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Remote Weapons Come Of Age
Nov 20, 2018

The type of drone used in the Venezuelan attack was reportedly a DJI M600 model that can be ordered online for US$5,000. Each drone allegedly carried 1 kg of C-4 plastic explosives, which itself can be confected from online DIY (Do it yourself) tutorials – if one knew where and how to look for them. Imagine what would happen if a few C-4 laden drones crashed into an oil tanker truck at a congested traffic stop or an oil refinery itself? Or even a crowded children's playground? A month since the assassination attempt on Maduro, terrorists in Syria's Idlib province have begun using drones against Russian military bases in the region.

The incidences were preceded by an alleged drone attack on Abu Dhabi's international airport in late July by Yemen's Houthi rebels.  According to rebel sources, the domestically-built Sammad-3 drones were launched and guided through 1,500km of mostly Saudi and UAE (United Arab Emirates) airspace before reaching the airport. This incredulous feat continues to raise many questions. Do Houthi rebels really possess such technology and navigation support systems to execute this feat? It is also within the realm of possibility for a few rebels to slip quietly across the porous Saudi-Yemeni border and assemble weaponized drones from smuggled kits nearer to the airport.

This ominous form of remote-terrorism is compounded by the relative anonymity enjoyed by perpetrators. While the study of remote killings had, until now, focused on cyberattacks on hospitals or nuclear power plants, the use of drones for assassinations have finally crossed the boundaries of fictional bestsellers and movies into an emerging globalized threat. 

Drones can be used for any variety of nefarious schemes. Some drones can see through walls and generate high-resolution 3D images of targeted structures or record passwords clicked on a keyboard in a secure high-rise office. It can be used to transport contraband, particularly narcotics, munitions and small arms across the US-Mexico border or be adjusted to make a special delivery all the way to Trump Tower. US President Donald J. Trump should perhaps scale up the projected height of his fabled wall.

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