Crowdfunded news-site uncovers ISIS training camp using online mapping tools


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How long til the NSA touts this as proof that collecting all online information would help them find terrorists?

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Well at least they’re smart enough to march at night. In Iraqi heat, marching 3 km feels more like 30 km.


It’s a very clever sleuthing exercise, and shows the positive power of groups of online puzzle-solvers – a contrast with the redditor mob that incorrectly accused an innocent man of being the Boston Marathon bomber.

Really? Has it been verified? If not, then it is pretty premature to jump to conclusions. For as far as we know, they could be as incorrect as the Reddit mob.


Hopefully this intelligence is better vetted than those mobile chemical weapon labs.


How long til the NSA touts this as proof that collecting all online information would help them find terrorists?

Not likely to happen. After all, it would show that funding them is useless when it takes only a few thousand pounds/dollars/shekels and open public interaction to get the job done in just a week or two.


Who cares? Better lob in a few hellfire missiles just to be safe. Terrorist camp - wedding party - hard to tell them apart.


Next stop, the crowd funded Crusade! Get your congregation to chip in to buy a drone and some ex-display model ground attack missiles.

One does tend to encounter a much better class of mob on Boing Boing than reddit.

You just don’t lead 'em as much.

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You don’t think the CIA or whoever isn’t already doing this sort of thing, and much more? It’s nice that a few swots get to feel like they’re helping fight the good fight, but this is pretty basic stuff.
As well, none of this shows evidence of a ‘training camp’, just that ISIS trainees were, at one point in time, marching along this particular stretch of the river in Mosul. Certainly it’s something, but hardly enough to indicate where to start lobbing cruise missiles or whatever the objective is.

I would say that it helps to demystify the ISIS, shows that they train in real locations, and are not as nebulous as they pretend to be. It takes away some of the mystique these types work so hard to cultivate of being invincible ninjas who will commit atrocities upon all who oppose them.


It arguably depends on the breakdown(unknown to me, though I’d be interested to see data) between their ‘regular’ military assets and the various flavors of irregulars and unconventionals.

Based on the hash they made of the Iraqi army we tried to put together, and the ability to take and hold various locations of note, they obviously do have forces that will show up quite dramatically from the air, you just can’t hide men and equipment in such volume.

However, this may or may not have much relation to the man-on-the-street’s odds of quietly disappearing if he makes some impolitic observations on the glories of the reborn caliphate. Local brutality against soft targets is logistically much closer to running a protection racket or similar criminal/part-criminal-part-legitimate operation, and those don’t exactly show up on satellite shots.

I think we agree. That is an advantage that ISIS could be argued to have, though it seems they may be manoeuvring themselves into losing sympathisers within the regions that they are striking. When the entire strategy is built upon “we are incredibly brutal and nasty, so behave lest we do it to you”, well, you just make it that much easier for people to rat you out.

As far as actually fighting the ISIS goes, this information is probably long known to various intelligence agencies and militaries, but to them the real meat lies in identifying leaders, severing/destroying their finances and so on. Attacking this one base would be like stomping on a puddle to dry it out: you only make smaller puddles over a wider area.

I’m hardly the expert; but my suspicions are based on the history(generally less than promising) of work with ‘organized crime’ and criminal-but-quasi-governmental groups, especially in areas with weak law enforcement and governance.

Such groups are not invulnerable; but it’s not as though satellite photos would have taken out Al Capone any faster, nor has sustained US spending on military and intelligence assets paid off particularly well against narcotics operations in Latin America.

It certainly makes the Kurds nervous; but the guys responsible for US target allocation probably breath a huge sigh of relief when ISIS decides to assemble a proper army, complete with nice visible vehicles, and do something obviously military that we can shoot at. Doing a mixture of police work and human intelligence in a region where we have limited resources, not a whole lot of influence with the locals, and a bit of a community relations problem is way harder.

Comparing to Al Capone may be deceptive, as a big problem with dealing with the Mafia had to do with catching him in the act. Remember, he publicly claimed not to be a gangster.

Fighting ISIS may be more like how Israel attacks Hamas, or the USA uses drone snipers to take out commanders and financial middlemen. And you are correct, luring them into staging a conventional attack is how you make nice juicy bomb targets.

they are already beyond that point

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