Al-Qaeda Engineers Take Aim at Drones: Secret File

No real success yet in quest to develop counterdrone strategy
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 4, 2013 7:13 AM CDT
Al-Qaeda Engineers Take Aim at Drones: Secret File
An unmanned drone.   (AP Photo/U.S. Customs and Border Protection, File)

Al-Qaeda has engineers, and those engineers have been handed a mission: Figure out how to mess with American drones. The Washington Post takes a look at the effort, noting right off the bat that there are thus far no indications that al-Qaeda has actually managed to take down or interfere with a drone. But a secret intelligence report (yes, provided by Edward Snowden) that summarizes years of intelligence reports on the topic outlines a counterdrone strategy that has been in effect since 2010.

What al-Qaeda would like to do: Figure out how, via those engineers, to take down, jam, or hijack the US drones that pepper the skies above Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Yemen. The tactics it's researching range from using hobby planes to track the drones' movements to employing "lasers and dazzlers" that could interfere with a drone's sensors. How far it's gotten: Not very, per the report, which finds that the terror group has hit upon "substantial" challenges in its pursuit. But the Post acknowledges that it's no secret that drones do have a vulnerability that could be exploited: the encrypted satellite data links used to pilot them from afar. In tandem with more high-tech efforts come low-tech ones, like the distribution of a tipsheet on avoiding drones. Read the report in full at the Post. (More al-Qaeda stories.)

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