To learn more about Mirror Image Training, please [click here].
CNN ran a 7 minute segment on TRC’s Mirror Image training program. Overall, I thought the piece was very well done, so congratulations to all involved and to the CNN crew for producing such a great piece from a week’s worth of footage. I’ve posted the transcript below, but to do it justice, you really have to see it.
CNN Transcript – May 20, 2005 – 20:00 (www.cnn.com)
COOPER: In the war on terrorism, it still pays to remember the old saying, know your enemy.
MATTHEW DEVOST(video clip): Terrorists are trained to attack in
certain ways. So when you’re out there defending, you need to be aware
of how they’ve been indoctrinated to attack.
COOPER: In just a minute, we’ll show you how U.S. soldiers are learning to think like the terrorists.
Later, the high school reporter whose story forced the Army’s 7,500
recruiters to take today off. And an unsolved mystery where you might
consider the crime itself a work of art.
COOPER: 360 next, to fight terrorists, they have to think and act like
them. Coming up, America’s new weapon in the war on terror.
COOOPER: It is easy to imagine Islamic terrorists using the prison
pictures of Saddam Hussein to insight attacks against the U.S. The
story gives us a reminder, as if we needed on, of how America’s hated
by some people around the world and how important it is to understand
the enemy. Tonight Tom Foreman takes us inside a training camp where
American forces are learning to do exactly that.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Call to Prayer comes
at dawn, and the faithful answer. Disciplined, dedicated, pausing
before their day explodes.
This is life at Mirror Image, a
camp in the Carolina woods where American soldiers and law officers
learn to think like radical Islamic terrorists and they do it in a
radical way. In real life, many are engaged in such sensitive
undercover work, we concealed their identities. But here for one week
they read the Koran, pray and train just as real terrorists do.
MATTHEW DEVOST, TERRORISM RESEARCH CENTER: You want to understand the cultural and philosophical dimensions of it.
FOREMAN: Matthew Devost is the founder the Terrorism Research Center, a
Washington, DC-based company which developed Mirror Image.
DEVOST: Terrorists are trained to attack in certain ways. So when you’re out there defending, you need to be aware.
It really is important to kind of know thy enemy so that you’re better prepared to defend against them.
FOREMAN: To that end, real attacks in places such as Iraq are re-
created here. But this roadside assault is not all make believe. The
guns are real, outfitted to fire stinging paint ball-like bullets
These men and women have been taught to
defend against such assaults but have never mounted one and that is a
critical difference, because as instructor Walter Purdy points out, it
is difficult to imagine what an enemy can do if you’ve never tried it.
WALTER PURDY, TERRORISM RESEARCH CENTER: We have seen lots of
individuals that have good skills unfortunately get killed in these
wars across the world because they didn’t have the recognition of where
a threat may come from. FOREMAN: Teaching them to recognize the threats
means showing them how terrorists’ weapons work. How to build makeshift
bombs, how to plot assassinations, how to kill from the back of a
DEVOST: The first time is rather hard. The second time gets a lot easier. The third time you feel like a pro.
FOREMAN (on camera): This is not the sort of thing that American
soldiers are routinely taught. But this is the sort of thing that is
being learned every day in terrorist camps all around the world.
(voice-over): How do the Mirror Image creators know that?
DEVOST: We have studied the manuals that they put out, the documents
that they put out, translate some of their strategic thinking, do
analysis of the videos that have been released.
result, see for yourself. Side by side, Mirror Image sessions are
identical to real terrorist training. And there is something more.
DEVOST: We’ve got, you know, a diverse group of experts that have
actually interacted with people in training camps that we bring in.
FOREMAN: Terrorist training camps.
DEVOST: Terrorist training camps, the real deal.
FOREMAN: Like Andrew Garfield, who spent years in the British army battling the IRA.
ANDREW GARFIELD, TERRORISM RESEARCH CENTER: There are always likely to
be some terrorists. But we can make it almost impossible for them to
succeed and to operate with impunity.
FOREMAN: The greatest
challenge here, he says, is getting professional soldiers to understand
the mindset of a terrorist whose aim is not to engage in open warfare,
or to capture territory, but instead the terrorist seeks to exhaust,
demoralize and scare his opponents.
GARFIELD: He’s not trying
to defeat us through force of arms. He can only achieve his goals by us
determining that the cost of engagement of being involved in these
conflicts is too great and the benefits are too small.
FOREMAN: Object lessons to make these students respect such enemies are
prized. When the team goes the firing range, I’m asked to grab an
automatic weapon and demonstrate how deadly an untrained combatant can
be. It takes me five shots to find the target. But then every shot
(on camera): It doesn’t take that long for somebody that doesn’t know that much about this to hit something.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Exactly.
GARFIELD: One round on target and they have achieved their objective.
They getaway, great. If they don’t, they’re a martyr.
It is surprising how much of what is taught sheer about diplomacy and
politics. But the instructors make it clear the greatest weapon of
terrorists is the ability to manipulate public sentiment, to recruit
GARFIELD: One has to look at what is motivating
them. That’s what we’re trying to teach on this course. The human
emotions, the human psychology, the community issues the grievances,
some of which are real.
FOREMAN: The students take it all in and within days, they are preaching the Gospel.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Today the war is amorphous. It is global.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What people need to understand now is there is no front line. It is everywhere.
FOREMAN: Graduation Day. Trainees break into teams of 12, each team has a mission.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Truck drives in. Boom.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Boom.
FOREMAN: Using their new skills, they will invade a mock village, take out four highly trained guards.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When you see the threat, engage them.
FOREMAN: And assassinate a government leader. Played by me.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Move out!
FOREMAN: From the first shot, the first team performs well. They sweep in, hit fast, kill comes within a minute.
(on camera): I got hit here and here and here and here and here.
(voice-over): It takes the second team much longer. Their plan too
cumbersome, too slow. They have not taken the terrorist lessons to
heart and my guards quickly hustle me to safety.
(on camera): I think I might survive this time.
(voice-over): The last assault, however, is picture perfect. The team
moves quickly, they take casualties, but like true terrorists, they
don’t care. My guards drop one by one. I grab a pistol. Too late, a
blistering hail of gunfire ends the drill.
(on camera): It is
all pretend, but you realize how confusing these situations are and you
see it both from the people defending and the people who are attacking.
(voice-over): This is not war by the rules, but it is the type of war
American soldiers face every day. It is, according to many military
minds, a winnable war, but only if American fighters can learn to see
the world as their enemies do.
And find in that Mirror Image
the understanding what it will take to defeat them. Tom Foreman, CNN,
Moyock, North Carolina.
COOPER: Know your enemy.