Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

In Document Left Behind By Al-Qaida, 22 Tips To Avoid Drones Strikes

As al-Qaida extremists streamed out of Timbuktu, they left behind a curious document and the Associated Press got its hands on it.

It's written by Abdallah bin Muhammad, a senior commander of al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, the Yemeni arm of the group, and it includes 22 bulleted tips on how to evade drone strikes.

Some tips are obvious: No. 10: "... Hide under thick trees because they are the best cover against the planes." Or No. 13: "Disembark of vehicles and keep away from them especially when being chased or during combat."

Others are more sophisticated:

"15 – Using underground shelters because the missiles fired by these planes are usually of the fragmented anti-personnel and not anti-buildings type."


"12 – Maintain complete silence of all wireless contacts."

The Week reports that the rest of the document also shows that al-Qaida has "a pretty clear-eyed understanding of what they're up against, and the context for America's drone strategy."

For example, Muhammad writes:

"To start with, we have to know that the Americans did not resort to this approach — The War of the Drone — because they have shortages in the combat jets like the F16 and other types or they don't possess enough troops, but because it is the most suitable approach for them now. The Americans fully realize that they are in the 10th year of war and that they were economically exhausted and suffered human losses and they were confronted with public pressure backed by the Congress in a way that it made the honorable and responsible withdrawal from the war as a prime goal of the White House.... The drone is unmanned and cost nothing compared to the manned jets and it does not create public exasperation when it crashes because the increase of human losses in the past pushed the American people to go to the streets shouting 'bring back our sons' and if a drone crashes, no one will shout 'bring back our planes.'"

Therefore, one of al-Qaida's approaches, writes Muhammad, is to kidnap Westerners and demand an end to the drone strikes, which he said is a "just and humanitarian demand."

If you're interested in more, the entire document is embedded below:

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.