ISRAELI “IMPERSONATORS” KEY TO TERROR FIGHT
The Israeli military knows a thing or two about clamping down on terrorists. And it has some advice for the Pentagon: “You can’t fight terror [conclusively] in the midst of a counter-insurgency campaign” like Iraq, Lt. Col. Erez Wiener, Israel Defense Forces (IDF) division operations chief for the West Bank region, tells Defense Daily. “It requires continuous presence in the field and operations amongst the entire population.”
“Impersonation units,” have been key to the Israeli anti-terror fight Erez says.
Of the 2,200 arrests Israelis made in the West Bank last year, about 1,500 were conducted by special operation forces (SOF), including 366 by a special Arab impersonation unit, he explained. These specially selected and trained personnel have demonstrated the ability to completely blend into the opposing population for intelligence and operational purposes.
The unit would be a component of a much wider military and intelligence campaign designed to create an infrastructure for human intelligence gathering and rapid dissemination, he said. “You must be able to get the kind of timely information, like ‘[a terrorist] is planning on detonating a bomb at that intersection right there the next time one of your vehicles passes.’”
The problem, Erez notes, is that it’s hard to put these kind of units together if your side doesn’t definitively control a big chunk of territory. That’s one of the main reasons the Israelis built their controversial fence along the West Bank border — to isolate potential terrorists, and allow the “impersonators” to move in. But the U.S. isn’t about to put a wall up around Baghdad or Mosul. So how do they effectively infiltrate terror groups? Good question, Erez says.
Erez said he believed the United States could develop the capabilities allowing it to operate continuously in any enemy areas so as to create a real terrorist deterrence. “But the big challenge is if they will achieve this before the current war is over.”