De Faakto OSINT Analysis-Criminal/Terrorist Drone Hazard

De Faakto Intelligence Research Observatory

Criminal/Terrorist Drone Hazard

Methodology-OSINT research

Airborne Drone Hazard-Improvised Explosive Device Attacks, Surreptitious Surveillance, Other High Risk Drone Payloads

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV), Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) or Drones are commercially available radio controlled flight devices employed by hobbyists, photographers, real estate agents, and cinematic film makers. State of the art technologically advanced UAVs are used by militaries for logistics, reconnaissance, surveillance, and as weapons delivery platforms.

Drones are being utilized by criminal gangs, guerrilla war fighters and terrorists for,
• Smuggling
• Counter surveillance of law enforcement and military entities
• Low tech weaponized platforms with payloads that inflict damage, terror and fear

Drone Weapons systems developed or deployed in attacks include:
• High explosive payloads
• Grenade payloads
• Chemical weapon payloads (UAV crop dusters)
• Radioactive materials

Drone attacks are limited only by the imagination of the terrorist entity and the payload limitations of the UAV. Terrorists publish internet content which promote the effectiveness of drones and encourage lone wolf attacks.

In 2017 there were 137 internet videos documenting drone attacks. (, 2016)

Notable Attacks/Attempts

• June of 1994-Japan-Aum Shinrikyo a terrorist cult, Remote Controlled Helicopters, attempted to Spray Sarin (chemical warfare nerve agent) but crashed during testing. Aum Shinrikyo is responsible for the Tokyo subway Sarin attack and the Matsumoto Sarin attack

• August of 2006-Lebenon & Israel Hezbollah used three Ababil Drones, each with a 50-kilogram warhead attacked “Strategic Targets.” All three were shot down by Israeli F-16 jets (G4S, 2017)

• April of 2015-Western Japan, a drone carrying a small amount of radioactive sand landed on the roof of the Japanese Prime Minister’s home (Independent, 2015)

• October of 2016-Northern Iraq, the Islamic State flew a Drone attack against Kurdish forces. Kurdish forces grounded a small Drone on the battlefield and brought it back to base. When dismantling it a small but powerful explosive hidden inside exploded killing two Kurdish soldiers and wounding two French paratroopers (G4S, 2017)

• August 2018 two drones loaded with explosives went off near Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, Seven soldiers were injured. This has been the first assassination attempt on a head of state using drones (BBC, 2018)

Drones have significant advantages as a terror tool
• Inexpensive to acquire
• Reusable
• Ease of training
• Simple to modify
• Difficult to detect, especially over soft targets
• Operators do not require line of sight for flight, and remain hidden
• Provide surveillance capacity
• Attacks can be recorded
• Ability to drop payload (G4S, 2017)
• Accuracy
• Drone may be flown through a window into a building
• Secure perimeters are no longer secure
• Quiet and stealthy
• Technology is improving drones capability (AOAV, 2017)

Weaponized commercial drones are a significant public safety hazard. Drones provide criminal/terrorist entities with low-cost; surveillance, reconnaissance and weapons delivery platforms which are difficult to mitigate against. Illicit entities will continue to innovate drone applications and tactics. Technology and payload capability will enhance drone potential & efficacy. The commercial drone market is being determined by demand; therefore drone countermeasures will need to overcome rapid technological advancements to mitigate against attacks. Drone threat-risk will continue in the long term and extensive efforts & resources will be required for public safety drone countermeasures.

• Drone recognition and suspicious reporting protocol for those at risk & first responders
• Immediate actions and safety protocol for first responders encountering drone attacks
• Awareness training for drone secondary IED attacks against first responders

• First responder drone situational awareness
• Note soft targets for drone attacks
• Note drone no fly zones
• First responders deploy drone spotter during active shooter or terror related attack
• Select triage and casualty collection points which provide safety & cover for secondary drone attack
• Deploy technological drone countermeasures if risk warrants

In event of drone attack:
• Alert others to drone attack
• Attempt a photo record for law enforcement
• move out of line of movement
• move at right angle away from drone
• put objects such as trees, buildings, power lines as barriers between attacking drone and yourself
• avoid staying in crowd-drone attacks focus on large groups
• seek hard shelter (G4S, 2017)


Russia’s army warns of ‘terrorist’ drones after (2018)

Terrorist Eyes in the (2016)

Drones: Threat from above-(G4S 2017)

Man arrested for landing ‘radioactive’ drone on Japanese Prime Minister’s roof-Independent (2015)

Venezuela President Maduro survives ‘drone assassination attempt’-BBC News (2018)

Drones-IED Threat-Action on Armed Violence (2017)

The Pentagon’s IED-Hunters Have a New Target: Drones-Defense One (2017)


Disclaimer-De Faakto Intelligence Research is provided to first responders for situational awareness, advice, guidance and educational purposes. Intelligence is perishable and fluid. Intelligence is updated and reassessed as new information becomes available. Sources are evidence based and multiple sources are used when possible. Sometimes intelligence assessments present gaps in information, this is a reality in intelligence led operations and gaps are filled when information presents. Emergency first responders should always follow best industry practices, organizational policy-procedures and regulatory standards.