Conflict & Justice

Al Qaeda advice to avoid drone strikes: hide


Two Al Qaeda-linked fighters patrol the streets of Gao, northern Mali, on July 16, 2012.


Issouf Sanogo

The most concerning aspect of an Al Qaeda “tipsheet” to avoid drone strikes is the idea of cooperation, US intelligence agents say, not that some new technology exists that would thwart the unmanned airstrike program.

Staff from The Associated Press news agency recently found the Al Qaeda intelligence in a brown paper envelope in Timbuktu, Mali. The full document, including a translation, can be found here.

The document, written by a Yemeni and posted online several years ago, proves that militants from different nations are communicating with each other, American authorities said.

“This new document ... shows we are no longer dealing with an isolated local problem, but with an enemy which is reaching across continents to share advice,” CIA veteran Bruce Riedel told the AP.

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The tips themselves are mostly mundane, but range from common sense to sharing advice on the latest anti-drone technology.

Among them:

  • Intercepting drone frequencies using the Russian-made “sky grabber.”
  • Jamming drone signals using a “Racal,” also made in Russia.
  • Spreading glass or reflective material over vehicles or buildings.
  • Deploying skilled snipers to shoot down low-flying drones.
  • Using “general confusion methods,” and avoiding permanent headquarters.
  • Placing dolls or statues “outside false ditches.”
  • Hiding, especially in trees or caves.
  • All passengers run in different directions from a car pursued by drones.
  • Occupy buildings with multiple exits.

Mali is attempting to thwart an uprising in the north of the country sparked by Al Qaeda-linked militants. It’s also fresh from a March 2012 coup.

According to BBC, five militant groups operate in Mali, including the active Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).

More from GlobalPost: First the war, now the crisis in Mali