February 28, 2008
Experts Warn of Robotic Terrorism
LONDON (AP) -- Military experts have warned that terrorists could use unmanned drones in aerial attacks, saying robotics offered a frighteningly easy way to evade security.
The know-how and materials for manufacturing lethal, improvised robots are easily available, according to experts at a conference Wednesday on robotics at the Royal United Services Institute, a 177-year-old forum on military affairs.
"They are cheap. They don't need as much motor power or fuel, and they're difficult to detect -- about as difficult to detect as a blackbird," he said.
Parry's statements were echoed by other speakers, among them computer scientist Richard Starkey.
"It is very easy to go to the Internet ... or go down to the scrapyard and put a robot together," Starkey said. "You don't need (it) to last long if you want to explode it among a civilian population."
Both pointed to Hezbollah's deployment of pilotless aircraft against Israel in 2006, when the militant group sent a series of unmanned aerial vehicles hovering above Israeli territory. Parry alluded to the use of unmanned submarine-like vessels to ferry drugs across the Pacific.
In February 2003, six Hamas militants died in an explosion as they were examining a remote-controlled model airplane that Israel and Hamas said was intended to be used in an attack.
Al-Qaida-linked groups have also reportedly considered using unmanned aircraft -- in 2006 American radical-turned-FBI informant Mohammed Junaid Babar accused an alleged Canadian co-conspirator, Momin Khawaja, of working on fitting a model plane with explosives.
The Pentagon wants $3.4 billion for 2008 to fund its unmanned aircraft programs, and a strategy document put out by the U.S. Department of Defense last year outlined plans to automate a third of the Army's new ground combat vehicles by 2015.
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