IS Panjrath Writes: Terrorist organisations the world over have displayed an increasing trend of adapting readily available technologies to further their operations, goals and cause. Be it the internet or cellular & satellite communications or any other supposedly inconspicuous technology of everyday utility, there are numerous instances of their innovative use for terror related activities. While certain outfits like the ISIS have emerged as the real trendsetters, others are not far behind.
Lately, the use of drones and UAVs, not only for surveillance, but also as effective explosive weapons has come to light. In Oct 16, an incident was reported by the New York Times wherein Kurdish forces fighting the Islamic State in northern Iraq shot down a small drone. Believing it to be a reconnaissance device they transported it back to their outpost for examination; but as they were taking it apart, it blew up, killing two Kurdish fighters[i]. There have been reports of similar attacks thereafter wherein it was found that the explosives had been disguised as batteries. This threat is not new and even Hezbollah has repeatedly attempted to attack Israel using commercially available UAVs with explosives[ii].
While as of now the drone technology being used does not appear to be very advanced as these are slow, possess limited destructive capability and are easy to shoot down, what is disconcerting is the possibility of replication by terrorist organisations closer home to target the general public. This trend definitely merits a closer examination by intelligence agencies as well organisations responsible for internal security. A report by The Newsweek published in Apr 16 discusses in great detail the dangers posed by the booming commercial drone industry in the US and what the government needs to do in order to pre-empt the terrorist outfits in this regard. Ryan J Wallace and John M Loffi, in their article titled, ‘Examining Unmanned Aerial System threats & defences : A conceptual analysis – published in the International Journal of Aviation, Aeronautics, and Aerospace[iii]’ offer a robust, pragmatic and highly implementable five layered defence strategy to include – Prevention, Deterrence, Denial, Detection and Destruction/ Interruption.
Similar concerns have emerged in other part of the world such as Brazil and France with their respective governments taking serious cognisance of the issue at hand and implementing suitable measures to negate this emerging threat. That innovation and ingenuity can throw open limitless possibilities to stay ahead of the adversary is best represented by a unique French pilot project modelled on breeding and training eagles to chase and kill drones. A recent report in the Washington Post dated 21 Feb 17 refers[iv].
With India being at the receiving end of terrorism, it may not take too long for active terror groups to follow suit. Hence, it’s about time the security establishment recognises this threat and puts in place measures to effectively deal with the same.