Intelligence: Al Qaeda And The Cult Of Misinformation


February 27, 2013: Among the many al Qaeda documents captured in northern Mali, were several that fell into the hands of journalists, not the intel experts (who keeps most of them secret). It’s preferable to keep these documents out of the news because that keeps these items away from potential terrorist recruits (the younger teenagers who have not figured out how to find versions of this stuff on the Internet). This exposure also lets the terrorists know how lame some of their tip sheets are, as their advice to each other is taken apart by real experts and displayed in the mass media. The intelligence agencies would prefer to let the terrorists keep feeding each other bogus wisdom and deadly (for the terrosits) misinformation.

Even some of their bomb making “how to” documents are full of dangerous errors and often not very clear for the poorly educated terrorists, who will use these documents to build explosive devices. The poor quality of these documents accounts for the large number of bombs that simply do not go off. There are often worse results, as in bombs that explode during construction, transportation, or while being planted. Tip sheets on tactics are similarly dangerously vague or open to misinterpretation.

The advice on UAVs appear to have been written by a terrorist who had spent some time in Yemen recently. There the American UAVs have been much more active in the past two years, putting the fear into the Islamic terrorists and playing a role in the recent defeat of al Qaeda there. The advice in the Mali document was not much different than what was being passed around in Iraq seven years ago. While the terrorists use the Internet and travel to share information and tips, the end result is often something less concerned with reality and more of a pep talk to those who believe God has guaranteed success. The terrorist “how to” materials often ascribe magical qualities to Western tech but then assure the holy warriors that God will surely see them through any rough spots.

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