Monday, August 26, 2002

More Faith in the Commoners

The below email is making rounds among my service buddies. It looks legit, but even if it is not, I agree with the conclusions. If this looks too long to bother with, scroll down to the bold. I want to believe that most of the guys trained by the videos are pushing up poppies, or enjoying our accommodations in Gitmo. Though directed at the armed forces, I think it deserves a more catholic distribution, especially given the somewhat dubious effectiveness of the Fed’s homeland defense efforts. Remember, the most effective counter on 911 came from regular citizens armed only with information. Given the conclusions of this report, if more of us are vigilant and, where legal, pack heat, we can get inside the decision loop of any surviving Al Qaeda cells should they try something. Note it is the military coming up with useful doctrine while the Feds continue to take our toenail clippers. Steve has blogged on the superiority of the US armed forces being related to the fact that information and responsibility are pushed as low in the chain of command as possible. Why should it be any different with the citizenry and antiterrorism measures at home?


Sent: Monday, July 22, 2002 3:16 PM
Subject: Training Video Analysis

Some analysis of recent captured video we have received. Came in from the JFK Special Warfare Center at Bragg. Bottom line: the bad guys aren't going away easy.


Recently had the opportunity to conduct a detailed review of a captured Al Qaeda training tape.

The tape was apparently produced for Al Qaeda internal use and did not appear to be an external propaganda production.

The tape showed Al Qaeda operatives engaging in a number of training exercises including small arms firing ranges, live-fire room entry, and numerous mixed live-fire/role-player type of scenarios.

Scenarios included: Assassinations, Kidnappings, Bombings, and Small unit raids on various types of targets. The training depicted in these scenarios was clearly for export according to an intelligence expert that commented on the tape. "None of these training scenarios depicts the type of fighting that Al Qaeda engages in within Afghanistan."

Detailed planning, diagramming and walk-through's followed by live-fire exercises were the norm.

There were a lot of role playing, scenario type of interactions.

The role players made aggressive moves simulating resistance at various points throughout the scenarios. All such resistance was met with immediate and brutal countermeasures by the terrorists. There was no presumed compliance on the part of the terrorists.

The effort to produce detail and realism in training was impressive.

These people are using extremely effective training methods!

The following points were seen REPEATEDLY and ROUTINELY throughout the training exercises:

1. Use of standard military small unit tactics with multiple elements. (Assault, Security and Support elements)

2. Coordination with sub-elements via hand-held FM radios.

3. Use of pick-up trucks by the assault element to conduct raids/assassinations (shooters concealed in bed of truck).

4. Use of Motorcycles by the security element (as well as in the historical role as a shooting platform for drive by

5. Use of explosives upon withdrawal from the objective.

6. Use of vehicle horn to signal withdrawal (and initiation of

7. Detailed planning and rehearsal of all actions.

8. Exercise of prisoner handling procedures. From initial contact, to search and control, to execution of prisoners. Role players could be heard begging not to be killed (IN ENGLISH). Terrorists practiced commands in English also.

9. Multiple man room entries. Typically one or two, 2-man teams that assumed a back to back position near the center of the room.

10. Distraction devices used prior to room entry. Fuse lit devices

11. Multiple breach points into structures and into individual rooms.

12. All scenarios were practiced live-fire. Including those that involved role players. Paper targets and role players were interspersed in the same scenarios. (The terrorists showed good muzzle awareness and

The weapons handling was NOT haphazard. All terrorist operatives carried and fired their weapons using the same techniques.

Some specific weapons handling idiosyncrasies are:

1. Handguns were carried in high ready.

2. Long guns (AK variants) were carried and fired rotated 90 degrees (ejection port up)

Specific scenarios included:

1. Targeting of law enforcement officers in ambush/assassinations. Faked disabled vehicle with shooters concealed in trunk of car or bed of truck. When officer stops his vehicle behind "disabled vehicle" assault is initiated by driver blowing horn. Target was first engaged with rifle fire from the vehicle, terrorists then debussed to administer "coup de grace" at close range. An explosive device was thrown into the LE vehicle on exfiltration. This was one of a number of scenarios that were shown first as a diagram and explanation, then progressing to dry fire walk through and finally to a live-fire exercise. Target location was shown as a 6 lane divided highway with the terrorist vehicle located just prior to the exit/cloverleaf (to allow multiple exfiltration routes and security overview.) There aren't any such highways in Afghanistan and damn few in the Middle East. In one iteration of this scenario the security/overwatch element was exercised firing on possible responding LEOs.

2. Residential assassination. Innocuous looking person (weapon
concealed) knocks on door of residence. Stands in view of peephole and answers question from resident through closed door. When resident opens door terrorist draws and fires, emptying weapon into victim.

3. Assassination on golf course. Target was on the green (at the
pin/flag.) A Rocket Propelled Grenade (RPG) was fired at a vehicle adjacent to the green (VIP security element?) to initiate the hit. Target was then engaged with rifle fire.

4. Two and four-man live-fire room entry (2-man back to back technique) with target discrimination (shoot/no shoot targets).

5. Raid on compound (Kidnapping). One person taken. Initiated with RPG. Initiation was when Guard Shack was taken out with grenades. Primary target building was engaged with RPG. Primary target building was entered through multiple breach points (through explosive breach of wall and through windows.) Exfiltration was by truck with motorcycle security element in overwatch positions.

6. Drive up kidnapping of target walking down the street.

7. Use of tunnels/storm drains/sewers for infiltration and exfiltration during raids.

8. Rappelling from roof of building to make entry on upper floors was shown on more than one occasion.

9. Motorcycle drive-by target practice. Shooter stands up on rear pegs and extends arms over driver. Excellent muzzle awareness and control.

10. Grenades thrown into second story windows by motorcycle drive-bys.

MULTIPLE SCENARIOS/EXERCISES involved raids on buildings with a large number of occupants (school or office building?)

These raids followed a standard pattern:

1. Covert/surreptitious entry into building and movement to initial points. (Rifles hidden on persons and in bags/cases carried into

2. Initiation with extreme violence of action. Any resisters are shot.

3. Immediate positive control and search of prisoners. Any resisters, or anyone they don't like the look of, are shot.

4. Segregation of prisoners into manageable groups. (Explosives were displayed to gain psychological dominance over prisoners.)

5. Movement of selected prisoners in small groups to the roof where terrorists posture and make statements for the press/cameras.

6. Prisoners executed one-by-one in front of the press/cameras.

7. All scenarios involving prisoners ended in execution of the prisoners and none included a plan for exfiltration of the terrorists. They plan to kill the prisoners and to die in place.

The major take home lesson here is that although the enemy is known to be seeking the ability and opportunity to use weapons of mass destruction and of an unconventional nature, such as hijacked airliners, they are also spending a lot of time training to carry out attacks the old-fashioned way. Attacks executed by small groups of dedicated personnel equipped with little more than small arms.

There is information to the effect that the "perfect day" as seen by Al Qaeda would combine attacks designed to produce the maximum number of casualties with attacks that would give them the opportunity to get "face time" on the news channels to deliver their rhetoric. For maximum effect these attacks would take place nearly simultaneously at multiple geographically separate locations.

We need to address, in training and in personal preparation, the differences between a typical criminal victimization and a terrorist incident in terms of early recognition and appropriate response. I.E. The typical bank robbery vs. finding yourself in the middle of a terrorist attack on a "financial institution" (as per the recent FBI

If you find yourself in the middle of one of these attacks, there will not be time for the SWAT team to intervene on your behalf. Compliance will buy you only a very little time. If you are identified as a potential problem to the terrorists you will be shot! (They are training to spot Law Enforcement, Security and Corrections Officers as well as armed citizens.) If, by feigned compliance, you make it through the first cut you can expect to be physically restrained and then controlled with threats to the rest of your group and to the other groups. "We will blow up the women and children in the next room if any of you do not do exactly as we say!" Your ultimate fate, if you do not resist, is to be ritually executed in front of the television cameras.

In my opinion the best time to act is most likely to be at the initiation of the attack. Once the terrorists are consolidating on the objective it will be very difficult to take effective action. You must plan on providing effective resistance at the first opportunity! Shoot, move and communicate. Seek cover, use your weapon as required. Attempt to acquire a better weapon system at the first opportunity (do you know how to place an AK into operation?)

Keep in mind that before any terrorist action there are many opportunities to interrupt their cycle by detecting their pre-mission activities. This is where we all can be of assistance. Pay attention to what is going on around you as you go about your daily business. Investigate and report any unusual or suspicious activity that you observe (note vehicle make and model, license plates, personnel descriptions etc.)