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[] Independent 06.12.02: de-hyping Alqaida communication,

Werte Liste,

wieder mal ein kurzer Kommentar von mir: Das ist es, was ich seit Jahr und 
Tage sage:

"But United States forces have not only failed to hunt down Osama bin Laden 
while they are preparing for war in Iraq: they are finding it almost 
impossible to crack the al-Qa'ida network because Bin Laden's men have 
resorted to primitive methods of communication that cut individual members 
of al-Qa'ida off from all information."

Was die US Militärs allenthalben in ihren strategischen und 
Bedrohungsanalysen schreiben (asymmetrische Bedrohungen), können sie 
öffentlich nicht zugeben, wenn der interessensgeleitete hype vom 
"cyber-terror" durch die AlQaida die Runde macht: Dass ihre ganze Sigint 
nichts nützt, wenn die Kommunikationsformen und -Mittel archaisch sind. 
Natürlich gibt es Ausnahmen, etwa die Festnahme von Ramsi Bin AlShib in 
Pakistan, der angeblich wegen der Ortung seines Satelliten Telefons 
festgenommen werden konnte. Aber SIGINT hat vor dem 11.September (etwa aus 
Sicht der NSA) nichts gebracht, außer eine statistisch signifikante Zunahme 
von "Rauschen" (andere Dienste behaupten dies auch). Neuerdings wird 
bereits eine solche Zunahme von "Rauschen" sowohl von den US-Behörden wie 
auch vom BND (und anderen Diensten) als "signifikates Signal" einer 
erhöhten Bedrohungslage angenommen. Aber das ist alles Spekulation (so 
nicht andere und zusätzliche Informationen vorliegen) und läßt völlig außer 
acht, daß so ein "Rauschen" also eine erhöhte SIGINT Aktivität ebenfalls 
Desinformation sein könnte. Nichts ist bekanntlich leichter (zu praktisch 
keinen Kosten) als den noise-Pegel in so einem Fall zu steigern. Zur Frage, 
warum die USA in der Operation um Tora Bora Bin Laden und Konsorten nicht 
erwischt haben, ist wiederum eine andere (politische Erwägungen und 
miltitärische Entscheidungen), hat wohl aber auch erheblich mit mangelnder 
Intelligence zu tun.

Grüße GS

With runners and whispers, al-Qa'ida outfoxes US forces

By Robert Fisk

06 December 2002

The Americans take them shackled and hooded on to transport aircraft to 
Kandahar. They live in pens of eight or 10 men. They are given cots with 
blankets but no privacy. They are forced to urinate and defecate publicly 
because the Americans want to watch their prisoners at all times.

But United States forces have not only failed to hunt down Osama bin Laden 
while they are preparing for war in Iraq: they are finding it almost 
impossible to crack the al-Qa'ida network because Bin Laden's men have 
resorted to primitive methods of communication that cut individual members 
of al-Qa'ida off from all information.

This extraordinary, grim scenario comes from an American intelligence 
officer just back from Afghanistan who agreed to talk to The 
Independent  and to supply his own photographs of prisoners  on condition 
of anonymity. His prognoses were chilling and totally at variance with the 
upbeat briefings of the US Defence Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld. Even in 
Pakistan, he says, middle-ranking Pakistani army officers are tipping off 
members of al-Qa'ida to avoid American-organised raids.

"We didn't catch whom we were supposed to catch," the officer told me. 
"There was an over-expectation by us that technology could do more than it 
did. Al-Qa'ida are very smart. They basically found out how we track them. 
They realised that if they communicated electronically, our Rangers would 
swoop on them. So they started using couriers to hand-carry notes on paper 
or to repeat messages from their memory and this confused our system. Our 
intelligence is hi-tech  they went back to primitive methods that the 
Americans cannot adapt to."

The American officer said there were originally "a lot of high-profile 
arrests". But the al-Qa'ida cells didn't know what other members were 
doing. "They were very adaptive and became much more decentralised. We 
caught a couple of really high-profile, serious al-Qa'ida leaders but they 
couldn't tell us what specific operations were going to take place. They 
would know that something big was being planned but they would have no idea 
what it was."

The officer, who spent at least six months in Afghanistan this year, was 
scathing in his denunciation of General Abdul Rashid Dostam, the Uzbek 
warlord implicated in the suffocation of up to a thousand Taliban prisoners 
in container trucks. "Dostam is totally culpable and the US believes he's 
guilty but he's our guy and so we won't say so."

Gen Dostam uses Turkish military intelligence men as bodyguards. "There was 
concern in the Isaf [International Security Assistance Force] that the 
Turks who run it would create ethnic problems, which is one reason the 
Turkish army does not share the Kabul Isaf compounds with other Isaf 
troops. But one of the things we failed to do was create a real government. 
We let the warlords firmly entrench themselves and now they can't be 
dislodged," he said.

According to the same officer, American security agents in Karachi were 
looking for the murderers of US journalist Daniel Pearl but there, as in 
many other cases, they would find their arrest "targets" had fled because 
of secret support within middle ranks of the Pakistani army. "We would go 
with the Pakistanis to a location but there would be no one there because 
once the middle level of the Pakistani military knew of our plans, they 
would leak the information. In the North-West Frontier province, the 
frontier corps is a second-rate army  they are a lot more anti-Western in 
sentiment than the main Pakistani army. In the end we had to co-ordinate 
everything through Islamabad."

As for the hundreds of prisoners taken in Afghanistan, the American officer 
insisted that none were beaten "now" although he claimed ignorance about 
earlier evidence that soldiers based in Kandahar had broken the bones of 
captives after their initial arrest. "Only prisoners who were likely to be 
violent or unco-operative are hooded and their hands are tied behind their 
backs with plastic restraint bands. Sometimes we would take the hoods off 
prisoners when they were travelling in our helicopters, at other times not.

"In Kandahar, in what we call their living areas, the prisoners are given 
cots with blankets and Adidas suits and runners, but they have no privacy. 
There are no sides to their living areas because we have to see them all 
the time. They have no privacy in the bathroom. Some of them masturbate 
when they are looking at the female guards. Our guards had no reaction to 
this. They are soldiers. When the interrogations take place, the prisoners 
are allowed to sit. I don't want to get into specifics about the questions 
we ask them.

He said: "There was non- co-operation at the beginning. But they had a 
misconception that ey were going to be treated the way they treated each 
other. When they're not tortured, I think this has a lot to do with 
changing their opinion."

But the Americans were even short of translators. "We recruited 
Farsi-speakers who can speak the local version of Persian in Afghanistan, 
Dari. They would be civilians hired in the US. But they had to go through 
full security procedures and out of every five, only one or two would be 
given security clearance."

The American officer also had a low opinion of the Western journalists he 
met at Bagram. "They just hung around our base all day. Whenever we had 
some special operation, we'd offer the journalists some facility to go on 
patrol with our special forces and off they'd go  you know, 'we're on 
patrol with the special forces'  and they wouldn't realise we were 
stringing them along to get them out of the way."

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