The Syndicate is the main antagonistic faction in the Mission: Impossible film series, being first mentioned at the very end of the 2011 film Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol before appearing in the 2015 film Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation and its 2018 sequel, Mission: Impossible – Fallout.
It is an extremely mysterious and powerful international and multinational extra-governmental intelligence agency and terrorist organization assisting anarchist Solomon Lane. It is inspired by (and presumably named after) the organization of the same name that appeared in the 1966 TV series and its subsequent 1988 continuation.
After Ethan Hunt and his IMF team captured Lane, the entire organization was disbanded. However, two years later, the remnants of the organization are reformed into a PIA (initialism of private intelligence agency) and terrorist group known as The Apostles.
The Syndicate was originally a proposed British government project to recruit former covert operatives of other countries, provide them with new identities and have them perform field missions without oversight, making the British Prime Minister judge, jury and executioner without accountability. The budget for this operation was on numbered accounts that should only be accessed through a virtual red box. In order to use the red box, it would have been necessary to identify the British Prime Minister, who nevertheless rejected the project.
Although the Prime Minister rejected the project, it was secretly founded without any permission by MI6 director Atlee and led by one of his agents, Solomon Lane. However, the latter turned rogue and used the Syndicate to enforce his own anarchist goals. In accordance with the original project's modus operandi, the organization recruited covert operatives who abnegated their countries, faked their deaths and became assassins and agents for the faction.
The Syndicate instigates revolutions and enables terrorist attacks in countries that are friendly to Western interests. Among other things, they are responsible for a plane crash near Jakarta which presumably killed the Secretary of the World Bank and 236 passengers, the murder of the President of Malawi in a car crash in Istanbul and the destruction of a chemical weapons factory in The Philippines which gassed a village of 2,000 people. However, these incidents are considered accidents and the Syndicate is generally not known as an organization. The society also required a group of Chechen separatists to smuggle lethal VX gas from Belarus, though Ethan Hunt prevents the transport. The Syndicate presumably killed the separatists after the failed mission.
Conflict with Ethan Hunt
Although there is still no evidence for the existence of the Syndicate, Ethan Hunt assumes that various terrorist attacks are the result of a secret organization and is therefore investigating. Reporting to an IMF substation to receive his orders, the Syndicate reveal their existence to Ethan, having infiltrated the substation to capture him after a man killed a young female IMF agent who doubled as a record shop keeper in London right in front of Ethan who was locked inside the room and gassed. In a hiding place in the sewage system, Hunt is said to be tortured and turned over by Ilsa Faust (secretly an MI6 undercover agent) and Janik Vinter, but thanks to Ilsa, the American freed himself, killed some Syndicate henchmen and escape. Ilsa's camouflage within the Syndicate remains intact. With the existence of the organization confirmed, Ethan begins following his only lead: a blond man in glasses who oversaw his capture.
Six months later, Ethan leads a CIA Special Activities Division team to an empty safe house as a means of passing information on the Syndicate to his friend, intelligence analyst Benji Dunn. Suspicious of CIA director Alan Hunley's actions and believing he will kill Hunt at the first opportunity, William Brandt recruits former agent Luther Stickell to discreetly find Ethan, using a likeness of Ilsa found at the safe house. In a same time, the Syndicate infiltrate a total of three agents, Ilsa, Richter and Kagan, into the Vienna Opera where they were supposed to murder the Chancellor of Austria during a performance. However, Ethan arranges for Benji to attend the opera, recruiting him to take part in a covert mission to locate the man in glasses. He confronts and kills Kagan in a fight and since Ilsa and Richter are targeted their targets, Ethan only has time to shoot either of them. So, he instead shoots the Chancellor himself in the shoulder before the Syndicate can to save the Chancellor's life. As a result, Richter considers Ilsa a traitor and opens fire on her, but is then attacked by Benji and engaged in a fight. This allows Ilsa to whirl around and shoot Richter, saving Benji's life. Escaping with Ilsa and one of the intended shooters, Ethan is powerless to prevent the Chancellor from being killed by a car bomb put in place as a redundancy.
Ilsa is later dispatched from a suspicious Lane to infiltrate a Moroccan power plant and steal a registry of Syndicate data stored on a computer. The British agent so partners with Ethan and Benji to locate the file. Believing it to be a ledger containing the names of all Syndicate agents and its entire infrastructure, the trio secure it before Ilsa betrays Ethan and Benji. However, when she tries to escape from Casablanca with a Syndicate escort on motorcycles, she pushes the escort down and drives off alone. Ilsa is then followed by the criminals who want to regain the registry as well as Ethan and his team who also want to take the registry. The chase ends with the death of all Syndicate agents and the successful escape of Ilsa. She then returns to London, passing the file on to her handler, Atlee. However, Atlee discreetly erases the file, forcing Ilsa to return to the Syndicate and prove her loyalty to Lane.
Regrouping with Brandt and Luther, Ethan and Benji follow Ilsa back to London, where they debate the nature of their work. Having betrayed one another so many times, they can no longer be certain of their own loyalty, and they question what to do next as they cannot be sure that Lane has not anticipated and moved to manipulate them. When Benji and Ilsa are abducted by Lane's men, Ethan realizes that Lane will always have a plan to acquire the files, and that the only way to stop him is to force a confrontation with him. He agrees to Lane's ultimatum to abduct the British Prime Minister and use his biometrics to unlock the file.
Disturbed by this turn of events, Brandt contacts Hunley and reveals their location. Hunley arrives at a charity auction to try and prevent Hunt from attacking the Prime Minister, and take him with Brandt and Atlee to a secure room. Having posed as Atlee, Ethan reveals himself and has the Prime Minister confirm the existence of the Syndicate. When the real Atlee arrives, Hunt subdues him and he admits that Lane took up the project and went rogue, and that Atlee has been covering up its existence ever since. Atlee is arrested and presumably taken into custody.
Luther discovers that the file is not a ledger of agents, but contains the location and access codes for billions of dollars in untraceable funds that Lane has been desperate to get to expand the Syndicate's operations. Ethan memorizes the data and destroys the file to force Lane to release Benji and Ilsa in exchange for what he knows. After Ilsa and Ethan kill Janik Vinter and several more Syndicate operatives, Ethan lures Lane out into the open and into a trap set up by Luther. Imprisoned within a bulletproof cell, he is gassed and taken into custody.
Some time later, Hunley and Brandt return to the oversight committee to reinstate the IMF. Hunley explains that their original meeting gave them a pretext to let Hunt's team infiltrate the CIA and take down the Syndicate without arousing suspicion. The committee is skeptical, believing Hunley is trying to save face, but agree when Brandt again refuses to discuss operational matters without permission. Outside, Brandt addresses Hunley as the Secretary of the IMF, revealing that the entire scheme was an elaborate ploy to expose and destroy the Syndicate and the oversight committee reinstate the IMF.
The remaining members of the Syndicate continued their war against civilization for the next two years. While many of them were killed in CIA attacks, the rest remained unidentified and at large. The remaining members renamed themselves "The Apostles" and became terrorists-for-hire. Among other things, they were responsible for an outbreak of smallpox in the Kashmir that threatened a third of the world's population before it could be contained. After being hired by apocalyptic terrorist John Lark, the Apostles contact an Eastern European group of criminals to buy these three plutonium cores. When the IMF try to forestall the apostles and buy the cores from the criminals, the Apostles disrupt the deal and can successfully escape with the cores as they distract Ethan by threatening the life of Luther.
In return for the plutonium cores, the Syndicate does not ask for money but instead requests that Lark and his ally, the White Widow, free Solomon Lane, who is being transported through Paris in a convoy of prisoners. Indeed, Lane can be saved, and shortly after August Walker's camouflages and he turns out to be John Lark, both are rescued by a unit of the Apostles and brought out of London by helicopter.
Lane, Walker and the remaining Apostles then set out for the Kashmir Mountains; the region now fairly empty due to the smallpox outbreak. Walker's plan is to detonate the two remaining atomic bombs on a mountain glacier in order to contaminate the drinking water that is fed through the glacier and to contaminate drinking water supplies from all over India and Pakistan, which would result in the food supply being shortened and eradication of a third of the world's population. Through this suffering, they plan - according to Walker's mantra "The greater the suffering, the greater the peace" - to bring about global peace. However, this plan fails when Ethan's team defuses both bombs and Ethan kills Walker in a fight. Lane is also defeated and arrested again before being sent to Mi6 for imprisonment.
It is unknown what happens to the remaining Apostles after that but it is possible that they were all killed during this operation.
The list of all known agents of The Syndicate:
- Atlee (Founder and pawn, incarcerated)
- Solomon Lane (Supreme Leader)
- Janik Vinter (Second-in-command, deceased)
- August Walker (Second-in-command after reforming, deceased)
- Nils Debruuk (alive)
- Kagan (deceased)
- Richter (deceased)
- Saif (deceased)
- Ilsa Faust (formerly, undercover)
Belarus Nerve Gas Scheme
- A400 Pilot 1 (deceased)
- A400 Pilot 2 (deceased)
- A400 Crewman (deceased)
- Famous MMORPG World of Warcraft (short for WoW) which was produced since 2001, has a same named faction: Syndicate. The Syndicate in game was also a human rogue organization trying to spread chaos and disorder through out the world. No matter players who choose to play their character within two main factions: Alliance and Horde, either faction sees Syndicate as hostile enemy.