Al-Qaeda set up anti-drone cells, secret documents show

Al-Qaeda set up anti-drone cells, secret documents show

WASHINGTON - Agence France-Presse
Al-Qaeda set up anti-drone cells, secret documents show

Pakistani activists protest against US missile strikes from drones in tribal areas at a rally in Multan. AFP photo

Al-Qaeda’s leaders have set up cells of engineers to try to shoot down, disable or hijack U.S. drones, The Washington Post reported Sept. 3 citing top-secret U.S. intelligence documents.

The al-Qaeda leadership is “hoping to exploit the technological vulnerabilities of a weapons system that has inflicted huge losses against the terrorist network,” the Post said online.

“Although there is no evidence that al-Qaeda has forced a drone crash or successfully interfered with flight operations, U.S. intelligence officials have closely tracked the group’s persistent efforts to develop a counter drone strategy since 2010,” the report said, citing the secret documents.

Strikes limit their movements

The al-Qaeda commanders are keen to achieve “a technological breakthrough (that) could curb the U.S. drone campaign, which has killed an estimated 3,000 people over the past decade,” the Post reported.

Drone strikes have forced al-Qaeda operatives to limit their movements in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia and other places. They have also taken a toll among civilians in those countries, something that has fueled anti-U.S. sentiment.

US drone attacks are deeply unpopular in Pakistan, but Washington views them as a vital tool in the fight against Taliban and Al-Qaeda militants in the lawless tribal areas along the border with Afghanistan.

The Pakistani government has repeatedly protested against drone strikes as a violation of its sovereignty and there has been a decrease in their use.