A team of British intelligence analysts has drawn up a chilling scenario in which terrorists launch a swarm of small drones in an attack on a major sporting event like the Super Bowl, unleashing multiple explosive devices on the crowd in the stadium.
“If we do not act to prevent it, it is only a matter of time,” Chris Abbott, the executive director of a think tank called Open Briefing, told The Daily Beast in an exclusive interview.
Abbott’s group, which calls itself “the first civil society intelligence agency,” includes former military specialists and intelligence agency operatives. They have been tracking the development of drones for several years.
What they now see is a cheap and easily accessible technology that is particularly suited to the limited resources and ability of the small, widely dispersed terrorist sleeper cells that are known to exist in Western Europe and the United States—or lone wolves indoctrinated by ISIS or al Qaeda, like the San Bernardino attackers.
The experts believe that ISIS has already recognized the opportunity provided by off-the-shelf drone technology in its planning of attacks on Western cities.
“ISIS are already using drones in Iraq and Syria for intelligence gathering, quite successfully for battlefield awareness,” says Abbott.
“They are in direct competition now with al Qaeda and are desperate to launch a mass casualty attack on Western targets. A swarm drone attack against a large sporting event would be potentially disastrous,” he said. (In the Paris mass attacks a major stadium where the French president was watching a soccer game was targeted but a suicide bomber was deterred by the gate security and blew himself up outside.)