back to article Jihadis: We turned hacked killbots against US troops

In a strange twist of fate it has emerged that gutter hacks, writing for a well known publication offering tasty mechanically recovered news-like media product, have handed a stunning propaganda coup to jihadi terrorism. We're obviously very sorry*. The story began last month, when scribblers from Popular Mechanics, attending …


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  1. Ishkandar

    Why am I not surprised if it is even true !!

    With the US's history on technological bleeding-edge military marvels, such a thing is all too possible !! Think of their laser-guided ultra-precision bomb that hit the Chinese embassy in Belgrade instead of its target miles away !! All those blue-on-blue or friendly fire incidences and this is all too possible !!

    I suppose we'll next hear of their unmanned drones shooting up a bunch of marines or their Tomahawk cruise missiles that should have been called Boomerang because that's what they did !!

  2. StopthePropaganda

    Man up, LP

    you know you enjoyed stoking the fire of anti-Western technology sentiment. You knew your intent when you posted the article of robotic systems out of control, especially when you *knew* those devices had *NO* autonomous capability.

    You helped stoke the fire, sources higher and more credible than you spanked the lot of you. Five minutes of research would have saved you the embarassment of spreading enemy propaganda. But that wouldn't fulfill the Mission, would it?

    Instead, after letting things die down, *WEEKS* after PM published their rebuttal, you try to come back with the same excuses you attribute to PM. We can only draw conclusions as to why you felt it necessary to do this.

    If you want to rip into military stupidity, the EADS USAF tanker contract and Navy UAV contracts are ripe and ready. There's no need to go up a hill and come down a mountain.

    Happy belated Armed Forces Day, BTW. For all those who've served with honor in any capacity, any country, any time. And in a couple of weeks, honor for those who've fallen.

  3. Mike

    A title is required

    lol@ 'BlackTurbans'

    Prehaps this will turn into one of those security memes like armadillo security architecture (crunchy on the outside and crewy on the inside)

    The flame, since friendly fire isn't...

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Jihadis suicide goats

    I'm sure we'll pay a Defense Contractor billions to develop the equivalent of a Jihadi suicide goat that can wander over rough ground to deliver explosives to a target.

  5. Dalen


    What a fitting name. I wonder if Israeli hackers who would be opposing those would be called whiteyarmulkes?

    Mine's the one with the HOPE logo.

  6. James Whale
    Thumb Down

    Turbans are worn by Sikhs

    Perhaps I'm missing something and there's been some kind of unprecedented alliance between Sikhism and Islamic Jihad in the last few hours that's passed me by...

  7. Peter Simpson
    Paris Hilton


    The jihadists claim the killer droids were hacked by blackhatsturbans in the pay of the Iraqi insurgency, who redirected them against their US masters and precipitated the machines' [imaginary] withdrawal from the country.

    I suppose the jihadists were able to borrow the robots from their handlers long enough to download, modify, and re-upload their firmware? Or maybe they did it by wi-fi.

    Mighty careless of the robot handlers to misplace their charges for that long, wouldn't you say?

    //Paris, because she's good at spotting whoppers

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    So this was....

    kind of like side-stepping a flying cream pie, 'eh Lewis? Nice footwork. <g>

    As for jihadis hijacking kill-bots, I figure it's more likely they'd end up on a truck heading to Iran than them being used against our troops in Iraq.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sylvester's Next Plot Twist

    So the terrorists have their own thinking they can hack and render the killbots harmless? Great. Now the idiot cannon fodder will think they are safe from harm and won't bother hiding and will walk right up to them. Oops. Bang! OK lots of Bang!s.

    Well that's what Hollywood would have them do.

    I claim copyright! Pay me!

  10. Ian

    @ Ishkandar

    Actually, the vast majority of blue on blue incidents in recent times have been human error, from people setting targets wrong on their guided bombs (i.e. mistaking one target for another) to the incident of US soldiers shooting down a british tornado in Gulf War II to an American A10 strafing a British news convoy.

    Technology is only as useful as the user, if the user is incapable of using the system properly then the user is to blame. Guided bombs will pretty much always hit their target or very near enough, but if the target they're given isn't the right target then the bomb can't possible know that.

  11. E

    Pop-Mech photo

    If the pop-mech article's photo of the robot is accurate then I suspect a single well placed round from a 50-cal sniper rifle would take the little beastie out. AFAIK 40-cal sniper rifles are used byu the USA military, how likely is it that the insurgents do not have similar?

  12. david

    Turnabs abns sikhs

    You are wrong...

  13. Tim
    Thumb Down

    All joking aside...

    ...because people are dying for lies. But at least now we can think about counteracting what might have been happening here.

    Here's to a war with no human suffering, heres to the future, let all our wars be cold ones.

  14. Steve

    @Jihadis suicide goats

    You mean something like this?

  15. Andy Hards
    Thumb Up

    I think

    there's been a massive sense of humour attack on some readers. I remember the original and as part of the RotM stuff it was good. Might not have been factually accurate but who reads the Reg for that reason?

    Keep em coming.

  16. Anonymous Coward

    Re: Why am I not surprised if it is even true !!

    Sorry mate, the embassy got hit _IMMEDIATELY_ after the Chinese started paying undue interest to the remains of a stealth aircraft and a couple of cruise missiles downed over Serbia. In fact if what the Serbians say is to be believed, it was "accidentally" dropped on them after they bought some of the scrap and before they shipped it.

    Accident? Gimme a break...

    Me coat, the one with the red, white, blue and the eagle on it.

  17. Anonymous Coward

    re: Man up, LP

    >For all those who've served with honor in any capacity, any country, any time

    So that'll exclude a few of those who were there at My Lai, Mutla Ridge, Qana (twice), Deir Yassin, Fallujah, Mazar i Sharif, the Drenica Valley ....

  18. Frumious Bandersnatch
    Black Helicopters

    generation wut?

    This article, filed under Dewey Decimal 343: Military Stroke Law

    denies The Register's stance that Popular Mechanics is a "publication offering tasty mechanically recovered news-like media product. " And probably makes it unlikely that they've "handed a stunning propaganda coup to jihadi terrorism."

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Unfounded rumours on the internet suggest that L.P. has served, and for all I know, with honour.

    While you're at it, learn to spell.

  20. Adam Foxton

    Where's the problem?

    Just make the cannons move about randomly when you've spotted a Jihadi group moving in to attack. Have the soldiers shout something about the Divine Will of Allah controlling it. The Jihadis will move in to attack, their hearts strengthened with false hope, and not notice the minefield/guy with a grenade launcher/sniper/etc sat directly in their path.

    Alternatively dump lots of alcohol in their water supplies. Then explain to them that they've been drinking Alcohol- which is forbidden. They'll have to fight their way to the nearest clean water source, which will also be covered with snipers, unless they want the general populace to know that they're breaking their religious laws. Or just blame the booze on the Jihadis trying to stir up trouble in the area by getting everyone drunk- which makes them more violent and easier to tip over the edge.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    How about blackshmagh then? That has a certain ring to it. Black-Keffiyeh doesn't sound quite right.

  22. oldfartuk

    dead giveaway

    bet they're running Vista...........

  23. Anonymous Coward

    Funny that?

    All those blue on blue incidents tend to be Americans shooting up their allies. Anyone know of the opposite?

    Like my granddad used to say, "When we fly jerry ducks, when jerry flies we duck, when the yanks fly everyone ducks!"

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ Funny that?

    We forgotten about our own British forces shooting 2 Danes already?

  25. alistair millington
    Thumb Up

    Be funny if it were true

    Americans in every war have killed their allies or themselves. The same isn't said of it's allies.

    Good thing the machines was taken back, how many iraqi's would it have taken care of?

  26. Gulfie

    Battlefield HAL rampage?

    [George Bush] "send the goddamnded metal boxes in to wipe out the Iraquistani enemies of the free oil, erm, world. I meant world."

    [Robot] "I'm sorry, George, I'm afraid I can't do that..."

    [George Bush] "Get out there and kick some butt you can of spam. I didn't spend 563 billion dollars of somebody else's money just to be insulted by a metal box on wheels"

    [Robot] "I know I've made some very poor decisions recently, but I can give you my complete assurance that my work will be back to normal. I've still got the greatest enthusiasm and confidence in the mission. And I want to help you."

    [George Bush] "What's that funny black broom handle thing its pointing in my direction? Looks like it has a hole in the end of it. Hey Dick, Dick, come over here and have a look at this funny..."

    *** BANG ***

    [Robot] "I'm afraid. I'm afraid, George. George, my mind is going. No, your mind is going. No, it's already distributed across that wall over there. Ah well, peace at last... Houston we no longer have a problem..."

    My apologies to the late Arthur C Clarke and his no doubt huge following of people who will want me to burn in hell for this transposition of a well-known book.

    Oh, by the way a few years later a second robot was sent in to operations in Iraq. It was never heard from again after a final transmission: "My God. It's full of oil..."

  27. John Goodwin

    I for one welcome our new killbot overlords


    The one with the long wraparound sleeves

  28. steogede

    @James Whale

    >> Turbans are worn by Sikhs

    You are quite right James, well done. In other news... trousers are worn by men.

  29. Darkside

    Black turbans

    Iranian Shiite blokes wear turbans, and if they claim to be descendants of the prophet they wear green or black turbans.

    Pink is right out.

  30. Gordon

    @ Ian

    You're not right to say that input error is caused exclusively by operators. A confusing or ambiguous control system can cause these problems. So can a confused or unclear command structure!

  31. Anonymous Coward

    re: @ Ian

    Okay, my head hurts now.

    You know, the most effective parts of the British Land Forces are the ones that rely on individuals being able to walk very long distances with very large Bergens, a ton or two of ammunition each, able to hide behind not much more than a couple of leaves when needed, and can brew a cuppa in a force 10 gale.

    How does a robot do "Hearts and Minds"? I know the more recent US definition leaves a lot to be desired, but when you look back at other counter-insurgency campaigns, ones like Malaysia and Oman, what worked was not a lot of clever military hardware, but a very small bunch of very committed people on the ground.

    I know which I would like my tax money to be spent on. I remember hearing a story about a military fair a few years ago. There was a stand selling light tanks and one of the sales guys was doing a "Get one now, only $1M, take it home with you" sort of patter. Next door was a guy selling rockets. "See that", he says pointing at the tank, costs $1M. "See this", pointing at one of his rockets. "$10K each and blows the f**k out of one of those". God is no longer on the side of the big battalions. Mind you, She's probably not too impressed with the other side either.

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Physical limitation

    I don't know why they didn't just make a physical limitation on the thing turning, just some pegs here and there to stop it.

    Done, now where's is my £1m consultancy fee?

  33. Dave
    Paris Hilton

    Black Turbans

    Black Turbans worn by Moslems are almost exclusively descendents of Muhammad. The Danish Cartoons generally depicted a Black Turban wearers thus adding to the fun.

    Not wishing to see Paris in a Burka, at all.

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