Paper No. 15
Presentation Time: 11:30 AM
ENVIRONMENTAL REMOTE SENSING AND GIS AS COUNTER-TERRORISM TOOLS: A RETROSPECTIVE CASE STUDY OF THE ZHAWAR KILI REGION OF EASTERN AFGHANISTAN
Environmental remote sensing and GIS are powerful tools that have proven valuable in the fight against terrorism. Geological outcrops forming the backdrop of video footage of an admitted terrorist were considered by at least three scientists to be consistent with the geology of Paktia and Paktika provinces of eastern Afghanistan. One of many possible interpretations placed the terrorist in a sequence of green shale, dark chert and altered volcanic rocks of the Kurram Group and similar rocks of eastern Afghanistan. Knowledge of the cultural geography of the region and its military history gained from extensive fieldwork in the region suggested that a likely location would be the Zhawar Kili cave complex of easternmost Afghanistan. Recent Landsat band-ratio and principal component analysis-based satellite geological mapping of the northwest Pakistan-Afghanistan border region was extended across eastern Afghanistan with a variety of satellite sensors to determine the regional extent of Kurram Group-like rocks. The processed imagery was then imported into a Geographic Information System and the public NIMA geographic database was superimposed upon the imagery to determine if Zhawar Kili and two other likely locations were located on Kurram Group-like rocks. The answer was affirmative and this short list of likely targets was forwarded to the United States Government in late October. News media reports indicate that Zhawar Kili was targeted during November, 2001 with the (possibly coincidental) successful elimination of many terrorists. This combination of remotely sensed geology and geography (culture, topography and transportation networks) suggested that Zhawar Kili would again be a likely refuge in January and February, 2002 after the siege at Tora Bora despite the earlier attack and lead to the suggestion that U.S. forces revisit the area in the search for terrorists. U.S. and Afghan ground forces confirmed this and eliminated more suspected terrorists.