ISIS has been attempting to change its tactics as it becomes increasingly clear neither it, nor forces opposed to it in the Middle East, are going anywhere. Most recently, and horrifyingly, there was an attempt to use mustard gas on American and Iraqi troops. And now there’s another problem: Suicide drones, being built from off-the-shelf parts.
The New York Times has revealed there have been several incidents where hobby drones like the DJI Phantom (see update below), easily found on the internet and store shelves, have been found to be carrying explosive devices, in one incident killing two Kurdish fighters. ISIS has been using drones for a while to surveil checkpoints and film propaganda, such as car-bombings, but the explosives are a new and troubling development.
While the drones aren’t capable of carrying much in the way of explosives, they’re still dangerous, and if they get close enough they can kill or otherwise cause damage: Another, non-fatal drone attack destroyed a few buildings. And long-term, there’s the issue of the constant improvement in technology. Hobby drone companies will be building new versions that fly farther, can carry heavier loads, and have more powerful batteries, making the drones potentially more of a problem on the battlefield. But, on the bright side, at least none of them will be armed with flamethrowers.
UPDATE: DJI, which makes the popular Phantom series of drones, has responded to the ISIS attacks:
First, the use of consumer-drone technology to harm anyone is deplorable. Any loss of life or injury in such a manner is tragic. Those who carry out such acts should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. When governments come to us with lawful requests, DJI is ready to provide whatever technical assistance we can to those investigating this and other attacks.
We are dedicated to optimizing our technology to enhance the benefits consumer drones provide to communities. And we will continue to educate our users on safe and responsible flying.
DJI has informed us they’ve been monitoring the situation and do not believe their products were involved in the attacks.
(Via The New York Times)