Terrorist Use of Drones Growing at Significant Rate
The use of drones by terrorist and rebel groups has grown significantly since 2014. The first terrorist videos showing video footage from drones began appearing in May 2014. IntelCenter tracked nine releases that year. In 2015 it jumped more than four times to 37 and is on track to more than double that again in 2016. As of 17 May 2016, there have been 40 releases in 2016.
The type of footage being released by the groups has also significantly evolved from basic aerial shots to the observation and apparent coordination of indirect fire, VBIED attacks, armored assaults and more. Drone footage is also being used to shoot aftermath footage, show captured territory and more.
Syria has been the dominate country where drones are being used with 49 videos released showing drones being used there. Iraq came in second at 27. Libya came in at six and Yemen at four. Both countries are expected to see significant increases. In Egypt, still photos from drone usage have been released and video footage is expected to be seen soon.
Eleven different groups have released videos showing their use of drones. Core Islamic State (IS) in Iraq and Syria dominates the usage. It released 46 videos showing its use of drones from 2014 to 17 May 2016. In addition, two of its wilayats in Libya have released another four. Jabhat al-Nusrah is the next biggest user at 24.
Other groups that have been tracked using drone footage in their videos are Ahrar al-Sham, Ansar al-Sharia Arabian Peninsula, Ansar al-Sharia Brigade (Libya), Jund al-Aqsa, Majlis Shura Mujahidi Darnah, Sham Falcons Brigade and Turkistan Islamic Party (TIP).