If you’re looking for some light reading or to get on one of the NSA’s watch lists, this is your opportunity.  Below is a link to Al Qaeda’s renowned training manual, affectionately referred to as the “Manchester Documents,” for your reading pleasure.  While by no means a new document, the intent here is to have readers explore this document as a means of gaining insight into how AQ thinks, operates, and fights, which is critical in learning how to most effectively defeat them.

First, some background for the uninitiated.  During the course of our long and ongoing war on terror, AQ determined the need to write a training manual that would assist them in transforming radical Muslims into war-fighting machines, not unlike the various field manuals our own military uses at home.  Enter the Manchester Documents, Al Qaeda’s cell member playbook and one stop shop for terrorist doctrine, training, and operations.

Found during a search of an Al Qaeda member’s home in Manchester, England in 2000, the AQ training manual covers topics ranging from the Jihadist ideology to various special operations, intelligence collection methods, kidnapping operations, how to identify and maintain safehouses, and many other interesting topics of instruction.  In total, there are 18 different “lessons” or chapters that provide doctrine, suggestions, and knowledge necessary to conduct terrorist operations against the West and our interests.


Our favorite chapter at SOFREP is Chapter 10, Special Tactical Operations, which covers the definition of special tactical operations, describes the characteristics of a special operations member, lists some common weapons used, and much more.  Chapter 11, Espionage, is just as fascinating.  While definitely eye-opening, the training manual is first and foremost a sober reminder of the gravity of our ongoing fight against AQ, as well as how badly they are willing to die for their cause in an attempt to kill us.


Here’s an excerpt.  Note the level of detail the manual requires when conducting reconnaissance operations prior to an attack:

“In the [research] reconnaissance phase, precise information about the target is collected.  This could be a person, place, or…