It appears that in the wake of new technological advancements, certain terror groups are innovating their tactics to maximize the damage that they can cause. Once a futuristic fantasy, the prospect of “terrorist drones” is now poised to become a new reality in the 21st century.
Christopher Wray, FBI Director, is especially concerned. “I think we do know that terrorist organizations have an interest in using drones,” he testified in a hearing before the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee. “We’ve seen that overseas already with growing frequency. I think the expectation is that it’s coming here imminently. I think they are relatively easy to acquire, relatively easy to operate, and quite difficult to disrupt and monitor,” he added, according to the Daily Caller.
Despite sounding like something from a futuristic Tom Clancy novel, the prospect of terrorist cells utilizing drone technology is something that security officials have begun to worry about seriously.
Current FBI Director Christopher Wray warned Congress of this eventuality, noting an increased usage of drones overseas, and when coupled with their simplicity to operate, acquire, and difficulty to intercept, they can become a formidable tactic of guerrilla and terrorist operatives.
“Two years ago this was not a problem. A year ago it was an emerging problem. Now it’s a real problem. So we’re quickly trying to up our game,” said Nicholas Rasmussen, Director of the National Counterterrorism Center. He also warned of some of the potential applications of drone technology in the wrong hands, “That could be dropping small explosives the size of a grenade. It could be dispersal of toxins, potentially.”
“There is a community of experts that has emerged inside the federal government that is focused on this pretty much full-time. Two years ago this was not a concern…We are trying to up our game,” Rasmussen added.
Even experts in the military agree with this assessment. Michael Waltz, a former US Army Special Forces commander, mentioned on Fox News how poorly equipped the US Army is to handle these kinds of threats. “We don’t have the technology – both the detection technology and the counter-measure technology – in place yet,” he said.
Waltz continued, saying, “I do think it’s just a matter of when. A nightmare scenario could be 20 to 25 of these drones that you could buy over the counter that have been weaponized with explosives that you can put on a timer with GPS coordinates to a military base or a nuclear facility or Capitol building that could attack in a swarm-like fashion.”
The prospect of these easily acquirable drones being outfitted with explosives and set on a collision course to a nuclear facility could cause massive devastation – a potential scenario that might very well become a reality in a dystopian future.
FBI Director Wray warns that terrorist organizations are increasingly interested in using drones. Are we prepared for this threat?
ISIS forces are already utilizing militarized drones in combat against soldiers. One report back in January shows a drone outfitted to carry a 40mm rifle grenade, which is dropped when the drone is over Iraqi forces. For terrorist groups, drones have become another tool to be utilized, alongside tactics such as suicide bombings, snipers, and even child soldiers.
Even worse, it appears the government’s efforts are still divided on this particular threat. When asked who was in charge of anti-drone countermeasures, Rasmussen said that he wasn’t sure, and replied, “I will get you an answer on that.”
The administration needs to step up their efforts to make sure some of these worst case scenarios remain exactly that – theoretical scenarios, not a future reality.