret, Top Secret, and (SCI) Special Compartmentalized Information.

SEMTEX - A military explosive suitable for sabotage and terrorist operations.

SERE - An acronym for survival, evasion, resistance, and escape.

SERVICING - The act of removing material from a dead drop.

SET UP - To begin to conduct surveillance on a target.

Shoe - A false passport or visa.

SHIN BETH – Israel's security service (also called GSS).

SHINING PATH – an underground group in Peru.

SIDE – Argentina's security  service.

Silvermaster spy ring (the) - Communist spy ring operating within the United States and specifically within the Federal government.

SIGINT - Signals intelligence; consists of COMINT (communications intelligence) and ELINT (electronic intelligence).

SINN FEIN – The political arm (party) of  the IRA.

SIS - Secret Intelligence Service; the official name of  Britain's MI6.

SIT REP - Situation report.

Sleeper - Agent living as an ordinary citizen in a foreign country; acts only when a hostile  situation develops.

SLUZBA BEZPIECZENSTWA - Poland's security service, also called the SB.

SMEDLEY, Agnes - Spy

SMERSH - Short for "Smert Shpionam" (Death to Spies); a Soviet counterintelligence agency that existed from 1943 to 1946; made famous in the James Bond novels.

SOE - Special Operations Executive; Britain's WWII sabotage and subversion organization.

SOFT TARGET - An easy surveillance target, untrained and not looking for surveillance.

SOG - An acronym for Special Operations Group, agents who conduct surveillance. Incontrast, SSG is composed of non-agents. See also SSG

SORGE, Richard - Spy

SPECIAL BRANCH - The security branch of the British police.

SPLASHED - Describes a bodyguard whose client has been assassinated.
Also see WET AFFAIR.

SPOOK – a spy. 

SPY - Any member of  an intelligence agency, security service, police agency, resistance movement, guerrilla group, or other organization engaged in covert  intelligence-gathering activities.

Spymaster - The leader of espionage activities, and an agent handler extraordinaire.

SRI – Romania's security service 

SSG - An acronym for Surveillance Specialist Group, which is what the FBI calls a surveillance team. See also INVESTIGATIVE SPECIALIST. See also SOG.

SSS - Georgia's security service. 

Stasi - The East German Ministry for State Security; East Germany's Cold War domestic and foreign intelligence service.

Station - Post from where espionage is conducted.

Station Chief - The officer in charge at a CIA station, usually in a foreign capital.

StB – Czechoslovakia's security service, the Statni Tajna  Bezpecnost.

Steganography - Techniques for concealing the very existence of a message (secret inks or microdots).

STINGBALL - A flashbang grenade used by SWAT teams to disperse crowds and disorient barricaded  suspects.  Throws  off rubber  fragments  when  detonated.  It is standard police procedure to cover up the deaths of suspects inadvertently killed by stingballs.

STREET AGENT - An agent whose work takes him to various locations.

SVR [Sluzhba Vneshney Razvedki] The Russian Foreign Intelligence Service, formed on December 18, 1991.

Swallow - A female agent employed to seduce people for  intelligence purposes.

SWARMING - Overfilling a location with surveillance operatives. Often used in psy ops as a means for controlling the target's environment.

SZABO, Violette - Spy




TARGET - The victim of  surveillance, the subject.

TECHINT - Technical intelligence; analysis of fielded equipment for training, research, and the development of new weapons and equipment for eventual intelligence use.

TERMINATED - murdered.

The Company - An unofficial term for the CIA popularized  by fiction.

The Take - Information gathered by intelligence collection operations.

THERMAL IMAGER - A heat-sensitive surveillance video camera and display.

Throwaway - An agent considered expendable.

Timed Drop - A dead drop that will be retrieved by a recipient after a set time  period.

Tokyo spy ring (the) - Established by the Soviet Union as a means of determining Japanese diplomatic and military intent towards the Soviet Union during World  War II.

Tradecraft - The  methods  developed  by intelligence operatives to conduct their operations.

Traffic Analysis - Methods for gaining intelligence from the patterns and volumes of messages gathered by communications intercepts.

TRIGGER - A surveillance operative who is watching the target's vacant vehicle, home, garage, office, restaurant etc. and who alerts the rest of the surveillance team when the target is spotted.

TUPAMAROS - An underground group in Uruguay.

TURNCOAT - Person which switch sides; allegiance.


U-2 - The world's most famous spy plane, developed by the U.S. specifically for intelligence collection in the thin atmosphere 55,000 feet above the Soviet Union; it is still in use  today.

U-2 Incident (the) - Occurred in 1960 at the height of the Cold War when the Soviet Union shot down an American spy plane over Soviet air space. The incident afforded Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev the opportunity to launch a show trial as well as a media propaganda effort against the United States.

Ultra - Codename for intelligence derived from decryption of messages encrypted by the German Enigma cipher machine during WWII.

Uncle - Headquarters of any espionage service.

UNSUB - An unknown subject in a surveillance operation.

UOP - Poland's security service.


VEVAK - Iran's intelligence agency.

VON PAPEN, Franz - Spy



WAHABI - A Saudi Islamic underground group.

Walk-in - A defector who declares his or her intentions by walking into an official installation and asking for political asylum or volunteering to work in- place.

WALKER, John - Spy

Walker spy ring (the) - Was labeled by the New York Times as “the most damaging Soviet spy ring in history.”

WATCH-LIST -People targeted for routine surveillance.

WET JOB / AFFAIR - Results in death of target or major bloodshed. Also see SPLASHED.

WHEEL ARTIST - An outdoor surveillance specialist operating in a vehicle.

WILDERNESS  OF MIRRORS - A spy operation so complicated that it is no longer possible to separate truth and untruth.

Window Dressing - Ancillary  materials  that  are  included in a cover story or deception operation to help convince the opposition or other casual observers that what they are observing is genuine.




YARDLEY,  Herbert - Spy

YAKUZA - A criminal organization from Japan. One of the world's largest.


ZAPATISTA NATIONAL LIBERATION ARMY - an underground group in Mexico.

ZERO-OUT - The range at which a weapon's sights will produce a bull's eye hit.

ZHONGYANG LIANLUOBU - one of  China's  intelligence agencies.

ZOU-HOU-MAN - back door access to a protected target (as used by China's  intelligence agencies).

Member Login
Welcome, (First Name)!

Forgot? Show
Log In
Enter Member Area
My Profile Not a member? Sign up. Log Out