AQAP releases video on avoiding detection by drones

“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.

Are you a dedicated reader of FDD's Long War Journal? Has our research benefitted you or your team over the years? Support our independent reporting and analysis today by considering a one-time or monthly donation. Thanks for reading! You can make a tax-deductible donation here.



  • Devendra says:

    So, These maggotts will make it interesting for the DRONES. Well, that’s OK. But these cave dwelling neanderthals will NOT out run the DRONES.

  • Tom says:

    The drones have largely failed since their 2012 height. AQAP and others are proving increasingly adept at hacking, and jamming their control signals, attacking and destroying their Yemeni Bases, and quite simply, there are not enough drones to matter and every drone strike kills civilians, so more Yemenis flock to AQAP. It also doesn’t help that Yemen no longer exists and AQAP is seen as the only force able to stop the Houthis amongst the Yemeni Tribes.

  • sundoesntrise says:

    Yeah, there was an article written here recently which talks about AQAP’s Yemen attacks in detail. I was not shocked at the number of attacks, but rather their tenacity and ability to still carry out operations across Yemen. AQAP has benefited from media disinterest and large areas of mountain and desert where they can hide and train themselves.
    AQAP also controls a rather large portion of Yemen. Here is a map from October, only a couple towns have changed hands since then.

  • Aesop says:

    Does not look like from the numbers.
    “Since 2002, the US has been conducting a covert program to target and kill al Qaeda commanders based in Yemen. Reports show that strikes have numbered 107 since 2002, with enemy deaths numbering 532 and civilian deaths numbering 105. ”
    I am sure that when Alawki and his son got killed his son was counted as a civilian. I really do think of Alawki’s son as a civilian. If he had seen a westerner, his 1st thought would have been where is my AK47.
    What would that westerner be doing in Yemen? Archeology? TESL?
    A war zone you say. It would be suspicious for a westerner to be in a war zone like Yemen. Then what was Alawki’s son doing in a fracking war zone?
    Actually there were some Westerners taken captive while out on a picnic in the region of the capital. I believe there were English teachers. I believe they were left of center, but that is neither here not there, if they are innocent (i.e. just teaching English). Yet most people felt they were crazy and that their stupidity had caught up with them. What about Alawki’s son?

  • Nick says:

    I wonder if the US military is taking notes for themselves. The enemy posses drones as well. It is a lot harder for our guys to conceal themselves.

  • juandos says:

    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‘…
    I may be wrong about this but I think people (usually men) who are color blind to certain parts of the visible spectrum can be taught rather easily to pick out unnatural forms in an environment and the lack of color on the part of the observer is actually a potential plus…

  • Dennis says:

    I agree as the numbers tell the truth, and any so called civilians need to ask themselves why are they cavorting with known terrorists. I don’t buy that propaganda that it swells the ranks of murderous psychopaths. People who are recruited for suicide missions are obviously mentally I’ll. To take advantage of these imbeciles, I mean this in the most clinical way, is tantamount to war crimes. Crimes I’m sure they’ve been given clearance and absolution, from religious zealots. When people grow up without proper education, they are easily led around like sheep, only in this case, they’re murderous psychopaths with I.Q’s around about the price of a barrel of oil.

  • Nick says:

    The TB used large hollowed out trees and layers of heavy wool blankets to help break up their signatures with some success in our AO. Just saying.

  • john says:

    @ Nick: Hence the need for a real live human on scene. Drones are cool, but when you need SA and real PID, a human makes the difference. A sensor with a human watching the feed is NOT on scene. IMO, we should be using the drones to deliver payloads, but using real people to find the targets.

  • J House says:

    I suppose they have never heard of multi-spectral imaging and SAR….and covertly marking and geo-tagging vehicles in the AO.
    Plus, we love the fact that they stand out like sore thumbs on a cold night.
    Personally, I favor arc light strikes over these pinpricks…


Islamic state



Al shabaab

Boko Haram


Copyright @ 2007 - 2024, Public Multimedia Inc . All Rights Reserved