The Chinese leader and father of the Chinese Revolution, Mao ZeDong, when speaking on irregular warfare said, “The guerrilla must move amongst the people as a fish swims in the sea.” Recent events in France have come to reinforce that such an attack can come at any time, and that the attackers can and will use the safe haven of their cultural community.

Brothers Cherif and Said Kaouchi, who attacked the Paris-based satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, and Amedy Coulibaly, a gunman at a Paris market, were all killed in separate standoffs, but had they been able to blend back into their environments, the nightmare of a manhunt could have resulted—one with the potential to last for years and be very bloody. The possibility of a criminal safe haven provided by a community, especially a culturally connected one, is one that must be taken into heavy account by intelligence, law enforcement, and military commanders.

At the beginning of the Second World War, German, Italian and Japanese citizens in the United States faced prejudice, isolation, and in the case of the Japanese, internment as a result of the war waged in Europe and Asia. While this treatment of the majority was reprehensible, pro-fascist sympathizers, spies, and saboteurs were discovered, usually through the hard work of the FBI.

But penetrating the often closed-off and suspicious communities was not an easy task. Outsiders were easily spotted and ostracized. Nazi Germany, on the other hand, had intelligence officers under various covers (official and non-official) who would recruit from the close-knit communities in the United States, Europe, and around the world, while the Japanese opted to conduct its intelligence operations at higher levels (against War Department and other government agencies) prior to and just after the attack on Pearl Harbor.