Phantom Cell Structure

The concept of leaderless resistance was reportedly developed by Col. Ulius Louis Amoss, a former U.S. intelligence officer, in the early 1960s. An anti-communist, Amoss saw leaderless resistance as a backup for the possibility of a communist seizure of power in the United States.

Leaderless resistance, or phantom cell structure, is a political resistance strategy in which small, independent groups (covert cells) challenge an established adversary such as a government. Leaderless cells lack bidirectional, vertical command links and operate without hierarchical command. While it lacks a central command, the concept does not necessarily imply lack of cooperation.

A typical covert cell operates as anything from a lone individual to a small group. The basic characteristic of the structure is that there is no explicit communication between cells which are otherwise acting toward the same goals. Members of one cell usually have little or no specific information on who else is agitating on behalf of their cause.

As a result, leaderless resistance cells are largely insusceptible to informants and traitors. As there is neither a center that may be destroyed, nor links between the cells that may be infiltrated, it is more difficult for established authorities to arrest the development of a leaderless resistance movement than more conventional hierarchies.