A false flag is a deceptive technique where the manipulator leads others to believe he is the representative of a group they either admire or fear, in order to secure a benefit for his own cause, symbolically represented by a national flag. It can be applied in military, civilian, and clandestine contexts (e.g., clandestine human-source intelligence and counterintelligence). False flags are common in Internet-based fraud, such as assuming the identity of the widow of a wealthy dictator.
In the strictly military context, it is a subset of ruses of war, defined by Article 35 of the 1977 Additional Protocols to the First Geneva Convention: to include camouflage, decoys, mock operations and misinformation.
- Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, and relating to the Protection of Victims of International Armed Conflicts (Protocol I), 8 June 1977,