Homeland Security

Al-Qaeda Suggests Drone Swarm Could Effectively Bomb Warships

Al-Qaeda suggested it could take on battleships with a fleet of drones in a new magazine from its jihadist unit in Syria.

The issue of English-language al-Haqiqa, published by Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham, or the al-Qaeda coalition in Syria, illustrates drones dropping explosives on seafaring warships, with the words, “The Prophet said, ‘Do not wish to meet the enemy, but when you meet the enemy be patient.'”

At the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on Thursday, National Counterterrorism Center Acting Director Russ Travers warned that “we’re in the early stages of seeing terrorist use of drones and UASs for swarm attacks, explosive delivery means and even assassination attempts.”

The National Terrorism Advisory System Bulletin updated last month notes terrorists’ potential to use drones and chemical attacks outside of the groups’ occupied territory and conflict zones. “Many of these technologies are readily available,” the NTAS noted.

The terror group last released an issue of al-Haqiqa, a special edition marking “seven years of jihad in Syria,” in June. The new issues features an interview with Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan commander Adnan Rashid and a tribute to late TTP emir Mullah Fazlullah, who was killed in June in a U.S. airstrike in Afghanistan.

A full-page poster in the issue also encourages readers to “share your wealth to finance jihad,” in dollars, euros, pounds or, seemingly preferred as it’s featured the largest, Bitcoin.

A jihadist called Abu Muslim al-Muhajir says in a Q&A that battle plans are prepared as “some of the military commanders take their observation leaders and go and observe the enemy areas for a few days or any required time until they can decide the weak points of the enemy and their strong points so that they start the battle through.”

“The military leaders then decide which group goes to which area and when. They also decide how many groups, what types of weapons and what kind of specialists are required. Then they sit together and usually watch the observation videos after which they decide on the final plan and arrange all logistics,” he said, stressing strict orders to not discuss battles online. “Preventing leaks and being secured is just usually by letting people know only what is required for them.”

“The enemy usually sends their surveillance drones and they keep trying to see unusual movements on our side. And we do the same,” he added. “Any unusual movements or extra movements of cars or groups of enemy soldiers et cetera show that there would be something going on.”

The jihadist, who the magazine said “has been in Syria for many years now,” said saying goodbye to the family and children before a battle “would not be very hard.”

“This is our job, it is jihad,” he said. “…You get used to it and to its dangers. The same applies for your family.”