Intelligence: Smart Eyes Maintain An Edge


June 21, 2017: According to Islamic terrorist training manuals, interrogations of captives and monitoring of Internet messages over a decade of efforts to evade the growing use of aerial surveillance has not yielded any satisfactory solutions. Persistent surveillance, improved sensors and analysis software able to aid in monitoring and interpreting aerial video no matter what countermeasures were used. This presented Islamic terrorist groups everywhere with more challenges than they could cope with. Recently captured ISIL (Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant) training manuals showed that the only solutions that worked to any degree severely limited Islamic terrorist mobility and combat options. Examination of recently captured Mosul neighborhoods prepared for concealment found that in practice the only thing that worked to any extent was tunnels and carefully constructed above-ground concealment from observation. This last technique, using tent cloth, blankets and sheets to cover alleys and portions of open terrain worked for a short time until (unknown to the Islamic terrorists) the use of statistical analysis revealed much of what the Islamic terrorists thought was hidden. The “blankets and sheets” approach in now only used as a last resort. By 2014 Islamic terrorists training manuals recommended carefully built tunnels and breaking down interior walls of buildings or basements to provide effective surveillance from the enemy.

The main problem for the Islamic terrorists was the rapid increase in manned aircraft, UAVs and stationary vidcams in towers and balloons that provided more eyes more frequently than could be avoided. Not only that but the Americans and Israelis developed communications systems like Rover (Remote Operations Video Enhanced Receiver) that enabled troops on the groups to see real time video.

Rover appeared in 2002 and was continually improved them that by 2009 there were handheld or forearm mounted versions that enabled more troops on the ground to use UAV vidcam images in real time. For about a year (2009-10) some Islamic terrorists figured out how to look at the unencrypted vidcam feed from some UAVs. But those signals were soon encrypted and that hack has not been repeated since. Efforts to jam GPS signals that UAVs use some of the time also failed. Iran claimed to have hacked the control signal to American UAVs but that turned out to be another false claim.

While the Islamic terror groups were never well informed about the technical developments (like statistical analysis of patterns) they could see that year by year there were more and more vidcams up there watching them and when that happened the situation was less favorable for the Islamic terrorists. The most obvious examples of the increased surveillance were the thousands of smaller UAVs like Raven and the thousands of vidcams mounted in towers, tall buildings, balloons (aerostats) and the like. Then there were vidcams they never saw, like the new targeting pods used by high (over 3,000 meters/10,000 feet) flying fighters and bombers that could see what was going on down there as if they were a Raven a hundred meters up. While movies and TV still featured space satellite surveillance, this provided a very small fraction of the detailed images troops and pilots used to find, track and attack the enemy.

The latest adaptation to all these prying eyes is greater use of human shields, especially woman and children. That does not always work, especially if the aircraft pilot or UAV operator is from a Moslem majority nation.


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