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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 24 June 2018

Man held in Denmark for allegedly shipping drone components to ISIL

The case is the latest sign of ISIL’s determination to promote its drone programme to carry out attacks for maximum publicity and propaganda value

ISIL under the leadership of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has promoted drone attacks since the start of the year (Militant video via AP, File)
ISIL under the leadership of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has promoted drone attacks since the start of the year (Militant video via AP, File)

A man has been detained in Denmark under anti-terrorism laws accused of trying to ship drones to ISIL in Syria and Iraq, where they have been used for unmanned bombing attacks and reconnaissance.

The 28-year-old, who has not been named, was accused of buying drones, components and infrared cameras and attempting to ship them to ISIL via Turkey. He denies any wrongdoing but has been detained for 25 days in prison because of the “strong suspicion” that he was involved in helping terrorist activities abroad.

Danish police have issued an international arrest warrant for a 31-year-old, believed to be in Turkey, who allegedly received the goods.

ISIL announced the formation of the Unmanned Aircraft of the Mujahideen unit earlier this year and have used the unmanned remotely-controlled craft to drop grenades in northern Iraq. The group is believed to have modified drones bought on the internet and smuggled to workshops in the region where they are made ready to bomb opposition forces.

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The attacks have been exploited as a propaganda tool by ISIL despite questions over the ability of the drones to deliver a major frontline impact as they are limited in the amount of explosives they are able to carry.

The aim of ISIL engineers is to arm a drone with 20 kgs of explosives – about twenty times the current maximum payload, according to Dubai’s Al Aan network citing information from a seized hard drive discovered at an ISIL headquarters in northern Syria.

Concerns over the use of western consumer technology being used to wage an ISIL war has prompted manufacturers to embed software preventing their use across parts of northern Syria and Iraq, a technique known as geofencing. The technique has previously been incorporated in software to prevent drones flying near airports because of safety concerns.

Security experts have warned that the technology developed Syrian and Iraq could be used by returning foreign fighters in other parts of the world. In its 2017 terrorism threat assessment, European policing agency Europol said that “the current trend in using weaponised unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in the Syria/Iraq conflict zone might also inspire other jihadist supporters and expand the use of this kind of tactic outside this area of operation”.

The terror group has been actively seeking to export its bombing expertise to followers in Europe, according to unnamed security sources cited by the UK’s i newspaper earlier this month. It said potential targets included VIPs, passenger aircraft and crowds gathered for sporting or cultural events.