- In 1995, Aum Shinrikyo, the Japanese terrorist group that attacked the Tokyo subway with sarin gas, planned to use remote-control helicopters to spray dangerous chemicals from the air.1 The helicopters crashed during testing.
- In 2001 Osama bin Laden considered using remote-control airplanes packed with explosives to kill President George W. Bush and other heads of state at the G-8 summit in Genoa, Italy.2
- In June 2002, quoting a German intelligence official, the Reuters news agency reported that al Qaeda might be planning to attack passenger aircraft using model airplanes.3
- One terrorist group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, were discovered in possession of nine remote-controlled unmanned aircraft when a Colombian army unit overran one their remote camps in August 2002.4 However, such radio-controlled craft can only be effectively flown for a few miles.5
- According to Debka.com, in December 2002, Palestinian toy importers in Jerusalem and Ramallah were told to order hundreds of model airplanes for distribution to Palestinian children in hospitals. Subsidies from European Union member-governments could legitimately be allocated to this humanitarian purpose. The model airplanes were purchased in Europe and shipped openly to Palestinian shopkeepers. The model planes were sent to Palestinian workshops for conversion into miniature air bombers with explosive payloads. Tanzim militiamen from Arafat's Fatah, sent out to open areas near Jericho to test the new weapons, discovered they could fly to a distance of 1 kilometer and an altitude of 300 meters. The only problem was how to guide the plane to a target inside a built-up Israeli area where it would no longer be visible to the remote control holder. A small adjustment was made in the engine enabling the operator to cut it out from a distance, so that it dropped to the ground and blew up. Contrary to reports that Arafat had withdrawn from the day-to-day management of Palestinian terrorist operations, DEBKAfile's counter-terror sources emphasize that the results of the model plane conversion tests were brought before him. Delighted with its performance, he ordered the new weapon to be used in the coming days in Jerusalem. He chose Jerusalem, calculating that it would be some time before Israeli security and intelligence authorities caught on to and learned how to intercept the new miniweapon whizzing around the city before it blew up. The deadly toy is easily launched from Arab Jerusalem. Its flying time is estimated at no more than 2-3 minutes.6
- The Vremya Novostei newspaper reported in November 2003 the theft of a copy of the newest developmental reconnaissance UAV model from a building plant in Israel. The UAV weighs 14 kg and has a wingspan of 1.5 m.7 The thief was not caught, and there were fears about the possible use of the model by terrorists.
- According to the London Independent newspaper, a British national held at Camp Delta, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, has confessed to being part of an al Qaeda plot to acquire a drone to attack the House of Commons with anthrax.8
- According to Reuters, in early March 2004, Israeli intelligence prevented a terrorist act with use of a UAV loaded with explosives. Representatives of the administration of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon claimed that a Palestinian extremist group planned to attack a Jewish settlement in Gaza sector.9
- According to Hamas, six of their senior activists were killed in March 2004 when a UAV they had planned to launch against Israel blew up prematurely in central Gaza as they were preparing it for flight. Possibly, the March 2004 incident involved axplosive-packed drone.10
- On November 7, 2004 at 10:30 Lebanese guerrilla group Hezbollah flew an unmanned spy plane "Mirsad 1" over northern Israel. The plane, launched from southern Lebanon, flew along Israel's northern Mediterranean coast until it reached the coastal resort of Nahariyah, turned back and landed at sea off the coast of Lebanon. "Mirsad 1" can carry explosives of about 40 and 50 kilograms," Hezbollah chief Shaikh Hassan Nasr Allah told few days after the incident. "It does not have the capacity of only reaching Nahariya (in northern Israel), but deeper and deeper, against electricity and water installations and military bases," he added.11
1) Michael Gips, "A Remote Threat," Security Management Online, October 2002.
2) Michael Gips, 2000.
3) Michael Gips, 2000.
4) "Colombia - FARC Drones Discovered," EFE News Service, August 28, 2002.
5) Dennis M. Gormley, "UAVs and Cruise Missiles as Possible Terrorist Weapons," In "New Challenges in Missile Proliferation, Missile Defences, and Space Security," Ed. by James Clay Moltz, Occasional Paper N 12, Center for Nonproliferation Studies, Mauntbatten Centre for International Studies, July 2003.
6) "Arafat's New Terror Weapon: Exploding Toy Planes," DEBKAfile Special Counter-Terror Report, January 14, 2003, 4:33 PM (GMT+02:00).
7) "Israeli Reconnaissance Plane Has Been Stolen," Vremya Novostey, November 11, 2003.
8) Testimony of Dennis M. Gormley, Senior Fellow, Monterey Institute's Center for Nonproliferation Studies, before the Subcommittee on National Security, Emerging Threats, and International Affairs of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Government Reform, March 9, 2004.
9) "Terrorist Act with UAV Employment Has Been Prevented in Israel," - in Russian, Polit.Ru, March 10, 2004.
10) Ed Blanche, IDF uses armed UAVs against Gaza militants, Jane's Missiles and Rockets, December 1, 2004.
11) Eugene Miasnikov, Terrorists Develop UAVs (A Comment on 'Mirsad 1' Flight Over Israel, December 6, 2004.
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