Taliban Buys Infrared Patches Online, Avoids Attacks

This is what happens with uncontrolled access of sensitive military equipment.

Some Taliban fighters have been able to ward off attacks by U.S. aircraft by wearing special infrared patches on their shirts that signal that they are friends rather than foes.

The patches, which can also help suicide bombers get close to U.S. targets, are supposed to be the property of the U.S. government alone, but can be easily purchased over the Internet for about $10 each.

Also available online: night-vision goggles and military-grade communications systems like the ones used by the terrorists who attacked the Indian city of Mumbai last year.

While stealing uniforms is as old as warfare itself, the Internet has made purchases of military equipment much easier and increased the risk to U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Some of the patches have been stolen during raids on U.S. resupply convoys in Afghanistan and Pakistan. But they can also be purchased in the United States and sent overseas with little detection.

In a recent investigation, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) bought patches using fake names and a front company with only a valid credit card. The patches reveal an American flag when looked at with an infrared light and were designed to avoid friendly fire during nighttime battles.

Jonathan Meyer, assistant director of forensic audits and special investigations for the GAO, told The Washington Times, “Based on our conversations with the Department of Defense, terrorists have used U.S. uniforms and the infrared patches to get close to U.S. and allied forces on the battlefield and at bases. This is more of a potential suicide-bomber risk.”

Mr. Meyer helped lead the GAO investigation, which concluded that few regulatory controls exist for dual-use and military technology sold domestically.

Rep. Bart Stupak, Michigan Democrat, who chairs the House Energy and Commerce oversight and investigations subcommittee, said the infrared patches are also made in China.

This is just fucking unbelievable. Not only are these patches available online, but we’ve got China being contracted to make the damned things. Last I checked, the Chinese government wasn’t a friend of the United States.

To paraphrase Vladimir Ilyich Lenin: We are selling our enemies the rope with which they will hang us.

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