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Its portrayal in the show may differ significantly from its real-world counterpart.
Intelligence Support Activity

ISA badge.jpg

NameIntelligence Support Activity

First AppearanceNo Good Deed

Latest AppearanceYHWH

LeaderControl (Missing)

PurposeMaintain National Security

ConnectionThe Machine


The U.S. Army Intelligence Support Activity (ISA) is a special operations unit that collects "actionable" intelligence in preparation for activities by other special operations units, particularly those related to counter-terrorism missions. Elements of the unit were involved in intelligence gathering and analysis prior to the killing of Colombian drug kingpin Pablo Escobar, the capture of Saddam Hussein and the mission which resulted in the death of Osama Bin Laden. ISA missions are generally identified by two-word code names. Famously, the mission that included Hussein's capture was known as Grey Fox.

The ISA on Person of Interest

The ISA's main task is to eliminate threats to national security. According to Reese, it is "an obscure unit that does black-ops so dark, technically they don't exist". (“No Good Deed”)


The ISA has a budget that stretches back over several years. Large amounts of it were coded to "Northern Lights". A project that included the Machine's development and the construction, led by Daniel Aquino, of a facility to house it. This, along with the ISA's operations comprise the "Program". (“Relevance”)​ It is later used to pay Decima for access to Samaritan.


"Research" is the program's codename for the Machine. It sends the ISA the Social Security numbers of persons of threats relevant to national security. ISA Operatives aren't told of the true nature of "Research" and speculate the numbers originate in Guantanamo or other places after torture. As far as they are concerned, "Research" is a secret group working out of an unknown location.

Research 2.0

After the government is forced to officially sever ties with the Machine, Samaritan replaces it, creating Research 2.0 in collaboration with Decima. (“Proteus”)(“Honor Among Thieves”)​ The information Samaritan gives is far more comprehensive and operatives can access it from a mainframe inside the Pentagon. Therefore, operatives are simply given action orders, green-lit by Control, and investigation on their behalf isn't needed. Samaritan has on several occasions influenced the ISA to further its goals: on one occasion, it changes to objectives of ISA operatives to secure a lethal virus (“Honor Among Thieves”)​ and on another, it manipulated information to frame innocent men it wanted dead, as terrorists. (“Control-Alt-Delete”)

Worldmapper Travel

ISA operatives are assigned travel itineraries by a travel agency named Worldmapper Travel. A storefront is kept for the travel agency named and run by a man named Foster. Because he assigns itineraries, Foster knows the location of all ISA teams. (“4C”)


The Intelligence Support Activity , or "The Activity", is a special military unit in the US Army. They are tasked to collect actionable intelligence in advance of missions by other US special operations forces, especially Delta Force and SEAL Team Six.



  • The ISA sent Indigo 5 operatives Sameen Shaw and Michael Cole to San Jose and ordered them to assassinate Daniel Aquino. (“Relevance”)



  • The ISA sent Sameen Shaw (and possibly Cole as well) to stop a terrorist near a school in Georgetown, Washington, DC. (“A House Divided”)
  • The ISA sent Indigo 5 operatives to take care of a group of terrorists in Germany. (“Relevance”)
  • The ISA sent a team to kill Shaw and Cole after the latter became suspicious of numbers they had received from "Research", had started making inquiries and had discovered Aquino had been framed. The team attacked the two after they had been set up by Wilson. Cole was killed and Shaw was shot but aided by Reese, survived. (“Relevance”)
  • The ISA sent operative Indigo 6A to kill Owen Matthews while he was traveling in a commercial jet. The operative was stopped by Reese. (“4C”)


  • The ISA sent Crimson 6 operatives Grice and Brooks to eliminate targets based on actionable intelligence from Samaritan. After Samaritan wouldn't let her access a target's laptop, Control senses she isn't being shown the bigger picture, and, after dropping of the grid, amends Grice and Brook's orders via satellite phone and tasks them with retrieving the laptop. After Grice obtains the laptop, Samaritan has it self-destruct, melting it and rendering its contents irretrievable. (“Control-Alt-Delete”)


  • Control comes to believe she's being kept in the dark about Samaritan's operations and, after questioning Tyler, one of her former most loyal agents, kidnaps and interrogates Shelly, his handler, and discovers Samaritan has planned a mass-casualty event called "The Correction". She doesn't, however, know what it will be. (“Asylum”)
  • Unable to convince Ross Garrison that Samaritan poses a threat, that Greer is about to make a power-play and that they should go back to using the Machine, Control clones Garrison's phone. (“YHWH”)
  • After obtaining the information from Shelly which points to an imminent attack, Control tries to obtain threat assessments regarding Washington, D.C. and Samaritan briefly refuses to provide the information, leading Shiffmann to believe that it was a glitch. Control takes her aside and asks if there has been any suspicious activity, and she then shows her a memo, which was spoofed to appear as though it was written by Control, which informs them of a quarantined address in Colombia Heights.
  • As Control attempts to learn more bout the Correction, she requests threat assessments for Washington - although Samaritan briefly refuses, leading Shiffmann to believe that it was a glitch. Control takes her aside and asks if there has been any suspicious activity. She shows Control a memo spoofed to appear as though it was written by Control. It informs operatives of a quarantined address in Colombia Heights. (“Asylum”)
  • She takes Grice, a loyal agent, with her to investigate. They find evidence there could be a dozen ammonium nitrate based bombs on the loose. Control spoofs a message from Senator Garrison, luring Greer into a trap. He tells Control the true nature of "The Correction", reveals Grice and Schiffmann are dead and promptly has her abducted. (“Asylum”) (“YHWH”)


  • After Reese and Shaw, and not the ISA, receive the number of the President of the United States, they deduce Samaritan considers him irrelevant. (“Synecdoche”)

Known members

Image Name Status Description

POI 0312 Control.png





POI 0221 SC.png


"Special Counsel"



POI 0216 Main.png

Daniel Aquino


Constructed the

Hanford Nuclear Reservation

POI 0216 Wilson.png



Higher-ranking member

POI 0202 Hersh.png


"Robert N. Hersh"



POI 0122 Fox.png




POI 0221 Shaw.png

Sameen Shaw 

Indigo 5A


Former operative

POI 0216 Cole.png

Michael Cole 

Indigo 5B


Operative; Shaw's partner

POI 0313 Foster.png



Agent at

Worldmapper Travel

POI 0313 Indigo6A.png


Indigo 6A


Operative; Shaw's successor

POI 0407 Grice.png

Devon Grice

Crimson 6A



POI 0407 Brooks.png


Crimson 6B


Operative; Grice's partner

N/A Unknown

Vermillion 7A

Unknown Operative
N/A Unknown

Vermillion 7C

Unknown Operative
N/A Unknown

Viridian 9

Uknown Trainee under Crimson 6

Real-life Counterpart

The real-life counterpart of the ISA, sometimes known as the "Activity", changes its name periodically because of the secretive nature of its work. Unlike the CIA, NSA, or DIA (its civilian counterparts), the ISA is a Special Operations Unit that specializes in gathering actionable intelligence, both from human sources (HUMINT) and from signals such as electronic communication (SIGINT) to aid its Tier-1 partners, such as U.S. Army Delta Force or U.S. Navy SEAL Team Six, in their Special Operations.

The ISA also has a direct action arm comprised of men and women recruited from the US Army Delta Force, Army Special Forces, 75th Ranger Regiment, Army Intelligence, and Army Civil Affairs. The unit's Female operators mainly come from Military Intelligence and Civil Affairs backgrounds. As the unit's "shooters" these operators conduct covert special operations all around the world and often deploying alongside their brother Tier-1 units. Operations which the ISA conducts are often so secretive and in the black that neither the CIA nor the NSA can or will do them.

Like other JSOC units, the ISA is free to recruit members of different military branches to help augment their operational capabilities. Hence why individuals such as Sameen Shaw being recruited from the Marine Corps into an Army unit is not unheard of.