February 27, 2013. Timbuktu. There’s a continent-wide civil war currently occurring in Africa, although most Americans aren’t even aware of it. Even less known is that the US government and its military are partially engaged in many of the conflicts. When African forces and Western journalists moved into a newly taken town in Mali earlier this week, they found an al Qaeda tip sheet for avoiding US drones. Following is the entire list.
The 22 al Qaeda tips to outsmart US aerial drones. Image courtesy of AP.
The list of 22 al Qaeda tips for avoiding aerial drone strikes was first discovered on June 2, 2011. It was published online one month after Osama bin Laden’s death. Discovered on an al Qaeda-linked website by Professor Mathieu Guidere from the University of Toulouse who monitors extremist Islamic communications, the list resurfaced again two weeks ago in an online warning to Muslim militants in Niger.
Then, one week ago, while French-led Mali forces were taking back a town in the Western African nation, an Associated Press reporter came across an important-looking document contained in a simple manila envelope. AP had the documents translated, creating what is thought to be the first and only English translation of the list of 22 anti-drone tips. ABC News then showed it to Professor Guidere to verify its authenticity.
“This document supports the fact that they knew there are secret US bases for drones and were preparing themselves,” Guidere explained, “They were thinking about this issue for a long time.” The documents show that the drone avoiding strategies were even quietly taught by Osama bin Laden himself, and parts or all of the list may have been written by the late al Qaeda leader.
“I want the brothers in the Islamic Maghreb to know that planting trees helps the mujahedeen and gives them cover,” bin Laden wrote to fighters in Mali, “Trees will give the Mujahedeen the freedom to move around, especially if the enemy sends spying aircrafts to the area.”
22 Tactics for avoiding aerial drones (from Associated Press):
1. It is possible to know the intention and the mission of the drone by using the Russian-made “sky grabber” device to infiltrate the drone’s waves and the frequencies. The device is available in the market for $2,595 and the one who operates it should be a computer-know-how.
2. Using devices that broadcast frequencies or pack of frequencies to disconnect the contacts and confuse the frequencies used to control the drone. The Mujahedeen have had successful experiments using the Russian-made “Racal.”
3. Spreading the reflective pieces of glass on a car or on the roof of the building.
4. Placing a group of skilled snipers to hunt the drone, especially the reconnaissance ones because they fly low, about six kilometers or less.
5. Jamming of and confusing of electronic communication using the ordinary water-lifting dynamo fitted with a 30-meter copper pole.
6. Jamming of and confusing of electronic communication using old equipment and keeping them 24-hour running because of their strong frequencies and it is possible using simple ideas of deception of equipment to attract the electronic waves devices similar to that used by the Yugoslav army when they used the microwave (oven) in attracting and confusing the NATO missiles fitted with electromagnetic searching devices.
7. Using general confusion methods and not to use permanent headquarters.
8. Discovering the presence of a drone through well-placed reconnaissance networks and to warn all the formations to halt any movement in the area.
9. To hide from being directly or indirectly spotted, especially at night.
10. To hide under thick trees because they are the best cover against the planes.
11. To stay in places unlit by the sun such as the shadows of the buildings or the trees.
12. Maintain complete silence of all wireless contacts.
13. Disembark of vehicles and keep away from them especially when being chased or during combat.
14. To deceive the drone by entering places of multiple entrances and exits.
15. Using underground shelters because the missiles fired by these planes are usually of the fragmented anti-personnel and not anti-buildings type.
16. To avoid gathering in open areas and in urgent cases, use building of multiple doors or exits.
17. Forming anti-spies groups to look for spies and agents.
18. Formation of fake gatherings such as using dolls and statutes to be placed outside false ditches to mislead the enemy.
19. When discovering that a drone is after a car, leave the car immediately and everyone should go in different direction because the planes are unable to get after everyone.
20. Using natural barricades like forests and caves when there is an urgent need for training or gathering.
21. In frequently targeted areas, use smoke as cover by burning tires.
22. As for the leaders or those sought after, they should not use communications equipment because the enemy usually keeps a voice tag through which they can identify the speaking person and then locate him.
To read the full translation of the al Qaeda anti-drone tip sheet, as well as the original hand-written Arabic version, click here.