November 2011 – Operation Button
Target #1 – Jessica Lindsey
Jessica Lindsey is believed to be responsible for organising and funding two major terrorist incidents on British soil, and a further four attacks on British interests abroad. She’s believed to be aligned with an Afghan terrorist group, operating cross-border in the tribal areas of Afghanistan and Pakistan. Her capture is expected to result in high value intelligence about the past attacks, and future terrorist activities.
Operation Button’s primary objective is to capture Target #1 and return to Britain for interrogation.
Target #2 – Peter Gordon
Peter Gordon is a British/Danish national, a former soldier with mercenary experience. Peter Gordon was captured by the Taliban, and later released. MI6 considers him likely to have been radicalised. Target #2 been resident in tribal administrated Pakistan for several years. MI6 has intelligence showing recent and regular contact between Target #1 and Target #2 – it’s assumed that he is acting as a bodyguard or guide for Target #1.
Target #3 – unknown tribal leader
Intercepted communications indicate that Target #1 and Target #2 are meeting with an unknown local tribal leader. Operation Button’s primary objective includes identifying Target #3. There’s currently no specific evidence here – even if there were, arresting a tribal leader in the FATA is politically sensitive, and would have to be handled delicately.
Target #1 and Target #2 are believed to be meeting with Target #3 in a house in Spin Wam, in North Waziristan District, in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) of Pakistan. The location is 30km from the Afghanistan/Pakistan border.
North Waziristan is a semi-autonomous and primarily Pashto speaking region, organised into tribal authorities, and operating under Frontier Crimes Regulation rather than Pakistan law. Since 2004, the Pakistan military has been regularly operating in FATA to counter Taliban activity.
North Waziristan has no mobile phone service, and broadband internet has been disconnected since 2010. Unauthorised FM radio stations are jammed by the Pakistan military.
Spin Wam is a small town, not friendly to Pakistan authorities, but used to seeing military vehicles pass through and operate checkpoints.
Having eyes on the ground can always give you more detail than a drone can.
Kestrel (Simon) – MI6 field operative – experienced Pakistan military liaison, capable military operation ground commander. Fluent in Urdu and Arabic. Hummingbird (John) – MI6 technical operative – fluent in Pashto, Urdu, and Arabic. Knowledgeable on FATA communication systems and how to intercept and monitor them.
Pakistan military unit
For manpower, local knowledge and authority to make arrests
One unit commanded by Captain Jinnah – in one Landrover with eight soldiers total. Captain Jinnah believes deploying more than one vehicle will raise suspicions in the local population. Expecting to take commands from Kestrel within mission parameters. Codenames Kilo1 for vehicle, and Kilo2 for soldiers deployed on foot.
Predator drone – overwatch configuration
A drone can cover a wider area, track vehicles, intercept communications, and in extremis, use weapons to protect ground assets or destroy threats. By 2011, America has operated over 1000 drone operations over Pakistan.
MQ-1 Predator drone, launched from Shamsi Airfield in Pakistan, and controlled from Creech airbase in Nevada. The drone is configured for overwatch of a ground operation – set up for surveillance primarily, but carrying two Hellfire laser-guided missiles with blast-fragmentation warheads for protection of ground assets or if mission parameters allow offensive action.
Operating crew are highly experienced in conducting surveillance and overwatch missions in Pakistan.
-24h: We expect the safehouse to be empty in advance of the meeting. With support from Kestrel, Hummingbird will place a tap on the landline at the safehouse and place a listening device inside the building. This should allow us to listen to what happens on the phone and inside the building.
-1h: Before the expected meeting time, Kestrel and Hummingbird will move into cover across the road from the safehouse, within range to pick up signal from the listening devices, and to observe the front of the building. (Marked Observer on plan). Hummingbird will monitor listening devices.
-30m: Landrover will move to the main street of Spin Wam, and stop at the shop.
-30m: Drone will be in position and monitoring operation.
-15m ?: On instruction from Control, three soldiers will deploy to the wooded area behind the safehouse and await further orders
0m ?; When Kestrel provides a positive ID on Target #1 and Target #2 within the safehouse, and ideally when the local tribal leader is also present – Control will order military landrover to the front of the house, and then Kestrel will coordinate a raid from front and back of house simultaneously.
Targets #1, #2, #3 arrested and taken away to Pakistan custody. Kestrel will accompany and arrange transfers of Targets #1 and #2 to British custody.
Mission Timeline Summary
00:15: Predator drone in position observing safehouse
00:15: Kestrel in position opposite safehouse – bugs active
00:15: Kilo in position by local shop, ready to deploy
~00:30: Expect Target #1 and Target #2 to arrive at safehouse
00:45: Kilo2 in position behind safehouse
01:00: Target #3 will arrive for meeting.
Identify Target #3. Confirm Target #1 present.
~01:05 Give raid order to Kestrel. Kestrel will move Kilo 1 to front of safehouse and initiate raid.
Capture Target #1 and transfer to British custody
Identify Target #3.
Capture Target #2 and transfer to British custody
Identify nature of meeting between Target #1 and Target #3
Capture Target #3 for interrogation by Pakistan military if there is evidence linking him to a credible threat, and this can be done in a low profile way.
Drone on overwatch rules of engagement: Low collateral damage Hellfire strike permitted to protect lives of ground assets
Where Control has determined that a capture operation is infeasible and that the targeted person is part of a dangerous enemy force and is engaged in activities that pose a continued and imminent threat to British/American persons or interests, use of lethal force is authorised.
Control may take responsibility for changing mission parameters or may refer up to a more senior authority to confirm a recommendation (takes time).