The document includes advice such as “hide under thick trees” (believed to be bin Laden’s contribution), and instructions for setting up a “fake gathering” using dolls to “mislead the enemy”.
Found by the Associated Press in a building in Timbuktu, the ancient city occupied by Islamists last year, the document is believed to have been abandoned as extremists fled a French military intervention last month. It is a Xeroxed copy of a tipsheet authored by a Yemeni extremist that has been published on some jihadi forums, but that has made little appearance in English.
“These are not dumb techniques. It shows that they are acting pretty astutely,” said Col Cedric Leighton, a 26-year-veteran of the United States 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. And they will use it to move away from an area, from a bombing raid, and do it very quickly,” he said.
The author of the tipsheet found in Timbuktu is Abdallah bin Muhammad, the nom de guerre for a senior commander of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the Yemen-based branch of the terror network.
The document was first published in Arabic on an extremist website on June 2, 2011, a month after bin Laden’s death, according to Mathieu Guidere, a professor at the University of Toulouse.
Prof Guidere runs a database of statements by extremist groups, including al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, and he reviewed and authenticated the document found by the AP.
Abdallah bin Muhammad states in the document that “the war of the drone appeared as a perfect solution. The drone is unmanned and cost nothing compared to the manned jets and it does not create public exasperation when it crashes because the increase of human losses in the past pushed the American people to go to the streets shouting “bring back our sons” and if a drone crashes, no one will shout “bring back our planes.” That’s about right.
These drone evasion tactics suggested by Muhammad are:
- It is possible to know the intention and the mission of the drone by using the Russianmade “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 computerknow-how.
- Using devices that broadcast frequencies or pack of frequencies to disconnect the contacts and confuse the frequencies used to control the drone. The Mujahideen have had successful experiments using the Russian-made “Racal.”
- Spreading the reflective pieces of glass on a car or on the roof of the building.
- Placing a group of skilled snipers to hunt the drone, especially the reconnaissance ones because they fly low, about six kilometers or less.
- Jamming of and confusing of electronic communication using the ordinary water-lifting dynamo fitted with a 30-meter copper pole.
- 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.
- Using general confusion methods and not to use permanent headquarters.
- Discovering the presence of a drone through well-placed reconnaissance networks and to warn all the formations to halt any movement in the area.
- To hide from being directly or indirectly spotted, especially at night.
- To hide under thick trees because they are the best cover against the planes.
- To stay in places unlit by the sun such as the shadows of the buildings or the trees.
- Maintain complete silence of all wireless contacts.
- Disembark of vehicles and keep away from them especially when being chased or during combat.
- To deceive the drone by entering places of multiple entrances and exits.
- Using underground shelters because the missiles fired by these planes are usually of the fragmented anti-personnel and not anti-buildings type.
- To avoid gathering in open areas and in urgent cases, use building of multiple doors or exits.
- Forming anti-spies groups to look for spies and agents.
- Formation of fake gatherings such as using dolls and statutes to be placed outside false ditches to mislead the enemy.
- 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.
- Using natural barricades like forests and caves when there is an urgent need for training or gathering.
- In frequently targeted areas, use smoke as cover by burning tires.
- 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.