Thursday, October 20, 2011

Police turn to charity world’s Prospect Researchers to help fight terrorism

Foiled by Prospect Research
Police forces across the globe are turning to a new source for information to battle terrorism – prospect researchers at large charities. The new strategy on the War Against Terrorism has already yielded a number of arrests in Washington, London and Toronto.

“Because of the cooperation of prospect researchers at one large, Ivy League university, we were able to crack one international terrorist cell wide open,” said George Fuentes, Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security in charge of the special prospect research project codenamed “Operation Bookworm”.

“We arrested 17 people in three countries as they were all sitting down to the same alumni chapter event. It was brilliant. We want to thank Kevin, Marilyn and that student intern who’s name no one can remember for their help,” he said.

Operation Bookworm started nine months ago when members of Interpol were at an anti-terrorism conference in Boston. During one luncheon, the discussion somehow veered into the role of university fundraising. Soon after, said Fuentes, the power of prospect research as a tool against terrorism became abundantly clear.

“I was joking about how my alma mater had found me with their direct mail campaign even after I moved into a new home and didn’t send them an address update,” he recalled. “Sure enough, that had happened to several other people. That’s when we thought ‘Hey, these guys are good. We need them on our team’.”

At first, prospect researchers were reluctant to help. The request for assistance eventually made it up all the way to the Secret Society of Prospect Researchers in Geneva. “When we received this request by the world’s police forces for help we hesitated,” explained Society President Jacque Deloute. “In our calling we must each take a solemn blood oath to use the power of prospect research for good, not for evil. Many of our members rightly asked our ethical council to rule on whether fighting terrorism fit the bill. The council ruled that it did, and now we’re helping authorities in 21 countries.”

In fact, many prospect researchers had already been quietly identifying terrorists for years, ever since 9/11. “We’ve suspected that many of our alumni are in factor terrorists for some time,” said Marilyn Smith, head of prospect research at an un-named university in the Boston area whom police will not identify for security reasons. “They would come to alumni events and ask people if they knew how to obtain large amounts of fertilizer. Sometimes they would be at booster events for one of our sports teams and they would be making maps of the nearby military facilities. And even once, we had one alumni member wanting to make a large donation to the Faculty of Science to fund research into ‘dirty bomb manufacturing’. All these little signs added up.”

With the power of the databases of more than 150 world leading charities, police say they have been able to make significant gains in tracking and foiling terrorism plots across the globe. They have also been able to identify more than 120,000 lost alumni and lapsed donors who were not in fact terrorists.

“With these new weapons, I think we’ve turned the corner on the War Against Terror,” said President Obama in a short statement released by the White House yesterday. “Together, we will show the world what the power of democracy and fundraising can do to stop the forces of hate.”