THE LEVANT NEWS — Experts describe the footage obtained by Sky News of a “jihadi technical college” as an intelligence gold mine.
Terror group Islamic State is employing scientists and weapons experts to train jihadists to carry out sophisticated “spectacular” attacks in Europe, while also modifying weapons systems capable of targeting passenger jets and military aircraft.
From a “jihadi university” in the Syrian city of Raqqa, the scientists have stunned western weapons experts by producing a homemade thermal battery for surface-to-air missiles.
It had been regarded as a virtually impossible feat for terror groups working without a military infrastructure.
But footage exclusively obtained by Sky News shows that IS can now recommission thousands of missiles assumed by western governments to have been redundant through old age.
Heat-seeking warheads can be used to attack passenger and military aircraft. They are 99% accurate once locked on.
For decades terror groups, including the IRA, had these weapons but storing them and maintaining the thermal battery – a key component to the warhead – was very difficult.
It seems that IS scientists have got round the problem, and that revelation will shock the world of international security.
The IS research and development team has produced fully working remote controlled cars to act as mobile bombs, while they have fitted the cars with “drivers”; mannequins with self-regulating thermostats to produce the heat signature of humans, allowing the car bombs to evade sophisticated scanning machines that protect military and government buildings in the West.
The group trained fighters from a variety of countries to carry out attacks and to train more jihadists in their own countries.
An IS trainer with more than eight hours of unedited training videos was captured by the remnants of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) as he headed north through Turkey towards Europe.
The FSA passed the material to Sky News but was not aware of the importance of the videos, described by a weapons adviser to the British military as an intelligence “gold mine”.
Using aerial and satellite imagery Sky News has identified the location of the “university” and pieced together the apparently random collection of video files to reveal the true extent of IS’s sophisticated development and training team.
Although this type of activity had been widely suspected by western intelligence services, this is the first concrete evidence that it is taking place.
Crucially, it is far more developed than had previously been thought possible.
Groups of trainees from a range of countries including Syria, Iraq, Sudan, Somalia, Tunisia, Egypt and Pakistan were given terror training courses using science labs and facilities based around the former Equestrian Centre in Raqqa.
The extensive collection of videos shows the men being trained to adapt the electronic parts of scrap cars to make the remote controlled cars work using sophisticated un-jammable radio sets; and long lessons on how to configure the mannequins to appear like human drivers.
Some of the trainers and designers make no effort to disguise themselves but the “students” remain largely concealed.
While it is clear that all those involved have a clear idea what their objective is, at no point do they reveal the nature of their intended targets.
Security analysts believe it is an indicator that they are trying to preserve their own operational security while accepting that they need to train and circulate the videos to followers abroad.
Major Chris Hunter, a former bomb technician in the special forces and adviser to the British military, said he was shocked at some of the developments revealed in the videos.
He said: “I think this is one of the most significant intelligence finds in terms of Daesh.
“What we’ve seen with their typical propaganda videos is they’re very, very high quality.
“They’re designed, they’re produced to inspire people and prospectively touch the nerves of anybody who is viewing them; they’re done in a very specific way.
“With this training footage it’s very clearly purely designed to pass on information – to pass on the progress in the research and development areas – and it gives us a very good insight into where they are now, what they’re aspiring to do and crucially the diversity of the types of threats we might face.
“So I would say it’s an intel gold mine.”
In one of the videos a man speaking in Russian walks a camera through a store containing an array of explosive materials from TNT, improvised missiles to plastic explosives.
He explains how the materials can all be used to make bombs if they have obtained the correct fuses.
In Turkey an IS defector confirmed to Sky News that a top secret training programme was known about in Raqqa, his home town. He confirmed the programme was designed for attacks in Europe and further afield.
The defector told Sky News: “Videoing and documenting this training programme was meant for Europe to cause huge damage.
“If it was meant internally (inside Syria) they could send someone to set an explosive device or wire a car as they are able to do this (openly).
“But doing such a programme and documenting it was meant to target a large number of people and in more than one location, of course it wasn’t meant either for Syria or Iraq.”
This collection of videos is far more serious than anything we have seen from IS before.
A jihadi college training foreign fighters to fight in other countries, while developing missiles to continue the war in Syria, was suspected but never seen.
Although this film was intercepted it is thought likely there will be others in circulation, and there are hundreds if not thousands of jihadists eager to learn.
Sky News has alerted the authorities to the material that has come into its possession.
The Foreign Office responded with a statement: “Daesh will use all measures at their disposal to cause harm, and Britain will never be cowed by such terrorists. Our values are so much stronger than theirs. It will take time but this is an organisation that is losing territory and will be defeated.”
SOURCE: Sky News