National Action’s Counter-Intelligence Programme 1982-1990

by Dr Troy Whitford, November 15, 2013

During the mid to late 1980s the radical nationalist group National Action was targeted by domestic intelligence agencies.

Known as ‘Operation Odessa‘ it was part of Australian Security Intelligence Organisation’s (ASIO) program to combat what it saw as a rise in politically motivated violence. ASIO and NSW Police Special Branch officers placed the group under surveillance and sent agents to disrupt meetings and recruit informants.

Concurrently, National Action had developed its own counterintelligence program structuring the group in an effort to preserve secrecy, educating its membership in situational awareness and designating a senior member as an intelligence officer.

Jim Saleam before his doctorate in politics

Ultimately National Action counterintelligence program was unable to match the highly-resourced government agencies and internal discipline issues, meant the group was eventually disbanded.  However, National Action’s effort to develop a counterintelligence program provides some examples of what low-resourced motivated political groups are capable of achieving.


The Author:  Dr Troy Whitford currently lectures in Intelligence and Security Studies at the Australian Graduate School of Policing and Security, CSU. He is a government licensed investigator with research interests including field intelligence, intelligence collection and analysis.

The Academic Paper:

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