The assassins’ web: The growth of counter- revolutionary warfare intelligence, 1979–1985
For DMI, this move into counter-revolutionary warfare hailed its new era of expansion, influence and power – as well as the ability to implement sustained, covert operations on the ground both within South Africa and internationally against South Africa’s enemies. As DMI developed throughout the 1970s and into the 1980s, it began to function as a force unto itself, both gathering intelligence and acting on it, eliminating the transparency inherent in divided security functions. Between 1978 and 1986, DMI was expanded to include new intelligence directorates and a separate covert action wing (distinct from the generally clandestine activity of the Recces) to both enhance intelligence collection (through the Directorate Covert Collection) and to expand its ability to act on that intelligence (through the Civil Co-operation Bureau).1 This allowed DMI to expand its powerbase and capabilities, eventually including all manner of operational capacity far beyond “traditional” intelligence collection – with its capabilities growing, throughout this period, to include covert intelligence gathering, clandestine operations, covert operations, contra-mobilisation and the training of surrogate forces, assassination, disruption and destabilisation functions, and counter-intelligence (including counter-espionage). As DMI gained control over the Special Forces during the reorganisation of the SADF in 1979, this granted them the same integrated intelligence-special forces capability that the Security Branch had with Koevoet in Namibia and was developing in “C” Section domestically. This relationship under one command would allow for the exchange of intelligence and operational information between the intelligence-gathering half of the house (Sub-Division Military Intelligence and Sub-Division Intelligence
Operations) and the operational side of the house (Special Forces). In the middle of these would rest the three operational elements that, while nominally part of each side, in reality were covert wings of each: the Directorate Covert Collection, the Directorate Special Tasks and the Civil Cooperation Bureau, respectively.