Journal Article - CTC Perspectives

The Islamic State's Drone Documents: Management, Acquisitions, and DIY Tradecraft

| Jan. 31, 2017

Note

This research was covered in a New York Times news article on January 31, 2017: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/31/world/middleeast/isis-drone-documents.html?_r=1

Much has been made of the Islamic State drone threat ever since the group killed two Kurdish soldiers in October 2016 with a bomb hidden within one of its drones that Kurdish forces downed in Iraq.1 The Islamic State was able to achieve this feat through an act of deception, as the two Kurdish soldiers were killed by the bomb after they had taken the drone back to their base to inspect it. Since this type of attack had not been conducted before, the drone was an unassuming place for the Islamic State to hide an improvised explosive device. But that trick only works occasionally, and it likely has a limited shelf life.

Creativity and innovation, however, don’t appear to be problems for the Islamic State. Several days ago, on January 24, 2017, the group's media office for Ninawa province released a video entitled "The Knights of the Dawawin," which highlighted a new Islamic State drone capability: dropping small bomb-like munitions on its enemies from the air.2...

[1] Michael S. Schmidt and Eric Schmitt, "Pentagon Confronts a New Threat From ISIS: Exploding Drones," New York Times, October 11, 2016.

[2] The United States military reported on the Islamic State having this capability, and using quadcopter drones to drop munitions on Iraqi forces in Mosul, on January 12. See "ISIS Using Hobby Drones to Bomb Forces in Mosul," AFP, January 12, 2017. As reported by Mitch Utterback, these bomb-like munitions could be 40mm rifle grenades. For background, see Mitch Utterback, "How ISIS is Turning Commercial Drones into Weapons in the Battle for Mosul," Fox News, January 25, 2017.

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For Academic Citation: Rassler, Don , Muhammad al-`Ubaydi and Vera Mironova. The Islamic State's Drone Documents: Management, Acquisitions, and DIY Tradecraft.” CTC Perspectives, (January 31, 2017) .

The Authors