Skip to comments.Inside Al Qaeda's Training Camps: What they?re ready for
Posted on 10/01/2002 6:44:42 AM PDT by Utah Girl
On a sunny day in rural Ohio, a routine traffic stop becomes a nightmare. As a sheriff's deputy approaches an apparently disabled pickup truck, armed men leap from its bed, spray him with gunfire and toss a homemade bomb into his squad car before escaping.
In Los Angeles, masked men capture a small office building, killing its security guards before taking more than a dozen hostages. As the day unfolds, the masked men demand time on local television, and use it to rail against American "decadence." Sometime near midnight, the terrorists kill all of their hostages in front of live cameras before setting off a bomb that destroys the building, kills themselves and leaves an indelible impression on the horrified audience.
In suburban Washington, D.C., a band of terrorists attack and kill a senator out for a round of golf. In Dallas, an unknown attacker gains entry into the house of a wealthy local businessman, and kills him by pumping 15 rounds from a .45 into his body. The assailant escapes into the night.
On the average day, any one of these crimes would make national headlines. Imagine if they all happened on the same day, at roughly the same time. Imagine if America's number-one enemy in the war on terror, al Qaeda, claimed responsibility before finishing the day with a cataclysmic attack reminiscent of 9/11. If training videos unearthed during last fall's campaign in Afghanistan are accurate, al Qaeda is planning just such a day for America and her allies.
Al Qaeda, the notorious terrorist gang responsible for killing 3,025 innocents a year ago, is still alive and planning future atrocities. Though last fall's military campaign robbed the group of its terrorist training bases in Afghanistan, and possibly of its leader, Osama bin Laden, there is every reason to believe that al Qaeda is still trying to train its troops in weapons use, tactics, and hostage-taking at bases we've yet to find and destroy. And as recent developments in upstate New York make clear, al Qaeda probably already has scores of sleeper troops inside the U.S. and around Europe troops already trained, and awaiting their signal.
But what kind of training are these potential killers receiving? According to a U.S. Army assessment of its training videos, al Qaeda operatives get high quality, professional preparation to carry out a number of combat operations.
According to the Army's assessment, which I have reviewed, al Qaeda troops are well trained and can pose a serious tactical threat to American and allied forces engaging them. In fact, their training in matters ranging from weapons handling to multi-layered force structure suggests a level of professionalism that is likely the result of contact with a state military structure. When they initiate an attack, they don't go in as cowboys. Carrying their handguns in the high ready position, or their assault rifles in a disciplined, military bearing, they never handle or fire their weapons in a haphazard manner. Their strike forces divide into teams, coordinated along lines of responsibility such as assault, security and support elements. These sub-elements maintain synchronicity via handheld radios.
Most chilling of all, the tactics seen on the al Qaeda training tape match nothing seen on the battlefields of Afghanistan. It's therefore reasonable to conclude that the videotaped tactics are for some future attack. The entire tape points to such a conclusion. The ambush scenario featured six-lane highways with cloverleaf exit and entry patterns similar to those in the United States and Europe. Some of the hostage scenarios featured raids of buildings with large numbers of occupants, suggesting schools or businesses. The golf-course scenario certainly doesn't look like anything likely to be pulled off in most Middle Eastern countries.
Al Qaeda troops train via a set of combat scenes that vary in scale and intent. Scenarios seen on the tape include those described above, as well as several others that involve hostages. All hostage scenarios began with extreme violence anyone offering resistance was shot and killed on the spot. During the siege, the terrorists play-acted dictating commands to the hostages in English, and the play-acting hostages responded in English. For these scenarios, the terrorists are trained to determine whether any law enforcement, military, security, or even armed citizens, are among the hostages. If they find such people among the prisoners, the terrorists will segregate them from the others, and will control them by threatening to harm the unarmed hostages. The end fate for such prisoners is ritual execution in front of TV cameras. In fact, all of these scenarios ended with the terrorists murdering all hostages and preparing to die in place. None of the hostage scenarios deviated from this pattern.
Dignitaries seem to be the target of the assassination on a golf course, as mentioned above. On the tape, the target was on the green when the terrorists fired a rocket-propelled grenade at a vehicle adjacent to the green. The Army assessment speculates that that vehicle probably belonged to the target's security detail, indicating that the target is a known VIP. Having destroyed the target's security, the terrorists then engage and kill the target with rifle fire. This scenario could constitute training to assassinate the current or a former U.S. president, or the head of state of a European ally. Other targets may include business and industry leaders, or high-ranking military officers.
The assessment also concludes that al Qaeda designs these raids to maximize media coverage. They would do this by combining mass casualty attacks such as 9/11 with other, smaller-scale attacks designed to get their operatives on camera to deliver messages and speeches. Al Qaeda would carry out the attacks simultaneously at multiple geographical locations to maximize their psychological effect.
The tapes also suggest that the group is shifting its tactics to take into account post 9/11 realities. During the past decade, al Qaeda established a pattern of always trying to top its last feat: A mostly failed attack on the World Trade Center in 1993 led to larger and deadlier attacks on a U.S. installation in Saudi Arabia, the U.S. embassies in Africa, the near-sinking of the USS Cole, and culminated on 9/11. But the U.S. bombing and ground campaign in Afghanistan has, by all accounts, decimated al Qaeda and scattered it across dozens of countries. Following that pattern of bigger and deadlier, we should expect al Qaeda to try a mass-destruction attack on an even higher-profile target than the WTC and the Pentagon, though few landmarks fit that description. But if the training tapes are our guide, a weakened al Qaeda would be planning a series of smaller attacks spread around the West, targeting soft targets which would offer little or no resistance. The purpose of such a spread attack would be to demonstrate that al Qaeda is still capable of carrying out attacks on our soil, and to instill fear and panic around the world. It would be successful on both counts, if we aren't prepared for it.
The assessment concluded that al Qaeda's training was highly organized, detailed, and highly realistic. The role-playing hostages made aggressive moves to simulate resistance at every turn, which the role-playing terrorists met with swift and brutal force. Al Qaeda trains its fighters in everything from multiple-team raids to motorcycle-borne drive-by shootings. They are trained to properly handle their weapons, to use explosives both for infiltrating buildings as well as intimidating their victims. They also train with live-fire as the norm, which gets them used to the sound, smell, and feel of combat.
The Army's assessment of al Qaeda's training should serve as a warning to the American people and to the rest of the world, and may implicate some of the regimes on our short list of terror sponsors. Recent reports indicate that Iraq hosted and trained several of al Qaeda's top lieutenants the taped tactics suggest the involvement of a professional military at some level. The attacks depicted focused on vulnerable, unguarded, even random targets, and seem tailor-made to create panic and instill a lasting sense of insecurity. As Western intelligence uncovers more sleeper cells of al Qaeda's terrorists around the world, we should endeavor to learn all that we can about who has been to al Qaeda's camps, and where those operatives are now. The training should also serve to remind us of the true nature of our enemy: Al Qaeda is a ruthless, violent, but highly disciplined and organized enemy. We underestimate them at our peril.
Bryan Preston is a writer and television producer. He is also the author of Junkyardblog.
Another reason to start packin'. We may not be able to stop the whole military type senerio, but we could put a dent in their operation before they take us out.
Prior to World War II, there were thousands of pro-Nazi German-American Bundists, and other followers of various fascist groups like the Silver Shirts and the Christian Front, many of whom were not of German ethnic background. Yet the U.S. had virtually no internal sabotage from these sources after Pearl Harbor, to a large extent because their leaders were rounded up or kept under close surveillance.
Providing for the common defense was the second reason given in the Preamble to the Constitution for establishing the United States, even before the Preamble mentions the general welfare. Would that our leaders remember their duties to provide for that defense!
I'll take option "B".
Mr. .357. Don't leave home without it. Learn how to use it. Get a concealed carry permit. Have it with you in your car and in your office.
Prepare yourself mentally to understand that what happens in the first 10 seconds will determine whether you, and your co-workers/family/friends live or die. Understand that if you do not act quickly and decisively, you and they will certainly die. Ask forgiveness of your Savior and remember the heros on flight 93.
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