You never know, they may come in handy one day.
Al-Qaeda’s list of 22 tips for dodging drone attacks – including at least one believed to originate with Osama bin Laden – has been found hidden inside a manila envelope in a building abandoned by Islamists in Mali.
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.
The list reflects how al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghbreb anticipated a military intervention that would make use of drones, as the war on terror shifts from the ground to the air.
The document also shows the coordination between al-Qaeda chapters, which security experts have called a source of increasing concern.
“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,” said Bruce Riedel, a 30-year veteran of the CIA, now the director of the Intelligence Project at the Brookings Institute.
While some of the tips are outdated or far-fetched, taken together, they suggest the Islamists in Mali are responding to the threat of drones with sound, common-sense advice that may help them to melt into the desert in between attacks, leaving barely a trace.