The Third Glove

March 23, 2016


We continue to see speculation within the media that the gloves being worn by the Brussels suspects were associated with the detonator, or as protection against a premature detonation due to static electricity. While it is true the AQ training manual suggests the wearing of gloves to stop static discharge, both AQ and ISIS training manuals instruct their operatives to use clothing or other personal items as visual identifiers during an operation. There exists the possibility that a larger group was participating in this attack, and the gloves were being used to help the advance team (already at the airport) identify the attackers in the crowded terminal. Again, while it is certainly possible the gloves were tied to a detonation device or protection against static electricity, it does beg the question: Why wasn’t the third bomber wearing a glove?

From the Al Qaeda manual:

If the two individuals do not know one another, they should do the following:


  • The initial sign for becoming acquainted may be that both of them wear a certain type of clothing or carry a certain item. These signs should be appropriate for the place, easily identified, and meet the purpose. The initial sign for becoming acquainted does not [fully] identify the purpose by another.


From the ISIS manual:

If you are working with a cell, the cell members should agree with each other on a certain number of signs/symbols to communicate with each other in total discretion. Among these signs, putting or pulling hand from pockets, putting on glasses, etc.. to say for example, that the target has turned right, or to say that we end the surveillance process here and we should retreat, etc.. These signs should be clear and not leave any doubt in the mind of the brothers with you. Also, they should be in accordance to the environment around you. You shouldn’t be putting sunglasses if there’s no sun, or open your umbrella if there’s no rain, …



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