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tl;dr: Plant some trees
February 22, 2013 9:47 AM   Subscribe

How do you avoid a drone attack? 22 practical tips from al-Qaeda (via AP).

Discovered by the Associated Press in an abandoned building in Timbuktu, authored by senior al-Qaeda leadership in Yemen, the document provides not only practical advice for avoiding the threat of drones, but also an astute understanding of why U.S. forces have shifted to drone-based tactics:
To start with, we have to know that the Americans did not resort to this approach _The War of the Drone _ because they have shortages in the combat jets like the F16 and other types or they don’t possess enough troops, but because it is the most suitable approach for them now. The Americans fully realize that they are in the 10th year of war and that they were economically exhausted and suffered human losses and they were confronted with public pressure backed by the Congress in a way that it made the honorable and responsible withdrawal from the war as a prime goal of the White House. But this does not mean that abandoning the war, rather, they pushed them to seek alternative military strategies that enable them to continue the war without being economically depleted or suffer human losses and avoid the American public opinion pressure. Here the war of the drone appeared as a perfect solution.
Full PDF hosted by AP
posted by 2bucksplus (61 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

 
The worst thing you can make me do is agree with something Al-Qaeda publishes.
posted by Renoroc at 9:53 AM on February 22, 2013 [4 favorites]


The linked document screams bullshit to me. The writer thinks of this as a "war" and one that started only ten years ago?

Either the translator took great liberties or this is an extremely weak piece of propaganda. Or both.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 9:55 AM on February 22, 2013 [4 favorites]


I think the author is positing the American point of view, which is a 10+ year war starting post 9/11.
posted by 2bucksplus at 9:56 AM on February 22, 2013


Tip #23: Love your women, love your children. Work hard in peace. You know. Like it says in the Koran.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:57 AM on February 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


The "cover yourself with grass mats" tactic immediately reminded me of this guy who was covering stuff with grass in the '80s. Avant-garde art, drone-avoidance division.
posted by Cheezitsofcool at 10:00 AM on February 22, 2013 [4 favorites]


17 – Forming anti-spies groups to look for spies and agents.

Gentlemen, it's time to deploy the anti-spy spies.
posted by jquinby at 10:02 AM on February 22, 2013


Anti-spy spies have a mixed record of success...
posted by m@f at 10:05 AM on February 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


avoid drone attacks with this one weird old tip
posted by hellojed at 10:05 AM on February 22, 2013 [32 favorites]


Gentlemen, it's time to deploy the anti-spy spies.

You mean counter-intelligence?
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 10:07 AM on February 22, 2013


NO. I MEAN ANTI-SPY SPIES. ACCOMPANIED BY ANTI AGENT AGENTS.

/hamburger

posted by jquinby at 10:08 AM on February 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


Tip #23: Love your women, love your children. Work hard in peace. You know. Like it says in the Koran.

I'm pretty sure a large number of innocent people who have been killed by drone attacks follow 23 just fine.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 10:08 AM on February 22, 2013 [10 favorites]


Tomorrow on Buzzfeed, Top 23 ways to avoid being killed by a drone.
posted by COD at 10:10 AM on February 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


Say what you want about al-Qaeda, at least they put their 22 item list on only 3 pages.
posted by 2bucksplus at 10:12 AM on February 22, 2013 [61 favorites]


I still like the idea of an "intelligence" agency coming up with a name for anti-spy spies and thinking "counter-intelligence" sounds smart.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 10:13 AM on February 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


We've always been at fourth generation war with Eastasia.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 10:16 AM on February 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


The worst thing you can make me do is agree with something Al-Qaeda publishes.

Why? We shouldn't pretend that people who wish us harm are Snidely Whiplash characters, incompetent, evil and contemptible in every imaginable way. If they were, they would be powerless. It doesn't surprise me at all that people being bombed by drones might have something insightful to say about drones.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 10:16 AM on February 22, 2013 [18 favorites]


You might be a drone target if ...

This bit kills at the No-laff Shack on Exit 10 off the Khyber Pass.
posted by zippy at 10:25 AM on February 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


“These are not dumb techniques. It shows that they are acting pretty astutely,” said Col. Cedric Leighton, a 26-year-veteran of the U.S. Air Force, who helped set up the Predator drone program, which later tracked Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan. “What it does is, it buys them a little bit more time — and in this conflict, time is key.”
posted by bearwife at 10:25 AM on February 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'm pretty sure a large number of innocent people who have been killed by drone attacks follow 23 just fine.

So, the reaction is to listen to what al-Qaeda's saying?

If the Crips come and shoot up my house in a mistaken retaliation for the Bloods blowing up their shit ... I'm kinda thinking "a plague on both your houses," not rah-rah Bloods.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 10:25 AM on February 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


ANTI AGENT AGENTS

Deckard was one of these, right?
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 10:25 AM on February 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


Can't wait for Drone Week to be over, 'cause I'm quite looking forward to Taco Week.
posted by laconic skeuomorph at 10:32 AM on February 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


If the Crips come and shoot up my house in a mistaken retaliation for the Bloods blowing up their shit ... I'm kinda thinking "a plague on both your houses," not rah-rah Bloods.

Those houses already have plagues wished on them by more powerful and historical forces than just you. But thanks for your contribution.
posted by srboisvert at 10:35 AM on February 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


Is there no low that this Osama guy won't stoop to? He wrote a letter recommending the planting of trees!
posted by ssg at 10:36 AM on February 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


Mr. Hamid al-Libi of Chilas, Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan, has presented us with a poser. We do not know which bush he is behind, but we can soon find out.

Yes it was the middle one.
posted by Kabanos at 10:37 AM on February 22, 2013 [14 favorites]


Just wait until drones start deploying their own smaller drones to get in closer. No escape.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:41 AM on February 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


Subtle Kabanos. But I like it.
posted by Blue_Villain at 10:42 AM on February 22, 2013


There was one part that reminded me of the 'People's Front of Judea' from Monty Python's Life of Brian.
"We start kidnapping Western citizens in any spot in the world, whether in the Islamic Maghreb, Egypt, Iraq or any other easy kidnapping places and the only demand is the halt of attacks on civilians in Yemen which is a just and humanitarian demand that will create world support and a public opinion pressure in America as they are being hurt again. We, therefore, aim at the core of the nation’s strategy which if failed, America, will accordingly collapse."
Start kidnapping people and yadda yadda yadda, the Roman Empire America collapses. QED.
posted by Davenhill at 10:47 AM on February 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


It is always interesting to see primary documents from people whose intentions are so often interpreted by everybody else.
posted by salishsea at 10:56 AM on February 22, 2013 [6 favorites]


I still like the idea of an "intelligence" agency coming up with a name for anti-spy spies and thinking "counter-intelligence" sounds smart.

It's actually very accurate. The idea is to counter your opponent's intelligence by (among other things) feeding them fake stories, so they don't have anything intelligent to go on. You could call it the "Make 'em Dumb" agency if you wanted.
posted by echo target at 10:58 AM on February 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


If the Crips come and shoot up my house in a mistaken retaliation for the Bloods blowing up their shit ... I'm kinda thinking "a plague on both your houses," not rah-rah Bloods.

And if someone murders my family, my response would not be to get upset at whoever did it, but to reflect that this is a natural outgrowth of a cycle of violence that has been perpetuated for decades, and to shrug my shoulders and to blame everyone and no one at the same time. I certainly would not be interested in any sort of revenge, nor would I see any reason to ally myself with those in good position to extract revenge.

This may seem like an unlikely psychological feat, but the moral high ground I gain in hypothetical internet discussions is a very powerful incentive.
posted by leopard at 10:59 AM on February 22, 2013 [23 favorites]


18 – Formation of fake gatherings such as using dolls and statutes to be placed outside
false ditches to mislead the enemy.


Doesn't this contradict the prohibition of using human likenesses in art?
posted by sammyo at 11:15 AM on February 22, 2013


Tomorrow on Buzzfeed, Top 23 ways to avoid being killed by a drone.

Tomorrow on Buzzfeed, Top 23 ways to avoid being killed by a drone EVER!
Tomorrow on Buzzfeed, Top 23 ways to avoid being killed by a drone. YOU'RE DOING IT ALL WRONG!
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 11:17 AM on February 22, 2013


> Doesn't this contradict the prohibition of using human likenesses in art?

Not really, no. Opinions vary on the extent of the proscription, but using dummies to foil invaders is not considered art or adornment. IANAFaqih, YMMV.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:18 AM on February 22, 2013 [4 favorites]


Gary Brecher, the War Nerd, has some interesting things to say about "Al Qaeda" memos found in buildings: It Ain't Easy Being A Jihadi Middle-Manager
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 11:23 AM on February 22, 2013 [7 favorites]


If they want red-blooded Americans to read their list, Al Qaeda needs to learn Powerpoint.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:38 AM on February 22, 2013


Jon Stewart Eviscerates Obama For Withholding Drone Memos: What Happened To ‘Promise Of Transparency’?
posted by homunculus at 12:21 PM on February 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


Doesn't this contradict the prohibition of using human likenesses in art?

No more than burning someone in effigy would.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 12:42 PM on February 22, 2013


No more than burning someone in effigy would.


Not really all the same from the Islamic point of view. Burning effigies could certainly well be deemed haram or at the least makruh. But it's not the same as the scenario here. In fact, deception, while normally very much haram, is certainly allowable if it means harm can be averted. But, enough of splitting dummy hairs.

There is that post modernist part of me that does see using dummies as a kind of modern art, though.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:52 PM on February 22, 2013


Doesn't this contradict the prohibition of using human likenesses in art?

No more than burning someone in effigy would.

Not really all the same from the Islamic point of view.


So, I really don't know what the Islamic point of view is on the topic, but giant pictures of the Ayatollah don't seem to have been a problem, so I'm guessing there are maybe different interpretations?

I mean, it's not like there's not a similar prohibition in Judaism and Christianity, as well, yet somehow Catholics and other adherents of Judeo-Christian religions have no problem with art that includes a "likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth." I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that it's generally not safe to assume that religious people believe in and practice their religion according to the way that an outsider might - even reasonably - interpret holy writ at a glance.
posted by The World Famous at 1:15 PM on February 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm a little surprised anyone in a terrorist cell would need the advice to hide from aerial drones under trees and in buildings and caves to be enumerated in a list from management.
posted by Mitheral at 1:17 PM on February 22, 2013


You just need to wear a bar code, visible only to the wavelength used by the drone's scanning laser, that identifies you as a defense contractor industry executive.

What, you didn't know about those? You can get them for your house and your kid's school too.
posted by George_Spiggott at 1:32 PM on February 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


I was surprised the writer acknowledged attempting to defeat Petraeus and his strategy...

But then the whole thing reads like Islamic Sara Connor telling Islamic John Connor how to defeat Infidel SkyNet - like she buried the instructions in a jar left to be found in the future when the drone war started. So not surprising at all really.
posted by vonstadler at 1:43 PM on February 22, 2013


I'm a little surprised anyone in a terrorist cell would need the advice to hide from aerial drones under trees and in buildings and caves to be enumerated in a list from management.

The best advice culled and refined through years of hard experience almost always looks like common sense to someone who hasn't thought about it too much.

Just for one thing, everything there looks like common sense but a lot of things that might also seem equally common-sensical, yet don't actually work, are not there. This is a list of simple techniques that are proven to work.

And I guarantee you, new recruits would learn a whole lot fast from a list like this, and even experienced folks might learn a thing or two.

Keep in mind that drone attacks don't happen everywhere at once. Even very experienced terrorist types might never have experienced the particular experience of relentless drone attacks. The value in a list like this is it communicates years of hard-won experience quickly in a digestible form. I guarantee you that people in an area where drone attacks are just starting up, who have access to this list, will be up to speed in dealing with them a lot quicker than those left figure it out on their own using common sense.

One mark of a successful [anything] is the ability to quickly and concisely communicate lessons learned to new areas, new groups, new recruits, people in new circumstances. It looks to me like these terrorist groups are doing that pretty well. So, watch out . . . .
posted by flug at 1:52 PM on February 22, 2013 [6 favorites]


I liked the one about using a microwave oven to confuse radar seeking missiles. You can buy a perfectly good 1 Kilowatt magnetron and power supply for less than $50 new retail... all you have to then do is defeat the door latch, defeat the timer, and aim your now open microwave at the ceiling, and let it run forever.
posted by MikeWarot at 2:21 PM on February 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


The U.S. Military Is Developing Deadly Robotic Insect Drones
posted by homunculus at 4:10 PM on February 22, 2013


vonstadler: But then the whole thing reads like Islamic Sara Connor telling Islamic John Connor how to defeat Infidel SkyNet - like she buried the instructions in a jar left to be found in the future when the drone war started. So not surprising at all really."

So yeah, except those little notes sprinkled around the desert are doing a pretty effective job of keeping the world's last remaining superpower obsessively preoccupied.
posted by salishsea at 4:22 PM on February 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


avoid drone attacks with this one weird old tip

DOCTORS HATE THESE 22 SIMPLE RULES
posted by availablelight at 4:56 PM on February 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


MikeWarot: "I liked the one about using a microwave oven to confuse radar seeking missiles. You can buy a perfectly good 1 Kilowatt magnetron and power supply for less than $50 new retail... all you have to then do is defeat the door latch, defeat the timer, and aim your now open microwave at the ceiling, and let it run forever."

This would be really easy. Though one would probably want to mount the mag in a metal funnel to reduce losses rather than the square microwave box. (Efficiency against missle TBD)
posted by Mitheral at 6:13 PM on February 22, 2013


Say what you want about al-Qaeda, at least they put their 22 item list on only 3 pages.
Terrorists don't fuck around with Roberts Rules of Order.
posted by Smedleyman at 7:24 PM on February 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


Tomorrow on Buzzfeed, Top 23 ways to avoid being killed by a drone.

22 Super Easy Ways To Avoid Getting Killed By Drones
posted by atomicmedia at 9:07 AM on February 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


Some of these tips sound as though they actually call attention to you: if anyone sets up a microwave jammer than you know it's a target worth hitting.

What's the story about "electronic chips or radioactive dyes placed at the target by the spy or the agent then the guided missiles come directly toward these targets"? Is this a real thing? It sounds really susceptible to abuse by untrustworthy, perhaps even being turned back against the USA by unfriendly forces who capture the dye and/or chips
posted by Joe in Australia at 2:19 PM on February 23, 2013


IDK how common this type of thing is, but Chechen leader Dzhokhar Dudayev was killed by a Russian missile homing in on his cell phone in 1996.
posted by Harald74 at 2:14 AM on February 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


I bought a fantastic book about spying and counterintelligence a few months back. It was second hand and the first couple of chapters were covered in Arabic text with various notes about what was being discussed within the individual paragraphs. I actually got a bit paranoid and thought about bringing it in to work for one of my Arabic-speaking homies to translate before thinking better of it.

Simply put : there are metric craploads of non-classified books and articles that would be useful to terrorists/freedom fighters and no way to police the information getting into their hands. You can jump on any torrent site and download hundreds of military field manuals that teach you all sorts - from how to cache weapons and supplies to planting explosives to maximise disruption to "the enemy". There are books and pdfs that teach you how to watch for surveillance teams and how to succesfully counter them. All of this information is available for free to anyone with an internet connection and it's stupid to pretend that any network worth it's salt doesn't get this information and strip everything useful to pass on to it's individual cells/agents. Barring a few technological advances the advice in the memo is very similar to that used by WWII partisans or during the Vietnam conflict on the Ho Chi Minh trail.

I have a couple of shelf-loads of those books because I am a huge nerd who plays realistic modern-day RPGs and I like to have stupid levels of detail and also, it's just really interesting. As a result I read everything I can get my hands on relating to espionage, counterinsurgency etc. If anyone actually monitored my reading list they'd probably have some sort of fit. Why should I worry that some Arabic speaking guy out there has the same interests as me?

As far as how quick the information spreads amongst fighters, much the same thing happened when the Soviets were in Afghanistan. For a long time the Muj fighters had huge troubles dealing with Soviet airpower (the Mi-24 Hind particularly). When the discovery was made as to how to best take out these aircraft (firing heatseeking missiles at the aft of the Hind due to the turbine's rear-facing exhaust ducting or from higher up at the rotor hub with a 12.7mm HMG) the information spread unbelievably fast, so quickly in fact that Soviet tactics were not updated in time to prevent multiple aircraft and human losses.
posted by longbaugh at 4:25 AM on February 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


The Colbert Report: Drone Ducking Tips
posted by homunculus at 4:27 PM on February 27, 2013


How Does the U.S. Mark Unidentified Men in Pakistan and Yemen as Drone Targets?
posted by homunculus at 12:20 PM on March 3, 2013


We Won't Always Drone Alone
posted by the man of twists and turns at 9:37 AM on March 4, 2013


Drone came within 200 feet of airliner over New York
posted by jeffburdges at 8:15 AM on March 6, 2013


Low on Targets, Obama Considers Killing Friends of Friends of Al-Qaida
According to The Washington Post, the Obama administration is reconsidering its opposition to a new Authorization to Use Military Force, or AUMF, the foundational legal basis of the so-called war on terrorism. That short document, passed overwhelmingly by Congress days after the 9/11 attacks, tethered a U.S. military response to anyone who “planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons.” Nearly all of those people are dead or detained.

There are two ways to view that circumstance. One is to say the United States won the war on terrorism. The other is to expand the definition of the adversary to what an ex-official quoted by the Post called “associates of associates” of al-Qaida.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 2:02 PM on March 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


The Drone Monopoly: Hope You Enjoyed It While It Lasted - "This is all, of course, a part of the slipperiness of drone warfare. It could be a sign that the virtual U.S. monopoly on armed drones is eroding. It is going to happen; the only question is when."

"The answer is: several years ago." - The Global Swarm
Depending on which source you want to cite, there are currently between 75 and 87 countries that have used unmanned aircraft in their militaries. Of these, at least 26 have larger systems, including Predator equivalents that are already armed or of a model that has been armed in the past, such as the Heron, made by IAI and used by the Israeli Defense Forces, as well as several countries via export. Only the United States, the United Kingdom, and Israel are known to have used armed drones operationally, but as the case of Naw Kham illustrates, the limit on why others have not is frequently political, not technological. They are either not at war or have chosen not to go that route yet.
Emphasis mine.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 6:33 AM on March 12, 2013


Tiny, 'Suicidal' Drone/Missile Mashup Is Part Of US Arsenal In Afghanistan.
Unlike every other drone in military use, the Switchblade only looks like an aircraft once its wings unfold, following a launch from a tube. Once in the air, the Switchblade’s size limits its flight time, but its cameras send a video feed back to a remote operator who could be a dismounted soldier. AeroVironment bills it as a tool for pursuit of an adversary on the move or for close air support-in-a can for troops pinned down by enemy fire. That’s because once a target comes into view, the operator can send the Switchblade on a one-way mission, careening it into an enemy position to detonate. It can also be pre-programmed to hit a set target.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 8:15 AM on March 12, 2013


‘You’re My Best Friend,’ Says Obama To Drone That Appears Outside Bedroom Window Every Night
posted by homunculus at 5:01 PM on March 12, 2013


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