In previous essays I have referred to “the scissors strategy,” which is also known by other names. Many readers do not have a clear idea of how this strategy works, or why it is effective. It is therefore useful to present two or more hypothetical/historical examples to illustrate.

Example One: Afghanistan

In 1979 the Soviet Union wanted to accelerate its infiltration of the Islamic world. One objective of infiltration was to take control of Muslim groups and use them to create new means for attacking the West.

The best point of entry for this strategy was Afghanistan. Within the Soviet Union there were two Soviet “republics” ideal for launching operations in Afghanistan. The two countries were Tajikistan SSR and Uzbekistan SSR. (Please note: significant numbers of Tajiks and Uzbeks live in Afghanistan.)

Before 1979 the Soviet Union used ethnic Tajik and Uzbek agents to infiltrate Afghanistan. It was child’s play for them to influence these groups inside the country. Meanwhile, young Afghan technocrats, being open to Marxist indoctrination, were also vulnerable to Soviet influence and recruitment by outright communist channels. Agents could also be recruited from other tribal groups through Soviet-infiltrated criminal networks (i.e., via Soviet dominance of regional heroin trafficking). A great many small operations had to be developed, originating in very different parts of Afghanistan, to make the strategy viable. The object in such long-term operations is always to infiltrate every important tribal group, criminal mafia, police organization, economic center and political party in the country. You cannot use a scissors strategy without placing agents in these (and other) key sectors. It goes without saying, of course, that the first target of infiltration is always enemy counterintelligence, so that nobody ever has the wherewithal to identify your agents or their modes of operation.

The next problem, as a Soviet strategist, is how to advance your agents into positions of power within their respective groups. Conflict is the best way, especially if the conflict is violent. In terms of drug trafficking you advance your agents in the police by giving them leads from your agents among the drug traffickers. The police under your control arrest only those traffickers who are not under your control, paving the way for you to strengthen your hold on organized crime. Ultimately your strategy leads to a convergence of the police and the mafia — so that the leaders of the police are your agents, and they are secretly aligned with the country’s leading criminals, who are also your agents.

With your agents in the criminal underworld, and inside the police, you acquire access to information on corruption. Especially, you get information on corruption within the intelligence services, banking system and political parties. You can jail whomever you want. You also have the power to bribe or blackmail anyone you evaluate to be vulnerable or useful. Now your influence within the country is gradually taking shape.

The next problem is preparing the target country for invasion. At this stage you might ask: Why invade the country? There are many reasons, and you must be careful that the enemy does not suspect any of them. But the immediate reason for conflict is to advance your agents inside the country as a whole. (Whatever power you have is not enough, and it never will be.)

Ideally, as a Soviet strategist, you want a dolt in control of Afghanistan. Given the radical stupidity of the country’s American-educated elite, this is not hard. You do many favors for the government, asking little in return. You build roads and airfields. You create the infrastructure for your future invasion. Then, you convince President Useful Idiot that the American imperialists are plotting to attack his country. You stage provocations through agents in tribal areas to frighten the government. Finally, President Idiot asks for you to intervene. Soviet troops enter the country. Now you have created a conflict ripe for exploitation.

Your agents within the tribal groups have long established their bona fides by posturing as anti-Soviet loudmouths. After Soviet troops commit specific outrages, these agents gain greater stature. The growing conflict between the Soviet occupiers and the tribes is the perfect setting for killing various leaders, opening new leadership slots for your agents within each tribal group.

Next comes talent spotting. From around the Muslim world fighters are recruited to join the jihad against Godless Communism. But you have prepared your chessboard well. With your agents firmly placed among the mujaheddin, you can direct military operations from both sides. You can thereby kill off fighters who are genuinely dangerous to Moscow while identifying promising young recruits from the Arab world. You can build new heroes within the anti-communist camp. And you can do this on America’s dime. These new heroes will be your agents in future terrorist offensives aimed at the West.

The CIA moves to arm the Afghan rebels, even as you are getting control of the rebel groups by way of your agents. Soon the CIA will be arming and training groups that you effectively control (as well as groups that have momentarily eluded your control). The Americans will, with their own hands, build the organizations that you will use against them in the future.

The operation will have many ups and downs. It will not be without cost. You will lose many “good” people. In fact, everyone must believe you lost this war. You will pull your troops out of Afghanistan with great fanfare. The West will thump its chest. But you have filled the mujaheddin leadership with your creatures. You have simultaneously spent years assassinating your enemies within the Muslim world, infiltrating the militant ranks with your agents.

The culmination will come when terrorists, harbored by a tribal group you do not control, attack the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. At approximately the same time your proxies arrange the assassination of an Afghan leader to solidify your control over the anti-Taliban factions. Your patience is about to be rewarded. When the Americans attack Afghanistan from the air, your agents will be their allies on the ground — together with other tribal groups under your control. Now you have brought about a new kind of convergence. NATO occupies Afghanistan on your behalf and hardly anyone (excepting Mohammed Karzai) will guess the truth. NATO officers and generals are now in the crosshairs of another round of the scissors game.

If the Soviets were in Afghanistan for the better part of a decade, NATO will be there for the better part of two decades. Now the ire of the Islamic world is no longer focused on a jihad against Godless communism (which seems to have vanished altogether). Now the Jihad is against the Godless United States.

You may think that the outcome here is accidental. But no, it is the result of diligence, discipline, and superior intelligence tradecraft. Please do not misunderstand. Nothing here was easy for the Russian special services. They made tremendous sacrifices, and the strategic value of the outcome is stunning; for new games can now begin which are played from the winnings of the old game.

Example Two: Chechnya, ISIS and Beyond

Lithuanian researcher Marius Laurinavičius gave readers an invaluable glimpse inside Moscow’s ongoing scissors strategy against the Muslim World five years ago in a multi-part series. (See Part 2, ).

Laurinavičius documented numerous linkages between Islamic terrorists trained by the Russian special services and ISIS. The Chechen War itself, in all its improbable details (like the Afghan War before it), is the stuff of Moscow-made legend. Like the “fake news” of today we had fake Islamic propagandists originating in places like Tajikistan and Uzbekistan — at the time of a supposed “Islamic revival” authorized by the Communist Party Soviet Union (again, improbably). This revival then spawned a number of Islamic ideologists, as Laurinavičius shows, in league with the KGB or FSB or Putin advisor Alexander Dugin.

The Laurinavičius narrative is bewildering in the extreme, unless we understand the pattern of infiltration and agent placement it represents. Here are the factual telltales of Moscow’s scissors strategy. Here are the processes of the Afghan war repeated in the Caucasus, with an eye to stabilizing the region after intentional destabilization. Here we see terrorists filtering in and out of Russia and nobody is the wiser. Here is the explanation of Russian Defense Minister Pavel Grachev’s bizarre claim that the North Caucasus Military District would be the site of a huge World War III exercise. This statement foretold the Chechen wars of the 1990s before anyone realized Russia was training the likes of Ayman al-Zawahri (the current head of al Qaeda). However good a deception may be, hints are always dropped from the lips of Russian generals or statesmen. (Note: Grachev had commanded the 103 Guards Airborne Division of the Soviet Army in Afghanistan from 1985-88.)

“The rise of Wahhabis [in Chechnya] provides a lot of pabulum to Russian propaganda and political games,” noted Laurinavičius. If you read through the detailed cases presented by Laurinavicius, his conclusion appears obvious. As stated in Part Two of his series, “The rudiment of Wahhabism in Chechnya is apparently … related to … suspected KGB agents.”

In recent years, with regard to ISIS, some of the usual suspects appear once more, “involved in recruiting new terrorists to [the] Islamic state,” Laurinavicius explained. If it is ridiculous to propose a “conspiracy theory” in regard to the Syrian Civil War, Laurinavicius sets aside theory and delves directly into conspiracy as history.

To understand this history we must understand the scissor strategy. One blade of the scissors shreds the leader of one group. In retaliation the leader of an opposing group is eliminated; in each group the Russian agents rise in the ranks, fill the shoes of the dead leaders, and the Russians consolidate their position.

Think now of the ultimate concluding moves of such a game — as played from Kabul to Baghdad to Washington.


22 thoughts on “The Scissors Strategy as Method for Agent Positioning

  1. Jeff

    Not sure if you can comment, after reading this article. I think it applies to Hong Kong as well. The Chinese Communist Party used the likes of Martin Lee who is regarded as the ‘father of Democracy’ in Hong Kong to created the Hong Kong Democracy Movement and Szeto Wah who died in 2011 who founded the Hong Kong Professional Teacher’s Union and admitted in his out of print biography that he had extensive ties to the Chinese Communist Party. What we saw in 2019 was the result Chinese Communist Party created controlled opposition movement in the Hong Kong Protests which are even lobbying the US Government for Magnitsky Sanctions as well.


  2. You have to admire the long term strategy, dedication to absorbing the “costs” in both dollars and manpower, and especially the “maintenance of the objective and concentration of force” (from an old book on Midway).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Our side exhibits moral failings in this area that are different than the moral failings of our enemy. This is an enemy that tests our virtue. Their ideology is very destructive of human life; ours pretends to be humane, and partly is — but does great damage as we deceive ourselves and behave badly. Our bad behaviors make us exceedingly vulnerable.


  3. It’s quite frustrating to see how the West – by naiveté, lack of intellectual seriousness, and certainly heavy infiltration – cannot remotely match the profound strategic mindset of communism. On the one side, dialectical thought perfected into an art form; on the other, idiotic self-complacency and the suicidal trust that finally all will be well…

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Anatoliy Golitsyn, in his-post-1991 memoranda to the CIA, warned America not to get involved in the affairs of any of the duplicitous “post-Soviet” republics. The same could now be said about an ever greater part of the Islamic world, where in many cases actors are not what they appear to be…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This is a great lesson to take away from recent history as well. America’s intelligence services are penetrated. Anything we do overseas is likely to result in deeper games of compromise, assassination and blackmail.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. TroubledEuropean and Jeff

        Just wanting opinions, in regards to Anatoliy Golitsyn’s warning to America not to get involved in the affairs of any of the “post-soviet” republics. I think the same can be said with China in regards to Hong Kong and Xinjiang aka East Turkestan as I have recently provided evidence to Jeff that the Hong Kong Democracy Movement and Independence Movement and it’s activists like Joshua Wong, Nathan Law, Joey Siu, Sunny Cheung, Denise Ho are controlled by the Chinese Communist Party and lobbied for the Hong Kong Freedom and Democracy Act in US Congress. Also the East Turkestan Independence Movement which is known as the Xinjiang Independence Movement which has a history of being supported by the Soviets and is now controlled by the Chinese Communist Party


  5. You picture the penetration as being one way, from the Soviet Union into the Muslim world. But is it? Are there Muslims who have penetrated the Soviet side? Could that influence how some of the Islamic terrorists have been treated?

    Both Marxism and Islam are amoral ideologies that concentrate on control more than anything else. Both use disinformation to disarm their enemies (victims). Both have visions of world conquest. Both allow their agents to pretend to be other than what they are in order to advance their conquest. Both are criminal. Both are willing to ally themselves with others if that will help in their conquests, only to turn against those allies when they are no longer needed. Both are willing to take years, even generations, in their strategic plans. Both have a low regard for individual human lives, willing to see millions of innocent lives lost, even of their own people, in order to achieve their goals. With such similarities, is it possible, even probable, that there has been Islamic penetration of the KGB, GRU and other Soviet agencies? Can that explain the treatment of some Islamists by the Soviets?


    1. Penetrations are a one way street when it comes to Russia. They are technologically superior in espionage and influence operations. This superiority is partly cultural, partly intellectual/psychological. The Chinese are equal or superior to the Russians in this area. The Cubans and East Germans, working under KGB advice and direction, achieved similar results during the Cold War.


      1. It was a two way street in the past. Those who were most successful didn’t contact the CIA or other governmental spying organizations, rather worked quietly as agents of influence to advance their causes without drawing attention to themselves. Most were lone wolves where their actions were more ideological than organizational. Most had to keep their actions secret, even from close friends.

        My information comes from the cold-war era and I have not been a close observer since, but I find it hard to believe that the two way street has been completely closed off. Islam allows a person to become outwardly a clean shaven, pork eating, womanizing, hard-drinking pagan in order to be a sleeper agent. How many such Islamists have penetrated even the KGB? How many are double-agents, outwardly KGB, GRU or other soviet agent, going even years without any contact with Islamist groups, awaiting their chances to become active? Given the past, I find it hard to believe that there are none today.


  6. Jeff

    Not sure if you can comment, the other day, I was reading a article on the Hong Kong Protest Movement and they talk about Joshua Wong who is known to flip flop and lobbied for the Hong Kong Freedom and Democracy Act along with Sunny Cheung, Joey Siu, Nathan Law. Joshua Wong was also known to have met with Taiwan President Tsai Ling-Wen urging Taiwan to show support for the Chinese Communist Party controlled Hong Kong Student Movement, Democracy Movement and Independence Movement that took part in the Hong Kong Protests last year.


    1. Flip-flopping or serious inconsistencies in political rhetoric is a marker for agents of influence. Classic instances include when Stalin entered into the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, Soviet agents worldwide flipped.


    2. Jeff

      Not sure if you can comment, Joshua Wong who runs the student political party called Demosisto is now denying that he ever called for Hong Kong Independence. According to people from Hong Kong who post on Twitter who I have spoken to, Joshua Wong and his Demosisto Party during the Hong Kong Protests did advocate Hong Kong Independence and is now telling the likes of the media that he never advocated Hong Kong Independence, this is another example why Hong Kong people on Twitter call Joshua Wong a Chinese Communist Party agent or even a spy, its because of his flip flopping


      1. If you are in the jaws of a dragon, can you demand that he open his jaws and set you free? Or can you just demand that he follow the promises he made to you (the communists always break their promises)?

        Even though Joshua Wong, Nathan Law and the others may want independence, do you believe that they for even one second thought it was a realistic demand? If they thought it was not a realistic demand, would they even make it? Or did he just demand the independence from Beijing’s laws that were promised under the one nation, two systems, a promise that Beijing is even now breaking?

        I don’t have any hard evidence either way, but I need more information before accusing Joshua Wong of flip-flopping. It’s very likely that he was misquoted. He has consistently called for non-violence.

        If I were the communist government, one of the first things I’d have done when the demonstrations started, would be to activate agents provacateurs already living in Hong Kong and import more from the mainland to instigate violence. I’d also have them twisting the words of moderation to make them appear two-faced. I think the communists have done everything that I mentioned, and more.

        Is Joshua Wong a communist mole? Was he flipped while in prison? Or is he just a realist that living in his situation that there are limits on what he can do? Has his international reputation protected him while many of his fellow demonstrators are now rotting across the border in the Chinese gulag? Has his voice been muted by radicals calling for violence? So many questions, too few answers. Time will tell.


      2. Melamede and Jeff

        The reason why Joshua Wong is being called an agent is because during last year he was caught on German Television saying ‘Hong Kong is part of China’ and then the next thing he did around October was that Joshua Wong and Nathan Law of Demosisto and Sunny Cheung and Joey Siu of Hong Kong Higher Institutions International Affairs Division which lobbied for the Hong Kong Freedom and Democracy act in the US Congress was caught raising money for the Catalonia Independence Movement which has heavy involvement from the Chinese Communist Party. Also Nathan Law is being called an agent because he is saying the same thing as Martin Lee a founder of the Hong Kong Democratic Party along with Szeto Wah who is now deceased, that Communist China can become a democracy.


  7. Jeff

    Not sure if you can comment, I’ll probably contact you on Tuesday which will be Monday in California. I am going to a event in New Zealand called Universal Siege on Communists which is held in support of the likes of Joshua Wong, Nathan Law, Sunny Cheung, Joey Siu and the Hong Kong Democratic and Civic Party and the Hong Kong Democracy Movement.


  8. Jeff, just letting you know, I attended the Universal Siege on Communists march yesterday in New Zealand and have found something very troubling:

    1. Joshua Wong, Nathan Law of Demosisto and Sunny Cheung and Joey Siu of Hong Kong Higher Institutions International Affairs Division are calling on the US and Donald Trump and the US State Department to implement sanctions under the Hong Kong Freedom and Democracy act and the Magnitsky Act on the Hong Kong Police, Hong Kong Government and Mainland China. They are also calling for the Australian, British, Canadian and European Unions to do the same.

    2. They are also calling for support or solidarity and to unite with the East Turkestan Independence Movement also known as Xinjiang Independence Movement which is controlled by the Chinese Communist Party in their so-called fight for freedom and revolution in Hong Kong. Something is not very right as there are signs that the Chinese Communist Party could very well be trying to consolidate the Hong Kong Democracy/Independence Movement with the Xinjiang Independence Movement


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