Alliance of Twelve
The Alliance of Twelve, with SD-6 being one of its subsidiary cells, is a fictional international organized crime group in the television series Alias. It is involved in the trade of intelligence and weapons as well as in blackmailing.
The organization was founded by Alain Christophe, once a CIA counterintelligence officer, as well as other former agents of various other intelligence agencies and wealthy individuals investing in the spy trade after the Cold War.
The Alliance of Twelve is an enemy of the United States and a rival to the CIA.
The Alliance is led by a board of directors.One of them being Arvin Sloane. Some members are from the private sector, but most are former intelligence officers. All of them are wealthy. The organization is divided into 12 sections, named SD-1 through SD-12. "SD" stands for Section Disparue — literally, the section which has disappeared in French (Sydney translates it as "the section that doesn't exist" in the episode Q&A). These organizational cells are spread over 12 major cities of the world. The Alliance takes in CIA agents and trains them to believe they are working for the CIA when in reality they are not.
The purview of the Alliance is the black market trading of weapons, military secrets, industrial intelligence, medical technology, computer advances, and political agendas. Its clients include governments, corporations, wealthy citizens, families.
The Alliance aims to eventually reach world domination through its control over organized crime and the trade of intelligence. According to Jack Bristow and Arvin Sloane, the Alliance once wished to change the world when it had achieved this, and rid the world of corruption, but had become bloated and corrupt over the years, diverging from their original vision and focusing instead on profit.
According to Sydney Bristow in the episode Q and A, the Alliance of Twelve was responsible for the carbon proxy disaster in 1992, in which an accidental methyl isocyanate leak at the manufacturer plant in Bangalore, India killed three thousand people and injured another thousand, leaving them disabled. In 1996, near Kyoto, Japan, a bullet train accidentally switched tracks and derailed, killing a hundred and fifty people. The Alliance was also responsible for that disaster. In 2001, the Alliance caused a transport plane in Germany to suffer mechanical failures outside Munich, killing twelve people. The disasters were falsely believed to have been accidents. In truth, some were acts of revenge, others were personal favors to those who helped fund the Alliance. Some were distractions so that local resources were occupied so that SD-4 or SD-7 could infiltrate a building somewhere and retrieve sensitive data.
SD-6, headed by Arvin Sloane and based in Los Angeles, is the focus of the first two seasons of Alias. SD-6 pretends to be part of the CIA and states its objective as "retrieval and study of intelligence both military and industrial throughout the world that is critical to the superiority and survival of the United States of America." Even its own members, initially including agent Sydney Bristow, believe it is a black ops division of the CIA and only a handful of senior staff know the truth and are complicit in the deception.
In the first episode of Alias, Sydney learns from her father, Jack about the organization's true character as a part of The Alliance of Twelve.
During the course of the first season, other heads of the SD cells are eventually shown meeting. Among them was Edward Poole, head of SD-9 (played by Roger Moore), who manages to convince Sloane to kill fellow SD head Jean Briault to influence an upcoming vote on whether to declare war on Alexander Khasinau, who has eliminated rival groups FTL and K-Directorate. Another SD leader is identified by the first name "Ramon," but his last name and his SD cell number are unrevealed.
Paranoia and ruthlessness
SD-6 branch was headquartered in the Credit Dauphine building in Los Angeles, with entry through a special elevator to the sixth sub-level of the building. Every person who entered would be biometrically scanned and visually confirmed. As a security measure, all three areas of the foundations of the building itself were rigged with C-4 explosives that would go off if the inner vault had been breached during a security lockdown or for other contingencies. Fail-safe or lockdown procedures could be carried out only by Arvin Sloane, using his right index fingerprint; presumably, other SD cells had similar contingency plans (such as for deterring a CIA raid, which happens in Season 2) that would make it difficult to shut down.
In addition, SD-6 employed an internal security group responsible for investigating and terminating individuals who even know of SD-6's existence, those believed to know about the true nature of SD-6, or those suspected to be Double agents or traitors to SD-6. Sydney's fiancée, Danny, was murdered by SD-6's internal security division in Season 1 after Sydney revealed to him that she works for SD-6, believing it to be a part of the CIA.
Of The Alliance
In addition to the cell-like nature of Section Disparu, which presumably allows the termination of entire SD cells in the event that it is wholly compromised, the Alliance of Twelve is an utterly ruthless organization that constantly suspects and conduct surveillance of even its head members.
When Arvin Sloane's wife, Emily, admits to knowing of the existence of SD-6, Arvin is told to have his wife killed as a test of loyalty. Arvin was able to win a temporary reprieve because of his wife's cancer which would kill her soon; when her cancer is found to be in remission, he is again told that in order to become a "full partner" in The Alliance, he would have to kill his wife. He then faked his wife's death by drugging her wine and putting her in suspended animation.
Having proven his loyalty to the members of The Alliance, he is welcomed as a full partner and injected in the neck with a tracking device and mini-microphone to have his movements and conversations recorded 24/7. Although Sloane was clearly privy to matters that only a handful of men and women knew about, he was clearly not yet part of an 'inner circle' within The Alliance board, suggesting that there is some sense of competition and suspicion among even the SD cells and their leaders.
The end of The Alliance
The Alliance came to an end in the middle of Season 2 (Episode 13, "Phase One") of Alias when Sydney stumbles upon information, with Sark's aid, that leads her and Vaughn to believe there is one master server, server 47 (in keeping with the Rambaldi sub-plot of the show, where 47 is a key number in Rambaldi's works), which could potentially have all the information the CIA would need to shut down all of the SD cells simultaneously, thus acting as a sort of 'silver bullet' to the cell-like nature of the Alliance.
Although the server was located on a Boeing 747 plane that was constantly airborne as a security measure, Sydney was able to pose as an escort for the computer technicians onboard during one of its landings and copy all the information from the server. When Jack attempted to go back to SD-6 headquarters to get confirmation that the information was genuine (as the CIA would only have one chance), he was apprehended by the acting head Geiger (Sloane had taken off and was declared MIA by the Alliance) who accused him of being a CIA spy.
Knowing she couldn't go back herself, Sydney called her SD-6 partner Marcus Dixon to get the confirmation and tells Dixon the true nature of SD-6. With this information, the CIA was able to successfully raid all the offices of various SD cells around the world; Sydney was a part of the CIA team that infiltrated SD-6 headquarters in Los Angeles and rescued her father moments before he would be electrocuted by Geiger. It is then revealed that Sloane had planned the destruction of the Alliance, having a technician bypass the surveillance devices in his neck, and he and Sark had supplied Sydney with the information the CIA needed to remove The Alliance - after he had cleared out (apparently) all Rambaldi artifacts to his own location outside of SD-6. However, one artifact escaped Sloane's attention. This artifact, the Horizon, had been sought by Prophet Five for thirty years, and was eventually retrieved (after coercing Sydney) by Irina Derevko, who then betrayed Prophet Five, almost four years after the fall of the Alliance.
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