Feeds

Gadget-buying Taliban 5th column in Blighty - shock!

And, why Maplins is not a terrorist bomb bazaar of DEATH

Comment Widespread media reports suggest Taliban bomb-makers in Afghanistan use electronics sourced in the UK - perhaps bought by British or British-resident Muslim sympathisers.

These stories are based on a report by the Telegraph, covering a briefing given to UK Foreign Secretary David Miliband by the commander and staff of 3 Commando Brigade, the British formation currently in the thick of the fighting in Afghanistan's Helmand province. Increasingly unable to contend against UK and allied forces in face-to-face combat, the Afghan insurgents are turning more and more to tactics such as roadside bombs and mines - either booby-traps or remotely initiated.

Such Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs, in military parlance) are most commonly triggered by an electrical firing circuit, burning fuses being rather old hat. The switch which makes the circuit and detonates the bomb can be controlled by almost anything. It may be as simple as an insurgent watching from concealment touching two stripped ends of wire together as a British unit passes the bomb: but this is troublesome and dangerous. A firing wire long enough to offer any chance of escape after the attack usually takes a long time to lay out and conceal effectively*: it can also make the device vulnerable to electronic attack**.

Command-wire IEDs mostly went out of fashion long ago. The modern trend, from Northern Ireland through the Balkan campaigns and now into Iraq and Afghanistan, is to use any of a vast array of consumer electronics to trigger bombs. Mobile phones, walkie-talkies, beepers, car keyless-entry, garage door openers, toy radio-control gear, police speed guns used to trigger dashboard speed-trap detectors, infrared zappers and receivers from home entertainment kit - all these have been used in the field.

Western forces can jam and spoof to some degree, but they can't blot out the entire electromagnetic spectrum. They need to use it themselves, and anyway doing so would require an unreasonable amount of equipment and power - not to mention being highly unhelpful in the battle of hearts and minds.

So sure, it's entirely believeable that consumer bits and bobs bought in Britain are being used to make IED triggers for employment in Helmand. Any branch of Maplins is a firing-circuit designer's paradise: though for a bomb-maker in the UK it isn't all that much use, as he must still make or get hold of some explosives - ideally ones stable and safe enough to use, with separate detonators. That's why there's no great need to fret about bombs here.

But in Afghanistan you can generally get hold of pukka military explosives, thanks in large part to the munificence of the Western and Russian air forces, artillery, opposing secret services etc over the decades. If not, the time and seclusion required to make your own are much less of a problem - especially in the Taliban's rear support areas across the Pakistani border, though even these are now under frequent attack from a large, disavowed, probably CIA operated drone air force.

So all the Taliban need is some nice Western-lifestyle type gadgetry to use as firing switches. And - shock - these are being supplied by a secret army of sympathisers here in the UK, cackling at the thought of dead British soldiers as they clear the shelves at Maplins!

More from The Register

next story
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
Apple CEO Tim Cook: TV is TERRIBLE and stuck in the 1970s
The iKing thinks telly is far too fiddly and ugly – basically, iTunes
Israeli spies rebel over mass-snooping on innocent Palestinians
'Disciplinary treatment will be sharp and clear' vow spy-chiefs
Huawei ditches new Windows Phone mobe plans, blames poor sales
Giganto mobe firm slams door shut on Microsoft. OH DEAR
Phones 4u website DIES as wounded mobe retailer struggles to stay above water
Founder blames 'ruthless network partners' for implosion
Found inside ISIS terror chap's laptop: CELINE DION tunes
REPORT: Stash of terrorist material found in Syria Dell box
Show us your Five-Eyes SECRETS says Privacy International
Refusal to disclose GCHQ canteen menus and prices triggers Euro Human Rights Court action
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.