A synopsis from book “Power to the People: How Open Technological Innovation is Arming Tomorrow’s Terrorists” by Prof. Audrey Kurth Cronin noted 1,291 reported bombings, the vast majority occurred within 150 miles of a high-explosives factory.
From 2015 to 2017, Ukrainian separatists used small drones to drop thermite grenades on four Ukrainian military ammunition depots — resulting in the destruction of hundreds of thousands of tons of ammunition. In 2017, ISIL used a mix of low-cost commercial and homemade drones to repeatedly attack Iraqi security forces in Syria. During one 24-hour period, they almost froze all Iraqi military movement by executing 70 drone missions.
The only response Iraqi forces had was highly ineffective small arms fire. Terrorists have also adapted open-source social network tools and commercial communications networks for recruiting, planning, and executing attacks. As early as 2002, Abu Ubayd al-Qurayshi used the internet to disseminate al-Qaeda’s strategy for continuing the fight despite American actions in Afghanistan. Until his death, Osama bin Laden continued to motivate his followers via video tapes even while subject of an intense global manhunt.
Randal D. Law’s Terrorism: A History or Bruce Hoffman’s Inside Terrorism (Third Edition) provide outstanding surveys of how terrorism has evolved. But Cronin’s book, too, belongs on every national security professional’s shelf. As the world enters another period of accelerated technological change, understanding the nexus of terror and technology may prevent increasingly deadly attacks. The alternative is to be surprised like the governments contending with the anarchists.
Author: T. X. Hammes is a distinguished research fellow at the Institute for National Strategic Studies, National Defense University.
Source: War on the Rocks article “TERROR AND TECHNOLOGY FROM DYNAMITE TO DRONES”