Il Corriere dela Sera, a serious italian newspaper, has an article out today about a potential terrorism campaign that might be conducted by Tunisian Al Qaeda-ists in the run-up to the French presidential elections.
It quickly gets interesting for Ogle Earth readers when the article links to an Al Qaeda propaganda video, apparently documenting this attack on a bus carrying expats in Algeria on December 10. About one third of the way through, you see a screen that clearly shows images taken from Google Earth, with somebody scoping the scene of the attack. Interestingly, what the propaganda video shows is stitched screenshots, rather than Google Earth running:
[Warning: the video ends with footage of the actual bombing — as if you needed reminding of the sick glorification of violence these people engage in.]
You can of course never take anything you see in this kind of video for granted; the intention may be, in part, to ensure we lose unfettered access to information as yet another consequence of their attacks.
Il Corriere‘s article mentions other instances of aerial mapping being used by terrorists and militants, some of which I haven’t seen documented before: Images “taken from the internet” of western embassies in Tunis, recovered from Tunisian militants; the Basra affair, which prompted Google to roll back its image update to before the Iraq war, images recovered from an Al Qaeda hideout in Fallujah, apparently showing targets in Europe, and aerial imagery found in an abandoned Hezbollah outpost during last summer’s Israel-Lebanon war. Hezbollah’s imagery was shown not to be taken from Google Earth. Il Corriere missed this one: A foiled attack in Yemen. Note: Except for the Hezbollah story, all original sourcing for these stories is unavailable — there are no means to verify independently the claims of any of the actors in these conflicts — and in war, truth is expendable.