“Battling Espionage Planes – The Camera.” Source: Al Malahem Media Foundation.
In a recent video released by the media wing of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), the terrorist group provides detailed information to its fighters on methods of avoiding detection by drones. The 16-minute video, titled “Battling Espionage Planes – Camera,” is largely about the technologies employed by drones in detecting individuals and vehicles on the ground and provides instructions about how to disrupt such technologies.
The video begins with a lesson on two vision technologies used by drones, identified by AQAP as “natural vision” and “heat detection.” After a detailed explanation of heat signatures and detection, the video teaches its viewers how to create what AQAP calls an “insulation cover” that could shield fighters from detection. This “insulation cover” can be made from everyday household materials such as a tarp or canvas sheet, contact adhesive, aluminum foil, and a standard paintbrush.
AQAP explains that while this “insulation cover” can hide the body from infrared detection, a standard camera would still be able to see it. Therefore, AQAP suggests that this cover should match the natural terrain and color of the surrounding environment.
AQAP’s new video also provides directives regarding how to avoid detection from a drone technology using “natural vision.” Using Western documentary footage, including some from National Geographic, AQAP illustrates several methods of camouflage in various terrains — in high grass, forests, snow, small trees, and swamps. The video also suggests dyeing the aforementioned “insulation cover” with a color that matches the environment where it will be used.
After outlining the different methods of avoiding detection by both natural vision and heat detection, the video concludes that “combining heat insulation and camouflage completely disrupts the aircraft’s vision.” According to AQAP, the ideal technique is “disguised thermal insulation,” more or less a camouflaged version of the “insulation cover.” Alleged benefits of the camouflaged insulation cover include the following: it allows individuals using it to still move, albeit slowly; it uses the natural environment; and it is lightweight and easy to carry.
The final portion of the video addresses the issue of possible detection by a drone while driving a vehicle. AQAP recommends that its fighters not travel at all when drones are overhead, but if they must they should do so in “unknown cars.” Additionally, when traveling on long routes, fighters should stop intermittently for periods of time so as to confirm that they are not being monitored.
AQAP also offers tips on how to proceed if fighters believe that they are being monitored by drones while driving. The video recommends stopping the car in a protected place that would obstruct the drone’s line of vision, such as finding shelter behind a mountain, under dense trees, or even under the roof of a gas station. Fighters should then abandon the car immediately and cover themselves with the thermal insulating cover. Lastly, AQAP notes that vehicles can also be camouflaged to match the natural environment so that drones have more difficulty in spotting them.