FBI Director Christopher Wray testified before the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee on Wednesday that terrorists would soon be using drones in the United States to launch attacks.
“I think we do know that terrorist organizations have an interest in using drones,” he said, citing findings by the U.S. military and American intelligence agencies that ISIS and other terrorist-sponsoring organizations overseas are using cheap, off-the-shelf drone technology to launch attacks that have included bombings.
“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.
Nicholas Rasmussen, the director of the National Counterterrorism Center, agreed with Wray.
“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,” he said.
Asked what kind of tactics terrorists could employ, Rasmussen said: “That could be dropping small explosives the size of a grenade. It could be dispersal of toxins, potentially.”
Bottom line: Competing militias, terrorist groups, and other proxies fighting in Syria and elsewhere in the Middle East have been experimenting with new and inventive ways to use drones for several years now, and their “research” is coming to fruition. It’s one thing to test techniques in a sterile, non-hostile environment; it’s quite another to do so in an actual war zone involving real-world conditions, the latter being the preferred method if you’re trying to figure out better ways to kill your opponent.
No doubt European intelligence and security officials are preparing for this eventuality as well, given the high number of ISIS-inspired attacks on that continent over the past few years.