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[infowar.de] hätte Saddam Hussein PGP benutzen sollen?
Ein interessanter Bericht u.a. darüber, wie die USA mit britischer Hilfe
die irakische Kommunikation abgehört und entschlüsselt haben.
2pm: Saddam is spotted.
2.48pm: pilots get their orders.
3pm: 60ft crater at target
Julian Borger in Washington and Stuart Millar
Wednesday April 9, 2003 The Guardian
High above Iraq's western desert on Monday afternoon a US B-1 stealth
bomber was refuelling in mid-air on its way to a scheduled series of air
strikes when it received urgent orders. They came in the form of a new
set of target coordinates, but an air traffic controller made it clear
what they meant: Kill Saddam Hussein.
"Those were the words that were used - 'This is the big one',"
Lieutenant Colonel Fred Swan, the bomber's weapons officer recalled in a
telephone interview with Pentagon reporters yesterday.
As far as Col Swan was concerned it was business as usual. "I did not
know who was there. I really didn't care," he said. "We've got to get
the bombs on target. We've got 10 minutes to do it. We've got to make a
lot of things happen to make that happen. So you just fall totally into
execute mode and kill the target."
It is still not clear whether this particular target was killed or not.
The British say not, claiming that President Saddam left the restaurant
minutes before the bombing. But the CIA remained hopeful yesterday. A US
intelligence force said the agency was "cautiously optimistic they got
What is clear is that 12 minutes after that radio conversation, at about
3pm Baghdad time, Col Swan's bombs left a 60ft crater in the ground
where a restaurant once stood in the capital's prosperous Mansour
The hole was made by four bombs in what the air force likes to call a
"package". A couple of 2,000lb specially hardened bombs were dropped
from 6,000 metres and directed to the target by satellite guidance. They
targeted the restaurant and at least one building next door before
penetrating deep below, where it was believed there was a series of
bunkers used by Iraqi intelligence.
But Peter Arnett, the sacked NBC reporter, who visited the site of the
strike yesterday reported in the Mirror that the al-Sa'ath restaurant
was intact, with only its windows blown in. Three adjacent houses were
reduced to rubble.
Right behind those "bunker-busters" were two more bombs, just as big,
but set on a 25-millisecond fuse, so that they would detonate
underground. The idea was to kill as many people as possible in the
bunker but do as little damage as possible above ground. It sounds
surgical in theory. In practice, it still leaves a mess. Television
pictures of weeping local residents suggested civilian casualties.
Whether Saddam Hussein, his sons and Ba'ath party aides were killed
depends largely on what happened in the hour before Col Swan received
his orders. It took only that time, the Pentagon has claimed, from the
moment the target was positively identified to the call going out to the
B-1 bomber from US central command.
When the CIA thought it had a fix on President Saddam on March 19 it
took more than four hours for President Bush to decide to strike, for
the cruise missiles to be reprogrammed and for them to reach their
target in the surprise attack that began the war.
On that occasion, and on Monday, it appears that a joint effort by CIA
agents and US special forces was responsible for tracking down Saddam
Hussein, in an operation that may herald a new era in covert warfare
promoted by the US defence secretary, Donald Rumsfeld.
According to a former special forces soldier who is in contact with
officers involved in current operations, one of the units involved in
the hunt was Grey Fox, a clandestine army intelligence-gathering unit
specially trained in tracking downtargets in enemy territory.
"It's their technical expertise that sets them apart. They are trained
to operate by themselves, in parties of one, in an urban environment,"
he said. "They have the look and they have the language, and they go in
long before it starts."
Grey Fox, otherwise known as the Intelligence Support Activity, had its
roots in the 1979 Iran hostage crisis, which led the army to believe it
needed its own undercover espionage unit, rather than having to rely on
The unit's skills at getting close to its target and at intercepting
electronic signals were used against Hizbullah in Lebanon, war crimes
suspects in Bosnia, and most successfully in the hunt for Pablo Escobar,
the head of the Medellin drug cartel hunted down by Colombian troops
with ISA help in December 1993.
The leading role of clandestine special forces units such as Grey Fox in
Iraq is doubly significant because as far as Mr Rumsfeld is concerned,
they are the future.
Grey Fox is unlikely to have been the only American unit inside Baghdad
in the past fortnight. There are reported to be Delta Force commandos in
the city, together with CIA teams, working in much closer coordination
with the military than ever before.
One or more of these units helped to identify the target, although
according to one US intelligence source it was not Saddam Hussein who
was seen entering the restaurant, but his bodyguard. Before that
President Saddam had been tracked for several days. According to reports
in the US yesterday, CIA paramilitaries and Delta Force soldiers had
been close to killing him three or four times in the past week.
The hunt has taken several paths. It is almost certain that the CIA and
Grey Fox approached members of the regime in an attempt to persuade them
to change sides. The other path involved electronic surveillance, a
skill in which Grey Fox teams excel. Special forces have attempted to
tap into the variety of means Saddam Hussein uses to communicate with
On March 19 they are said to have intercepted conversations on
underground fibre-optic cables used by the leadership. They can also
listen in to conversations on mobile phones, a rarity in Baghdad.
On Monday, however, some old British technology was involved. Saddam
Hussein's hunters zeroed in on an old communications system made by the
British company Racal, which the Iraqi leadership bought during the
Iran-Iraq war for sending encrypted communications among themselves.
At the time the Racal Jaguar V was a sophisticated secure combat radio
system, equipped with two main security mechanisms: encryption to
scramble message content and frequency-hopping at the rate of up to 200
times a second to make eavesdropping difficult and defeat enemy
electronic jamming measures.
According to the New York Post yesterday, the British cracked the
encryption code for the radios some time ago and passed the information
to the Americans.
Steven Aftergood, a senior intelligence technology researcher at the
Federation of American Scientists, said: "If it was really a 20-year-old
system then one has to assume that the encryption is obsolete, that it
has been penetrated."
Other military analysts said it was just as likely that British
government would only have granted Racal export licences for the radios
if it had already been satisfied it could break the encryption.
Rupert Pengelly, the technical editor of Jane's, said: "All of these
exports had to be approved by the government, particularly encryption.
It was generally understood that only encryption up to a certain level
would be licensed for export, so if they allowed it out of the country
it was a safe bet that it was crackable, although that is something they
could never say publicly."
The first consignment of Jaguar radios to Iraq was in 1985, said Kenneth
Timmerman, a journalist specialising in the Middle East and arms sales.
Four years later the British government licensed the sale of 13 Jaguar
radios at a cost of $360,000 (£225,000). In the same year, President
Saddam bought 2,000 Jaguar kits worth $48m, and $4m of encryption
technology. That purchase, 20 years ago, appears to have led Saddam
Hussein's hunters to their target on Monday.
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