A Matter of Time Before Drone Attacks by Terrorist Groups
It is now, only a matter of time, before we see the Islamic State, Al Qaeda, and lone wolfs inspired by foreign terror groups to carry out attacks using small, un-manned, inexpensive, commercially-available drones, to attack public meetings and gatherings in Ottawa and other Western capitals?
In December 2016, it was reported that Transport Canada had warned that small unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or un-manned drones, could be employed by terrorists for surveillance purposes. Increasingly, Western intelligence agencies have been worried about terrorists utilizing small, inexpensive commercial drone technology to carry out terror attacks. There have been five reports about near misses between commercial aviation and drones in the last year including a WestJet flight from Edmonton to Abbotsford, B.C. in September, and a Porter Airlines flight to Toronto in November 2016. The London Metropolitan Police in the United Kingdom have 20 suspicious drone-flying incidents around London between January 2013 and August 2015. Drones have been flown over various sensitive points in France starting in 2015, including the Presidential Palace, U.S. Embassy, a Military-No-Fly Zone, and the Eiffel Tower. Both French and Dutch police have trained Eagles to attack and knock drones from the sky.
None of this is new. The Japanese doomsday cult, Aum Shinrikyo, had planned to use an un-manned drone to drop a chemical weapon on crops in fields in 1994. Hezbollah has attempted to attack surveil Israel and use commercially available drones with explosives attached to carry out limited attacks on Israeli targets. In Pakistan, during 2013, Al-Qaeda paid an aerospace-engineer to build small attack drones and conducted at least one successful test before they were shut down by the Pakistani authorities in raids. As far back as 2014, in both Iraq and Syria, the Islamic State and Jabat Al Nusra have tried to use commercially available un-manned drones for surveillance, real time intelligence, as well as to drop small bombs on targets. There are several reported ‘lone-wolf’ type plots to use drones and small bombs to attack U.S. landmarks including one in 2011 to strike the Pentagon and the Capitol. Islamist militants have reportedly spent a fair amount of time examining the use of un-manned drones to deliver explosives weapons of mass destruction like chemical weapons. Recently, an un-manned drone vessel was used by Iranian-backed Houthis rebels in an attack on a Saudi warship off Yemen.
In the recent past, the U.S. military has been forced to admit that they have cautioned troops to be wary of unmanned drones and employed both early-detection and electronic jamming systems against unidentified drones. But it is important to keep in mind that these are counter-measures taken on the battlefield by the most technologically advanced military in history. The Market or Sussex Street in Ottawa during the summer is a soft target, in a target rich environment, and any toy drone can carry a small bomb or anthrax powder, while commercial drones in the wrong hands can carry much more. There are limited defenses against terrorist attacks, lone wolf and otherwise, using un-manned drones on the home front. Intelligence services and police agencies can only do so much to interrupt plots, and disrupt and stop attacks, and regulation only carries you so far. Sadly, deterrence is almost unattainable in a fight against an enemy with an apocalyptic view.
Bottom-line, be prepared for a drone-attack near you.