Islamic State Using Small Drones Routinely In Iraq For Scouting And Dropping Explosives

from the drone-swarms-coming-up-next dept

Here on Techdirt we like to remind people that drones are not just death-dealing machines in the sky, but can also be a force for good. However, like any other technology, drones can and are utilized by the worst as well as the best. Inevitably, that includes terrorist groups like Islamic State (ISIS), as an interesting article from the Los Angeles Times reveals:

In the seven months of the Iraqi government's drive to recapture Mosul from the jihadists, small drones have become a signature tactic of the [ISIS] group: Their appearance on the horizon, loaded with a camera, signals that punishing mortar barrages will soon be on the way. Others guide car bombs to their target, or drop small explosives miles behind the front line.

Most of these drones come from the Chinese company DJI, generally regarded as the leading drone manufacturer in terms of market share. Clearly, the routine use of its products by ISIS is not the best publicity in the world:

Reports that Islamic State had used DJI products pushed the company in February to create a geofence, a software restriction that creates a no-fly zone, over large swaths of Iraq and Syria, specifically over Mosul.

But there are problems with geofencing. First, there is the issue of when a demand to geofence certain regions is legitimate, since answering that question requires a political judgment about who is really in power. Secondly, it's not that hard to get around geofencing, either by using quick fixes, or simply swapping to other drones that run on open source code that allows geofencing to be turned off.

Given that geofencing may not work, countermeasures are generally necessary. Those include rather crude solutions like shooting drones out of the sky with firearms, to more sophisticated ones like the DroneGun, from the Australia-based DroneShield Ltd., a company that specializes in counter-drone technology:

[the DroneGun] jams the GPS signal and radio linkages between the drone and its operator. The device, which sends out a jamming cone over a mile in length, forces the drone to either land immediately or to return to its base so that it can be tracked.

DroneShield's CEO, Oleg Vornik, already has some thoughts on what terrorists will do next:

"we believe organizations like ISIS will begin deploying swarms of drones. If you saw the Super Bowl halftime, you would have seen dozens of drones with little lights on them moving in a choreographed fashion," Vornik said. "That technology can be used to load grenades onto a large number of drones."

In other words, as drones continue to develop new and potentially exciting capabilities, so terrorists will eagerly embrace them -- just like everyone else.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Jun 2017 @ 6:42pm

    Hey, Glyn, what was the point of this article? I thought it interesting and pretty well written, right up until the end, where drones develop "new and potentially exciting capabilities" that terrorists "eagerly embrace" "just like everyone else".

    Maybe I'm too sensitive, I just hate to read about terrorists being normalized with "just like everyone else". ISIS is not like everyone else. Sharia law is not like western law. From a western view, these terrorists are really despicable, right?

    Probably that's not what you meant, right? It just seemed a little happy in the end after describing something really horrific.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Rapnel (profile), 14 Jun 2017 @ 7:16pm

      Re:

      I gotta admit, you made me read it twice looking for "something really horrific".

      It's like you're afraid of terrorists. That kind of makes you a victim (although I'd prefer you kept your head, in the end, because, in a pinch, an empty meat locker can be used for vegetables).

      Besides, we can just declare war and shoot them, anywhere, right? Works good.

      Believe it or not, terrorists are "just like everyone else" : humans, susceptible to external stimuli and capable of reacting accordingly. Good god man, you're a couple of notches above a monkey. Step it up.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 14 Jun 2017 @ 7:23pm

        Re: Re:

        Well, you are a breath of fresh air, much nicer than my other critics.

        The Super Bowl analogy I thought was horrific, and like I said, maybe I'm too sensitive. Easy to visualize, squads of drones dropping granades.

        About the terrorists, IMHO, they declared war on us, and on our culture. Their barbarism is totally without limits, public beheadings, stoning gays and adulterers to death, that kind of thing.

        I don't see that ISIS terrorists are "just like everyone else". I mean, we used to burn witches here in Massachusetts, but we got over it. Now, it's considered inappropriate to burn witches, right? Same for stoning people to death, right, especially for having the sexual relations of their own choosing, that's right not, agree?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 15 Jun 2017 @ 8:50am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Do you think people are incapable of acting shitty?

          They're people. They do things you and I don't. That's why we're pretty peeved at them. We do things they don't. That's why they're pretty peeved at us.

          I mean, hell, we have people in our country who shoot up churches. Not a lot of them, but they exist. I really think we're basically cut from the same cloth.

          Fortunately, just like us, ISIS terrorists are relatively vulnerable to bullets.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 15 Jun 2017 @ 12:18pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          We declared war on the terrorists.
          In fact, we INVADED their cities and killed their loved ones too!
          No wonder they hate us so much.

          I'd hate any foreign government invading my city and killing my loved ones. I'm sure you would too.

          So there you have it, terrorists are just as much human as you are.

          If you seek peace then maybe you should start by encouraging peaceful solutions.
          If you think there is no peaceful solution and Islamic Extremists all need killed to solve this problem please refresh your knowledge of WWII so you can learn from instead of repeat mistakes of the past.

          P.S. You are much more likely to die in an automobile related accident than to get killed by an act of terrorism.

          Fear of terrorists is irrational.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 14 Jun 2017 @ 7:39pm

      Re:

      It is an apt metaphor. Terrorists are like everyone else -- if you expand everyone else to include the US government, who also suveils and bombs people via drone. I'm not condoning ISIS's actions, but facts are facts: terrorists weren't the first to try these things and they won't be the last either. If terrorists are using drones for a purpose, you can bet governments have been doing it as well. And sooner or later, some disaffected maniacs will try the same thing too.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 14 Jun 2017 @ 7:41pm

        Re: Re:

        But you would agree that ISIS terrorists really are different than Americans, right? You would not equate the value system of the two societies, right? Or would you?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 15 Jun 2017 @ 2:42am

          Re: Re: Re:

          This has NOTHING to do with value systems and everything to do with combat tactics. Your attempted comparison is irrelevant nonsense.

          One of the basic tenets of military tactics is that adversaries always learn from each others' successes and failures. Sometimes it takes a while; sometimes it happens very quickly. This is just another example of it. Having observed the use of drones by the US and its allies for years, ISIS et.al. have correctly reasoned that these are effective, low-cost/low-risk surveillance and weapons delivery systems...so they've deployed them in the field.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 15 Jun 2017 @ 5:30am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            OK, I can accept that, perhaps I misinterpreted the comment about "just like everyone else" too generally.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 15 Jun 2017 @ 6:40am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              When a villain's not engaged in his employment,
              Or maturing his felonious little plans,
              His capacity for innocent enjoyment
              Is as great as any honest man's.
              - G&S

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 15 Jun 2017 @ 6:56am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              ... or perhaps the "just like everyone else" statement was a bit sarcastic? Tongue in cheek? That's the way I read it.

              I realize there are some out there who have difficulty recognizing sarcasm, satire or other such (sometimes) subtle digs, but some people take select items literally because it suits their purpose while manipulating other items into something they are not. It is difficult to determine who is doing what for what reason, so many just fall back upon their tired stereotypes and assume they know what is going on.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Rapnel (profile), 14 Jun 2017 @ 6:56pm

    We should regulate the air and apply penalties to any producers of air when air is found to be responsible for materially supporting or providing a platform for anything using air in a way we don't like. And we should geofence it too. And monitor it. And suck it up with a big air-vume. And we could distribute that air fairly to airtists so that they can produce more, air. .. but that's too leftist, isn't it? Or is it.. I'm torn.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 14 Jun 2017 @ 7:02pm

      Re:

      This is humor, right? Sometimes it's a little hard to catch humor from another culture.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Rapnel (profile), 14 Jun 2017 @ 7:36pm

        Re: Re:

        Hey, you're pretty sharp for a foreigner. Good catch. But..I have seen recent plans for an air-wall. It's huge. Good stuff.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 14 Jun 2017 @ 7:40pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Thank you, I actually do feel like a foreigner here. Humor is always difficult to assimilate into, it depends on some many underlying assumptions and beliefs, without them there is no humor. I'm working on it though, I hope to improve my understanding over time. Maybe sometimes I think something posted is stupid or terrible, when in fact it's just humor, and I don't get the joke.

          Happens a lot here.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            Rapnel (profile), 14 Jun 2017 @ 7:50pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            I invented email.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
              identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 14 Jun 2017 @ 7:55pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Ok, you seem nice, help me on this one. This is funny because it is not possible to invent Email? That doesn't seem likely, there was a time before Email and after Email, so it must have been invented.

              It's funny because someone else invented Email? Wasn't there a news article about who invented Email? That Shiva guy, right? This is funny because Shiva said he did it but actually someone else did it, right?

              Seems like a question of fact for a jury to decide, no? Or is it undecidable, is that it? Or meaningless? Or unclear?

              I'm sure this is funny to someone somewhere, probably many people, on this site. Right?

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • icon
                Rapnel (profile), 14 Jun 2017 @ 8:15pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                I... Uhm.. No. What I was going to say was that my friend invented text messaging and he gets all that fine ass. I get what? Two horses and a kid, a wagon with one fucking wheel and a fucking pendulum that swings both ways. It's not fair.

                Actually, it's a little weird you've kept me here this long. Are you a bot? I almost had a bot once. I would've banged the shit out of it had it shown up at the agreed upon location at the agreed upon time, for sure, all out, but no, I got bot-blocked, black-listed, the no funnel tunnel. Bots are bitches without teats. A lot like terrorists, actually, but there is an extremely fine line, isn't there? I would bang a rebel bot, I must confess.

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
                identicon
                My_Name_Here, 14 Jun 2017 @ 9:44pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                Your humor makes me horny, Hamilton.

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                • identicon
                  Anonymous Coward, 14 Jun 2017 @ 9:57pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  Did you have a left brain mishap producing a little aphasia? You remember that guy with the nail in his noggin? Was that you?

                  Just kidding, I know you mean well and are a nice person, you just seem to always substitute something sexual when it is not appropriate.

                  Other that than, you have a lot of very interesting opinions.

                  reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                  • identicon
                    My_Name_Here, 16 Jun 2017 @ 4:53am

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                    Oh, Hamilton. Your sweet flattering always gives me a hard-on. If you take down this cesspool of a pirate website, promise me you'll email your Shiva-flavored erection inside my inbox.

                    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Adrian Cherry (profile), 15 Jun 2017 @ 6:45am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Let me guess - you're going to get ISIS to pay for it as well.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Bergman (profile), 19 Jun 2017 @ 7:32am

      Re:

      Just remember, the password to the air shield is 12345.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Kraz, 14 Jun 2017 @ 7:01pm

    Geofencing

    I wonder if DJI will geofence, for example, whole neighborhoods at the request of homeowner's associations.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Lawrence D’Oliveiro, 14 Jun 2017 @ 7:31pm

    Cue Some US Politican Accusing DJI Of “Supporting Terrorism”

    I remember a few years ago there was some hoo-hah in the US over the fact that so many of these “terrorists” or “freedom fighters” (depending on which side they were on relative to you) were using Toyota pickup trucks. Some politician was trying to suggest that there was some unholy plot on the part of Toyota, when really it was just jealousy that US-made pickups were not seen as good enough.

    No doubt we will see the same sort of thing happen again...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 15 Jun 2017 @ 7:11am

      Re: Cue Some US Politican Accusing DJI Of “Supporting Terrorism”

      I do not think the "make in" labels mean much these days.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Champion, 14 Jun 2017 @ 7:36pm

    wellll

    if you wanted more proof that ISIS is USA funded this would be it....one of the 3 lettered agencies is doing this without oversight

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      JEDIDIAH, 14 Jun 2017 @ 9:20pm

      Re: wellll

      Sure. The fact that someone is using cheap off the shelf consumer technology is certainly proof of some conspiracy with a large state actor with deep pockets. [eyeroll]

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 15 Jun 2017 @ 7:12am

      Re: wellll

      They are being run by Obama - right? that's what some folk were sayin'

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Pixelation, 14 Jun 2017 @ 9:47pm

    Enact a "No Fly Zone"

    C'mon, it's Iraq after all...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Jun 2017 @ 4:57am

    They're also using TOYOTA trucks.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Alshat, 15 Jun 2017 @ 5:32am

      Re:

      Toyota knows full well what their trucks are used for and yet THEY STILL MAKE THEM! When are we going to hold Toyota responsible?!

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 15 Jun 2017 @ 7:16am

        Re: Re:

        Toyota is fully aware of what I use my tacoma for ... how do they know this again? Kinda creepy.

        Surely Toyota will cease production of all tacomas due to the things I have done with mine, things like driving off road - the horror! or using four wheel drive - what a show off!

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Jun 2017 @ 7:31am

    Future War™

    Uh, I meant, "Contemporary War" (not trademarked).

    Any publicly available technology will be employed by the "bad guys" as well as the "good guys." [The quotes emphasize my general fuzziness on the distinction between "bad" and "good," since for every barbaric act on one side, there exists an atrocity committed by the other.]

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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