Intelligence: Bits And Pieces

March 25, 2012: While few American troops are on the ground in Somalia (and then only briefly and with no publicity) there is one area where U.S. help is very useful for the AU (African Union) peacekeepers, along with Kenyan and Ethiopian troops operating in border areas. American forces have shown their allies in Somalia how to collect parts of terrorist bombs and turn them over to American intelligence units in the region (in Djibouti, and a small base in Somalia outside Mogadishu) for analysis.

Terrorist made bombs, it turns out, have unique characteristics imparted by their builders. By examining pieces of a bomb, U.S. intel can often tell who made it, or who the maker learned from. Fragments of the bomb parts tell you who are supplying bomb making materials. The U.S. has records on thousands of terrorist bombs used in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere and knows the bomb building habits of thousands of current, deceased, imprisoned and retired bomb builders. So the peacekeepers in Somalia have an incentive to collect bits of bombs after one went off, and send the stuff off to the Americans. They often get back very useful information on who built it, or who is teaching Somali Islamic terrorists to do so.

The U.S. will also help other nations being attacked by Islamic terrorists. This sort of intelligence sharing has made it more difficult for terrorist bomb builders to hide. Every time one of their bombs go off, they leave behind a "here I am" message. This is one of the reasons why Somali terror groups prefer to just use hand grenades. These are easy to use, cheap and leave little incriminating evidence.

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