The United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), 2006–07

A. Walter Dorn 

Originally published in Intelligence and National Security, Vol. 24, No. 6 (December 2009), pp.805–835. (pdf download)



In the slums of Haiti, where pistol and machete wielding gangs dominated the populace through murder, intimidation, extortion, and terror, a UN peacekeeping mission managed to established law, order, and government control. The United Nations Mission for the Stabilization of Haiti (MINUSTAH) succeeded by 'taking on' the gangs in a series of military and police 'search and arrest' operations in 2006–07. The achievement was made possible by thorough 'intelligence preparation of the environment'. This paper tells the story of the 'intelligence-led' military-police-civil operations and how they transformed the Haitian slum of Cité Soleil from a foreboding place inaccessible to police for years to one in which the UN workers could safely walk its streets. The functions, structures, problems and challenges of the mission's intelligence capability are described, especially the work of the Joint Mission Analysis Centre (JMAC). Human intelligence proved to be key, while technologies helped considerably. Within the United Nations, intelligence remains a controversial and sensitive matter but the Haiti mission provides a valuable model of how to gather and use actionable intelligence.

In the twenty-first century the United Nations finally discovered the value of fostering intelligence in its peacekeeping operations (PKO). After four decades of ignoring and even deriding the concept (1950–80s) and a decade of struggling to find a place for it (1990s),1 the world organization has begun to systematically include dedicated intelligence bodies in its field missions.2 In 2006, the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) adopted a policy that a Joint Mission Analysis Centre (JMAC) and a Joint Operations Centre (JOC) should be established in all PKO to conduct all source information gathering using military, police and civilian personnel.3 By that time, several field operations had already began to carry out 'intelligence-led operations',4 which are operations driven in timing and objectives by intelligence, including operations to gain intelligence. The operations were sometimes commanded or controlled by one of the intelligence sections of the mission, such as the JMAC and the J2, which is shorthand for the military intelligence branch of the UN force (in some missions called the G2 or U2).5 Such operations improved enormously the capacity of the intelligence-shy United Nations to meet some of its most challenging mandates.

The UN mission in Haiti (in French, Mission des Nations Unies pour la Stabilization en Haiti or MINUSTAH) was one of the pioneers of intelligence-led UN operations in the twenty-first century.6 In 2006–07, such an approach allowed the mission to gain ascendancy over gangs who controlled large sections of several Haitian cities, particularly the capital Port-au-Prince. MINUSTAH made extensive use of its JMAC, as well as its Force intelligence branch at mission headquarters (U2), and its intelligence units (S2) within the regionally-based battalions of the national contingents. The JMAC had been created in 2005, at the urging of the UN Security Council, as an integrated unit of military officers, police and international civilians. Its mission was to gather information and produce actionable intelligence for the mission leadership. Despite initial opposition within the mission, the JMAC made extensive use of local informants—'assets' in national intelligence speak—to determine the locations and activities of gang leaders who ruthlessly ruled their fiefdoms in Port-au-Prince. MINUSTAH also engaged in rigorous planning, including 'Intelligence Preparation of the Battlespace' (IPB) from the military component or 'Intelligence Preparation of the Environment' from the JMAC, to take forceful measures against the gangs, when both soldier and civilian lives were dependent on timely, accurate intelligence. Intelligence-led operations helped the United Nations to take the initiative, to control the 'battlespace', and to minimize the risks to both its own personnel and innocent bystanders. With an intelligence-led approach the mission was successful in overcoming gang rule of entire districts, but not without initial opposition from within the mission, from Haitian officials and, of course, from the gangs themselves.

The experience of MINUSTAH in the crucial period of 2006–07 provides valuable lessons for the United Nations as the world organization struggles to run some 20 peacekeeping operations, employing over 110,000 personnel in some of the most difficult regions of the world. Some crucial questions need to be examined: how did MINUSTAH conduct its intelligence work? What sources were used? How did the mission adapt to the difficult environment? Does MINUSTAH's success in defeating the gangs point the way to potential UN actions in other missions and war-torn countries that, like Haiti, need targeted military action against armed groups to replace violent conflict with security, law and order?

Former MINUSTAH Police Commissioner Graham Muir of Canada, an early proponent of intelligence-led peacekeeping, recognized MINUSTAH's 'obligation to transfer best practices to other missions'.7 The present paper seeks to assist that by describing the achievements, problems and challenges of intelligence-led operations within MINUSTAH. It then examines the intelligence structures and processes in the mission in 2006–07. The case illustrates well the benefits of robust intelligence and suggests applications in other missions seeking to take action in difficult and dangerous environments.



The Haitian people have known thuggery, arbitrary killings and repression for decades as part of their country's stormy political history. Under the dictatorial regimes of François Duvalier ('Papa Doc'), who ruled from 1957 to 1971, and his son Jean-Claude Duvalier ('Baby Doc'), who ruled from 1971 to 1986, the infamous Tonton Macoutes militia conducted a reign of terror with complete impunity. Any resistance to the country's ruler was brutally crushed by these gun- and machete-wielding forces who struck fear in the population through state-sponsored terrorism. Widespread civil unrest finally led to the fall of the Duvalier dynasty in 1986.

After a series of elections, Jean Bertrand Aristide, the charismatic leader of the Lavalas party (meaning 'flood' in Creole), was installed as President in 1990, with a promise to cleanse the country of brutish forces. But he himself relied on emerging gangs and militias ('Chimeres') to support him. Despite this, the United States continued to back Aristide, including after he was overthrown in a military coup d'état in 1991. After two years, the United States threatened invasion to dislodge the junta of Lieutenant General Raoul Cédras. This resulted in Cédras' voluntary exile and Aristide's reinstatement as President. Aristide promptly disbanded the army and created the Haitian National Police (HNP). Stability was assisted for several years by a series of UN peacekeeping operations.8 Aristide served until his single term ended in 1996. Asserting that the constitution allowed him two terms, provided they were not consecutive, Aristide 'won' re-election in 2000 in questionable polls, but with strong support from Haiti's poor and the gangs that lived amongst them. Soon, gang warfare and government corruption increased beyond the pale. A three-week rebellion in February 2004 by ex-military men brought a rebel force to the doorstep of Port-au-Prince. In the name of preventing a bloodbath, armed US personnel forcibly removed Aristide from his Presidential Palace on the night of 28 February 2004. The US gained authorization from the UN Security Council for a Multinational Force Haiti (MNF-H), which the US led, to create basic conditions for security and stability.

Two months after this controversial force was on the ground, the UN Security Council created a UN peacekeeping operation, MINUSTAH, to take over from MNF-H. The Council resolutions that gave MINUSTAH its mandates and explicit monitoring roles are summarized in Table 1.


Table 1 : Security Council resolutions on MINUSTAH and some of the specified monitoring tasks
Resolution (Date)Key ProvisionsExtracts on UN Monitoring Role (emphasis added)
1529 (2004) (Feb 29)
The day after President Aristide resigned (under duress), Security Council authorizes a Multinational Interim Force (MIF) for a period of three months and states its willingness to consider a further stabilization force within Haiti through the UN 9. 'Requests the leadership of the Multinational Interim Force in Haiti to report periodically to the Council, through the Secretary-General, on the implementation of its mandate'
1542 (2004)
(Apr 30)
Establishes MINUSTAH for initial duration of six months to assume responsibility for stabilization of Haiti from the MIF by 1 June 2004 with 1600 Civilian police and 6700 troops to report to one Special Representative '(i) (b) … assist the Transitional Government in monitoring, restructuring and reforming the Haitian National Police … as well as monitoring/mentoring members of the Haitian National Police'
  '(i) (c) … assist the Transitional Government … with comprehensive and sustainable Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR) programmes … as well as weapons control … '
    '(ii) (c) … assist the Transitional Government in its efforts to organize, monitor, and carry out free and fair … elections … '
    '(iii) (b) … monitor and report on the human rights situation … including on the situation of returned refugees and displaced persons'
1576 (2004)
(Nov 29)
Extends mandate, seeks increasing security for the election period and immediate implementation of DDR programmes 5. 'Requests the Secretary-General to provide a report to the Council on the implementation by MINUSTAH of its mandate at least every three months'
1601 (2005) (May 31)
Extends mandate No explicit provisions on monitoring included

1608 (2005) (June 22)

Extends mandate, increases forces by 750 to allow the creation of a rapid-reaction force, increases civilian police component by 275 9. 'Calls upon MINUSTAH to make the Joint Mission Analysis Cell operational as soon as possible in order to pool and better use the information available to the MINUSTAH military, police and civilian components; and also calls for the use of MINUSTAH's aviation assets in an efficient and effective manner in support of security operations'

1658 (2006) (Feb 14)

Extends mandate 3. 'Requests the Secretary-General to report to the Council, as soon as possible after the conclusion of Haiti's electoral process … on whether to restructure MINUSTAH's mandate after the new Government takes office'
1702 (2006) (Aug 15)
Extends mandate with 7200 troops and 1951 civilian police, strengthening support activities with institution building (particularly judicial reform), and reaffirming its role in providing operational support, humanitarian support, disarmament, dismantlement and reintegration work, and promotion of rule of law 10. 'Strongly supports … MINUSTAH's crime prevention role, particularly with regard to the threat of gang violence and kidnapping … '
  11. 'Requests MINUSTAH to reorient its disarmament, demobilization and reintegration efforts … towards a comprehensive community violence reduction programme … '
    13. ' … provide operational support to the Haitian Coast guard'
    14. ' … provide assistance and advice … in monitoring, restructuring, reforming and strengthening of the justice sector … '
1743 (2007) (Feb 15)
Extends mandate 12. 'Reaffirms … mandate to provide operational support to the Haitian coast guard … to address cross-border illicit trafficking of drugs and arms, and other illegal activities'
    13. ' … increasing momentum behind the monitoring, mentoring, training, vetting of all police personnel … '
    14. ' … provide necessary support … to reform the key elements of justice and the corrections sectors … '
1780 (2007) (Oct 15)
Extends mandate until 15 October 2008, to be re-configured with 7060 troops and 2091 police, re-states the importance of MINUSTAH's security activities and adds new task of land border patrolling 8. ' … remain engaged in … restructure[ing] the HNP … notably by supporting the monitoring, mentoring, training, vetting of police personnel and strengthening of institutional capacities'
    11. 'Recognizes the need for MINUSTAH to establish patrols along maritime and land border areas in support of border security activities by the HNP … '
1840 (2008)
(Oct 14)
Extends mandate with particular attention to institutional building and support for national police 11. ' … address cross-border illicit trafficking of persons, drugs, arms and other illegal activities … '
    13. ' … protecting and patrolling … maritime borders … '
    14. ' … encourages MINUSTAH to … assess the threats along Haiti's land and maritime borders'
    19. 'Requests MINUSTAH to continue to pursue its community violence reduction approach'

Improving security was the top priority for the new UN force, which was soon able to disarm both peacefully and with force the ex-military men behind the rebellion. The mission was able to establish a calm and secure environment in the countryside and most towns. But the capital, Port-au-Prince, remained a hotbed of instability, threatening the new government and the whole country with renewed violence and widening bloodshed. For instance, gangs set up chokepoints along main roads, including the strategic Route Nationale 1, extorting bribes from cargo trucks, taxi ('tap-tap') drivers and passing motorists. Gangs also kidnapped Haitians, especially from the middle and upper classes, to extract ransoms. Politically-motivated murders were widespread. The UN mission was hamstrung in reacting against the gangs because the Transitional Government lacked legitimacy and was dysfunctional, especially its notoriously corrupt and widely derided police force. The problem of gang warfare grew, especially in pro-Aristide areas where the population generally rejected the US-backed government.

The largest and most powerful gangs were based in the Cité Soleil slum of Port-au-Prince. With a population of some 300,000, Cité Soleil had been carved into fiefdoms by gang leaders.9 They controlled the food and water distribution, imposed 'taxes' on street vendors, and terrorized the citizens with their 'soldiers'. Hundreds of shots could be heard daily in Cité Soleil and dead bodies were often found at daybreak on the streets of the slum. The national police had been unable for several years to even enter Cité Soleil to carry out investigations or arrests. After Jordanian peacekeepers were shot dead in exposed positions in 2005, members of that contingent could not dismount from their armoured personnel carriers (APCs). Heavy gunfire prevented the peacekeepers from helping the people they were assigned to protect. In the weapons-flush mini-city of narrow streets and gang checkpoints, the United Nations was unable to secure even its own freedom of movement. Gang members used 'fire and run' tactics with UN troops, escaping through the labyrinth of alleyways between the rows of shacks. The situation became both frustrating and embarrassing for MINUSTAH as it could not control the violence.


UN Operations^

The United Nations attempted to challenge the gangs in 2005. Comprehensive plans were developed to overwhelm the main strongholds in Cité Soleil but the gangs were often forewarned by corrupt Haitian police. A major operation, 'Iron Fist', had to be scaled back and the HNP was informed only at the last minute of the operation. The goal was to capture the 'number one' gang leader, Emmanuel 'Dred' Wilme, a voodoo practitioner living in the northern neighbourhood of Bois Neuf in Cité Soleil. The operation was a mixed success. On 6 July 2005 the notorious gangster and several bodyguards were killed while repelling an attack on their compound. Several large protest demonstrations, one involving 1000 citizens, ensued in Cité Soleil. But there were even greater problems for the United Nations. First, evidence of potentially significant 'collateral damage' emerged. Several Haitian and US human rights groups even claimed that the United Nations had committed a 'massacre',10 though this is undoubtedly a gross exaggeration. Second, the other gang leaders physically reinforced their positions and gained psychological dominance by referring to the UN troops as 'foreign occupiers'. Gang killings and crime actually increased. When the aid group Medicins sans frontiers (MSF) reopened its hospital in Cité Soleil in August 2005, it treated about half a dozen gunshot victims a day, almost half of them women and children.11 More generally, in 2005, kidnapping, not previously prevalent in Haitian society, became increasingly systematic.12 The gangs posed an intolerable threat to the peace and stability of the country. The mission suffered another setback when its force commander committed suicide in January 2006.13 In some circles, the word 'failed' was beginning to be associated with the UN mission, just as it had been applied to previous missions in Somalia, Rwanda and Bosnia.14

The United Nations received a large boost, however, with the UN-supported elections in February and April 2006, which brought to power President René Préval, a protégé of Aristide. The new head of state tried for several months to negotiate with the gangs, promising them funding and skills training in exchange for the surrender of armaments. But the gangs rejected the offers, increased their demands (including immunity from arrest for their past deeds) and widened their illegal activities. After many school children were kidnapped and killed in early December 2006, the population demanded action. President Pre´val gave the green light to the United Nations to intervene militarily and forcefully in gang strongholds.15 This time the United Nations was prepared.

The UN employed well-planned and well-executed intelligence-led operations from December 2006 to March 2007, achieving the desired effect, despite initial setbacks.16 The operations were guided by the principle of overwhelming force for psychological advantage, leading to fewer casualties as opposing forces tended to withdraw earlier.17 Other guiding principles included the element of surprise as well as diversionary tactics to create confusion among the gangs, superior mobility, minimization of collateral damage and quick repair of any physical damage. The most important operational principle for this study is MINUSTAH's intelligence-driven planning. The gangsters worked out of fixed locations and precise intelligence was gathered on their positions, movements and defensive measures. When they dug deep holes designed to stop UN APCs, UN military engineers could be tasked to quickly fill those holes during operations.

MINUSTAH made good use of night operations, often starting at 0300 hours. In fact, the Force Commander, Major General Carlos dos Santos Cruz, preferred night to day operations because there were fewer people on the streets and less chance of collateral damage (civilian fatalities).18 But night operations depended on solid situational awareness. Fortunately, UN forces were well briefed beforehand and they enjoyed a huge technological superiority at night with their headgear equipped with image-intensifiers and their rifles with night-sights, along with infra-red devices to detect heat. The gangs were practically blind in comparison.

The UN mission deliberately sought to draw fire from the gangs by establishing 'Strong Points' in their territories, knowing that the gangsters' pride would force them to retaliate, thus allowing the United Nations to return fire from relatively safe positions. In this way, fatalities during this intense period were kept low and were mostly limited to gang members. The UN officially reported 11 confirmed fatalities from December 2006 to June 2007, seven of them known gang members, including the deputy of the Amaral gang.19

One strategically important point was the 'Blue House' — named for its blue exterior — in the notorious 'Boston' district of Cité Soleil. The house served as a staging base for the most wanted and most feared of the gang leaders, Evens Jeune, who sometimes went by the pseudonym 'Big Boss' or 'Ti Kouto', which is Creole for 'little knife'.20 The solidly constructed three-storey building overlooked the shantytown from its eastern edge on Route Nationale 1, which crosses Port-au-Prince and leads from the sea port terminal to the airport. Evens regularly erected checkpoints nearby on the road to extort money from passing traffic. An intelligence analysis suggested the seizure of this redoubt would deny Evens territory and influence. The Blue House, with its commanding view, would also give the UN control over a major auto-route and the main entrance to Cité Soleil, permitting it to restrict movements of gang forces.

Careful monitoring of the Blue House provided the necessary intelligence to determine the optimal time to take action, when resistance would be minimal. Operation 'Blue House' began as planned at dawn on 24 January 2007 by diverting the gang members' attention from the ultimate target. UN troops from South America first cordoned off large sections of Boston, in part to reduce collateral damage, and then launched a feint attack from the opposite side of the neighbourhood to draw the gang members in that direction. This allowed the United Nations to strengthen its defensive positions near the Blue House in case of an opposed entry. After the empty house was easily taken, gang members repeatedly hit the building with sustained bursts of automatic rifle fire. However, the soldiers inside had quickly erected strong defensive positions (e.g., sandbagging the walls of the building in only 15 minutes) and suffered no casualties. UN soldiers met the attacks with deadly responding fire. MINUSTAH commanders positioned snipers on the roof of Blue House and at the top of a tall concrete water tower nearby. Both edifices were riddled with bullets, but no peacekeepers were killed.21

Having gained the Blue House, the UN forces decided on a larger goal: to seize Evens' main stronghold, known as 'Jamaica Base', and gain control over the entire Boston neighbourhood. Operation Jauru Sudamericana involved over 700 UN soldiers. These were drawn mostly from South American countries: the Brazilian Battalion (BRABAT) in whose Area of Responsibility (AOR) the operation was carried out, an Andean Task Force (Peru, Bolivia and Chile) and soldiers from Paraguay, Uruguay and Jordan.22 UN police (UNPOL) and the HNP also played a role by carrying out arrests and in exercising crowd control. Several rehearsals were staged beforehand in similar environments because of the need for exact synchronization among the 'blue' UN players. The soldiers were carefully trained and exercised on target selection so as to avoid hurting citizens in what was to be the largest combat operation in MINUSTAH's history.23 Hundreds of leaflets were dropped over Boston from a small unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) to inform the population that the UN did not seek to harm innocent civilians and that UN operations were solely aimed at defeating the gangs.24 The mission also carried out street cleaning in nearby areas using brooms, trucks and excavators in order to show support for the population and to clear roadway access for future operations. Intelligence and familiarity with the neighbourhood could also be gained by such activities.

At 0300 hours on 9 February 2007, Operation Jauru Sudamericana was launched. Multiple points were attacked in Boston at the same time in order to confuse the defenders. But the main attack on Jamaica Base resulted in a sustained firefight.

The commander's intent was to seize the objectives while avoiding 'to the maximum extent the possibility of collateral damage'.25 The United Nations exercised restraint in its fire; Evens' gang did not. Bullets easily penetrated though the thin walls of surrounding shacks. After several hours of intense fighting, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) requested a temporary cease-fire to allow it to provide humanitarian relief, including rescuing injured civilians.26 Despite the logic of continuing the military momentum of the attack, the Force Commander quickly agreed to this request. A safe corridor was established. Gang members took advantage of this development by organizing demonstrations to protest and impede MINUSTAH's actions. Fortunately, two of the mission's Formed Police Units (FPU), comprised of about 200 UNPOL officers from Pakistan and Nigeria, were on standby at the outer perimeter. They performed crowd control functions, effectively removing the threat of aggression by civilian crowds and the potential use of human shields by gang shooters. Soon thereafter the military operation restarted and it lasted until the afternoon, when the objectives were attained. The New York Times headline captured the character of the operation: 'UN Troops Fight Haiti Gangs One Street at a Time.'27

A number of prominent Evens gang members were arrested by the HNP with the help of UNPOL, though Evens himself was not captured. His base of operations was seized, uncovering over 5000 rounds of ammunition, machetes and a gas mask. The Force Commander commented later: 'This operation may be seen as the point at which the MINUSTAH forces gained superiority over the gangs in the Cité Soleil area.'28 Indeed, gang resistance subsided almost immediately. The UN easily established new Strong Points and started patrolling previously inaccessible routes in Boston. The joint patrols of UN police, HNP and MINUSTAH soldiers secured the district.

MINUSTAH then launched several operations to extend the UN-controlled territory in Cité Soleil, notably through Operation Nazca in Belecour on 20 February and Operation Lot Nivo in Bois Neuf on 28 February. In Operation Nazca, after encircling the district of Belecour, the United Nations broadcast a repeated message from loudspeakers on a moving Brazilian Army APC urging the bandits to surrender, which many did.29 Table 2 lists the operations in Port-au-Prince.

After the Jauru Sudamericana operation on Jamaica base, the gangs avoided direct contact with MINUSTAH forces and fled their strongholds when attacked. Obviously the United Nations had proven itself a superior opponent. Finally, after three months of operations, Cité Soleil was entirely taken back from the gangs with no UN fatalities and only a few UN casualties. By July, over 800 gang members had been arrested.30 The United Nations, in conjunction with the Haitian government gained control of all sections of the capital.


Table 2 : MINUSTAH's major anti-gang operations in Cité Soleil, Port-au-Prince, December 2006 to March 2007
Date          Operation (Location)Troops and ResourcesDuration and Comments

Source: Compiled from MINUSTAH documents, especially the SOUTHCOM briefing by the MINUSTAH Chief of Staff 2006–07 (Colonel Tom Tarrant of Canada), 28 March 2007.

Dec 21-22 NEW FOREST (Bois Neuf) 335 troops, 37 APCs, 1 helicopter                        5 hrs (21 Dec), 9 hrs (22 Dec)
Dec 28 HAPPY NEW YEAR (Bois Neuf) 275 troops, 21 APCs, 1 helicopter 40 min
Jan 5 ZULU (Drouillard)                 183 troops, 11 APCs, 3 vehicles,
1 helicopter
1 hour, 2 arrested (including Zacari)
Jan 24 BLUE HOUSE (Boston) 500 troops, 28 APCs, 13 vehicles,
1 helicopter
6 hrs, 'Blue House' seized
Jan 31 HUMAITA (Bois Neuf) 343 troops, 28 APCs, 2 boats 6 hrs, new strong point established
Feb 9 JAURU SUDAMERICANA (Boston) 717 troops, 44 APCs, 11 vehicles,
1 helicopter
13 hrs, 8 suspects arrested, 'Jamaica Base' seized and Boston district purged of Evens gang
Feb 15 SANTA CRUZ (Brooklyn) 200 troops, 12 APCs, 5 vehicles,
1 helicopter
2 hrs, 'Ti Bazile' arrested
Feb 17 PARINTINS Bois Neuf) 434 troops, 38 APCs, 17 vehicles,
1 helicopter
2 hrs, Rue Impasse Chavane cleared
Feb 20 NAZCA (Belecour) 700 troops, 38 APCs, 17 vehicles,
1 helicopter
8 hrs, Amaral's base seized, 21 suspects arrested (14 confirmed gang members)
Feb 22 CAJADO (Douillard) 1 company Night reconnaissance operation
Feb 28 LOT NIVO (Bois Neuf) 434 troops, 38 APCs, 17 vehicles 2 hrs, 6 suspects arrested
Mar 5 CAIMAN (Boston) 234 troops,
17 APCs
3 hrs
Mar 11 LAUTARO (Bois Neuf) 314 troops,
25 APCs
5 hrs, 32 gang members arrested
Mar 30 CADENAS (Drouillard)   3 Belony gang members arrested

The Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG), Edmond Mulet of Guatemala, was able to walk freely in Cité Soleil to interact with jubilant crowds celebrating the end of the gangs' stranglehold. Mulet later described it was the most satisfying moment of his service as the head of mission in Haiti.31

The United Nations, especially the Brazilian contingent, was quick to repair the damage done to the neighbourhood during combat operations. 'Immediate Impact Projects', even more ambitious than the UN's traditional 'Quick Impact Projects', helped provide basic necessities to the locals at a time when they needed rapid assistance and reassurance. These projects helped replace the services the gangs had provided and fostered goodwill among the population.

Local and international media was positive32 with no serious allegations of human rights abuses, unlike the 2005 operation in Bois Neuf some 18 months earlier.33 While the exact fatality count could not be confirmed, the whole mission had the stamp of 'success' written on it.

MINUSTAH's precision operations required the gathering and processing of a great deal of sensitive information to minimize fatalities and maximize operational effectiveness. It was necessary to 'know the enemy', though strictly speaking the United Nations has no human enemy. Still, the gangs were armed and dangerous opponents who needed to be understood and tracked. Because the gangs could react in a variety of innovative and violent ways, their actions needed to be anticipated. The mission leaders described operations as 'intelligence-led' or 'intelligence-driven'. The following review of the vital information gained by MINUSTAH is indicative of the major and perhaps unprecedented intelligence efforts that were undertaken in the peacekeeping mission.


UN Intelligence on the Gangs^

During the period December 2006 to March 2007 covered here, Evens was the gang leader who posed the greatest threat to peace in Port-au-Prince and possessed the best defences against UN attack. His weapons and resources had to be thoroughly assessed before any action was taken against him. From confidential sources, the UN gained intelligence on his purchase of a large number of Molotov cocktails and hand grenades, though the latter was not confirmed. He also stockpiled ammunition a month before the UN offensive on his compound. He was known to possess a machine gun and many semi-automatic assault rifles. One of his shooters, based at the National School, possessed an infrared scope for night targeting. In addition, he had recently acquired spotlights for night illumination around Jamaica Base. As an example of his funding sources, he had been offered US$25,000 to kill the would-be kidnappers of a prominent Haitian. He also gained funds from his own kidnappings and the regular taxation of street vendors, taxi drivers and residents.34

The strength of his gang was estimated at about 40–50 men, whose loyalty was instilled through fear and rewards. Photos of his key henchmen were obtained by MINUSTAH. His vehicles were identified and photographed for UN troops and police. His relatives and his familial links to other gang leaders were also identified.

An understanding of the internal politics of the gang system was also important because there was a danger that the various gangs could coalesce in the face of a common enemy. If the United Nations was to divide them, it needed to know the character of each gang and leader. One particularly important division among the gangs existed between Evens and another gang chief, Amaral Duclona. Evens was more brutal than Amaral. The latter disapproved of the murder of innocents and wanted to participate in the government's UN-supported Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR) programme. In fact, several government DDR commissioners held a meeting in late 2006 with the bosses of several Port-au-Prince gangs at Evens' Jamaica Base, but there was no consensus on halting the gang activities. It became apparent that Evens had to be defeated militarily.

Evens' words and actions both had to be monitored. After the Blue House seizure, he declared on Radio Megastar that he would continue to rule Boston and threatened to attack MINUSTAH. He alleged that the UN force had committed human rights violations. In his territory of Boston, he forced people to march in protest of the UN mission. He used car-mounted loudspeakers to intimidate the inhabitants, warning that any UN collaborators would be killed. For a variety of reasons, he murdered inhabitants, including children whose death he tried to pin on MINUSTAH. One family was killed because Evens believed members were practising voodoo to ensure his downfall. On another occasion, he ordered all cats, suspected of bringing bad luck in his encounters with MINUSTAH, to be killed and when one woman resisted she was shot.35Evens even used the UN's own informers to spread false information about his supposed actions, such as impending assaults on UN Strong Points and patrols.

In preparing for attacks on the bandit's strongholds, the United Nations needed to study the defences and tactics of the gang. Evens possessed 'robust networks of lookouts using cell phones, rooftop snipers, and gunmen who use women and children as human shields'.36 His gang members were known to set tires on fire to create smoke screens and to throw Molotov cocktails at UN positions, though these proved ineffective from a distance. After the UN's seizure of Blue House, Evens expelled people living nearby with the intention of setting fire to their houses so that the resulting fire and smoke might force the Brazilian soldiers to leave their post. Fortunately for the neighbourhood, this plan was not carried out.

It was apparent from aerial photos that the Evens gang had dug several ditches ('tank traps') over two metres deep to prevent UN vehicular (APC) passage. These ditches needed to be located and preparations made to rapidly fill up the holes on the essential routes during operations, a job given to the engineering squadron.

Based on gang psychology, a UN assessment concluded: 'If outnumbered and outgunned, they [gang members] will attempt to delay and escape.'37 This was the tactic Evens employed during Operation Jauru Sudamericana but not without putting up fierce resistance. After the half-day siege, he was not among the eight gang members arrested.

Although the territory of Boston did not extend all the way to the Caribbean sea, it was less than two kilometres to the coast and there was a canal running through Boston (mostly dry at that point) that could permit a direct exit out of Cité Soleil. More likely, Evens and some gang members escaped through the narrow complex of twisted alleyways to areas adjoining Cité Soleil.

In hiding after Operation Jauru Sudamericana, Evens declared that he was going to shoot himself. But he was located six weeks later in the southern Haitian commune of Les Cayes, thanks to information supplied by the local population. He was arrested on 13 March 2007 by the HNP and transported by MINUSTAH helicopter to a jail in Port-au-Prince.38

Intelligence Sources^

Human Intelligence

Haiti was, and is, a human intelligence (HUMINT)-rich environment. The United Nations was able to tap into the wide-ranging disaffection with the gangs in order to procure plenty of actionable information. Persons close to the gang leaders (including lovers) would sometimes voluntarily offer incriminating evidence and time/place information to assist the UN/HNP make arrests. In addition, the very low income of people in Haiti (where more than half the population lives on less than one dollar a day39) meant many would gladly offer information for modest compensation. Unusual for PKOs, the mission had special funds to build such relationships.

Still, the hazards of using informants and HUMINT could be great. Haiti was (and is) filled with false rumours, so the United Nations had to constantly verify and cross-check information received. Informants might offer unverified or false information to receive payment, to incriminate people they did not like or even to deliberately embarrass the United Nations. Also gang chiefs were known to funnel false information through informants.

During Operation Jauru Sudamericana against Evens' base, JMAC kept contact with sources within the district whose task was to mark the targets (gang members) for the UN forces. Informants were sometimes dressed in UN military uniforms with their faces shielded or covered so they could point out suspects without being identified themselves. Target information was passed to the Intelligence Advisor of the Force Commander who was in the Command Post nearby. These sources forewarned MINUSTAH of Evens' effort to strike up a civilian demonstration designed to protest and stop the UN operation. The United Nations was able to see through that ruse, and deal with the crowds through police action.

To gain tips on criminals, MINUSTAH set up a toll-free 24/7 hotline in 2005. This allowed Haitians to confidentially share information on gang activities, crimes and human rights violations, especially kidnappings. The service, called 'Je We Bouch Pale' proved valuable. Although the hotline received a majority of crank calls (e.g., disruptive, misleading or vendetta calls), its information has helped locate and liberate hostages and capture gang members.40 To distinguish between crank and legitimate calls, operators needed analytical skills and associated mission personnel needed means to corroborate or discredit information. UNPOL worked closely with the HNP to respond to tips.

There was always the potential problem of information leaks from turncoat HNP officers. The UN mission, therefore, often limited the information available to these officers, even if joint activities necessitated their participation as the 'official' police force with powers of arrest. In some joint operations, the Haitian police officers did not learn of the intended targets or areas of search until the operations were underway. MINUSTAH team leaders sometimes insisted that HNP officers hand over their cell phones at the start of an operation, before targeting information was provided, to ensure the targets were not alerted of their pending capture.

Of course, the HNP could provide much useful information, relying on its Creole-speaking force of over 5000 police officers, its many local sources and its decade-long experience, however inefficient overall and despite its lack of a designated intelligence unit. For instance, HNP intelligence led to the capture of notorious gang leader Ti Will in May 2007 in Gonaives.41

The mission benefited from hundreds of patrols conducted daily by UNPOL, HNP and the MINUSTAH military, often jointly. This produced visual intelligence (VISINT) as well information from conversations with locals. Frequently, however, the soldiers could not speak French or Creole and there were too few interpreters to accompany all the patrols. So contact with the local population was not as frequent as it could have been. When JMAC uniformed personnel joined military or police patrols they did so wearing their uniforms bearing their UN and national insignia. UN civilian staff from JMAC or political/peacebuilding units often received insights and information during their work that could assist in operations and policy development. This was particularly true in JMAC's strategic analysis cell, which brought together into weekly sessions officials from MINUSTAH's main divisions (civil affairs, political affairs, justice, human rights, public information) as well as representatives from UN agencies such as UNICEF and UNDP. Apart from these meetings, the information sharing among UN agencies was considered poor.

Imagery Intelligence

Imagery intelligence (IMINT) was a key tool for MINUSTAH. Photos of the gangmen and their leaders permitted their identification and arrest. During search operations, soldiers and police officers used such photos to screen the individuals leaving cordoned-off areas. In one operation (Operation Nazca in Belecour), practically all the men of working age were stopped by the Brazilian battalion (BRABAT) and UNPOL.42 A dozen suspects were thus identified and arrested through this dragnet operation.

Aerial imagery allowed MINUSTAH to produce actionable intelligence and up-to-date maps. Both JMAC and operational units conducted over-flights. Aerial images helped the development of target packages and were often included in them. Such imagery helped the force determine the best access routes and potential obstacles in Cité Soleil. From helicopters, gangmen were photographed digging ditches to block the advance of the UN's APCs. The juxtaposition of 'before and after' pictures showed the expansion of such ditches over several days.43 Aerial imagery combined with ground proximity reconnaissance allowed the Force to determine, before an operation, the best locations to stockpile sand and stones for hole filling. Imagery could be used to identify any 'no-go' or 'slow-go' zones for APCs.

Heliborne images also showed a gang member on a roof top in shooting position with a weapon and a possible spotter at hand. MINUSTAH was able to map out dozens of potential sniper positions using aerial images. Also identified were gang weapons storage sites, hiding places used for victims of kidnapping, the goods from car jackings, the rebel leaders' bases and dwellings where the leaders were known to sleep.

Because night operations were preferred by the Force, heliborne reconnaissance (recce) was often done at night, probably to the consternation of residents. During one observation flight with night vision goggles and forward looking infra-red (FLIR), Evens gang members were seen escaping after firing on UN patrols. As the bandits withdrew to JAMAICA Base, the United Nations counted about 30 gang members. The escape routes were identified.44 Several potential hiding places, such as shelters under bridges, were also identified using oblique photography from the air.

During the actual operations, the United Nations usually flew a helicopter at a safe altitude of 1500 feet or higher for reconnaissance as well as command and control. On 9 February 2007, during Operation Jauru Sudamericana, gang members put out white sheets on the roads surrounding their headquarters to indicate surrender, but aerial observers spotted gangmen moving into position to fire at UN troops. Some gangmen were even donning new clothes (including woman's clothes) to provide cover. The ground troops were alerted by the heliborne observers to avoid the deception of fake surrender and exposure to sniper fire. MINUSTAH did not, however, equip its helicopters with weapons to fire from the air, fearing this might lead to civilian casualties.

Signals Intelligence

The mission lacked a very important source: signals intelligence (SIGINT). This reflected a general hesitation by the United Nations, which has sought to uphold privacy and respect national laws. Still, precedents existed in UN peacekeeping history for signals interception, for example, in the UN mission in the Congo (ONUC, 1960–64). But given the lack of institutional memory in the world organization, peacekeeping officials were not aware that such intelligence-gathering had been done until it was described in the academic literature.45 The successor operation in the Congo (MONUC) also employed signals intelligence in 2006–07 during the operations of its Eastern Division.

For tactical operations in Haiti, the ability to listen to the cell-phone calls of gang members would have provided a tremendous boost to the UN's ability to challenge, incriminate and apprehend them. To overcome fear of broad phone surveillance in the national and international community, the United Nations could in the future limit such monitoring to 'tactical SIGINT', meaning the surveillance would be confined to current operations and for specifically-approved targets. But UN headquarters has remained sceptical of SIGINT as a means of information gathering.

Once having arrested a gang member or seized a gang stronghold, the United Nations could certainly examine seized cell phones to record numbers called and stored in order to help determine the network of associates. This would require deeper analysis, something the JMAC later purchased new software (e.g., i2 tools) to do.

Technologies for Intelligence-Gathering

MINUSTAH was the first UN force to operate an unmanned aerial vehicle. The small prototype was only in the mission for a short time, however. When the Brazilian battalion that brought it was rotated out, it was also withdrawn. Still, it proved useful for distributing leaflets. It did not have a significant observation capacity. Some soldiers suggested that a UAV could be used to draw fire from the bandits, thus exposing their positions.46 The UAV was not equipped for night observation.

As mentioned, significant aerial observation was conducted by helicopter. The forward-looking infrared deployed in some helicopters was particularly useful to observe gang shooters during night operations. The camera also provided a gyro-stabilized platform to take images during daytime. Hand-held cameras with high zoom also proved useful.

The mission ordered commercial satellite imagery from the Ikonos and QuickBird satellites but the resolution was greater than 1 metre and the supplier (from Macdonald-Dettwiler) would typically take over a month to fill the order, so the images were not useful to observe current events. Still the images allowed the mission's Geographical Information System (GIS) Unit to produce detailed maps unit for commanders, planners, and troops. The walls of many headquarters offices were covered with satellite photos and maps.

The UN did not use radars for either aerial or ground surveillance. Nor did it employ seismic or acoustic sensors. Most significantly, the UN did not employ signals interception, as mentioned. In these areas there is much room for improvement. Other useful technology would be tethered balloons with sensor suites for monitoring of borders under the expanded tasking given in Security Council resolution 1856 (2008).

As UN headquarters pressed field missions to upgrade their technological capacity in 2008, MINUSTAH purchased snake cameras (for viewing around corners and over doors), and remote video cameras (including infra-red cameras). The mission had fixed video cameras to protect its premises but it has yet to monitor hotspots with remote cameras. In 2008 the Uruguayan Air Force provided a CASA-212 aircraft equipped with FLIR and a hatch for taking hand-held photographs. Chilean helicopters were also equipped with a FLIR camera whose signal could be sent to MINUSTAH headquarters for real-time viewing, including in the JMAC.

Direct technological observations could help the mission confirm (or not) information provided by informers, thus helping to assess the reliability of human sources.


Intelligence Methods and Products^

Detailed intelligence was required to prepare for MINUSTAH operations. Operations that took only 4–5 hours to execute would often need 40–50 hours of planning, with intelligence-gathering taking several weeks. During planning, simple 'scenario-building' was carried out to a modest degree. MINUSTAH staff, including JMAC officers, typically examined various courses of action, including the most likely and most dangerous scenarios.47 This helped the United Nations prepare for several possible outcomes and evade negative ones. The potential vulnerabilities of MINUSTAH forces were identified, as were possible gang reactions to UN operations. Of course, plans for operations against the gangs and other targets had to be kept strictly confidential in order not to tip off the targets.

JMAC produced 'target packages' with the required information for precision operations and quick arrests. One target was a gangster, Zachari, who had killed two Jordanian peacekeepers in November 2006. After locating the house in which he regularly played cards with other gangsters, he was successfully arrested in a joint military-UNPOL-HNP operation in January 2007. At the same time, the gang leader Amaral was also tracked. His daily visits to a Cité Soleil restaurant were recorded in detail, including the times he entered/exited, the persons he ate with and the type of transport he used. Whenever UN APCs were heard nearby, the gang members would jump from their tables and scatter on vehicles. Motorbikes were their preferred means of travel so as to avoid the trenches the bandits had dug to stop larger UN vehicles. The JMAC target package included detailed maps showing the positions of tables, doors, kitchen and staff in that restaurant. In the end, the operation to apprehend Amaral was dropped in favour of the operation to gain control of the Boston district.

Since the gangs worked in overlapping networks, the JMAC conducted a 'link analysis' to explore the social connections between individuals and between groups. In order to prioritize targets (gangs) and potential operations against them, the CARVER system was sometimes used, whereby each potential target is assessed on a scale (e.g., 1 to 10) for each of six criteria: Criticality, Accessibility, Return (or Recoverability of adversary), Vulnerability (of UN), Effect (of arrest), and Recognizability. The resulting matrix and the total sum aided decision-makers in selecting the top targets and priority operations.48

Reliable human informants were critical to most operations. A computer database was used to track and analyse the progress of human sources.49 HUMINT needed to be handled with care to protect the identities and methods of the sources. Hence, the resulting information had to be disseminated selectively.

The United Nations had a rudimentary classification system (restricted, confidential, strictly confidential, secret, top secret, for eyes only of XX) but the mission lacked control measures to enforce the poorly-defined rules. For instance, no unit was given responsibility to check that documents were properly secured in offices, i.e., that cabinets were adequately locked, computers were properly turned off, password-protection was used for sensitive documents, and that double envelopes were used during transmission. The Chief JMAC would often 'walk' sensitive documents directly to the SRSG. There was not a system for document registration for selective dissemination. Some units, like JMAC, did maintain stand-alone computer servers whose shared drive was available to JMAC personnel only. But there were no limits or checks on photocopying of documents. Furthermore, there was no policy on administering punitive measures to staff who disobeyed the ill-defined guidelines. Much information found itself on the shared drive of the mission's server.

Knowing that the UN's classification levels (e.g., secret) were not at the level of advanced nations, the world organization downgraded the titles of its confidentiality provisions. The newer system (December 2007) is based on the simple dichotomy of 'public' and 'confidential'. The latter is further divided: minimal sensitivity, more sensitive and most sensitive. A 'MINUSTAH Third Party Confidential' label was applied to protected information provided by a party (e.g., foreign governments) under non-disclosure agreements or other contracts. The categories 'secret' and 'top secret' were dropped in recognition that the United Nations lacked the means to attain those levels of information protection.

Many of these information security problems continue in MINUSTAH and other UN missions today. Improvements are needed in the UN's classification and information security systems both at headquarters and in the field, perhaps starting within the intelligence bodies (e.g., JMAC) themselves. In addition, the UN in Haiti or elsewhere has made almost no effort at counter-intelligence.

Night-Time Operations

Initially peacekeeping in Haiti, as elsewhere, was daytime work only. In Cité Soleil, the United Nations would hold its posts only during the day, being forced to leave by nightfall to be safe from attacks. But night-vision technologies and intelligence-led operations reversed this practice in 2006. Once the UN could spot oncoming bodies or shooters, it could engage them more easily than in daytime when there were many distractions and greater fear of collateral damage in busy streets.

Hence, the Force Commander preferred to run combat operations at night, though sometimes beginning at other times, in part to confuse the gangs. Night operations allowed the mission to reduce injuries to innocents and increase the element of surprise. The UN could use the cover of darkness, something that bandits had habitually done themselves to support their criminal activities. But when the United Nations acquired night-vision technology, it could take the initiative at a time and place of its choosing.50

During night-time operations, thermal imaging (FLIR) on helicopters allowed the United Nations a useful view from above. Liaison officers on board employed image intensifiers (monoculars and binoculars) to describe what they saw to ground elements such as troops and UNPOL. Heliborne FLIR also helped identify the hideouts of kidnappers and gang chiefs. In one case, in early 2006 the gang leader 'Belony' kidnapped three Filipino businessmen shortly after they visited MINUSTAH headquarters, releasing them only after a ransom was paid. The victims described to JMAC personnel the physical conditions of their captivity, including the position of a water tank and a specially painted wall. JMAC personnel then determined three probable locations from aerial photographs. Jumping on a FLIR-equipped helicopter to overfly these locations, a JMAC officer was able to positively identify the hideout within ten minutes. This was a valuable step in the process that led to the arrest and conviction of the gang leader Belony.

Intelligence-Sharing with Nations

MINUSTAH officials regularly engaged in informal information exchanges with embassy staffs, including those associated with national intelligence services. Though formal arrangements or commitments were lacking, some of the larger, more involved nations in Haiti often provided intelligence to the mission on a need-to-know basis. Especially when there were threats to nationals of that country in the mission, the United Nations was deemed to have a significant need to know. Mostly it was the better-informed countries, especially Brazil, Canada, France and the United States, that provided useful information.

Because the United States had a great interest in stopping the flow of drugs through Haiti, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), a component of the US Department of Justice, provided MINUSTAH with information on possible drug-carrying planes landing in Haiti. This information was often gained from aerial tracking radars based in Miami. But the warning rarely came early enough to allow the United Nations to reach the unofficial landing points (of which there are many) to carry out an interception.51 The neighbouring Dominican Republic also provided information about border crossings but to minimal effect. High-level meetings between the leaders of MINUSTAH and the Dominican Republic were occasionally held but more often the Dominican military attaché in Port-au-Prince would provide JMAC with useful information.

To support the host government, the SRSG occasionally briefed the Haitian President using JMAC products, particularly for analysis of political drivers of civil unrest. JMAC carried out data-link analysis of information from the National Commission for Disarmament.52 The sharing of government data on weapons and criminals also benefited JMAC's information-gathering effort. JMAC also assisted with the search for high-level government kidnap victims using government supplied information.

MINUSTAH targeted criminal activities and threats to the mission, and did not engage in spying on states. It did not disguise or place undercover its international personnel, though local informants deliberately blended in.

Intelligence Products

The crucial JMAC intelligence 'products' for anti-gang operations were the target packages. These included personal information on the leaders to assist with their arrest, including the locations where (and with whom) they met and slept. JMAC assessed the gang's strengths and weaknesses, as well as their tactics, intentions and capabilities. Vulnerability analysis backed up proactive arrests. JMAC contributed information to the design of the operational plans as part of a process labelled 'intelligence preparation of the environment'. JMAC also contributed to the After Action Reviews developed once operations had finished.

In addition to target packages, other JMAC intelligence products were: the weekly intelligence briefing for the SRSG, the weekly intelligence summary, and threat assessments for VIP visits and electoral processes. The JMAC's weekly assessments in 2006-07 'laid the foundation against the gangs'.53 The documents offered a 'unified situation analysis' drawing from military contingents, police officers, civil affairs, UN security, political advisors and others. JMAC also developed long-term strategic assessments and other products for the senior managers, as needed or requested for decision-making.

As in all PKO, the mission produced situation reports (Sitreps) daily and weekly for New York, as well as flash reports on more urgent matters (timely events). During the 2006–07 operations, New York requested the mission to produce after-action reviews (AARs), especially as it had to assess how far the mission was going in the use of force, a delicate subject in the halls of the UN headquarters. Press releases were sometimes issued after major operations, particularly successful ones.54

Intelligence Structures^

The structure of MINUSTAH's JMAC has varied since 2005, responding both to the changing environment and priorities within the mission. In the crucial period of 2006–07, the structure was as shown in the organizational chart in Figure 1. JMAC had three main components: (1) a Strategic Analysis Unit to assess threats to the mission mandate in order to enable the Head of Mission (SRSG) and his executive management team to anticipate developments and potential crises; (2) an Operational Analysis and Planning Support Unit to support integrated military/police operational planning, especially in the assessment of threatening security actors. This unit responded to requests for information (RFI) from tactical units, and liaised closely with the Joint Operations Centre; (3) a Collection Analysis Unit to collect data on locations, capabilities, and movements of individuals and groups that may pose a direct threat to the implementation of the mission's mandate. This latter unit maintained the 'Human Source Network'.


Figure 1. Organizational chart of the Joint Mission Analysis Cell (JMAC) as of 8 February 2007, showing its position within MINUSTAH.

JMAC had about 30 international staff in total, including a half-dozen seconded members drawn from other MINUSTAH sections such as political affairs, civil affairs, human rights, justice, public information and development assistance. The Chief JMAC, a civilian, supervised the day-to-day activities of all staff and seconded personnel were not supposed to receive direct tasking from their parent units. The Chief of JMAC was the primary intelligence advisor to the head of mission (the SRSG) and he had direct access to the Force Commander, Police Commissioner and other mission component heads.

The JMAC had authority to task the tactical elements of the mission (e.g., the battalions in the field), though these units had limited intelligence collection skills. In contrast, the JMAC 'ran' the very valuable Human Source Network. It was a rewards-based system which operated in accordance with the mission's 'Policy on Handling Human Sources'. The names and activities of informants had to be carefully safeguarded. The reliability of these human sources (and their handlers) was determined over time. Only the most trusted sources received regular payments. JMAC did not employ locals at its headquarters for fear of leaks and divided loyalties.

After the older threat (armed gangs) was successfully dealt with, JMAC increased the number of police and decreased the number of military personnel. Police were more experienced in gathering, analysing and handling information on criminal activities that was the new focus of the mission. Many UNPOL were drawn from Canadian police forces that were bilingual. The military lacked French-speaking personnel while this problem was less among the civilian staff.

JMAC was designed to centralize intelligence for the SRSG and the senior management. The military force did not want to relinquish its own intelligence section (U2). The police depended heavily on JMAC for 'intelligence-led policing'. The Police Commissioner and Force Commander had their 'chief intelligence advisors' (with the ironic acronym CIA), who were placed within the JMAC. The main client for JMAC, however, remained the SRSG, who would sometimes use information from the JMAC Chief to prod other components to action.

As the JMAC was being created in 2005, the SRSG was ambivalent and did not utilise its potential to serve his office. The Force Commander and Police Commissioner even hesitated to embrace JMAC until it had proven its utility. Against these odds, the MINUSTAH JMAC demonstrated its value through initiative and hard work. The military and police assigned to the JMAC quickly became 'converts'.

The Force Commander and Police Commissioner agreed to lend more personnel, but the Force Commander retained a dedicated intelligence capacity for tactical operations. The chief of military intelligence (U2) or S2 kept a staff of a half-dozen analysts at headquarters and the U2 or S2 in regional battalions ranged from one to several persons. The battalion U2 was responsible for providing tactical and weather information in their locality. The Chief U2 played a significant role, having the lead-off at the daily morning briefings of the military Chief of Staff (COS). The GIS unit was originally housed within the U2 before it became a part of JMAC in 2007 and later it was placed under the Chief Mission Support.

UNPOL did not have its own intelligence analysis section. It seconded staff to the JMAC, which enhanced the free flow of information both ways. There was an obvious need for crime analysts and photo interpreters, though these positions were undermanned within JMAC. The FPU and the Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) units engaged in intelligence-led operations, usually in conjunction with the military forces. JMAC assisted by developing target packages in such joint operations. While UNPOL maintained connections with the local population, the human source manager was located within JMAC. UNPOL arrests were almost always done in conjunction with the HNP, because UNPOL did not have an executive mandate (including powers of arrest).

The distinction between JMAC and JOC roles was often blurred. To start, the JOC was inappropriately named, since it acted primarily as a conduit for information not operational orders ('Joint Information Centre' or JIC would be a better name than JOC). According to a headquarters' memorandum, the JOC was responsible for information on current operations and day-to-day situation reporting whereas the JMAC was responsible for medium and long-term analysis.55 However, the JMAC often helped plan current operations and even had personnel on the ground to assist. Hence, coordination between these two units was important since their mandates and requirements overlapped considerably, especially in operations. The main difference, in practice, was that JMAC did much deeper analysis. For instance, weather and current military information came primarily from JOCs while the social implications of that information might be analysed by JMAC. JMAC made predictions. In the Friday meetings of the Security Management Team, which included the heads of the UN mission and the UN agencies, JMAC regularly provided warnings about what could be expected in the coming week, such as a forecast of increased criminal activities in specific locations, potential upturns in civil unrest and possible actions against the mission.

The initial division of labour between JMAC and JOC in 2005–06 was also not clear, so MINUSTAH created its own guidelines in 2007.56 In most other UN missions, such guidelines still remain to be developed. The overall division is clear in principle: JMAC has a broad mandate to conduct medium- and long-term analysis, while the JOC is supposed to deal with the short-term analysis (i.e., current situational awareness). But the large overlap can still lead to confusion.

JMAC also experienced an early disconnect with the Department of Safety and Security (DSS). This was partly due to the lack of guidance from UN headquarters in 2005 on the sharing of responsibilities and resources between the various divisions of the mission. DSS had, through longer experience, developed procedures and guidelines for 'providing security advice in the field', mostly through its head, the Chief Security Advisor. The security office employed its own team to perform 'Security and Risk Assessments' using information gathered from UN security officers and other mission components. The JMAC, as 'the new kid on the block' in 2005, had to scramble for influence and cooperation with other units. Over time, the situation for JMAC greatly improved. (In UN missions in other parts of the world, this battle is still being fought.) Today, MINUSTAH's Security Section is one of the most demanding 'clients' for JMAC information. For instance, when the Security Section prepares a Risk Assessment, the first step is to ask JMAC for a Threat Assessment. Information regarding possible threats to UN personnel and assets is passed to the Security Section, which is responsible for taking mitigating measures. Without coordination at all levels, the process could bog down and risk UN lives. Fortunately, intelligence-led peacekeeping through internal sharing is a process that worked and remains alive and well in Haiti.


Conclusion: Cité Soleil Today^

While Haiti remains a troubled country, the era of reigning gangs in Port-au-Prince has ended, thanks to MINUSTAH. The main gang leaders were arrested in the first few months of 2007: Ti Bazile (18 February), Evens Jeune (13 March57); Belony (21 April), and Ti Will (26 May). Amaral is the only former Cité Soleil leader still at large, probably being aided and protected by elements in the government and civil (as well as uncivil) society.

Blue House remains a MINUSTAH 'Strong Point' in the Boston neighbourhood, guarded day and night by Brazilian soldiers, but it is not under attack. The traffic on Route Nationale 1 flows freely (if somewhat chaotically) in front of the Blue House, no longer obstructed by gang checkpoints set up for bribe extortion. Bullet holes are still apparent on the outer walls of Blue House, reminders of its violent past.

Evans' former headquarters at Jamaica Base, where the gang leader lived and met with other bandit leaders, now houses a free medical clinic and provides a large public square for public performances.58 The backdrop for the stage is the blue UN logo.

Haiti still suffers from pervasive kidnapping, with 20–50 hostages taken per month, still fewer than in 2006. Some of the hostages are held in Cité Soleil, though Martissant proved a more useful alternative after the 2006–07 operations. The country continues to have a large problem with drug smuggling and trans-shipment, which is aided by the numerous clandestine airfields and landing zones scattered across the countryside. The United Nations is trying to combat these criminal activities, having been given a mandate in October 2007 for addressing illicit trafficking in persons, drugs and arms, especially through the border. One thing is certain: to succeed in tacking these more pernicious threats it will have to rely on the intelligence structures and the procedures that it has pioneered. The environment is different as compared to 2006–07, and intelligence sources and methods will have to adapt, but the mission has shown that it is capable of such an evolution.

This review of the 2006–07 initiatives has shown how intelligence became an essential part of precision operations. The targets and timing of most operations were determined by intelligence. MINUSTAH leaders often chose to go after specific gang leaders because JMAC had the best information on them.59 The mission's in-depth understanding of Evens' networks and behaviour patterns were critical to MINUSTAH's achievements both at the Blue House and at Jamaica Base, allowing the mission to anticipate the gangs' next move. Other factors also contributed to MINUSTAH's success in 2006–07, including: strong political and popular will; availability of robust forces; cohesion of the Latin American troops; and proper planning and resourcing. But good intelligence was the key. Scholars studying the mission concluded:

MINUSTAH's JMAC has established the gold standard for intelligence support for planning and execution of operations mounted to defend and enforce the mandate … DPKO should capture the process, policies, precepts, and information collection plans that were key to JMAC's success in Haiti and strive to replicate these in other missions that are threatened with illegal armed groups.60

This paper helps serve that goal. As shown, MINUSTAH's intelligence-led operations constituted a pioneering approach that succeeded in Haiti. The method can and should be replicated in other missions, though not necessarily using exactly the same structures and processes. Some practitioners feel JMAC's work should be at the strategic level only, leaving the tactical intelligence to the JOC or J2. Certainly the proper balance in future missions can be found as long as a good working relationship exists between the individuals concerned. Though the UN lacks in-house mechanisms to train intelligence officers, Scandinavian countries created a course in 2009 to train analysts for JMAC and other UN posts.61 Furthermore, the United Nations is also professionalizing its peacekeeping intelligence work by hiring qualified analysts with relevant expertise. The Haiti experience shows that capable people exist to fill such posts in the United Nations. The investment of resources in this under-staffed and under-equipped world organization, especially in its new intelligence structures, can pay bid dividends for the peace of the world.

Though MINUSTAH continues to face a host of new challenges, the victory over the gangs in 2007 represents a milestone in the history of intelligence-led peacekeeping. It also made a concrete difference in the lives of many Haitians.

A final anecdote encapsulates MINUSTAH's achievement of 2007. After the United Nations had finally secured Bois Neuf, the last of the gang strongholds in Cité Soleil, at the end February 2007, a Haitian man paid the mission one of its highest compliments. He had been seriously injured during combat and was receiving first aid. But he told a JMAC officer, 'I'm injured and maybe I will lose my leg but thank you. I have regained my freedom and my dignity'.62


1 Hugh Smith, 'Intelligence and UN Peacekeeping', Survival 36/3 (Autumn 1994) pp.174–92; A. Walter Dorn, 'The Cloak and the Blue Beret: Limitations on Intelligence in UN Peacekeeping', International Journal of Intelligence and Counter Intelligence 12/4 (December 1999) pp.414–47.

2 See, for instance: Bassey Ekpe, 'The Intelligence Assets of the United Nations: Sources, Methods, and Implications', International Journal of Intelligence and Counter Intelligence 20/3 (September 2007) pp.377–400; Philip Shetler-Jones, 'Intelligence in Integrated UN Peacekeeping Missions: The Joint Mission Analysis Centre', International Peacekeeping 15/4 (August 2008) pp.517–27.

3 United Nations Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO), DPKO Policy Directive: Joint Operations Centres and Joint Mission Analysis Centres, Ref. POL/2006/3000/4, 1 July 2006 (New York: United Nations 2006).

4 The term 'intelligence-led operations' originates within the policing community ('intelligence-led policing') in the 1990s. It was applied by MINUSTAH to some of the mission's integrated operations.

5 In the United Nations Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC), for example, the G2 at the regional (Eastern Division) headquarters in 2006 was given control over the movements of soldiers in the field tasked to obtain information about dangerous rebel groups hiding in the jungle. Personal observation while on visit to MONUC, December 2006.

6 The United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) was another twenty-first century mission that pioneered intelligence-led operations, especially to deter, target or capture the 'spoilers' of the peace process and criminal elements. See Ben Lovelock, 'Securing a Viable Peace: Defeating Militant Extremists – Fourth-Generation Peace Implementation' in Jock Covey, Michael J. Dziedzic and Leonard R. Hawley (eds.), The Quest for Viable Peace: International Intervention and Strategies for Conflict Transformation (Washington: US Institute of Peace Press 2005) pp.139–40, 144.

7 Graham Muir (MINUSTAH Police Commissioner 2005–06), End of Mission Report, 17 August 2006, unpublished MINUSTAH document.

8 The UN's first experience in the country, under the United Nations Mission in Haiti (UNMIH), is illustrative of the poor UN capacity for intelligence in the 1990s. UNMIH took over responsibilities from the US-led Multinational Force (MNF) after the end of the Haitian junta in 1994. An American officer was appointed as the UN force commander, for the first time since the Korean War. He was double-hatted as commander of US Forces Haiti, allowing for some overlap of the two missions' functions, including intelligence. A U2 position was created in UNMIH to parallel the J2 of USFORHAITI. Even though the U2 was a US marine officer, the U2–J2 relation proved awkward at first, since the UN organization had no experience, no standard operating procedures (SOPs) and little intelligence to offer. A US lessons learned report later remarked 'the United Nations has nothing written or any policy regarding intelligence/information operations'. By contrast, the J2 created a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF), used a Multispectral Imagery processor (MSIP), and benefited from the Joint Deployment Intelligence Support System (JDISS) for assessments and operational planning. The United Nations had 'the human eyeball'. Center for Army Lessons Learned (CALL), Haiti: The US Army and UN Peacekeeping, Initial Impressions, Volume III (Fort Leavenworth, Kansas: US Army Training and Doctrine Command, July 1995) see especially para. 2.4.

9 The main regions in Cité Soleil and the nicknames of the gang leaders in these regions were as follows: Belecour (Amaral), Bois Neuf (Belony), Boston (Evens), Brooklyn (Ti Bazile).

10 'The Cité Soleil Massacre Declassification Project' provides cables from the US Embassy in Port-au-Prince that give indications of 'numerous civilian deaths', though the documents do not use the term 'massacre' or bolster the allegation of a 'massacre' as suggested by the title of the project, available at <>. The exact number of fatalities is not known except that the gang leader and four of his associates were killed, according to the UN. An investigation by the San Francisco Labor Council just after the operation, stated that 26 injured civilians were admitted to hospital, 'Growing Evidence of a Massacre by UN Occupation Forces in Port-au-Prince Neighborhood of Cité Soleil: Summary of Findings of the US Labor and Human Rights Delegation to Haiti', Global Research, 14 July 2005, available at <>.

11 Ginger Thompson, 'Fear and Death Ensnare UN's Soldiers in Haiti', New York Times, 24 January 2006, available at <>.

12 Ginger Thompson, 'A New Scourge Afflicts Haiti: Kidnappings', New York Times, 6 June 2005, available at <>.

13 UN News Centre, 'Death of UN Force Commander in Haiti Ruled Suicide', 12 January 2006, available at <>.

14 Ibid. See also Michael Dziedzic and Robert M. Perito, Haiti: Confronting the Gangs of Port-au-Prince, Special Report 208, September 2008, United States Institute of Peace, available at <>.

15 President Pre´val gave a televised speech to the nation issuing an ultimatum to the gangs to either 'surrender or die'. This was echoed by his Prime Minister in a speech to the Haitian legislative assembly on 10 August 2006. See 'Surrender or Die, Haiti Tells Armed Gangs', The Globe and Mail, 11 August 2006, available at <>.

16 MINUSTAH received an early embarrassment on 21 December 2006 during Operation NEW FOREST in Bois Neuf, when the Belony gang gained a 'tactical victory' by taking possession of a Uruguayan APC with its 'organic armaments', i.e., a heavy machine gun and a sniper rifle. The APC was recovered three days later and the machine gun shortly thereafter. Fortunately, the gangs were not able to use the machine gun because the Russian electronics proved too sophisticated. 'DFC [Deputy Force Commander] Uruguayan After Action Report on Op Lot Nivo', undated MINUSTAH document. The sniper rifle was recovered only on 21 March.

17 The largest operation (Jauru Sudamericana, with 720 troops) expended 10,000 rounds while the earlier and smaller operation (Iron First in 2005) expended over 23,000 rounds.

18 Interview with Force Commander Carlos dos Santos Cruz, at MINUSTAH Headquarters (Christopher Hotel), Port-au-Prince, 18 December 2008.

19 Communication from a UN official active in MINUSTAH in 2006, electronic correspondence, 25 January 2009. One NGO report lists four fatalities from Operation Jauru Sudamericana of 9 February 2007. See <>. The death of Yoyo Piman is reported in a UN press release 'Haiti: Wanted Gang Member Dies after Opening Fire during Attempted Arrest', 13 June 2007.

20 Marc Lacey, 'UN Troops Fight Haiti Gangs One Street at a Time', New York Times, 10 February 2007, available at <>.

21 A tour of the AOR was provided to the author on 20 December 2008 by senior MINUSTAH officials who were involved with the 2007 operations, including the Force Commander. Many details of the operation were learned at that time. The walking tour covered Strong Point 16, the Blue House and the general Boston neighbourhood. The bullet holes from the operations were still evident in some buildings like the Blue House and nearby water tower.

22 MINUSTAH Press Release 'Haiti: Opération sécuritaire de la MINUSTAH dans un quartier de Cité Soleil', 9 February 2007, PIO/PR/310/FRA/2007, available at <> accessed 2 January 2009.

23 Operation Jauru Sudamericana employed about 720 troops. A larger 'Show of Force' Operation in mid-2006 involved over 1080 troops (as well as 200 UNPOL and over 300 HNP) but it did not have any hostile targets.

24 This UAV, or 'Veiculo Aereo Nao-Tripulado' (VANT) in Portuguese, was shot in its wing with one round while dropping leaflets at low elevation but it was not seriously damaged. In Operation Humaitá of 31 January, 400 pamphlets were launched by VANT of 'Jauru Air Force' in 4 overflights of the Bois Neuf neighbourhood (BRABATT SITREP, 31 January 2007). One of the flyers used by MINUSTAH was directed at gangmen: 'IF YOU ARE ARMED, SHOW YOURSELF AND HAND OVER YOUR WEAPONS. TURN YOURSELF IN. YOUR RIGHTS WILL BE RESPECTED.'

25 MINUSTAH, 'After Action Report on Operation “Jauru Sudamericano”', unpublished and undated but likely to be 1 March 2007, p.19. (In English, the operation is titled 'Jauru Sudamericana'.)

26 Dziedzic and Perito, Haiti (note 14), p.5.

27 Lacey, 'UN Troops' (note 20).

28 MINUSTAH, 'After Action Report on Operation “Jauru Sudamericano”' (note 25) p.45.


30 Henry L. Stimson Centre, Peace Operations Fact Sheet Series: MINUSTAH, 16 July 2008, p.2.

31 UN Department of Public Information, video on MINUSTAH. Also a personal remark made to the author on 6 March 2009, in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo.

32 See Lacey for the New York Times coverage. Brazilian media (e.g., Correio Brasiliense and Folha de Sao Paulo) was also positive, given the major role that Brazilian troops played. The local population also gave MINUSTAH a resounding 97% approval rating for cracking down on the gangs. Dziedzic and Perito, Haiti (note 14), p.5.

33 A list of alleged 19 fatalities due to a UN operation on 22 December 2006 is provided in Kevin Pina, 'The UNspoken truth about gangs in Haiti', <>.

34 MINUSTAH, 'After Action Report on Operation “Jauru Sudamericano”' (note 25).

35 Lacey, 'UN Troops' (note 20).

36 MINUSTAH, 'After Action Report on Operation “Jauru Sudamericano”' (note 25), p.1.

37 Ibid.

38 Agence France Press, 'La police haitienne arrête un important chef de gang', 13 March 2007, available at <>; and UN press release, 'Fugitive Haitian Gang Leader Sought in UN-backed Crackdown on Crime is Captured. UN Helps Haitian Police Transfer Gang Leader', 14 March 2007, available at <>.

39 Thompson ('Fear and Death Ensnare UN's Soldiers in Haiti') cites UN estimates that 'Fifty-five percent of Haiti's 8.5 million people live on less than a dollar a day' and Cité Soleil is one the poorest neighbourhoods in the country.

40 MINUSTAH, Communiqué de presse # 298, '22 présumés kidnappeurs interpelle´s et 4 victimes liberées en 2 jours', UN Doc. PIO/PR/298/FRA/2006, 19 December 2006.

41 Dziedzic and Perito, Haiti (note 14), p.12.

42 MINUSTAH, 'After Action Review, Op Nazca', unpublished and undated document, 2007.

43 MINUSTAH, 'Aftermath of the Cite of Soleil Operation Iron Fist Conducted 6 July 2005: Implications for MINUSTAH, Military Staff Assessment Paper', unpublished document, 2005, p.7.

44 MINUSTAH, 'After Action Report on Operation “Jauru Sudamericano”' (note 25).

45 See A. Walter Dorn and David J.H. Bell, 'Intelligence and Peacekeeping: The UN Operation in the Congo 1960–64', International Peacekeeping 2/1 (Spring 1995) pp.11–33.

46 MINUSTAH, 'After Action Report, Op Nazca' (note 42).

47 MINUSTAH, 'MINUSTAH Military Staff Assessment Paper, Aftermath of the Cite of Soleil Operation Iron Fist conducted 6 July 2005', July 2005.

48 The CARVER method was mentioned in an email to the author on 10 August 2009 from Superintendent Colin Farquhar, who served as Deputy Chief Commissioner and Deputy Chief JMAC in MINUSTAH in 2006–07. For more on CARVER method, see: US Army Field Manual FM 34-36, 'Special Operations Forces Intelligence and Electronic Warfare Operations', Appendix D '(Target Analysis Process)', Department of the Army, Washington, DC, 30 September 1991, available at <>.

49 Later the software Analyst Notebook by i2 inc. was purchased for analysis of the links between individuals. Also the programme ACT Contact Management, though designed for commercial applications, proved quite useful for the JMAC to track and analyse the progress of human sources. Emails from mission officials in January 2009.

50 In some night operations, a clear view of the surroundings was needed, if only briefly, so illumination grenades launched from 81-mm mortars were sometimes used, especially at the start of an operation.

51 Interview with Chilean commander in Cap Haitien, December 2008.

52 Full name: National Commission on Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (CNDDR in French).

53 Dziedzic and Perito, Haiti (note 14), p.8.

54 Examples of UN press releases: 'In Notorious Area of Haitian Capital, UN Troops Clear House Used by Gang Members', 24 January 2007; 'UN Peacekeepers Launch Large-Scale Operation against Criminal Gangs', 9 February 2007; 'Haiti: UN Peacekeepers Extend Crackdown on Criminal Gangs', 9 March 2007; 'So Far in 2007, More Than 400 gangsters seized in UN-backed Crackdown in Haiti', 27 March 2007. Available through <>.

55 United Nations Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO), DPKO Policy Directive: Joint Operations Centres and Joint Mission Analysis Centres, Ref. POL/2006/3000/4, 1 July 2006 (New York: United Nations 2006).

56 'JOC/JMAC Coordination', SOP 106.01, MINUSTAH document, 16 November 2007; and 'Organization, Functioning and Tasks of MINUSTAH Joint Operations Centre', SOP 106.01, 16 November 2007.

57 Human Rights Monitor, No. 6 (2007), National Human Right Defence Network, Port-au-Prince, p.4, available at <>.

58 United Nations, 'Haiti: UN Peacekeepers Arrest Gang Chief in Ongoing Anti-Crime Blitz', Press Release, 20 February 2007, available at <;=>.

59 Dziedzic and Perito, Haiti (note 14), p.4.

60 Ibid. pp.8–9.

61 The UN JMAC course is offered by Nordic Coordinated Arrangement for Military Peace Support (NORDCAPS). Information available on the NORDCAPS website at <>.

62 Personal communication from a former JMAC officer by electronic mail, 6 February 2009.