Austrian defence ministry terror expert Brigadier Johann Luif believes the future of terror attacks could involve drones exploiting gaps in current security practices.
Brigadier Luif warned terror organisations, like Islamic State, could use what he calls the “third dimension” as a means of terror by using modified drones armed with explosives to carry out attacks. “Even the best protection has somewhere” to be exploited, he told Austria’s largest newspaper Kronen Zeitung.
Luif said events that seem totally secure may still have weaknesses to be exploited. The Manchester terror attack earlier this week occurred just outside security checkpoints, but close enough to kill 22 concert goers and injure over 60 others.
What concerns Luif is the possibility of terrorists using drones to fly above open air stadiums and events where security would be negligible. According to Luif, terrorists could “bring drones, explosives or poison gas into the stadiums” saying “this is becoming easier and easier”.
Peter Neumann, Special Representative on Combating Radicalisation from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), agrees with Luif and said terror attacks in Europe could intensify further. “The Islamic State is on the defensive, but the biggest mistake we could make is to say this problem has been solved,” he said.
Neumann added even if Islamic State is destroyed in the Middle East, their focus could shift to Europe and pointed out that the group had already instructed its fighters and sympathisers to conduct attacks in European countries.
In the Middle East, Islamic State has been using drones more and more as weapons on the battlefield. In the Iraqi city of Mosul, the group has been able to drop bombs from drones with “pinpoint accuracy” according to U.S. Air Force Colonel John Dorrian.
“I am aware that ISIL has used commercial-off-the-shelf UAVs [unmanned aerial vehicles] to drop small explosive weapons,” Col. Dorrian said.
Last month, photographs emerged showing the terror group using drones to target Iraqi forces on the ground.
Experts in Europe have warned about the possiblity of terrorists using drones at major events before. In 2016, the German Federal Police warned that drones could be used during the Euro 2016 football tournament.
German company Rheinmetall claims to have developed technology to combat drones and has approached German football giant Bayern Munich with their electromagnetic pulse defence equipment which they say can take out the electronics of a drone.