"What it does is, it buys them a little bit more time - and in this conflict, time is key.

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The success of some of the tips will depend on the circumstances and the model of drones used, Col Leighton said.

For example, from the air, where perceptions of depth become obfuscated, an imagery sensor would interpret a mat stretched over the top of a car as one lying on the ground, concealing the vehicle.

"I want the brothers in the Islamic Maghreb to know that planting trees helps the mujahedeen and gives them cover," bin Laden writes in the missive.

"Trees will give the mujahedeen the freedom to move around especially if the enemy sends spying aircrafts to the area." Hiding under trees is exactly what the al-Qaeda fighters did in Mali, according to residents in Diabaly, the last town they took before the French stemmed their advance last month.

"They were thinking about this issue for a long time." The idea of hiding under trees to avoid drones, which is tip No 10, appears to be coming from the highest levels of the terror network.

In a letter written by bin Laden and first published by the US Center for Combating Terrorism, the terror mastermind instructs his followers to deliver a message to Abdelmalek Droukdel, the head of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, whose fighters have been active in Mali for at least a decade.The preface and epilogue of the tipsheet make it clear that al-Qaeda well realizes the advantages of drones: They are relatively cheap in terms of money and lives, alleviating "the pressure of American public opinion." Ironically, the first drone attack on an al-Qaeda figure in 2002 took out the head of the branch in Yemen - the same branch that authoured the document found in Mali, according to Riedel.Drones began to be used in Iraq in 2006 and in Pakistan in 2007, but it wasn't until 2009 that they became a hallmark of the war on terror, he said.Residents said the cars of the al-Qaeda fighters are permanently covered in mud.The drone tipsheet, discovered in the regional tax department occupied by Abou Zeid, shows how familiar al-Qaeda has become with drone attacks, which have allowed the US to take out senior leaders in the terrorist group without a messy ground battle.Another resident showed the gash the occupiers had made in his mango tree by parking their pickup too close to the trunk.