Drones are often used by the West to eliminate Islamic State fighters, but recently, the terrorist group has adapted the technology to create its own deadly force of unmanned vehicles.
ISIS unveiled its “Unmanned Aircraft of the Muhajideen” unit last month. A video of a small ISIS drone attacking a group of Iraqi army soldiers followed.
“A new source of horror for the apostates!” claimed the group’s al-Naba newsletter.
The unit has engaged in several drone attacks since its unveiling, though the stated casualties are likely overstated, according to a Washington Post report. That doesn’t mean, however, U.S. and Iraqi troops are not taking the threat seriously.
One of the earliest ISIS drone attacks killed two Kurdish Peshmerga and injured two French special operators in October near the Kurdish capital of Irbil. The attack was believed to be the first of its kind against Western forces. The U.S. Department of Defense requested $20 million from Congress in July in order to combat the problem.
British Prime Minister David Cameron gave a stark warning when he said ISIS is developing plans to use drones to spray nuclear material over Western countries.
“The issue of nuclear security and the security of nuclear materials, particularly when it comes to the problems of international terrorism, the concept of terrorists and nuclear materials coming together – which is obviously a very chilling prospect,” Cameron said in April.
A British official confirmed that ISIS is already looking into the possibility of such an attack.
“We have already seen Daesh [ISIS] trying to look at whether they can they get their hands on low-level crop-using-type drones,” the official told the Telegraph.
A more conventional attack could be just as deadly. A drone fitted with a bomb, or possibly a chemical weapon, is a cost-effective and accurate weapon for a terrorist group seeking to do harm. Even a small explosive device deployed in a crowded area could yield significant casualties.
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