Thanks to advances in digital technologies, open-source intelligence (OSINT) is playing an increasingly important role in the mix of intelligence collected by state and non-state actors. Now and then The Interpreter will publish OSINT links instead of the weekly Digital Asia links to capture the most innovative ways in which OSINT is being used around the world.

  • The US Government first learnt rebels in Yemen had fired a scud missile towards Saudi Arabia, not via spies or satellites, but via Twitter.
  • Relying predominantly on video and imagery, the Institute of Modern Russia's Putin in Syria blog is providing daily updates on Russian military action in Syria (for even more see this).
  • Yes, Russia is in Syria, but does that include enlisted Russian military personnel? Researchers dig through imagery of Russian vehicle movements and soldier's social media accounts (including those of their wives) to find out.
  • Instagram photos and geotagged tweets from soldiers are valuable intelligence, but fake geo-locational data can also be sent out to fool adversaries. 
  • There's a coup going on in Burkina Faso. Here's a tweet-recap of what's happened so far. 
  • The US and Russia periodically reveal special operation mission locations via website Flightradar24.com.
  • Ukrainian journalists drafted into the military are turning their social media accounts into personal field diaries
  • Russia's newest submarine, the SSBN Alexander Nevsky, is on its way way to join the country's Pacific fleet. This blog attempts to track its location via Russian media sources.
  • New satellite imagery of China's enormous Divine Eagle UAV, the world's largest drone, at Shenyang.
  • The US intelligence community is beginning to embrace open-source tools (including use of geotagged Google-based maps to direct air support in Syria). 
  • This investigation finds the 108 American volunteers fighting ISIS – they range from software engineers to surf instructors – have little in common except prior military experience.
  • Still unclear about what OSINT is and its value? Let Eliot Higgins, a British researcher and blogger, explain: