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News & Notes

Drone Rigged with Explosives Kills Two in Iraq

Leading consumer drone manufacturer comments on incident

October 14, 2016

A consumer drone killed two Kurdish fighters and injured two French paratroopers on Oct. 2 in Irbil, Iraq (about an hour southeast of Mosul), according to French newspaper Le Monde. This is the first reported incident of the Islamic State group using drones in this way.

The New York Times reports that Kurdish forces shot down a consumer sized drone, believing it was being used for reconnaissance. However, after transporting the unmanned aerial system to their outpost and taking it apart, the drone exploded.

According a CNN article, journalist Ben Wedeman said the drone “appears to be a cheap Chinese drone, easily available on the market.” Even though the make, model, and origin of the drone have not been officially released, various news outlets — including the New York Times — have used the DJI Phantom as an example of a popular, inexpensive consumer drone that could be used by Islamic State fighters.

DJI, the global market leader in consumer drones, felt it should speak up regarding this incident. “The use of consumer-drone technology to harm anyone is deplorable. Any loss of life or injury in such a manner is tragic,” DJI said in a statement.

The company said when presented with lawful requests from governments, it’s ready to assist in whatever technical way it can when investigating this and other attacks.

This is not the first time consumer drones have been used by terrorist organizations. The Islamic State has used drones for surveillance of battlefields and to record propaganda footage, while Jund al-Aqsa (a branch of al-Qaida) has used quadcopters to drop small bombs in Syria.

For a more in-depth look at how various technologies are developing to counteract these new aerial terror threats, grab a copy of our November/December 2016 issue, which hits newsstands on Nov. 1.