This week, FBI Director Christopher Wray warned Congress that terrorists may use drones in attacks against the United States, the official described the threat as imminent.
“We do know that terrorist organizations have an interest in using drones; we’ve seen that overseas already with some growing frequency and I think the expectation is it’s coming here imminently,” Wray testified before the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee. “I think they are relatively easy to acquire, relatively easy to operate, and I think quite difficult to disrupt and monitor.”
It is quite easy for terrorist groups to buy drones and to operate them, the unmanned vehicles could be equipped with chemical weapons or explosives.
In the past other groups used drones in terrorist attacks, the Hezbollah group repeatedly used drones to probe Israel’s air defenses, while Al-Qaeda militants in Pakistan built small attack drones and conducted at least one successful test flight before 2013.
Nicholas Rasmussen, director of the National Counterterrorism Center, confirmed that counterterrorism agencies have established teams of intelligence experts who are working full-time to prevent such kind of attacks. The experts are evaluating any possible attack scenario leveraging on drones as the attack vector.
“Two years ago this was not a problem. One year ago this was an emerging problem. Now it’s a real problem, and so we are quickly trying to up our game,” Rasmussen testified Wednesday.
The threat is not a novelty, intelligence agencies worldwide fear possible terrorist attacks using drones for a long time. The U.S. Central Command had seen a significant increase in the use of weaponized and surveillance drones against Iraqi and American forces in Iraq and Syria since October 2016.
“U.S. Central Command told Fox News coalition troops have as many as 30 encounters a week with unmanned aerial vehicles. These drones are inexpensive ones modified to drop grenades or to surveil troop movements.” reported FoxNews in April.
In January ISIS members announced the creation of an “Unmanned Aircraft of the Mujahideen” unit.
“The two men launched the slender machine and took videos from a second, smaller drone that shadowed its movements. The aircraft glided over the besieged city of Mosul, swooped close to an Iraqi army outpost and dropped its bomb, scattering Iraqi troops with a small blast that left one figure sprawled on the ground, apparently dead or wounded.” reported The Washington Post.
“The incident was among dozens in recent weeks in a rapidly accelerating campaign of armed drone strikes by the Islamic State in northern Iraq. The terrorist group last month formally announced the establishment of a new “Unmanned Aircraft of the Mujahideen” unit, a fleet of modified drones equipped with bombs, and claimed that its drones had killed or wounded 39 Iraqi soldiers in a single week.”
“A new source of horror for the apostates!” the group’s official al-Naba newsletter declared.
Fortunately, the drone attacks launched by the ISIS on U.S. and Iraqi troops had not a significant effect, but American officials believe terrorists have improved their ability to maneuver the unmanned aircraft.
The alert is high, the
(Security Affairs – ISIS, Mosul)