For years, the U.S. has had drones watching (and occasionally, attacking) Islamist militants across central Asia, the Middle East and Africa; now it seems the militants have been watching back.
Pages of a jihadist instruction manual obtained by the Associated Press feature a list of 22 suggestions on how to avoid drone strikes. The manual, written by Abdullah bin Mohammed, the nom de guerre for a senior al-Qaeda commander in the Arabian peninsula, was found beneath a pile of trash in a building previously occupied by Islamic extremists in Timbuktu.
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As translated by the AP, tips include everything from using reflective glass on cars or rooftops to investing in a “Russian made ‘sky grabber’ device to infiltrate the drone’s waves and the frequencies.” The Russian equipment, the author notes, is a mere $2,596.
The memo featured obvious as well as somewhat unorthodox tactics — everything from advice on hiding in tree-covered areas to dispersing from a car in different directions so as to confuse the drone and using dolls as a ruse for fake meetings. The list also advises militants to set up snipers to shoot drones out of the sky.
The document is dated June 16, 2011 — just one month after the death of Osama bin Laden — and appears to shed new light on al-Qaeda’s system of coordination between regional chapters, as well as an anticipation of an accelerated U.S. drone program.