Recently, the United States has used drones to kill Iran’s “Holy City Brigade” commander Casim Suleimani. More details have been disclosed, and some issues remain confusing. In fact, it is not difficult to attack a Sulaymani’s car with a drone in Iraq. The difficult thing is how to master Sulaymani’s whereabouts and how to accurately identify the person who boarded the car. This will test the intelligence reconnaissance capability of the United States in the Middle East. The success of the targeted strike was obviously the result of the combined actions of informants, signal intelligence reconnaissance, and the Internet.
Low-key travel did not escape the killings
The “Eye of the Middle East” website on the 4th entitled “Tracking, Aiming, Killing: The Last Time of Suleimani” disclosed in detail some of the attacks.
In the early hours of local time on Wednesday, Suleimani stepped down from a flight of ChamWings, stepped on the tarmac of Baghdad Airport, and met a familiar face, the Iraqi Shiite militia armed “People Mobilization Deputy Commander Mohandis, a long-time ally and close friend of the Iranian general. The two vehicles are preparing to take the Iranian “Holy City Brigade” commander back to Muhandis’s residence in the green zone, which is Muhandis’s usual residence in the Iraqi capital.
But this time, something went wrong. According to reports, the flight from Damascus to Baghdad took 1 hour and 5 minutes, according to public data from the Winged Wings. The plane landed at 12:32 am Baghdad time. Suleimani and his two companions were quickly picked up by Muhandis and his entourage. At 1:45, the Hyundai Starks and Toyota Asian Dragons they exploded in the western suburbs of Baghdad shortly after they drove out. Preliminary investigations concluded that two vehicles were attacked by three missiles. The modern car in the front was hit first, and the Toyota, which was 100-120 meters behind, accelerated to avoid the second missile, and the third missile completed its mission.
According to the article, this is their “ideal security measure.” Their schedules are never announced in advance, nor are their destinations public, and they fly on regular airlines. In this incident, they did not check their passports at the airport through regular channels, nor did they use their smartphones, and they took ordinary cars with as few people as possible. Overall, it is difficult to track them. But Damascus and Baghdad airports were lined with pro-American intelligence agencies, so they were spotted. ▲
What weapon was used in the assassination?
According to the United States TheDrive website, an unmanned aerial vehicle (reported as MQ-9 “Death”) controlled by Joint Special Operations Command performed the mission. According to Chinese experts, the U.S. Joint Special Operations Command was established in 1980. In recent years, the U.S. special forces have gradually surfaced because of the capture of Saddam, the killing of Zarqawi, and bin Laden. It would not be surprising if the operation was commanded by the command.
However, according to the US Forbes website, the attacking MQ-9 drone (in the US military) is operated only by the US Air Force. The MQ-9 and the missiles used in this mission are also quite promising. The MQ-9 “Grim Reaper” UAV is currently a relatively advanced UAV in the United States. It uses a turboprop engine. If it is flying at a height of several kilometers, it is difficult to detect its existence on the ground several kilometers away.
In a previous strike, the United States used an “Hellfire” missile that used a “retractable blade” to kill soft targets in order to reduce incidental damage. According to the live video and photos, the high-explosive warhead is probably used to ensure the complete destruction of the target.
According to the Forbes website, a photo posted on Facebook by an Iraqi organization showed the wreckage of a missile used in the attack, and the imprint on the debris showed that the missile weighed 52 kg. The report said that some analysts identified the ammunition as the AGM-114 “Hellfire” missile, a deadly supersonic anti-tank weapon that has been widely used by the US military to attack different targets. In addition to the latest laser-guided AGM-114R, there is a mysterious improvement that uses a pop-up blade to kill the target to minimize collateral damage. The improved version of Hellfire weighs between 45 and 50 kilograms. The report said that considering the target vehicle had been destroyed, the possibility of using a “blade-type hellfire” could be ruled out.
In fact, an AGM-179 Joint Air-to-Ground Missile (JAGM) designed to replace Hellfire weighs exactly 52 kg and can be launched from helicopters and drones. It essentially implants the advanced guidance system (semi-active laser and millimeter-wave active radar dual-mode seeker) into the standard AGM-114R (including engine, flight control system and its multi-functional warhead). However, the missile was developed by the Army and Marine Corps, and the Air Force was not involved. This information also made it more confusing whether the attack was the responsibility of the Air Force or Joint Special Operations Command, and what weapons were used. ▲
How strong is the U.S. intelligence network in the Middle East
Some analysts believe that many details of the assassination operation have not been announced so far, but the US Central Command Intelligence Agency and the US military intelligence organizations and non-military intelligence support forces in the Middle East played a crucial role in this attack. Important role.
The Zhiyuan Institute of Strategy and Defense article on the 6th entitled “U.S. Military Intelligence System in the Middle East” states that the Central Intelligence Agency (CCJ2) under the Central Command is responsible for the State, the Ministry of Defense, and the military departments. The integrated command force of intelligence forces is also the support of the theater commander in leading intelligence activities. The Joint Intelligence Center is undoubtedly at the core of the Intelligence Service, which is headed by a Colonel officer. According to public documents of the US military, in May 2014, the authorized establishment of the Joint Intelligence Center was 888.
According to the article, according to the joint publications JP2-0 and JP2-01 issued by the US military, the Central Command Intelligence Bureau and the Joint Intelligence Center can also be supported by a large number of intelligence agencies and resources inside and outside the military. Most of the 17 agencies in the world will send high-level intelligence representatives and specific staff to intelligence centers in various theaters. In the US intelligence community, the “operational branch” of most intelligence agencies, that is, the executive agencies that are mainly responsible for intelligence collection, will have specialized branches for specific geographic areas. Although the division of these geographic areas does not completely overlap with the areas of responsibility of the US military’s major regional combat headquarters, there is also a general correspondence. Most of these regional intelligence branches have maintained operations for decades and have accumulated rich intelligence resources for the region.
Each U.S. service has its own specialized intelligence agencies, and it also has specialized intelligence forces stationed in various theaters. For example, the U.S. Air Force intelligence operations are mainly led by the Deputy Chief of Staff in charge of ISR and information authority. The main force is the 16th Air Force. In addition to the force responsible for network operations, the Air Force has a number of flight wing. The 480th Wing is equipped with drones such as the Global Hawk, Predator, and Grim Reaper. It is responsible for theater headquarters, including US Central Command, and government agencies such as the Central Intelligence Agency and the National Security Agency. The agency provides air reconnaissance and air strike forces. ▲
Was targeted 36 hours ago?
It is reported that Suleimani was betrayed by him “for the past 36 hours.”
It is reported that from the moment Tehran arrived in Damascus until his attack and death in Baghdad, he is likely to be closely monitored. After arriving at Damascus airport, Suleimani did not meet anyone in the Syrian capital, but instead boarded a car that took him to Beirut. Suleimani spent several hours in Beirut and returned to Damascus the same evening. At Damascus Airport, Sulaymani and other passengers boarded the Wing Wing flight to Baghdad.
It is reported that around the same time, Muhandis received news that his friend would soon land in Iraq. The news he received was short, including only the airline and arrival time. Mohandis arranged a close friend to drive to the terminal to prepare for special guests.
According to the article, since 2003, Baghdad International Airport has been subject to strict security measures, and its security is under the supervision of the Iraqi intelligence and national security department of the British G4S company. Security measures require ordinary passengers entering and leaving the airport to pass through multiple checkpoints. Tourists and officials with special escorts are allowed to pass through VIP roads. These roads only need to inform the checkpoint of traveller identity, vehicle information and registration information. All information at the checkpoint will be shared with airport security, national security and intelligence services, and G4S.
It is said that Mohandis has been under surveillance by the United States for many years, and it is no secret that his close friend only picked up Mohandis. At that time, the Americans received information that Suleimani was heading for Baghdad, and Mohandis would pick him up at the airport. The Americans recruited a number of people close to the two to track their actions, and then determined the location and time of the assassination. ▲
Multi-party information support strike mission
“Eye of the Middle East” website information comes from anonymous people, so the details may not be completely credible, but Chinese experts said that combined with reports from other media, Americans may indeed develop informants to track Suleimani.
According to the New York Times, confidential information from intelligence personnel, electronic surveillance systems, reconnaissance aircraft and other surveillance systems supported the strike. The New York Times stated in the report that the United States has grasped the content of the communication between Iran’s supreme leader and Suleimani. Although the source did not indicate the method of communication, it is likely to be based on wireless communication, which provided an opportunity for American surveillance. In fact, it is an open secret that U.S. intelligence agencies monitor cell phone communications from leaders of various countries. Mobile communications including German Chancellor Merkel have been monitored by US intelligence agencies, not to mention senior Iranian officials.
And for such an important target, it’s not just mobile phone positioning. While U.S. drones are very advanced, letting their infrared imaging sensors recognize whether a person who just got off the plane and then got into the car is Suleimani. Even if positioning is performed through a system such as a mobile phone, in order to prevent accidental killing, there must be a more reliable way to confirm.
After confirming the target, how to let the drone operator confirm the target becomes the key. A very realistic operation is to instruct the target by ground intelligence personnel and irradiate the relevant vehicle with an infrared laser that is invisible to the naked eye. Another method is to transmit the target coordinates to the drone in real time, and the latter locks the target based on its position information.