Date of Award


Document Type



Santa Clara University

Degree Name

Master of Engineering (ME)



First Advisor

Stephen A.Chiappari


The need for accurate intelligence concerning possible terrorist attacks, spies, and other hostile military type actions, whether it be at home or abroad, remains of critical importance to the U.S. Intelligence Community. In this context, this paper focuses directly on the foundational aspects of covert communication networks and how they may be formed by groups or organizations such as al-Qaeda, jihadists, insurgents, etc. using spy tradecraft, cryptography and the language of Modern Standard Arabic. The paper itself is divided into two parts, one that focuses upon communicating covertly through methods without the use of electronics, and the other with electronics. The reason for this division is to highlight the fact that a group of individuals or an organization may purposefully choose to use one style of covert communication over the other in order to achieve a particular objective. For instance, electronic surveillance may be a concern. The examples that will be given in each part are centered around theoretical covert network operations conducted in the countries of Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen. Accompanying these examples, a useful system for network organization is presented in order to help the reader, in this case U.S. intelligence officials, to analyze the flow of covert communications in general. Not only does this system demonstrate the differences between electronic and non-electronic networks, but it also shows that with proper planning and training, the groups formerly mentioned could possibly create intensely abstract and complicated networks in order to adapt to certain battlefield conditions. With this said, it is the author’s suggestion to the reader to think ‘outside of the box’ when approaching the paper and to know that everything may not always be as it appears.


Thesis (M.S.) -- Santa Clara University, School of Engineering, 2012. Department of Applied Mathematics. Includes bibliographical references.