Now here's a creative military operation: the British set up a fake Laundromat in Belfast, where they wanted to find IRA bomb-makers. They staffed the Laundromat with locals and sent out coupons to different neighborhoods, with each neighborhoods coupon a different color. When people brought their clothes and coupons in, they got their clothes washed, but while their clothes were being washed, they were secretly being analyzed for bomb-making chemical residue.
While the laundry was indeed being washed, pressed and dry cleaned, it had one additional cycle — every garment, sheet, glove, pair of pants, was first sent through an analyzer, located in the basement, that checked for bomb-making residue. The analyzer was disguised as just another piece of the laundry equipment; good OPSEC [operational security]. Within a few weeks, multiple positives had shown up, indicating the ingredients of bomb residue, and intelligence had determined which areas of the city were involved. To narrow their target list, [the laundry] simply sent out more specific coupons [numbered] to all houses in the area, and before long they had good addresses. After confirming addresses, authorities with the SAS teams swooped down on the multiple homes and arrested multiple personnel and confiscated numerous assembled bombs, weapons and ingredients. During the entire operation, no one was injured or killed.
What an amazing operation. On the one hand, the privacy-minded part of me wants to object to tricking normal people into having their clothes inspected my the feds. On the other hand, this operation arrested bomb-makers who were planning to kill people without ending a single human life. In any case, this is an amazing example of thinking outside of the box and a real-life operation that rivals any Hollywood movie. [Washington Post via Kottke]