Spy Blog answers - MI5 Investigative Challenge Intelligence Officer Quiz

Spy Blog answers - MI5 Investigative Challenge Intelligence Officer Quiz

The United Kingdom Security Service MI5 has an interesting little Quiz, to help pre-screen potential Intelliegence Officier recruits,


Spy Blog disagrees with several of the "correct" answers to this Quiz. If these really reflect the MI5 Security Service Intelligence Officer mindset, then there needs to be some retraining as soon as possible.

N.B. if you have gone to the MI5 website, or have arrived at this Spy Blog web page through, say, a Google web search or through Twitter or a blog RSS feed and you have not bothered to take any precautions to hide or fake your computer's IP address and web browser details, cookies etc. for example: http/1.1 traffic_server[b8020e14-0a85-4c47-b65d-055f2a64080f] (ApacheTrafficServer/9.2.0), CCBot/2.0 (https://commoncrawl.org/faq/) 24807

from foreign companies and governments, then you should have, in our view, already failed the MI5 Intelligence Officer recruitment procedure.

Discretion is vital. You should not discuss your application, other than with your partner or a close family member.

Unfortunately, we suspect that MI5 still does not take "cyber security" / privacy and anonymity as seriously as it should.

The Quiz needs Adobe Flash to be installed on your computer to run and imposes an artificial time deadline, but you can examine the source material and the questions below at your leisure:


Intelligence Assessment Exercise



The following challenge will test how you use information and your analytical skills. The challenge has been designed to give you a greater understanding of whether you would enjoy and be well suited to the role of an Intelligence Officer in the Security Service.

The challenge should take approximately 15 minutes to complete.
You will be required to read and understand some initial instructions and
then have an opportunity to view a number of written documents
(10 minutes). Finally you will be asked to answer some multiple choice
questions relating to what you have read (approx. 5 minutes) to help you
pull together your thoughts on the situation.

The scenario and any data contained within are fictitious and are not intended to fully reflect the views and processes of the Security Service. Nevertheless, the exercise is designed to broadly reflect some of the situations you would be expected to deal with in the role. For the purposes of the exercise, please therefore treat the situation as real and behave as you would in a similar situation in reality.


You have ten minutes to read an email from your line manager and five documents that will open at the bottom of the page. You will then have four multiple choice questions to answer. How you divide your time is entirely up to you, although you may wish to allocate two minutes to each document. The clock will be located to the top right of your screen at all times.

Your ten minutes will begin once you click START in the bottom right hand corner.

Once the ten minutes have concluded you will not be able to refer back to the documents. Taking some brief notes as you read the material may assist you in answering the questions, but you should avoid taking extensive notes.

Some of the questions do not have a clear right or wrong answer. Select your answer based on your assessments, conclusions and, where possible, facts but do not worry that you have made a mistake if more than one answer appears factually accurate or possible.


Sent: 01/11/2011 11.01

From: Line manager
To: Intelligence Officer

Subject: Emerging situation in Pzenda

Just a quick note about the situation in Pzenda. Our coverage overnight suggests that several of the Pzendan Intelligence Officers posted to London have been pulled back to their country. Not ideal give the recent progress we've made in this area.

The boss has asked if we can try to work out what's made them so nervous. I've attached a few docs that I pulled out of the file this morning to take a look at, but I've got to head off to this meeting. You a cleared to see the CHIS001 material so I have attached this. I'll be back in 20 minutes so I'd really appreciate your thoughts in the meantime.

Many thanks



Age 38 (DoB: 18 February 1973), Kitghan, Pzenda.
Joined the Pzendan Foreign Intelligence Service (PKTY)
aged 18. She served three overseas postings (of three
years each) before this one. Arrived in London in late 2008.
Career has been notable for distinction with which
Flantcolf has served. Current head of a PKTY team in London.
Intelligence that Flantcolf is tipped for further promotion within PKTY.
Married to Andre Flantcolf, who is a junior PKTY officer.
Andre posted to London as the office manager at beginning
of 2009. Assessed likely that Dina facilitated posting of Andre.
Responsibilities in London are said to include: heading up the team that
monitors Pzendan dissidents based in the UK; building relationships
with influential pro-Pzendan government business people and academics
who regularly visit or live in London; liaison with other foreign services
in London who are supportive of the Pzendan regime.

The graphic designer has chosen to litter the "intelligence reports" i.e. the two Profiles, the CHIS report and the Surveiilance repor swith spurious "Top Secret" graphics as a sort of background image watermark. Real intelligence briefing documents tend to have classification prefixes together with lots of distribution list acronyms at the top of the page. See the various US Diplomatic Cables published by WikiLeaks.org etc, or this document left on a train and handed in to the BBC e.g. UK TOP SECRET STRAP2 CAN/AUS/UK/US EYES ONLY see Top Secret Joint Intelligence Committee current intelligence assessments left on a train



Age 32 (DoB: 17 July 1979), Kitghan, Pzenda.
Joined the Pzendan Foreign Intelligence Service (PKTY) aged
26. Had never served overseas prior to arriving in London at
the beginning of 2009. Andre is a junior Intelligence Officer,
and was initially a surprise selection for such a sought after
posting. However marriage to Dina Flantcolf in summer 2010 provided a likelyexplanation for Andre's upturn in fortune.

Andre's title is Office Manager, and our coverage collected so far would indicate that this is a largely administrative role that involves driving his more senior colleagues to engagements and running errands on behalf of others.
Always drives his office car, a dark blue saloon, registration 6PZ 88P.
We have received a single strand of intelligence that suggests Andre may also be involved in meeting with members of the Pzendan expat community, some of whom are known to the police as being involved in serious organised crime in the capital. We are yet to fully understand the reasons behind this, but tentatively assess that Andre could be acting as a cut-out for senior members of PKTY in London who may be somehow involved with these criminal gangs.

The danger of relying on only a single strand of intelligence, without corroboration, should have been learned from the Iraq War "weapons of mass destruction" intelligence debacle.




1) Several intelligence officials have been recalled to the HQ in Pzenda as a matter of urgency. The first to go will be the Flantcolfs. Dina Flantcolf has been summoned by a PKTY director. Dina and Andre are booked on a flight back to Pzenda within 72 hours.

A flight in 3 days time is short notice but it should be possible to get to anywhere in Europe or even th eother side of the world, in less time than that.

2) It is not currently clear who the replacement for either of the Flantcolfs will be.


3) Being recalled at short notice is highly unusual and is likely to be for one of two reasons.

A) A serious situation has arisen at home, which the PKTY wants its best people working on

B) Dina Fiantcolf is filling a space created by someone who has been moved from a senior role -for some time Dina Flantcolfs management has been tipping her for a move upstairs.

4) Given the disruption that the Flantcolfs' move will have at the PKTY offices in London, these moves do not appear to have been planned. It is therefore likely to be a domestic situation in Pzenda that has spooked the PKTY decision makers.


5) This CHIS is trusted, but has only partial access to the PKTY office in London.

6) Whilst the CHIS's views have been reported for your information they should not be taken as fact.

7) The CHIS has been tasked to be alert to further information relating to either the Flantcolfs or their successors and to contact us if such information becomes available.



The driver of a dark blue vehicle, registration 6PZ 88P recognised as Andre Flantcolf, was seen at 23:49 meeting with two unidentified individuals in a vehicle, registration 3PZ 89P, in a quiet car-park in South East London. This was noted as unusual as this is a Pzendan embassy vehicle that is not normally driven outside of the embassy and hotel areas of West London. Later in the evening Flantcolf, driving vehicle 6PZ 88P,

When does "evening" end and become "night or "morning" or "the next day" ? Midnight perhaps ? 23:49 in South East london to North West London by car in 11 minutes is impossible.
was seen posting something in the letter box of an address on Kaffle Street in North West London.

Not exactly a suspicious, covert Dead Letter Drop then, was it ?

Flantcolf, driving vehicle 6PZ 88P, made his way to a hotel close to London Heathrow Airport, where he parked the vehicle and was met by a female in the lobby to the hotel. This female bore a strong resemblance to Dina Flantcolf, but with a radically altered hairstyle. Neither Andre nor the person thought to be Dina had any belongings carried on their person.

Police colleagues subsequently confirmed that vehicle 3PZ 89P is associated with a gang of Pzendan money launderers.
Further context: recent intelligence received by police suggests that the gang was discussing the feasibility of a massive operation to produce fake 20 notes.

There are different kinds of "money laundering" operations.

Are these "Pzendan money launders" involved with the converting physical piles of banknotes from illegal narcotics gangs, into electronic money e.g. through foreign exchange currency dealers, or in hiding the audit trail of such money or other money for tax avoidance and tax evasion purposes, through shell companies and investment trusts in tax havens etc. ?

Subsequent checks on Service records show that the Kaffle Street address belongs to the landlord of Dina and Andre Flantcolf, who is also an associate of theirs.

So if the Flantcolfs are leaving London in a hurry, this "posting something in the letter box " could easily be a spare set of keys, or a note or outstanding rent etc. to their landlord.

If MI5 want to have a look at what was posted through the letterbox, they could obtain a Property Interference Warrant under the Intelligence Services Act 1994 section 5 and covertly burgle the property, with legal immunity.

Missing from this Surveillance Report is any mention of Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 authorised phone and internet communications content Interception or demands for Communications Data Traffic analysis, including mobile phone location based services data.

It is inconceivable that these techniques are not being applied to known foreign intelligence officers or to serious organised criminal gang members.


Last night, Mr Tnexdon, the Minister for the Interior, launched an official internal inquiry into the activities of certain elements within the government who are posted overseas. At a low key press conference the Minister refused to be drawn on details, but made thinly veiled threats to members of the Pzendan civil service who are serving abroad.

A source close to the government told this reporter that the centre had received information to suggest that dozens of staff working in sensitive posts, including in Europe, had been found to be engaging in acts of corruption that would undermine the government's effort to improve influence in these key locations.

This paper has previously reported on the efforts by criminal elements within the Pzendan expat community to get special favours from Pzendan government officials in Europe in order to help their


...continued from front page

associates based in the homeland who were facing trials for drug dealing, and arms dealing. Methods employed by the criminals are said to have included intimidation and threats of blackmail against Pzendan embassy staff.

However our source suggests that a recent secret inquiry by the Pzendan Interior Ministry has unearthed "pockets" of serious corruption, and even collusion with elements of the notorious organised gangs operating across Europe.

It is not yet known how widespread this problem is, but the inquiry is expected to take several months, with early indication that any Pzendan government official involved will be told to stay away from work in the meantime. Mr Tnexdon has yet to appoint a senior civil servant to lead the enquiry team.



The only source for that is a simplistic interpretation of the foreign, presumably state controlled newspaper report, which could easily be a planted disinformation cover story.

Why trust this newspaper's alleged anonymous insider source more than
than MI5's own CHIS and surveillance reports ?

If they were really under criminal suspicion, then why would they have been let out of their Embassy without being escorted under arrest by Pzendan security guards ?

They could be completely trusted by the Pzendan government and are being recalled for a briefing, prior to being sent to another European capital as replacements for other, actually corrupt intelligence officers, who have been uncovered by the Ministry of the Interior's investigation.

Should be a score of [0]

Worldwide and throughout history corruption by civil servants is either not investigated at all or it is is dealt with by the police and financial authorities with forensic accounting skills. Can anybody cite a single example of where a foreign intelligence officer, even one with good connections back in the home country, has been pulled back home in a rush in order to lead such an internal inquiry ?

The newspaper reports that there there has already been a secret inquiry by the Interior Ministry (presumably not the direct political bosses of the PKTY intelligence agency), so why would Dina be leading an inernal inquiry ? She may be questioned as witness or a suspect, but surely she is not the right person to be leading such an inquiry, given her own potential guilt or guilt by association ?

Should be a score of [0]

Should be a score of [2]

Only if you totally ignore the trusted CHIS report which states that they are booked on a plane back home. It should be possible for MI5 to quickly check airline bookings.

Agree with the score of [0]



But the CHIS has already been tasked to do this !

7) The CHIS has been tasked to be alert to further information relating to either the Flantcolfs or their successors and to contact us if such information becomes available

Should be a score of [0]

The CHIS within the Embassy will rightly think that the left hand of MI5 does not know what the right hand is doing. Repeated re-tasking for the same information (which may involve extra unecessary risk of exposure) could damage the relationship with the CHIS

MI5 is no longer tasked with investigations into Serious Organised Crime, as they were for a time whilst trying to preserve their budget and influence after the fall of of the Soviet Union.

Neither are the Police directly involved in this either, especially for international criminal gangs.

Money Laundering by criminal gangs is the province of the soon to be defunct Serious Organsed Crime Agency (to be replaced after the Olympics) with the "back to the future" new "Police Chief Constable" led National Crime Agency (there used to be a National Crime Squad which was subsumed into SOCA).

The main interest MI5 should have in the "the level of collusion
between gangs and Pzendan officials in London," is to see if this can lead to blackmail opportunities to help to turn these Pzendan officals into CHIS or or double agents.

There is no mention in these intelligence reports that the Pzendan money laundering gang is doing anything more than "discussing the feasibility " of counterfeiting.

There is no evidence that they are involved in anything sophisticated like North Korean style superdollar counterfeit bills which were distributed to various criminal and terrorist gangs worldwide via the diplomatic bags at their Embassies, presumably with the full knowledge of some of their intelligence officers.

"Money laundering" for the purposes of foreign tax evasion, if done on a large enough scale, is actually one of the mainstays of the City of London's financial markets and is why there are so many foreign billionaires resident in London.

Should be a score of [0]

What intelligence exactly ? What benefit is there in betraying the intelligence of MI5's Police colleagues regarding money laundering and possible counterfeiting gangs ?

How is this possible without tipping off the Pzendan authorities that Mi5 suspect Dina and Andre to be PKTY intelligence officers and risk exposing the identity of the CHIS working within the Pzendan embassy ?

Should be a score of [0] or less. Actually this should be a dismissable offence or criminal prosecution, if it leads to the compromise of the identity of the CHIS.

This landlord is stated to also be an "associate" - does he also work at the Pzendan embassy, in which case he may already be under MI5 surveillance, but this surveillance report, which does not even show that he was physically present or electronically in contact with the Flantcolfs does not justify "increasing our coverage" of him.

Why not devote some of MI5's surveillance resources to the members of the Pzendan money laundering gang (two of whom have seem to have been identified as such by the Police) instead ? Some of them may perhaps be PKTY intelligence assets, who may be contacted by the Flantcolfs replacements in the future, or by as yet unidentified intelligence officers in the Pzendan embassy.

Agree with the score of [0]



What exactly has the CHIS got wrong ?

The CHIS report states

5) This CHIS is trusted, but has only partial access to the PKTY office in London

How can a junior intelligence officer who has only just glanced at a some short intelligence summaries for a few minutes, and who has never met the CHIS face to face, or knows anything about their background or position, sensibly jump to this conclusion ?

Should be a score of [0]

Just because Andre appears to be in a position with a lot of freedom of movement and the ability to meet various dodgy people, that should not, in itself worry the Pzendan authorities - it depends on whose behalf he was meeting the alleged money laundering gang and why.

Since it seems clear that his more senior wife and intelligence officer colleague Dina is also travelling back to Pzenda, she may be the one who is under suspicion, or they both may be under suspicion.

Should be a score of [1]

What exactly does "fulfilling the key intelligence gaps" mean ?

Perhaps that should have read as "filling in the key intelligence gaps"

Why would the Police have any intelligence within the Pzendan Embassy or back in Pzenda itself ?

If the newspaper report is true, then it will be Foreign Intelligence from SIS / MI6 or GCHQ or perhaps our allied intelligence agencies from the USA or Europe etc. which will be key.

Should be a score of [0]

No it does not! See the comments above to the option

To increase our coverage of the Flantcolfs' landlord in order to
improve our understanding of his links to the couple

Should be a score of [0]



Better the devil you know.

Agree with the score of [2]

See comments above to the option:

To work with the Police to understand the level of collusion
between gangs and Pzendan officials in London, and to disrupt
this where possible

The main interest MI5 should have in criminal gangs and foreign government officials in London should be to see if this can lead to blackmail opportunities to help to turn these Pzendan officials into CHIS or or double agents.

Should be a score of [0]

Agree with the score of [1]

How exactly ?

There is every chance that "engagement" will be seen as an insult or "rubbing salt into the wound" of a political scandal. The Pzendan government may well ask why the UK authorities appear to tolerate these corrupt money laundering gangs in London.

Agree with the score of [0]


Each question has a best course of action worth 2 points
and two other viable courses of action worth 1 point
In total a maximum of 8 points are available.



You have clearly thought about the issues here.
We recommend that you apply for the
Intelligence Officer role, particularly if you
enjoyed this exercise.


Obviously Spy Blog has deduced the 8 points maximum score for this MI5 Investigative Challenge quiz , but, as you can see from our comments, we do not agree with all of the nominal scores.

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