Al Qaeda Wages Electronic War against US Forces in Iraq
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In 2006, the Pentagon spent $1.4 bn to develop sophisticated counter measures for roadside bombs, which account for more US deaths in Iraq than any other weapon. They were designed to locate and detonate the improvised explosive devices IEDs from afar, before American convoys drove past the spot where they are planted.
One such system has a sense of smell which sniffs out the presence of explosives; another uses radio beams to jam the IED’s electronic signals.
Soon after they were fitted on US military vehicles and went into successful use, al Qaeda came up with a device capable of disarming both US electronic measures by electronic circuits. The Islamist terrorists thus escalated their challenge to the US military by introducing electronic warfare.
Their success has boosted the US and British death toll in Iraq. Of the 50 US and UK soldiers who died in Iraq in the first 9 days of April, 30 were killed by IEDs. Al Qaeda’s mystery device is believed by military experts to account for the soaring rate of effective roadside bomb hits on American vehicles, even those fitted with the new counter-measures.
The Pentagon department entrusted with finding a new solution, the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization, is working day and night to produce a new counter-measure which is not susceptible to the al Qaeda blocker.
The Israeli high command is anxiously watching this turn in the Iraq war for two reasons:
Firstly, operational innovations appearing on one terror warfront tend to spread with the speed of a contagion to the other fronts.
Secondly, al Qaeda is suspected of acquiring its advanced electronic warfare technology from Iran, which also supplies the IEDs to Iraq’s Shiite militias and Sunni insurgents. Tehran owns an interest in the successful performance of its weaponry on Iraq’s battlefields and, most of all, in proving its technology is superior to American systems. If Iran is indeed the source of al Qaeda’s blocking device, then it is only a matter of time before this advanced electronic technology reaches Hizballah in Lebanon and is smuggled to the Palestinian Hamas and Jihad Islam in the Gaza Strip.
According to some military experts, the system is already in the hands of one or more of these terrorist groups, but is being held in reserve to catch the Israeli military unawares at the right moment. The device could expose an advancing tank column in Lebanon or the Gaza Strip to mass casualties.
But there are other possible sources:
1. Al Qaeda developed the technology on its own. The problem with this hypothesis is that the Pentagon, to produce the US anti-IED jammers, activated America’s most advanced and best-equipped scientific and technological infrastructure, a network of test laboratories and hundreds of the finest scientific and electronic engineering brains. Where would al Qaeda find these resources?
2. Some private military-scientific element outside Iran, unknown to the US, contracted to develop al Qaeda’s counter-jammers for a price running into hundreds of millions of dollars. This is not entirely far-fetched. An enterprise of this kind, headed by the father of Pakistan’s nuclear bomb, A.Q. Khan, once ran a black market which illegally flogged nuclear wares to North Korea, Libya, Iran and China.
From DEBKA-Net-Weekly 293 March 16, 2007