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U.S. Kills Al Qaeda Leaders by Remote Control
The Sunday Times/Fox News ^ | 11/18/2001 | Stephen Grey

Posted on 11/19/2001 4:20:08 AM PST by Eyes Now Opened

Edited on 04/22/2004 12:31:39 AM PDT by Jim Robinson. [history]

There was no moonlight in Afghanistan on Wednesday night. The new moon, marking the beginning of Ramadan, had yet to appear. Invisible under the stars, an unmanned American spy plane circled inaudibly over a stretch of dark landscape, transmitting grainy images back to the United States. Its night-vision camera was focused on a pinpoint of light in the distance, a three-story hotel building, where it detected a great deal of movement. Turbaned men talked agitatedly outside among parked pick-up trucks and military vehicles. Others moved in and out of the building. The drone's controllers, thousands of miles away in a bunker on the eastern seaboard of America, knew who they were. For two days since being roused from their beds in Kabul, these ragged figures had been fleeing south, trying to stay ahead of enemy forces and anxious to avoid satellites and surveillance planes. Moving furtively in small groups across the parched plains, they had spread out on side tracks and dirt roads, avoiding the main highway. Progress was slow. They were still less than 100 miles from the capital when they reached the end of the second day of flight. Many thousands of men had fled in the Taliban withdrawal from Kabul. But amid all the chaos of the retreat, this small convoy was given special attention. It was believed by American intelligence to consist of fighters from Usama bin Laden's Al Qaeda organization. Predator spy planes, capable of staying aloft for 24 hours on station, and JSTARS surveillance planes, equipped with radar that can monitor ground movements across a vast area, tracked them from the moment they left Kabul despite their elaborate efforts to avoid detection. The Predators known as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) come from the CIA's squadron of remote-control drones. At their cruising speed of 80 knots, they are inaudible from the ground and can identify targets five miles away. Armed with two Hellfire anti-tank missiles, a Predator could have been ordered to strike the convoy at any time. But the controllers chose to go on shadowing it. "This may have been a case of 'follow me to our leader,'" said one American source. If so, the patience paid off with a remarkable prize. It was just before 1 a.m. local time on Thursday when the Americans went in for the kill. The convoy had stopped at a small town. Men in other vehicles were there, too. Some sort of gathering was taking place in the hotel. The single Predator, now overhead, gave a clear picture of the hotel's crowded car park and of the fighters apparently pacing nervously as they waited for their commanders to finish their meeting. Through encrypted satellite communications, the Predator was providing a live battlefield television picture back to control rooms at the U.S. Central Command in Tampa, Fla., from where Gen. Tommy Franks has been running the war in Afghanistan. From Tampa, the Predator picture was relayed through the American secure communications network to the CIA in Langley, Va., and to the battle-scarred Pentagon itself. With the local clock showing 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, the operation was providing post-lunch viewing for senior leaders. "When this kind of excitement is going on, everyone big wants to take a look. This is modern warfare at work," said one U.S. intelligence source. President Bush was absent, however. He was entertaining President Vladimir Putin of Russia on his Texan ranch. As American officials watched with mounting excitement, three U.S. Air Force F-15 Strike Eagle planes, America's premier attack fighters, were moved into position. Deployed from bases in the Gulf, the aircraft had been "loitering" in the Kabul area, kept aloft by in-flight refueling, awaiting the right moment to move in. Nobody knew precisely who they would kill if the order to attack the hotel was given, but intelligence analysts felt certain that senior Al Qaeda officials were meeting in the hotel to consider their next moves as the Taliban regime was collapsing all over the country. Finally, the order was given in Florida for the target to be engaged. Locking the crosshairs of their weapon guidance systems on the hotel below, each of the three F-15s let loose a single GBU-15 "smart bomb." Weighing 2,500 pounds each, these bombs are guided on to their targets by infrared cameras in their noses. As the bombs slammed into the side of the hotel, the Predator completed the mission, launching its two Hellfire missiles at the vehicles in the car park. Almost everyone at the scene was incinerated, with close to 100 people killed. It was many hours before American officials could know just how much they had achieved. Then, in panic and pandemonium, an Al Qaeda operative breached the organization's strict security rules and revealed that a large number of the movement's senior figures had been killed including Mohammed Atef, the 57-year-old deputy to bin Laden and the terrorist group's senior military commander. According to one British official, a satellite phone call from an extremist group in Afghanistan to a foreign country was, like all satellite phone calls from the country, intercepted by British and American listening centers. Translated and transcribed at the National Security Agency in Maryland, the phone call revealed an operative who was heatedly reeling out a list of casualties, and he made a distinct and definite reference to the death of Mohammed Atef. This information was confirmed by a further human intelligence source, said another British official. "They said, 'What a shame he is dead,'" said the senior official, paraphrasing the overheard conversations. By Friday, nobody had identified any bodies at the devastated hotel or could be 100 percent certain who had died. But Pentagon officials began to be increasingly confident that they had killed Atef in the onslaught. Yesterday, the Taliban initially confirmed but then denied he was dead. Other air raids have taken place on Taliban and Al Qaeda positions in the past few days, but the intelligence officials believe Atef died at the hotel. Its exact location has not been confirmed, but one source suggested it was in Gardez, an ethnic Pushtun stronghold on the road up from Kabul into the Taliban mountain province of Paktia. The death of Atef, say security officials, has wiped out one of the western world's most formidable opponents. With a daughter married to one of bin Laden's sons, he was considered by many to be a potential successor to head Al Qaeda if bin Laden was killed. British and American intelligence agencies had identified Atef as an important planner of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the Pentagon and World Trade Center. He was the key link man, they believe, between bin Laden and the hijackers. Telephone calls intercepted by spy agencies are believed to have revealed specific details of how Atef controlled and approved the suicide hijackings. It is believed by security agencies that Mohammed Atta, the German-based ringleader of the hijackers and a fellow Egyptian, had visited Afghanistan to get Atef's specific go-ahead for the Sept. 11 attacks. In May 1998, at a press conference in Afghanistan, bin Laden introduced Atef as his "right-hand man," according to Pakistani newspaper reports. The Al Qaeda leader then repeated his declaration of war on Americans. Atef was already plotting the bombing of two U.S. embassies in Africa, which occurred three months later. Atef not only sat on the shura (consultation council) of Al Qaeda, but also headed the group's military council. He was responsible for the training of Al Qaeda terrorists, including suicide bombers. While Ayman al-Zawahiri, Al Qaeda's other top figure, provided bin Laden with the reasoned religious justification for mass murder, Atef provided him with the means of delivering it. Like al-Zawahiri, he was an Egyptian who was trained as a terrorist by the extremist Islamic Jihad organization. His relationship with bin Laden dates back to the 1980s, when he left Egypt to fight in Afghanistan. When bin Laden left Afghanistan for Sudan in 1991, Atef traveled with him, in charge of his security. About two years later, he was dispatched to Somalia to determine "how best to cause violence to the United States and United Nations military forces stationed there," according to the court indictment over the 1998 bombings of the American embassies in Africa. Atef also provided training to Somali tribes opposed to the U.N. intervention in Somalia. American authorities believe fighters who attacked and killed 18 American soldiers in Somalia were trained by Al Qaeda.


(Excerpt) Read more at foxnews.com ...


TOPICS: Foreign Affairs; News/Current Events
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To: Billthedrill
You are right. Kids have enough fun as it is. Let's have a national lottery to see who gets to sit behind a desk and blow away terrorists with the Predator's Hell-Fire missiles. We could use the money for the NRA Eddie Eagle program.
51 posted on 11/19/2001 8:26:34 AM PST by LarryLied
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To: LarryLied
LOL!!!!!!!!!
52 posted on 11/19/2001 8:29:11 AM PST by Travis McGee
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To: dirtboy
Also, UAVs don't have mommies or babies, and they don't scream when they are captured and their guts are ripped open.
53 posted on 11/19/2001 8:31:02 AM PST by Travis McGee
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To: LarryLied
Let's have a national lottery to see who gets to sit behind a desk and blow away terrorists with the Predator's Hell-Fire missiles.

Take my wallet. Please!

54 posted on 11/19/2001 8:34:12 AM PST by Billthedrill
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To: TomB
I have news for you--it is actually much easier to DF a Predator using most military satellites than it would be if it were using a commercial bird.

You are presuming that if the NSA can detect a signal, it can instantly determine its context and content in realtime, even from a very dense electronic environment.

The NSA may be good, but they ain't THAT good.

55 posted on 11/19/2001 8:41:44 AM PST by Poohbah
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To: Travis McGee
they don't scream when they are captured and their guts are ripped open.

They might let out a single very dramatic scream, one might even say an explosive one :o)

56 posted on 11/19/2001 8:43:09 AM PST by Poohbah
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To: Poohbah
That would be a nice scream.
57 posted on 11/19/2001 8:47:13 AM PST by Travis McGee
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To: Travis McGee
Follow-up info from our surveillance sensors:

"Achmed! The Great Satan's spy plane is ours! Let's open it up and view its secrets!"

(Achmed having a good deal more sense than his compadre) "Selim, Allah loves your devotion to jihad, but shouldn't we wait for Abdul to get here? The Great Satans may have laid traps for us, and Abdul is skilled at disarming such devices."

"Achmed, you are SUCH a wimp! Here..." (sounds of screwdriver and hammer)

"Selim, QUIT MESSING WITH THAT YOU CAMEL-FORNI--"

(Loud explosion, end of tape.)

58 posted on 11/19/2001 8:52:18 AM PST by Poohbah
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To: Eyes Now Opened
Thanks for the great article. It is a fascinating read.

If you'd like to learn more about posting with HTML code, just type "HTML" in the search box and you'll get the links to the instructions.

59 posted on 11/19/2001 9:09:49 AM PST by Kryptonite
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To: RushingWater
Video please!

I agree. Something along the lines of ESPN's "Plays Of The Week."

Lol, "Hey Mohammad, don't hate me because I'm a player hater."

60 posted on 11/19/2001 10:20:00 AM PST by csvset
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To: Poohbah
I have news for you--it is actually much easier to DF a Predator using most military satellites than it would be if it were using a commercial bird.

How?

Also, you declined to address the main point of the discussion, that is, "you can put together a lot of this sort of capability with stuff from Radio Shack and the local model & hobby shop."

61 posted on 11/19/2001 10:24:27 AM PST by TomB
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To: Poohbah
This power and technology in the right hands will serve the world well. But in the wrong hands...!

Waco could have been worse than it was. It could have been the whole city of Waco, e.g.

I'm a strong supporter of George Bush; he is a good man, and I trust him, but suppose we had a president of a different stripe--more on the order of, say, Caligula. The U.S. has had presidents who were scoundrels and presidents who were fools.

We Americans have more reason than ever before to fear Big Government--and Big Brother.

62 posted on 11/19/2001 12:56:47 PM PST by Savage Beast
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To: Savage Beast
Maybe you're missing the point. I'm FAR less worried about government misuse than about our homebrewed crazies of the extreme left and right, because this system merely gives Uncle the ability to do this sort of thing under hostile circumstances. Uncle already can do it under the conditions that obtain here, and they can do it a LOT more cheaply with present techniques.

Right now, the US government can destroy Waco, Texas with ridiculous ease. It's called "nuclear weapons." This capability would not destroy all of Waco, it would have merely aided the destruction of the house on Mount Carmel--and that task did not need any assistance, IIRC.

My worry is that this technique can be copied by someone with enough funding--and that the enemies of America would not be averse to supplying said techniques to our various flavors of ecofreak, black nationalist, and white supremacist, in order to expand their reach and power and thus make our own problems that much harder to handle.

63 posted on 11/19/2001 3:39:00 PM PST by Poohbah
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To: NittanyLion
On to Kandehar. Soon we will capture Bin Laden and his entire gang of thugs. "Head 'em up and move 'em out."


64 posted on 11/19/2001 3:50:50 PM PST by defenderSD
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To: Eyes Now Opened
Locking the crosshairs of their weapon guidance systems on the hotel below, each of the three F-15s let loose a single GBU-15 "smart bomb." Weighing 2,500 pounds each, these bombs are guided on to their targets by infrared cameras in their noses.

This means that somewhere there is some IIR video of of these GBU-15 attacking the target. I hope the pentagon releases this video. ;-))

65 posted on 11/19/2001 3:59:32 PM PST by FtrPilot
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To: Savage Beast
"Imagine Waco or Ruby Ridge under such circumstances."

Just for your information, the government doesn't need remote controlled airplanes to attack Waco or Ruby Ridge. Conventional artillery or an M1 tank could be used to attack such an easy, stationary target. I wouldn't worry too much about Predators being used for domestic repression (or M1 tanks either). It's not easy to cover up an attack with anti-tank missiles. There would be essentially no circumstances when a Predator attack on a domestic target would be justified. The FBI doesn't need that kind of firepower and I seriously doubt that it will ever be used inside the United States by the U.S. government.

66 posted on 11/19/2001 4:03:30 PM PST by defenderSD
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To: LarryLied
Already been proposed, Larry, Try Ender's Game and the sequel Ender's Shadow by Orson Scott Card.

His idea is right on the money here.

Keep the Faith for Freedom

MAY GOD BLESS AND PROTECT THIS HONORABLE REPUBLIC

Greg

67 posted on 11/19/2001 4:10:13 PM PST by gwmoore
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To: Poohbah
The fetching Mrs. Poohbah observed that this was an example of the "Couch Potato & Remote Control" Generation at work. In the future...we won't need the F-15s, everything will be unmanned.

Maybe so. But we'll still need fetching wives for our future Fly-Boys........

"Hi Honey. (Kiss. Kiss) How did your day at the war go?"

"Well, it started out great. I splashed 3 MiG's. But then a fourth MiG got on my six, shot a missle up my tailpipe and I was killed. Damn! I shouldn't have let that bogey sneak up on me. I'm bummed."

"Well, don't take it so hard, Sweety. Viper's wife called me to tell me you got killed so I made you your favorite dinner and I'll give you a back rub tonight."

"Thanks, Honey! Say, after the back rub do you think that we could...er...ummm.....well...you know...."

"Not tonight, Honey. I still have a headache."

War is Hell.

68 posted on 11/19/2001 4:43:03 PM PST by Polybius
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To: csvset
Video yes. As a tax payer I want that piece of video. Is it perhaps one of the ones on the DOD site from their daily briefings?
69 posted on 11/19/2001 4:44:00 PM PST by Kozak
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To: dirtboy
"That's also from necessity - there are practical limits for manned flight, namely the G-forces pilots can withstand. Future warplanes may easily exceed those forces..."

Not only is this accurate..........but you're behind by about 20 years.

Example: the F-16, as designed, could easily exceed the ability of a man to stay conscious enough to actually fly it. It has LONG been realized that the biggest single limitation in fighter design.......the "weakest link", if you will.........is the man in the cockpit.

70 posted on 11/19/2001 5:01:50 PM PST by RightOnline
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To: Deutsch
"Where do you think the US got the idea for smart bombs? Radio/wire controlled bombs and bombs w/video cameras were all used by the Luftwaffe in WWII. NOTHING NEW UNDER THE SUN!"

The German 'smart' bombs were pathetic and primitive devices; most of them failed to destroy anything but themselves.

--Boris

71 posted on 11/19/2001 5:10:59 PM PST by boris
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To: NittanyLion
This certainly sends quite a message: We can touch you no matter where you are, and no matter how carefully you think you've covered your tracks. Now that's terror.

Exactly Right! LET'S ROLL!!!

72 posted on 11/19/2001 6:33:39 PM PST by mjf
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To: Poohbah
I see what you mean. But having this kind of technology concentrated in the federal government worries me more. If malevolent people got control of it--and the checks and balances didn't work--we'd all be sitting ducks. Maybe we are now. But there's some safety in anonymity. With the technology available now, there's no more anonymity and no more safety from the jack-booted thugs.
73 posted on 11/19/2001 6:45:07 PM PST by Savage Beast
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To: defenderSD; Poohbah
Okay. Do you think I should come out from under the bed now?
74 posted on 11/19/2001 6:48:46 PM PST by Savage Beast
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To: Savage Beast
Wow! Exterminating wogs from the comfort of a Florida office! What's Bill Maher have to say about that?
75 posted on 11/19/2001 6:49:29 PM PST by cynwoody
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To: LarryLied
Time to allow 13 year old boys in the military. They would pay the government to allow them to sit behind a terminal and control a Predator drone. Might need some Marines nearby to drag them away for some sleep every 18 hours or so however.

Now THAT is some new very dangerous thinking!

It may come to this in the future, that our best fighters are the video game players. But currently, it's the B-52 and F-18 drivers who own the day, along with the brave targeting specialists on the ground.

Terrorists will rue the day that we can put our game players up front. For now, we have to Find them and Fight them!

Let's Roll!

76 posted on 11/19/2001 6:50:49 PM PST by mjf
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To: defenderSD; Poohbah
Wait a minute. Isn't Echelon listening right now? How do I know those Predators aren't watching? They could be reading over my shoulder what I'm typing. I'm getting back under the bed--and putting a pillow over my head too.
77 posted on 11/19/2001 6:52:05 PM PST by Savage Beast
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To: Poohbah
Sorry, just read that one now. I'm LOL! And I like the idea!
78 posted on 11/19/2001 6:57:22 PM PST by mjf
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To: Savage Beast
Such power and such terrifying technology are unprecidented in history.

Absolutely right, you may notice that we use it upon very seldom circumstance.

79 posted on 11/19/2001 7:07:09 PM PST by mjf
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To: Poohbah
#63 Totally WACKO. Not Waco.

Give your paranoia a rest. Go out fishing or something.

80 posted on 11/19/2001 7:20:22 PM PST by mjf
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To: LarryLied
Time to allow 13 year old boys in the military. They would pay the government to allow them to sit behind a terminal and control a Predator drone. Might need some Marines nearby to drag them away for some sleep every 18 hours or so however.

And if the kids had to put quarters in the machine, the war would pay for itself.

81 posted on 11/19/2001 7:27:58 PM PST by Vince Ferrer
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To: Eyes Now Opened
Thanks, I enjoyed reading this great post. The evil ones do not always get away. This one paid the ultimate price.
82 posted on 11/19/2001 7:33:11 PM PST by desertcry
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To: Savage Beast; Poohbah
"Okay. Do you think I should come out from under the bed now?"

By all means, join the party Bud! We'll be blending Margaritas in ten minutes.

83 posted on 11/20/2001 8:02:43 PM PST by defenderSD
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To: defenderSD
Shove mine under the bed.
84 posted on 11/21/2001 9:28:30 AM PST by Savage Beast
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