Al Qaeda’s ‘How To Avoid Drones’ Memo Found In Mali

Al Qaeda’s tip sheet on avoiding drone strikes was found in Mali. The document was left when the Islamic extremists fled northern Mali during a French military invasion in January.

The document was first published on a jihadist forum two years ago and was found by The Associated Press in a manila envelope. The envelope was on the floor of a building one occupied by the Islamic Maghreb’s al Qaeda chapter.

One instruction tells Islamists to camouflage their cars so that drones cannot detect them, reports Yahoo! News. For some extremists, that meant purchasing two bales of 25 mats woven from desert grass.

The fighters then stretched the mats across the roof of their cars — an effective camouflage in the desert. The document was initially penned by a Yemeni. Its presence in Mali shows coordination between the chapters of al Qaeda, which security experts believe is a concern.

Other tips on the memo to avoid drones include hiding (especially at night) and forming fake gatherings with dolls and statues in false ditches, according to CBS News. Colonel Cedric Leighton, a 26-year Air Force veteran, who helped set up the Predator drone program, stated:

“These are not dumb techniques. It shows that they are acting pretty astutely. 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.”

Unarmed drones are currently being used by the French in Mali to collect intelligence on al Qaeda groups. US officials have also said that they plan on opening a new drone base in northwestern Africa. They have signed a “status of forces” agreement with Niger, a country bordering Mali.

Other techniques used for hiding vehicles from drones include “painting” them with a mixture of mud and sugar, and driving them under groves of trees if they see a drone coming toward them.

Are you surprised that al Qaeda has a tip sheet for avoiding drone strikes?

[Image by Gunnery Sergeant Shannon Arledge of the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons]