As technology advances, terrorists will likely continue to adapt their methods to take advantage of it. Currently, terrorist groups are already using technological advances in networks and social media for recruitment, attack planning, and attack direction. Additionally, they are modifying drones to be used in terrorist attacks. While not currently being used, in the future terrorist groups are likely to take advantage of artificial intelligence and may use weapons of mass destruction.
As stated in previous forum posts, terrorist groups such as Islamic State have become adept at using social media to recruit new members. Additionally, they are taking advantage of new network technology such as end-to-end encrypted messaging, WhatsApp and Telegram, and virtual private networks to hide their internet protocol addresses. Using these kinds of technologies enables terrorist groups to clandestinely recruit jihadists and direct attacks. For example, the Royal Malaysian Police disrupted 14 alleged Islamic State plots in Malaysia following Islamic State’s use of Malay-language propaganda (Harrison, 2018).
Drones are an ever-advancing platform for intelligence gathering and offensive operations. Terrorists are now utilizing drones in their own attacks. However, they are modifying smaller size drones to drop grenades or to use in swarming type attacks. With the internet providing do it yourself videos, utilizing drone technology has increasingly become easier for terrorist groups. One example of this was the use of drones by Houthis in Yemen to attack Saudi air defenses (Cipher, 2018).
The worry for the future is the use of artificial intelligence or a terrorist group being able to procure weapons of mass destruction. While there is still a long way to go in artificial intelligence, it could be used for vehicle born improvised explosive devices or for social network mapping to identify targets (Gartenstein-Ross, 2018). Additionally, terrorists will likely continue to seek out ways to utilize weapons of mass destruction such as nuclear bombs (Hummel, 2016). One such way to use a weapons of mass destruction would be to combine a chemical dispersion device with a drone for a large-scale chemical attack (Cipher, 2018).
Terrorists will likely continue to adapt and utilize new technology as it advances. Additionally, they will likely look for any way to procure and use weapons of mass destruction in the future.
Harrison, S. (2018). Evolving Tech, Evolving Terror. Center for Strategic and International Studies New Perspectives in Foreign Policy, Issue 15, Spring 2018, pg 28-33, https://www.csis.org/npfp/evolving-tech-evolving-terror
The Cipher Brief. (2018). Terrorists’ Use of Drones and Other Emerging Technologies. Intel Brief. October 3, 2018. https://www.thecipherbrief.com/column_article/terrorists-use-of-drones-and-other-emerging-technologies
Gartenstein-Ross, D. (2018). Terrorists Are Going to Use Artificial Intelligence. Defense One. May 3, 2018. https://www.defenseone.com/ideas/2018/05/terrorists-are-going-use-artificial-intelligence/147944/
Hummel, S. (2016). The Islamic State and WMD: Assessing the Future Threat. CTC Sentinel. January 2016, Volume 9, Issue 1, https://ctc.usma.edu/the-islamic-state-and-wmd-assessing-the-future-threat/