Intelligence technology zooms in on Afghanistan


By Will Knight Military satellites, aircraft and listening bases are scouring the ground and airwaves of Afghanistan for traces of Osama bin Laden, the FBI’s prime suspect for the terrorist atrocities on New York and Washington DC. While aerial surveillance may help the US plan military retaliation, some experts says that tracking down an individual in this way would be almost impossible. “High resolution images can be used to locate where someone is based, but they would have a hard time trying to track a particular individual,” says John Pike, director of US military intelligence think tank, Global Security. “One pick-up truck looks pretty much like another. That is the problem.” Attention is focusing on an area north of the Afghan city of Jalalabad, where camps linked to bin Laden have been identified. These could be targets for US attacks, along with airports and government buildings in the Afghan cities of Jalalabad, Kabul, and Kandahar. Images seen by USA Today show this area in the last two weeks. They reportedly depict camps that have been evacuated in fear of US retaliation and dead animals, possibly used for chemical weapons testing. Pike says the US military has about five satellites capable of producing detailed images of this area at its disposal: three photographic satellites and two radar satellite. In 1998, following deadly attacks on US embassies in Africa, US satellites succeeded in locating training camps though to be used by groups linked to bin Laden. Over 75 Tomahawk cruise missiles were then fired at the camps. The images have since been released by the US Department of Defense and show these installations to have been small and basic. A number of commercial companies can also provide satellite images of anywhere in the world on request. The best of these have a resolution of one metre, and New Scientist enquiries found that an image of a two kilometre square area can be bought for $500. US military satellites have a resolution of around 10 to 15 centimetres, says Pike. Communications intelligence, as well as ground recognisance, could be vital to finding the exiled Saudi dissident, say some experts. Other military satellites, early warning aircraft and intelligence installations on the ground can be used to intercept electronic communications sent via satellite and through telephone networks. According to sources quoted by the BBC, listening posts that collate and sift through this “signal intelligence” information have been ordered to concentrate on Afghanistan. “If anyone is communicating in the area, this will be picked up,” says Bhupendra Jasani, of the Department of War Studies, King’s College London. “Electronic recognisance, together with satellites that can show the infrastructure, might provide clues as to bin Laden’s whereabouts.” However, the greatest chance of the US locating their target is if technological intelligence is bolstered with human intelligence from on the ground. Bhupendra says enlisting the help of Pakistan’s Inter-Service Intelligence agency will be crucial:
  • 首页
  • 游艇租赁
  • 电话
  • 关于我们