OXFORD, Miss. � A series of fictional terrorist attacks against the United States and Israel was foiled by a group of University of Mississippi students working through a recent intelligence case study.
The case was probed by 28 students in UM’s Center for Intelligence and Security Studies program. The exercise was a means for them to become familiar with the analytic process of producing intelligence information.
“The students absorbed so much knowledge about the intelligence community this year,” said Melissa Graves, project coordinator for the center. “Because we had employees from actual intelligence agencies participate as team leaders and policymakers, the students got an inside view into how real analysts would approach problems. They also learned a lot about briefing policymakers.”
The students uncovered a terrorist plot involving a United States-based religious cult and an Israeli fundamentalist group to attack the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem. The two radical groups planned to use explosives trafficked by the “Russian mafia” from former Soviet Union weapons stockpiles.
In a second case study, students investigated a large-scale cyber attack against U.S. Defense assets and defense contractors. Investigations revealed that a foreign power was attempting to steal U.S. military secrets.
The CISS student analysts successfully uncovered the plots and briefed policymakers, equipping them with enough knowledge to a make a decision and advance the exercise.
Adding to the realism of the scenario, U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) and David Koger, formerly of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, participated in the exercise. Other notable guests included representatives present from several agencies, including the Defense Intelligence Agency and Federal Bureau of Investigation.
“It’s an international world, and working through the case study really demonstrated how important it is to have good intelligence,” said one student, who entered the field because he wants to serve his country.
Graves developed the idea for the “Days of Intrigue” along with CISS staffer Walter Flaschka after spending the summer writing and working intelligence case studies. The upper-level CISS students helped refine the plot over the course of two semesters.