Folks at the Pentagon have been talking for years about assymetric warfare and worrying about how terrorists might use commercial satellite imagery and other assets for planning and executing attacks. Kevin Coleman has an early assessment at DefenseTech.org about how well the Mumbai terrorists created their own on-the-cheap C4I suite in what looks increasingly like a model terror attack. One particularly telling point is that the terrorists used BlackBerrys to monitor news reports during their attack, clearly trying to maintain their own momentum and adapt to the changing situation using open intelligence sources. Here is Kevin's take:
"...History has proven C4I to be a critical aspect of military and law enforcement actions.
But these lessons have been studied by terrorists who have now integrated C4I into their operational plans. This has become even more evident since Indian authorities announce they discovered five BlackBerry cell phones that forensic experts have discovered were used during the two day siege.
Experts tell us that integrated command, control, communications, computers and intelligence capabilities within the multiple terrorist groups that luanched the Mumbai operation significantly enhanced their abilities and allowed the terrorists to coordinate their sinister efforts. The terrorist used the live TV streams and news broadcasts from Indian and foreign media to their advantage during the two day siege. By monitoring these broadcasts, they were able to have near real time surveillance of what was going on the thwart their attacks. According to Brian at Spy-Ops, "The terrorists had information superiority and that was achieved by simply using a commercial off-the-shelf product, including BlackBerry smart phones."
The terrorists also had access to satellite imagery during the preparatory stages of the attack. Evidence shows that satellite imagery from Google Earth was downloaded and used in the attack. This is yet another case of COTS products being used to aide in the planning and execution of the attacks. If that's not bad enough, investigators learned that the terrorists also relied on satellite phones and GPS -- two more COTS products -- to navigate their way and coordinate timing to their targets.
We live in a high-tech society with capabilities previously only available to the military now in the hands of the general public. This group of terrorists was technologically sophisticated. One thing is a given and that is that law enforcement and military leaders are rethinking their policies surrounding media access to ongoing events. One sure bet would be that the media parameter will be pushed out and away from direct line-of-site visual access to the scene of the event. It is also possible that cell phone jammers will be used to disrupt communications "5"among the actors at similar events. The availability of high tech COTS products creates an enhanced challenge to counter-terrorist efforts around the world. Counter-terrorist units must be equipped with the latest technology in order to combat the action of terrorists.
There are over 154 known terrorist groups in 56 countries throughout the world.
International and domestic terrorist events totaled 14,499 in 2007.
INTEL: The average dollars required to fund a terrorist attack are in the hundreds or low thousands, not hundreds of thousands.
INTEL: Indian investigators suspect the terrorists that carried out the Mumbai attacks may have British links after examining BlackBerry phones they used to monitor news reports.
INTEL: The captured terrorist -- Azam Amir Kasab told police that he was shown video footage of the targets and Google Earth images before the attacks.
INTEL: Robot drones, mine detectors and sensing devices are now common on battlefields abroad and at the scene of terrorist attacks.
INTEL: The Indian security forces, including the elite special-forces unit known as "Black Cats," had little access to high tech equipment including night-vision goggles or thermal-imaging capability