February 21, 2017 Inquiry & Analysis Series No. 1300

A Decade Of Jihadi Organizations' Use Of Drones – From Early Experiments By Hizbullah, Hamas, And Al-Qaeda To Emerging National Security Crisis For The West As ISIS Launches First Attack Drones

February 21, 2017 | By Steven Stalinsky and R. Sosnow*
Inquiry & Analysis Series No. 1300

Table Of Contents


Introduction: A Brief History Of The Use Of Drones In The War Against Terror

While drones have been used for military purposes in one form or another since World War II, when they served as gunnery training targets,[1] their use increased greatly after the September 11, 2001 attacks. Drones are capable of highly advanced surveillance,[2] and already used by law enforcement. They can carry various kinds of electronic equipment, including live-feed video cameras, infrared cameras, heat sensors, and radar.[3] Some military versions can stay in air for hours or days at a time, and their cameras can scan entire cities, or zoom in to focus on specific small objects from far away. They can also carry Wi-Fi crackers and fake cell phone towers that can determine location or intercept texts and phone calls. Drone manufacturers themselves acknowledge that they often are used to carry weapons such as Tasers or rubber bullets.[4]

The MEMRI Jihad and Terrorism Threat Monitor Project has been monitoring jihadis' use of drones over the past decade, and has seen their advances in research and development culminating in the Islamic State (ISIS) Ninawa province's release, on January 24, 2017, of a 40-minute video showing its new weaponized drones (see The Islamic State (ISIS) – Developing Drone Capability, Intelligence And Reconnaissance, Using Drones In Attacks, below). Since this video came out, ISIS has carried out drone attacks on a nearly daily basis, and releasing videos and still photos of these attacks. This represents a major development in this area, and the MEMRI JTTM will be releasing further research on this issue in the future.** 

A video released by ISIS's Salah Al-Din province in Iraq today, February 21, 2017, showed fighters learning how to weaponize drones in a class.

A Game Changer As A Weapon For The U.S. Against Jihadis

Drones' emergence in the war on terror was a game changer as a weapon for the U.S. After being used in 1991, in Operation Desert Storm, to acquire targets and direct fire,[5] in 1995 in Bosnia, Croatia, and Albania to monitor air bases, entrenchments, supply caches and troop movements,[6] and in Afghanistan, armed drone operations for military support were launched after 9/11. The first use of armed drones for a targeted killing was on February 4, 2002, in Paktia province in Afghanistan, near the city of Khost; the intended target was Osama bin Laden.[7] Over the past few months, ISIS has stepped up its focus on drones in its videos and its discussions, to the point where it is a major theme. Drone footage of its fighters' suicide operations feature frequently in its videos – sometimes specifically to inspire and promote more suicide operations.[8]

Drones Are Increasingly Easily Obtained, Sparking Major Security Alerts Worldwide

Because drones are so easily obtained today – for example, online retailer Amazon offers an extensive selection,[9] and drones are also an integral part of its plans for the future[10] – they are no longer used only by state militaries, but are now in the hands of private individuals – including jihadi and terrorist organizations. As of December 2016, Amazon began commercial drone deliveries.[11]

A new project by the U.S. Army Research Laboratory and Georgia Technical Institute aims to give soldiers the ability to 3D-print drones to specific specifications within 24 hours.[12] Thus, this is something that jihadis may aspire to as well, just as they aspired to master, and succeeded in mastering, other technologies.

Drones available on

Drones have sparked major security alerts all over the world, including in the U.S. – by flying over the White House;[13] the Washington Monument;[14] the Empire State Building;[15] Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor in Maine;[16] the U.S. Open tennis tournament in New York City;[17] the Savannah River Site nuclear facility in South Carolina;[18] the New York State Capitol in Albany;[19] and the Oklahoma State Penitentiary.[20] Internationally, there have been security alerts when drones flew over the Eiffel Tower in Paris; the Sainte-Assise naval command and control center, near Paris;[21] the Colosseum in Rome;[22] Calgary International Airport;[23] the Japanese prime 'minister's office;[24] and other places.

Weaponized Drones – A Growing Concern To U.S. And West

Jihadi and terrorist use of drones is of growing concern to the U.S. and her allies. In July 2015, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security sent an intelligence assessment to police agencies across the country warning that unmanned aircraft systems or drones could be used in the U.S. to advance terrorist activities. Law enforcement sources said that "emerging adversary use of Unmanned Aircraft Systems present detection and disruption challenges."[25]

A number of jihadi groups have released videos indicating that they have surveillance and reconnaissance drones. The surveillance drones allowed those groups to collect data on enemy bases, battlefield positioning and weaponry and improve targeting.[26] By late 2016, it was being reported that inexpensive, off-the-shelf drones had changed how jihadi groups fight. ISIS, for example, is fitting them with explosive charges and turning them into guided missiles.[27] According to the leader of the U.S. Army's Task Force Strike, which is advising Iraqi troops and other security forces fighting to retake Mosul from ISIS, ISIS is using drones to drop small bombs onto Iraqi security forces and civilians.[28] Hizbullah too has learned how to weaponize surveillance drones, and the two groups are now using them against each other in Syria, a U.S. military official and others say. A video posted on YouTube on September 3, 2016 claimed to show a bomb-equipped drone belonging to the Al-Qaeda affiliate Jund Al-Aqsa landing on Syrian military barracks.[29]

(To view the video, click above or here).

Stills from video of Jund Al-Aqsa drone

A video released August 9, 2016 by a Hizbullah-affiliated media outlet appeared to confirm that Hizbullah is using attack drones, showing drones dropping cluster bombs on three Syrian rebel positions outside Aleppo, in support of the regime of Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad. The video is the first visual evidence that Hizbullah has used drones capable of carrying out bombings, though it has claimed to have the capacity since September 2014. The bombs in the video appear to be Chinese-made MZD-2 submunitions.[30]

Hizbullah drone bombs three Syrian rebel positions

(To view video, click above or here)

Speaking anonymously, a U.S. military official said that the U.S. military is aware of these developments. Commanders have warned troops to take cover if they see what they might have once dismissed as a surveillance drone, he said.[31] Media reports added that these videos are the first known demonstration of these capabilities by any militant groups.[32]

On October 2, 2016, Air Force Col. John Dorrian, the spokesman for the U.S.-led military coalition in Iraq, said that an improvised device on a drone had exploded after it was taken back to a camp near the Iraqi city of Irbil. He added that the U.S. had seen jihadis use a variety of improvised drones and modified drones, that "there's nothing very high tech about them" and that "[t]hey can just buy them as anybody else would. Some of those are available on Amazon." On October 12, 2016, the Pentagon said that French and Kurdish forces in northern Iraq had been attacked by an exploding drone.[33] Chris Woods, the head of the Airwars project, which tracks the international air war in Iraq, said that the weaponized drones are clumsy but will scare people, and added: "There are a million ways you can weaponize drones – fire rockets, strap things in and crash them. This is the stuff everyone has been terrified about for years, and now it's a reality."[34]"This is an enemy that learns as it goes along," said Lt.-Gen. Sean MacFarland, who was top American military commander in Iraq up until August 2016.[35]

Following ISIS's January 24, 2017 release of its video of weaponized drones, Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA), who is a member of the House Armed Services Committee, said that it showed that ISIS had progressed in delivering improvised explosive devices. "In the end the IEDs are the terrorist’s artillery... This is a natural progression for IEDs... We should have seen this coming." Asked if ISIS was capable of attacking a U.S. city with multiple drones, Mr. Hunter said, "Of course." Mr. Hunter recently asked the Army to update him on what it is doing to defeat terrorist unmanned aerial vehicles. Following a classified January briefing the same day the video was released, he said that he is confident that the military in Iraq has deployed defenses that will defeat ISIS drones.

Prior to the release of the video, on January 18, 2017, then-Army Secretary Eric K. Fanning wrote to Mr. Hunter noting that the jihadi drone threat is increasing: "These advances present our adversaries with opportunities to quickly adjust and improve their tactics, and the Army must remain adaptive and agile to respond to the evolving threat," Mr. Fanning wrote. He added that the Army was testing more than 20 government and industry systems "designed to detect, identify and electronically defeat" enemy drones. Additionally, Air Force Col. John Dorrian said: "I am aware that ISIS has used commercial-off-the-shelf UAVs to drop small explosive weapons. This capability is dangerous and has propaganda value, but it will not change the fact that the enemy is being defeated in both Iraq and Syria."[36]

Pentagon's DARPA Developing Ways To "Address This Increasingly Important Issue" Of Drones

In August 2016, it was reported that the Pentagon's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) outlined its concerns about the impact of commercial drone technology on defense capabilities, particularly the protection of large and dispersed ground and naval forces where conventional weapons, such as missiles, might not be as effective in future. According to a DARPA program manager, the agency "is interested in identifying novel, flexible, and mobile layered defense systems and component technologies to address this increasingly important issue as well as conventional threats," and hopes the initiative will lead to a scalable and affordable approach within the next four years.[37] DARPA earlier this year kicked off its Gremlins program,[38] under which several aerospace firms will be producing technology to launch swarms of cheap drones from an aircraft for brief missions before returning to a carrier aircraft. The program aims to develop distributed airborne capabilities.[39]

DARPA is exploring how to defend against a swarm of attack drones. Image: DARPA, August 12, 2016.

U.S. Drone Policy – Unequivocally Successful In Killing Jihadi, Terrorist Leaders And Fighters From Al-Qaeda, ISIS, Taliban, Al-Shabab

While today's U.S. drone policy has come under fire from Muslim and civil liberties groups, it has unequivocally succeeded in its mission to eliminate leading jihadi and terrorist elements, from Al-Qaeda to the Islamic State (ISIS). Among these are such well-known individuals as ISIS spokesman Abu Muhammad Al-Adnani,[40] British-Pakistani ISIS hacker and propagandist Junaid Hussain,[41] British ISIS fighter and executioner Mohammed Emwazi, aka Jihadi John,[42] American ISIS recruiters Abu Issa Al-Amriki and Umm Issa Al-Amrikiah,[43] ISIS leader of operations in Iraq Haji Mutazz,[44] and ISIS leader in Afghanistan and Pakistan Hafiz Saeed Khan.[45] Al-Qaeda operatives killed by drones have included Al-Qaeda Yemeni-American cleric Anwar Al-Awlaki, American Al-Qaeda spokesman Adam Gadahn along with U.S. citizen and Al-Qaeda operative Ahmed Farouq,[46] U.S. citizen and Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) operative Samir Khan, and many other AQAP leaders – deputy leader Abu Khayr Al-Masri in February 2017, emir of Abyan, Yemen Jalal Al-Seydi in December 2016,[47] senior military commander Hamza Al-Zinjbari in February 2016, leader Nasser Al-Wuhaishi in June 2015, senior commander Nasr Al-Ansi in May 2015, senior religious official Ibrahim Al-Rubaish in April 2015, senior religious scholar Hareth Al-Nazari in January 2015, deputy commander Saeed Al-Shihri in July 2013, and senior religious official Adel Al-Abbab in October 2012. Also killed by U.S. drones were Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Muhammad Mansour,[48] Pakistani Taliban chief Hakimullah Mehsud,[49] and Al-Shabab Al-Mujahideen leader Ahmed Abdi Godane.[50] U.S. drones have also eliminated other jihadis from the U.S., U.K., Australia, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and more countries, including Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Pakistan, and Afghanistan.

The U.S.  has also targeted jihadi drone centers in the ISIS "caliphate"; for example, between November 28 and December 1, 2014, coalition airstrikes struck an "electronic warfare garrison" in Al-Raqqa, Syria,[51] and on December 12, 2015, U.S. CENTCOM reported that one of its military airstrikes against the Islamic State (ISIS) in Syria and Iraq the previous day had "struck an ISIS tactical unit and destroyed an ISIS building and an ISIS drone" near Manbij, Syria.[52]

When the U.S. launched its strategy of targeting Al-Qaeda personnel using drones immediately after 9/11 – including, on October 16, 2001, its targeted killing of senior Al-Qaeda operative Khalid Habib[53] – the organization began investing major efforts in attempts to hack into drones and to stop them by other technological means. However, the first terrorist groups to use drones were Hizbullah and Hamas. Jihadi groups from Al-Qaeda to ISIS have collected downed or crashed U.S. drones and used the technology, while Iran has for some time been supplying Hizbullah and Hamas with drones.

Drones Today A Strategic Cyber Element For Al-Qaeda, ISIS, Taliban, Houthis, Hizbullah, Hamas, Others

Today, drones are a strategic cyber element for not only Al-Qaeda but for ISIS, the Taliban, the Houthis in Yemen, and other jihadi organizations in Syria, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, and elsewhere. As jihadis began using drones, they also began to share technology with each other – including technology they obtained from U.S. drones.

In December 2009, it was reported that Iran-backed Iraqi militants had hacked into video feeds of American Predator and Shadow drones.[54] They passed what they found on to Hizbullah.[55] This was a precedent for Iran's provision of drones and drone technology to Hizbullah for use in Syria and to the Shi'ite Houthi rebels in Yemen. For example, on January 20, 2016, Shi'ite Houthi rebels shot down a U.S. drone over the Yemeni capital Sana'a. A video showed them launching a Russian S-75 Dvina missile.[56]

(To view video, click above or here)

Right: Houthi rebels aim missile at drone; left: the downed drone

In a February 10, 2017 speech broadcast on Al-Alam TV, Houthi leader Abd Al-Malik Al-Houthi said: "With the grace of Allah, [our people] has managed...  important and quality achievement: It has begun to produce drones."

(To view video, click above or here)

Jihadi Groups May Be Using Advanced Electronic Systems To Protect Their Drones

Jihadi groups may have also begun using advanced electronic systems to protect their drones from being shot down. A drone claimed by Hizbullah that was sent into Israeli airspace from Syria on July 17, 2016, which Israel's Patriot surface-to-air missiles and possibly an air-to-air missile failed to bring down, is thought by some to have been equipped with such a system. The drone was identified by "military and intelligence sources" as a Yasir, an Iranian copy of the Boeing Insitu Scan Eagle drone.[57] According to reports, the alleged Hizbullah drone exhibited atypical maneuverability, supporting claims that it was using advanced electronic systems from the U.S. that were based on an American ScanEagle drone intercepted over Iran on December 12, 2012. Iran has said that it reverse-engineered the design to create the Yasir, which it supplied to Hizbullah, and it has also been reported that cyber warfare specialists from China are responsible for upgrades to it.[58]

Yasir aerial drone. Photo: Fars, Iran; source: Chinatopix, October 7, 2016.

Al-Qaeda Leaders Had Distributed "Strategy Guide" To Operatives Around The World Advising Them How "To Anticipate And Defeat" Unmanned Aircraft.

As noted, the U.S.'s drone efforts against jihadi organizations have been successful – they have decimated the Al-Qaeda leadership and eliminated key ISIS figures, impacting how these organizations operate and plan.

In July 2010, the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), a U.S. spy agency, intercepted electronic communications indicating that senior Al-Qaeda leaders had distributed a "strategy guide" to operatives around the world advising them how "to anticipate and defeat" unmanned aircraft. The agency reported that Al-Qaeda was sponsoring simultaneous research projects to develop jammers to interfere with GPS signals and infrared tags that drone operators rely on to pinpoint missile targets. According to the report, other projects in the works included the development of small radio-controlled aircraft, or hobby planes, which insurgents apparently saw as having potential for monitoring the flight patterns of U.S. drones. DIA analysts also noted that they believed that Al-Qaeda "cell leadership is tracking the progress of each project and can redirect components from one project to another." That same year, the CIA noted in a report that Al-Qaeda was placing special emphasis on the recruitment of technicians and that "the skills most in demand" included expertise in drones and missile technology.[59]

President Obama's Drone Policy Declassified

In August 2016, President Obama's drone policy was revealed in a newly declassified document that included administration guidelines setting out how he approved operational plans to target overseas terrorist suspects with drones or other weapons outside war zones.[60] The document set out the role of the president, emphasized "verifying" the identity of high-value targets, and set out the criteria and legality of striking unidentified others when "necessary to achieve U.S. policy objectives."[61] The previous month, the administration said that it had inadvertently killed 64 to 116 civilians in drone and other lethal air attacks against terrorism suspects in non-war zones, in addition to 2,372 to 2,581 "combatants" in 473 strikes in countries where the U.S. is not at war. Although it did not name the countries, they include Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and Libya. The figures do not include deaths in ground operations, such as the one that killed Osama bin Laden and four others in Pakistan in 2011, or operations in the administration-designated war zones of Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria.[62]

The U.S. State Department began asking countries to sign onto a set of international norms for the sale and use of armed drone systems; in late August 2016, department officials met with delegates from various nations at the Arms Trade Conference to discuss the matter. Additionally, the State Department's draft "Proposed Joint Declaration of Principles for the Export and Subsequent Use of Armed or Strike-Enabled Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS)" was sent to a number of international allies of the U.S, according to a department official, who would not confirm if any countries had agreed to sign. The document lays out five key principals for international norms, including the "applicability of International law" and human rights when using armed drones; commitment to following existing arms control laws when considering selling armed unmanned systems; when exporting armed drones, first considering the "recipient country's history regarding adherence to international obligations and commitments"; that countries that export unmanned strike systems follow "appropriate transparency measures"; and that there be a resolution to "ensure these capabilities are transferred and used responsibly by all States." That language is likely well below what anti-drone advocates and the arms control community would like to see, but the State Department official said the document represents only an "important first step" toward creating international standards for drone exports.[63]

Trump's Incoming National Security Team And Drones

During his election campaign, President Trump said that he would continue the Obama administration's policy of using drones to eliminate terror leaders overseas. In May 2016, he said: "I have to do what's right. I will do what's right. As far as drones are concerned, yes. To take out terrorists."[64]


  • Jihadi discussions about drones on social media, websites, and forums, on topics such as: planning attacks on U.S. drone bases, hacking drones, modifying commercially available drones, building homemade drones, and developing methods to disrupt and down Western and rival jihadi groups' drones, and more.

  • Jihadi claims of hacks of U.S. and other drones for various purposes, including U.S. and Western military drones, and for targeting individuals accused of selling information to the U.S. for facilitating drone attacks; social media posts by Al-Qaeda, ISIS, and other groups show these spies executed and crucified.

  • Documentation of Al-Qaeda leaders Osama bin Laden's and Ayman Al-Zawahiri's fear of drones, showing the U.S. drone program's far-reaching impact on Al-Qaeda's operations.

  • Jihadis target U.S. drone command centers – among them Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).

  • Jihadis' use of drones for surveillance and bombing of jihadi opponents, filming battles, reconnaissance, and more.

  • U.S. officials' concerns about drones equipped with IEDs and cameras and about the use of drones for reconnaissance, propaganda, and fighting; Pentagon efforts to develop counter-drone capabilities. Jihadi reactions to U.S. drone attacks, including sharing information for disrupting and downing drones and proposals such as using Amazon-style octocopter to deliver explosives.

  • Jihadi use of drones to conduct battles and coordinate fighting during attacks, beginning with ISIS's attack on the Baiji oil refinery complex in Iraq in December 2014.

  • ISIS's and other groups' use of drone video footage to plan attacks and develop military strategies.

  • ISIS and other educational systems' teaching of children about drones, about fearing them, and about their use – for example, schoolbooks showing a drone flying over New York City.

  • Jihadis' easy access, including online, to drones from hobbyist level to military grade.

The following report will show how jihadis use drones, the impact of U.S. and Western drone efforts against jihadi groups, and jihadi communications, including on social media, focusing on drones, sharing and collaborating on hacking and adapting drones, and more. As noted, jihadi use of drones is of great concern to the U.S. authorities, particularly because they are so easily available – order online and receive it the next day. We know that major jihadi organizations are currently experimenting with drones in hopes of using them against targets in the U.S. and the West; while they have had limited success so far, Western counterterrorism efforts need to be ready and need to be coming up with solutions.

Hizbullah – First Terror Organization To Use Drones

2004-2006: Hizbullah's First Use Of Drones

The Lebanon-based pro-Iran Shi'ite group Hizbullah's first use of drones came in November of 2004, when an Iranian Mirsad-1 drone flew over Israel from Lebanon, hovered over the Western Galilee city of Nahariya for about 20 minutes, and returned to Lebanon before Israel could intercept it. The Mirsad-1 is an updated version of the early Mohajer drone used for reconnaissance against Iraqi troops during the Iran-Iraq War. Hizbullah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah claimed that the Mirsad-1 could strike "anywhere, deep, deep" into Israel with 40 to 50 kilograms of explosives.[65] According to reports, Hizbullah has some 200 Iranian-made UAVs, including those capable of low-altitude flights to avoid radar detection.[66]

Hizbullah's second drone flight took place in April 2005. It made an 18-mile incursion into Israeli airspace and flew back to Lebanon before the IAF could intercept it. That same month, NBC reported that Israeli and American intelligence officials believed that Iran had given Hizbullah some six drones.[67]

Left, a Hizbullah drone flight into Israel, on Al-Manar TV; right, an Iranian drone alleged to have been given to Hizbullah; NBC, April 12, 2005

Hizbullah's third drone mission was in August 2006, during the Israel-Lebanon war, when Hizbullah sent three Ababil drones, each carrying 40-50 kg of explosives, to Israel. Israeli F-16s shot down the drones, one outside of Haifa, another in the western Galilee, and a third in Lebanon near Tyre.[68]

December 2009: Iran-Backed Iraqi Militants Hack Video Feeds Of U.S. Drones, Share Information With Hizbullah

In December 2009, it was reported that Iran-backed Iraqi militants had hacked into video feeds of American Predator and Shadow drones.[69] It was reported later, in 2012, by Hizbullah's Al-Manar TV, that the militants had passed what they found on to Hizbullah.[70]

(To view the video, click here or above)

The following is the transcript of the Al-Manar report:

Reporter: "This American reconnaissance plane is in the hands of the Iraqi resistance. This is an achievement that the resistance has pulled out of its hat – one of dozens of qualitative achievements that the U.S. occupation army has not dared to acknowledge throughout its time in Iraq. This state-of-the-art Predator plane fell into the hands of the resistance in Basra, following surveillance activity that led to this achievement."

Abu Taher, commander in the Islamic Resistance in Iraq: "The operation was carried out in Basra. The brothers in operations have been monitoring the flight of this plane over Basra. They drew up a detailed plan to bring down this plane, but I can't go into the details. As we can see, the plane was brought down intact, and that proves the level of excellence attained by the resistance. The operation has shown the enemy the extent of the resistance's superiority over its electronic equipment."

Reporter: "In 2009, this hi-tech plane was described as the most suitable plane for spying on so-called 'terrorists.' It excels in its surveillance and in the time it can stay in the air."

Abu Taher: "This plane can stay in the air for 40 hours. The American occupation army uses it in Iraq. This remote-controlled plane carries out reconnaissance flights and sends the pictures it takes to the control compound. As we can see, this plane is equipped with very sensitive cameras. It can operate at all times and in all weather conditions."

Reporter: "Abu Taher stresses that the operation was achieved by Iraqis."

Abu Taher: "Our battle with the enemy is largely one of will and wit. The success of this operation has shown everyone that a group of believers can overcome the enemy's equipment and technology. It has proven to the world that U.S. superiority is nothing but media hype."

August 2010: Hizbullah Claims It Hacked Israeli Drone In 1996

On August 10, 2010, Hizbullah claimed to have obtained footage from an Israeli drone, and implied that it had successfully hacked one as early as 1996. Hizbullah secretary-general Hassan Nasrallah said that the feeds from the drone had helped Hizbullah fighters ambush and kill 12 Israeli commandos in southern Lebanon in 1997, an incident known as the Shayetet Disaster.

October 2012: Hizbullah Captures Images Of Israeli Nuclear Facility

On October 6, 2012, Israeli F-16s intercepted a Hizbullah drone in Israeli airspace and shot it down. Nasrallah told Hizbullah's Al-Manar TV that the drone had been assembled in Lebanon but was made in Iran. Following an investigation, Israel reported that the drone had been launched from Lebanon and had reached the Negev in the south, covering some 300 kilometers, before being shot down. Because its range exceeded 200 km, it is considered a Medium Altitude Long Endurance (MALE) drone.

The drone reportedly captured images of Israel's nuclear facility in Dimona,[71] as well as ballistic missile sites, airfields, and preparations by the Israeli military for joint exercises with the U.S.[72] According to a report, the first attempt by the Israeli F-16s to shoot down the drone with a Python IV missile failed; the drone thus survived an attack by what is considered to be the most advanced missile in the world.[73]

October 11, 2012: Hizbullah Airs Drone Videos On Its Al-Manar TV

Video Animation Of Path Of Drone Shot Down By Israel

On October 11, 2012, Hizbullah's Al-Manar TV aired a video animation simulating the flight path of the drone shot down by Israel the previous week. The film shows the simulated drone flying over the Mediterranean and capturing imagery of U.S. and Israeli warships, and then entering Israeli airspace over the Gaza-Ashkelon area, documenting Israeli security forces, and avoiding detection by Israeli radar.[74]

(To view video, click here or above)

The following are the English subtitles added by Hizbullah's Al-Manar TV to the narration in Arabic:

First speaker: "Firstly, we named the drone 'Ayyoub' after the (Islamic) Prophet. Secondly, to immortalize the name of our dear martyr, brother Hussein Ayyoub."

Second speaker: "What was the course of the surveillance plane launched by the Resistance? This 3D image outlines the path of the plane which set off from some location. As seen, the course was over the Mediterranean towards the southern coast of Occupied Palestine. Striking remained the capability to infiltrate the operational area and airspace of the enemy. The operational area is an airspace which refers to the reach and control area of air defense systems. This area stretches 150 km towards the heart of the sea. The airspace is usually the legal space for any state, spreading about 70 km above the sea. The plane roamed above the sea near Occupied Palestine, where International fleets maintain stationed. American, Western, and Israeli fleets are present, intending to protect the enemy's entity. The plane infiltrated enemy air defense systems extensively stationed in Occupied Palestine. In addition, the surveillance plane managed to surpass all radar monitoring devices. The plane roamed over future oil and gas installations, to be built over oilfields as announced by the enemy. These three penetration points illustrate the confusion of Israeli intelligence and media outlets. According to their data, each point could be the point of penetration, either through point A, B or C. Infiltration from these points follows evasion of Iron Dome surrounding Gaza, failing to detect the drone. Likewise, it roamed prominent military bases in the southern part of Occupied Palestine. For example, Airspace Command and bases such as the Hatsreem Base among others. Penetration from any one of these three points, led the plane to the outskirts of a large military base. Then prior to reaching Dimona, spawned interception, eventually identified by an optical monitoring system. This after repeated failures of enemy radar and intelligence systems in detecting the plane."

First speaker: "This plane is not Russian, but Iranian designed. Produced, assembled by Lebanese expert cadres from Hizbullah."


Video Animation Of Drone Over Israeli Airspace

Another video, released October 15, 2012, showed an animation of a drone flying over Israeli airspace, ostensibly capturing images of Israeli and international warships in the Mediterranean sea, as well as of IDF land assets and installations.[75]


(To view video, click here or above)

April 25, 2013: Israel Shoots Down Hizbullah Drone Near Haifa

On April 25, 2013, Israel shot down a drone believed to have been launched by Hizbullah five nautical miles off the coast of the northern port of Haifa mission. The drone was believed to have originated from the Lebanese coast.[76]

Israeli naval vessel and helicopter search for wreckage of Hizbullah drone.[77]

September 21, 2014: Hizbullah Carries Out Drone Strike In Syria

On September 21, 2014, it was reported that Hizbullah had successfully carried out a drone strike against Jabhat Al-Nusra in Arsal, Syria, killing 23 fighters.[78] This was the first time Hizbullah had carried out an airstrike against enemy targets, and with the strike, it became the first non-nation-state entity to carry out an armed drone attack.[79]

(To view the video, click here or above)

Still from video

April 27, 2015: Hizbullah Airstrip For Drones Revealed

On April 27, 2015, Janes Defense Weekly reported on evidence of an Hizbullah airstrip for drones, including a ground command station, in the northern Beqa'a Valley in Lebanon.[80] According to the report, the strip is located in a remote and sparsely populated area 10 km south of the town of Hermel and 18 km west of the Syrian border, and was built sometime between February 27, 2013 and June 19, 2014, according to imagery that is now publicly available on Google Earth. Hizbullah sources confirmed to Janes that the organization is using drones to support operations against rebel forces in Syria, particularly over the mountainous Qalamoun region on Lebanon's eastern border.

Google Earth image of Hizbullah airstrip

Hamas – Using Iran-Made Drones, Developing Its Own

November 17, 2012: Israeli Air Force Destroys Drone Facilities In Gaza

The Palestinian terror group Hamas, which controls Gaza, has used drones for the past five years. One of the first incidents involving drones in Gaza was on November 17, 2012, when the Israel Air Force destroyed eight Hamas drone development and storage facilities in Khan Yunis in the Gaza Strip, with partially-developed drones among the destroyed targets.[81] The attack came in response to undated footage that allegedly showed a drone test flight in Khan Yunis.[82] The IDF said that the destroyed drones were in the advanced stages of development, and that the infrastructure had been part of "extremely significant strategic capabilities" that Hamas had called a top objective. The drones that had been destroyed reportedly could have reached a distance of dozens of kilometers from the Gaza Strip, including Greater Tel Aviv and covering the entire Tel Aviv metropolitan area.[83]

Targeting of drone facilities in Gaza, November 16, 2012

Another Hamas drone incident was in October 2013, when members of a Hamas terror cell that had been planning to fly armed drones into Israel from Hebron were arrested after launching several test flights for the drone.[84] In March 2014, Hamas-linked Twitter accounts posted images of a captured Israeli Skylark drone.[85]

October 25, 2013: Hamas Terror Cell Planned To Attack Israel With Drone IED

On October 25, 2013, it was reported that a Hamas terror cell planning to fly armed drones into Israel from Hebron had been arrested near the same city. The Hamas operatives had already flown several test flights for the drone, and had planned to attach explosives to it in order to attack Israel.[86]

March 11, 2014: Hamas Tweets Images of Recovered Israeli Drone That Crashed

On March 11, 2014, a Twitter account linked to Hamas's military wing Izz Al-Din Al-Qassam Brigades, @Qassam_Arabic, released several photos of an Israeli Skylark drone that had crashed due to malfunction.

While the Popular Resistance Committees were the first to obtain the drone once it crashed, Hamas security officials quickly reached them and took the drone.[87] It was reportedly the fourth Israeli drone recovered by Hamas.[88]

Photos from the tweet

Hamas released a video of the recovered drone:

(To view video, click here or above)

Stills from the video

July 14, 2014: Hamas Sends Iranian-Made Drones Into Israel

On July 14, 2014, Israel reported that it had shot down a drone launched by Hamas near Ashdod, Israel.[89] Hamas's Izz Al-Din Al-Qassam Brigades said that the drone was an Iranian-made Ababil-1, named after the mythical birds in the Koran that dropped stones on an army advancing on Mecca.[90] The Abalil-1 was developed by Iran for tactical reconnaissance, short/medium range attacks and as a target drone.[91] Hamas said that it had three models of drones capable of surveillance, launching missiles, and nose-diving at targets.[92]

Video released by Hamas on its Al-Aqsa TV channel showed the drone clearly armed with four air-to-ground missiles (AGM). The missiles are reportedly very similar to those carried by the Fortros, the largest Iranian drone to date.[93]

The drone was downed by Israel's Patriot missile defense battery over Ashkelon. On July 17, 2014, Hamas claimed responsibility for the drone. It said it had launched several drones from Gaza, and that the intended targets had included the Defense Ministry compound in Tel Aviv. It was the first time the group publicly acknowledged that it had drones in its arsenal.[94]

"Breaking: Al-Qassam: our planes have conducted a specific mission during one of their flights above the building of the Zionist ministry of war"; "Breaking: Al-Qassam: Ababil 1 Jet with three functions. (A1A) for surveillance missions. (A1B) for dropping-attacking missions. (A1C) for suicide-attacking missions"; "Al-Qassam Brigades announce that its engineers have managed, with the grace of Allah the Almighty, to manufacture Unmanned Aerial Vehicles named 'Ababil.'"

(To view the video, click here or above)

December 14, 2014: Hamas Features Drone In Anniversary Parade

In a December 14, 2014 military parade marking its 27th anniversary, Hamas flew an Ababil drone over the Gaza Strip. According to Hamas's Izz Al-Din Al-Qassam Brigades, the Ababil drones are made in the Gaza Strip.[95]

(To view video, click here or above)

April 17, 2015: Photos Of Hamas Ababil Drone Monument Posted On Facebook

On April 17, 2015, photos of a monument of a Hamas Ababil drone were posted on the Liberation Pioneer Camps Facebook page. The page is dedicated to camps for recruiting young Gazans to join Hamas's Izz Al-Din Al-Qassam Brigades. The post included a link to an article on the website of the Al-Qassam Brigades about the drone.[96]

"A memorial in the Shijia neighborhood to the Al-Qassam plane Ababil"

August 12, 2015: Hamas Says It Commandeered Israeli Drone

On August 12, 2015, Hamas's Al-Aqsa TV released a video of what it said was a Skylark1 drone made by the Israeli company Elbit, stating that the drone had been found and reconfigured on July 22.[97] The video shows a member of Hamas's military wing, Izz Al-Din Al-Qassam Brigades, picking it up and repairing it. A social media campaign celebrated the capture and use of the drone; on Twitter, it was spread under the hashtag #Qassam_creative_youths.[98]

Stills from the video: "Izz Al-Din Al-Qassam Brigades seized a drone plane model Skylark1 which belongs to the Zionist enemy on July 22, 2015"; "Skylark 1 belongs to the infantry of the ground forces; each brigade's commander has one under his control"; "It is used in electronic surveying missions, thermal and photograph imaging and target monitoring"; Al-Qassam Brigades member with the drone.

May 30, 2016: Israeli Security Forces Confiscate Gaza-Bound Drone Shipment

On May 30, 2016, Israel's Defense Ministry announced that Israeli security forces had intercepted a mailed shipment of 10 motorized drones thought to be intended for terrorist purposes. Also confiscated were a transmitter and receiver used to transmit video signals at 5.8GHz signal, which is not approved for use in Israel and the Palestinian Authorities. According to the report, over the previous few weeks, terror organizations in Gaza had been caught attempting to send weapons and drones through the mail, and security forces had seen drones being sent in disassembled pieces; also, dozens of attempts to send weapons by mail had been thwarted by security checks.[99]

December 15, 2016: Tunisian Aviation Engineer Who Pioneered Hamas Drone Program Killed In Tunisia

Both the Arab world and Iran have well-known scientists and engineers who have supported the drone programs of groups such as Hamas and Hizbullah. One such notable figure was the Tunisian aviation engineer and drone expert Muhammad Al-Zoari, whose killing on December 15, 2016 near his home in Sfax, Tunisia was attributed to Israel by Hamas, Tunisian media, and other sources.[100] In its announcement of his death on its website, Hamas's Izz Al-Din Al-Qassam Brigades identified him as having "overseen the project of the Qassam drones (Ababil) which had been unveiled during the Israeli war on Gaza in 2014."[101] The Al-Qassam Brigades website posted a collection of photos of Al-Zoari working on drones.[102] Photos of Al-Zoari were also posted on the Al-Qassam Telegram channel, including one of a Gaza City billboard with his photo that was captioned: "A billboard at the Al-Saraya intersection in the middle of Gaza City mourning the Al-Qassami [i.e. Al-Qassam Brigades member], the martyr engineer Muhammad Al-Zoari." Al-Zoari had also, according to Lebanese and other reports, helped Hizbullah develop drone technology.[103]

"#Picture | A billboard at the Al-Saraya intersection in the middle of Gaza City mourning the Al-Qassami [i.e. Al-Qassam Brigades member], the martyr engineer Muhammad Al-Zoari."

Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) – Hacking Into Drones

March 25, 2016: Palestinian Islamic Jihad Hacker Indicted For Hacking Israeli Drone Video Feeds

Hamas is not the only Palestinian terrorist organization working on drones; Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) is also known to have hackers. On March 25, 2016, it was reported that Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) member Majed bin Juwad Oydeh, who had been arrested by Israeli forces earlier in the year, had been indicted for hacking the video feeds of Israeli army drones from 2011 to 2014, as well as of Israel's Road Safety Authority CCTV camera system so that the PIJ could study the movements of Israeli civilians and soldiers, and to aid in real-time targeting of rocket launches from the Gaza Strip. According to the reports, Oydeh also hacked into the Israeli Interior Ministry's database in 2015, to obtain information about individuals who could be recruited, and, in 2013, into video feeds at Ben Gurion Airport to obtain video feeds and flight information for planning rocket strikes.[104]

In a video interview, he discussed his work for PIJ as a teen, and said that he wanted to continue his hacking attempts against Israel.[105]

Taliban – Focus On Anti-Drone Technology And Hacking Drones

The Taliban, the Sunni and largely Pashtun fundamentalist group in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region, have for years been emphasizing the importance of drones in its fight; not only do they use them themselves, but they work on ways of protecting their fighters from them, even appealing to Muslims to help them, and also focus on downing them to examine their technology. The organization includes the official Taliban, its shadow government the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, and the Pakistani and Afghan Taliban.

March 2013: First Issue Of English-Language Taliban Magazine Azan Appeals To Islamic Hackers For Help In Defeating Drone Technology, Says Iraqi Mujahideen Are Working On Hacking Drones

Following U.S. drone strikes against them, Taliban fighters appealed to Islamic hackers for help in defeating drone technology. "Any opinions, thoughts, ideas, and practical implementations to defeat this drone technology must be communicated to us as early as possible, because these would aid the Ummah greatly in its war against the Crusader-Zionist enemy," the Taliban said in an article published in the first issue of its English-language Azan – Call To Jihad magazine, dated March 2013.

Articles in the magazine, "The Drone Chain," by known jihadi writer Jaffer Hussain, and "On U-Turns And The Pakistan Army Doctrine," by Ikrimah Anwar, focus on the tragedy brought by the U.S. drone strikes, and how poor people in the Pakistani tribal region are paid to plant targeting chips, leading to the drone attacks. Hussain blames the Pakistani military for assisting in the U.S. drone program.

"The Drone Chain" calls upon Muslims to provide assistance to defeat the drone technology, noting: "These drones can be hacked and manipulated, as evidenced by the efforts of the Iraq mujahideen. Furthermore, they can be destroyed using various technologies that the mujahideen are working on. But the Muslims of the world must question themselves as to what role they are playing in helping these innocent Muslims with the abilities that Allah has given them. This is a call to anyone in the Islamic ummah with knowledge, expertise, and theories regarding anti-drone technology. The Ummah is not short of brilliant minds – from the millions of Muslims that live all over the world, there would possibly be quite a few who would assist their brothers in combating these evil missiles designed by the devils of the world.

"Any opinions, thoughts, ideas, and practical implementations to defeat this drone technology must be communicated to us as early as possible because these would aid the Ummah greatly in its war against the Crusader-Zionist enemy," the article adds.

"On U-Turns And The Pakistan Army Doctrine" criticizes the Pakistani military's recent move to focus on the Taliban on the Afghan border by deprioritizing India, which has been traditionally the number one enemy, and observes: "The Pakistan Army recently published their new army doctrine, that marked a curious day in the history of its existence. The doctrine states that the 'Army is turning its face away from ominous eastern borders [against India], looking now to disruptive western [Afghan] borders, and deeming internal [terrorist] threats as being more pressing than external, (i.e. Indian) aggression.'"

The article traces the Pakistan Army's role against jihadi forces, its operations in Baluchistan, the fighting against east Pakistanis and defeat in 1971, the post-2001 role as an ally of the Crusaders, the 2007 military operation against armed female students of Red Mosque and Jamia Hafsa madrassa in Islamabad, etc., in order to stress that the Pakistani military has been working for infidels.

It continues: "For the Muslim Ummah, this drone problem represents a challenge. With the death of so many Muslim assets, this is one of the utmost important issues that the Ummah must unite and come up with an answer to."

Stating that the U.S. has been defeated in face-to-face fighting in Afghanistan and is therefore using morally questionable drone technology, the article added: "These drones represent both the inability and cowardice of the American soldiers to face the mujahideen in front-on battle..." It goes on to accuse Islamic nations such as Pakistan and Saudi Arabia of facilitating the use of drones against the mujahideen: "These drone attacks frequently target other areas of the mujahideen such as Yemen, etc. In fact, according to reports, these drones that target the mujahideen of Yemen are actually operated from bases in Saudi Arabia! The land of the Prophet Muhammad is being used for killing the call of Tawheed [monotheism]! Truly, a shame upon the Ummah..."

Arguing that it is a religious duty for Muslims to help, the article quotes the Prophet Muhammad as saying: "The Muslim who does not help another Muslim in a situation where his (the latter's) respect and honor is violated, then Allah does not help him when he needs Allah's help. And the Muslim who helps a Muslim in a situation when the latter's respect and honor is violated, then Allah will help him when he asks Allah for help."

The article also blames the Pakistani military for facilitating the U.S. drone strikes from secret bases in Pakistan and also laments that the poor in Pakistani tribal region are bribed with cash to plant chips on the hideouts and cars of jihadi leaders.[106]

August 2013: In Issue III Of Azan, German Militant Recounts Radicalization, And Meeting With Al-Awlaki, And Says: "Brothers Are Working On Anti-Drone Technology"

In an interview in Issue III of the Taliban magazine Azan, published in August 2013, German-Moroccan militant "Abu Adam" described his upbringing in Germany and discussed how Al-Qaeda videos helped in his radicalization, inspiring him to move to Yemen and to meet with the late Yemeni-American Al-Qaeda leader Sheikh Anwar Al-Awlaki. Noting that the jihadis are working on a technology to counter the U.S. drones and that new jihadi youth are joining in this mission. He also reveals that 100 Germans have migrated to Syria to join the ranks of the jihadis there.

In reply to a question about the scope of jihad following the U.S. troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, Abu Adam said: "We have to understand that this is not a war only between the Afghan borderlines. It is a global war. So it will go on – for the enemy and for us. When they go out, we will fight against them wherever we find them."

Following are excerpts from the interview:

Azan: "Now let us speak about an issue that has been the subject of debate in media and military circles for quite a while... Drones... Tell us how effective the American drone strikes have been in avoiding civilian casualties and how are the mujahideen dealing with them?"

Abu Adam: "Well, the drones are a test from Allah. The money that they will save after withdrawing their troops from Afghanistan will be spent on expanding their drone program. Once they leave, this drone program will act as their continued presence. Insha Allah, the mujahideen will attack these drone airbases with ease. And this has happened before. For instance, the mujahideen received intelligence that there was a drone control room in Marriott Hotel Islamabad, Pakistan. So there was a martyrdom attack on the hotel to eliminate the threat.

"Similarly, the CIA headquarters in Khost which also served as a drone control center was eliminated by the help of Allah in the martyrdom attack by brother Abu Dajana... 18 CIA agents were killed in that attack. From a technological perspective, various brothers are working on anti-drone technology and a lot of new brothers are coming to the jihadi fields and joining the mujahideen ranks to work against drones. Furthermore, I call the Ummah – especially to those living in the areas where the government is supporting the drone program – to rise up against their crusader-friendly regimes and attack them..."

December 2013: Afghan Taliban Statement On U.S. Drone Policy: "America Is No Longer A Military Power... It Can No Longer Assert Itself Militarily"

In December 2013, the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (the Taliban's shadow government in the country) published a statement analyzing U.S. drone policy and arguing that the U.S. had lost hope of winning wars militarily, abandoning the battleground to the mujahideen. This Taliban view was similar to the view held by Osama bin Laden, who, following the U.S. exit from Somalia, said that America could no longer risk its soldiers. The statement also notes that the Taliban's commanders had scaled back their appearance in public to avoid drones. Following are excerpts from the statement:

"In recent years, we have seen an intensification of the Americans' reliance on drone warfare... After the 9/11 attacks on American soil, the American politicians embarked on a series of aggressive campaigns. They imagined that they would win a quick and successive series of campaigns in the Islamic world and thereby permanently change the geo-strategic scale in their favor. Instead, after more than a decade of waging war and committing atrocities, the U.S. has finally come to realize that its military adventures have proved nothing short of a debacle... As a result... the U.S. has... been demoted to the position of a regional power that needs the cooperation of other regional powers when operating outside its own sphere of influence...

"For the past 14 years, the U.S. military has tried every trick in the book in order to defeat their self-proclaimed opponents. Nowhere has this been more true that in the case of Afghanistan...

"After a decade of futile fighting the U.S... the Obama regime has given up all hope of... defeating the Afghan nation... However, conscious of maintaining at least a semblance of continuing this war, the Obama regime has instead resorted to using unmanned drones that are both inexpensive financially and non-costly in terms of human lives. When we look at the issue in this context, it becomes quite clear why the U.S. has intensified and expanded their drone operations..."

"To Obama and his supporters, the drones must be quite a publicity stunt. Firstly, these unmanned planes are quite inexpensive compared to other strategies (such as flying thousands of soldiers into Afghanistan and not yielding any tangible benefit). Secondly, these drones are hard to shoot down and even when shot down they do not result in any casualties... Thirdly, when these drone strikes do martyr a high-profile target, it provides excellent publicity for Obama, as he can pretend to be waging, and winning, a successful counter-insurgency campaign.

"However, Obama and his military advisors must be keenly aware that they are risking grave long-term detriments in exchange for gaining these short-term benefits. That this drone strategy is short-sighted is undisputable. Why Obama would continue this short-sighted policy can be explained by the nature of democracy where winning the next election is often more important than securing the long-term interests of the nation. It is worth keeping in mind that these drone strikes have only been able to target those that have been very active in the public sphere and thus prone to be targeted through a number of means. The drone strikes have virtually been of no use against targeting the more important symbolic leaders of the opposition to the American aggressors. Any [jihadi] leaders that suspect being targeted by drone planes inevitably retract their public profile and instead delegate their operational duties to other less known associates. In other words, most of those targeted by these drone strikes are operational commanders. The targeting of these commanders cannot disrupt any of their activities because these commanders always nurture several delegates who are able to take over and resume activities in the event of the death or capture of any operational commanders.

"The disadvantages of these drone strikes, however, stem from two fatal weaknesses. Drone strikes are inherently unreliable and indiscriminate... Due to these two weaknesses, drone strikes cause disproportionate civilian casualties. These high proportion of civilian casualties in effect ferment a lot of hatred against the U.S. in the affected areas... [where the residents] begin to view the Americans as a discriminate and immoral force that is willing to sacrifice the lives of the locals in order to attack a small number of their enemies. This in turn drives a lot of the civilian populace, especially from amongst the young, into the arms of the mujahideen. Not only that but more importantly, these drone strikes work with a double edge because they illustrate that the host government of these areas, often allied with the U.S., lack full sovereignty and are unable or unwilling to protect their own citizens. Thus the drone strikes unwittingly undermine support for the very same government that they intended to shore up support for through these strikes.

"However, fundamentally, the drone strategy betrays a far more crucial fact than mere tactical failure. What it shows is that America is no longer a military power confident of itself. It can no longer assert itself militarily. The financial and military cost of a counter-insurgency [campaign] means that the U.S. has abandoned all hope of defeating its self-proclaimed opponents militarily... [and is now] undermining what little American credibility there is left in these countries. The people of the drone-affected areas have now come to see what the U.S. truly is – a paper tiger with a superficial claim to be the greatest empire of all time..."

March 28, 2014: Article In Issue V Of English-Language Taliban Magazine Azan On "Counter-Drone Strategy"

The cover story of the fifth issue of the Taliban's English-language magazine Azan, released March 28, 2014, was titled "Counter-Drone Strategy" and authored by Jaffer Hussain. In it, he wrote: "We call on our skillful Muslim brothers who are engineers and scientists to come forward and try their best in figuring out how to break the link between drone and GPS. Experiment in whichever part of the world you live and if it's successful, make a complete video demonstration of the process, upload it on the web and make it password protected. Then send that link and password to us. Or simply make a good... PowerPoint [presentation] and send it to us. Even if you have made good progress in the experiment but encountered some complication in it then send it to us, maybe we can suggest something useful to you."[107]

Hussain added, "Our brothers who are computer engineers and programmers – who can hack into the private encrypted network of the Pentagon, try your best to do so. ... If only one brother takes the initiative and attempts to hack the Pentagon, he'll set an excellent example for other brothers to follow suit... The security check[s] in Muslim countries of Middle East, Subcontinent [of India and Pakistan], and Africa is relatively low as compared to the Western kafir countries. So for example, if you are a university student in Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia) you can download Azan magazine or Inspire magazine from the Internet, print it, and distribute it safely in your university or masjid [mosque]. Make a fake Facebook account and create a page for Azan magazine... Try to find that hacker in Jakarta or Jeddah who can work only for Allah and be the candidate for the luxurious Jannah [Paradise]... Do whatever you can to spread the word of tawheed [monotheism] and jihad! ... [T]his is the phase of the battle in which every Muslim can contribute to the global jihad in whatever capacity they can."

September 25, 2014: Tweets Of Images Of U.S. Military Drones Seized By Taliban In Waziristan

On September 25, 2014, a jihadi Twitter account tweeted images of a drone that it claimed was seized by Taliban militants in the Pakistani tribal region of Waziristan. The account, @Khorasan313, was a known jihadi account claiming association with the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. The tweet indicates that the militants had shot video of the drone after it was seized in Waziristan, though it did not include a link to the video. The photos indicated that the drone uses GPS. The images show the militants examining parts of the drone., September 25, 2014

May 9, 2016: Tweet Of Image Of Drone Allegedly Downed By Taliban In Sherzad District, Nangarhar, Afghanistan

On May 9, 2016, @Islami_Emirate, an official Taliban Twitter account, tweeted a photo of a crashed drone with the statement "US drone shot down today in Sharzad district #Nangarhar [Afghanistan]. #OmariOp." A follow-up tweet read "Mujahidin shot down US drone air strike in Sherzad district #Nangarhar province 9 Am today. #OmariOp #Afghanistan" and was accompanied by a "Braiking [sic] News" image from the Taliban website

October 26, 2016: Taliban Telegram Account Uses Drone For Avatar

A screenshot of an official Taliban account on Telegram, captured on October 26, 2016, shows that it is using a photo of a drone as its avatar.

October 31, 2016: Taliban Account On Telegram Posts Photos Of Drones It Uses

On October 31, an official Taliban account on Telegram, Alemarah-English Official, posted photos of drones that it is using.

Turkestan Islamic Party (TIP) – Drones Filming Battles

April 23, 2016:Turkestan Islamic Party (TIP) Releases Drone Footage Of Its Attack In Ghab Plain, Syria

On April 23, 2016, the Al-Qaeda-affiliated anti-China Pakistan-based jihadi group Turkestan Islamic Party (TIP) released a video documenting the group's assault on the Al-Mansoura grain silos in the Ghab Plain, northwest of Hama, in Syria. It shows drone footage for recon and documentation of the battle, in addition to scenes of battles with light and heavy weapons, and remote-controlled car bombs. At the conclusion of the video, a fighter carrying TIP's banner stands atop the destroyed grain silos.[108]

(To view the video, click here or above)

August 2, 2016: Drone Photo Shared On TIP Telegram Account

A photo from drone footage released by Sawt Al-Islam, the media arm of the Syrian branch of TIP, was shared on the TIP Telegram account on August 2, 2016. The video showed the group using technology. It stated: "Intense fighting between the mujahideen and the Nussairi [Shi'ite] enemy in the village of Sharfah [Syria]. The Mujahideen are taking off to break into the enemy's strongholds."

August 21, 2016: TIP Releases Drone Images Of Battles Against Syrian Regime In Aleppo Area

On August 21, 2016, the Syrian branch of the TIP released a video clip promoting a video it said was to be released soon of battles against the Syrian regime in the Aleppo region, along with drone footage of bombarded areas that it said were military targets. The following are images from the clip.[109]


September 27, 2016: Taliban Claims It Shot Down U.S. Drone

On September 27, 2016, the Taliban claimed to have shot down a U.S. drone in Merano village of Behsud district of Nangarhar province in Afghanistan.[110]


October 23, 2016: Taliban Suicide Attack Filmed By Drone

On October 23, 2016, a video titled "Taliban Suicide Attack Filmed By Drone" was posted online.

(To view this video, click here or above)


Stills from the Taliban suicide attack video

Jaysh Al-Fath In Syria – Downing Drones, Aerial Filming Of Battles

Jaysh Al-Fath, a pro-Al-Qaeda coalition of Islamist groups fighting in Syria, includes Jabhat Al-Nusra and Ahrar Al-Sham, among other groups. This coalition has been using drones for the past two years.

October 23, 2014: Jabhat Al-Nusra Releases Video Documenting Its Role In Breaking The Siege Of Al-Maliha, Syria, Including Drone Surveillance Footage

On October 23, 2014, Jabhat Al-Nusra (JN) released a 35-minute video documenting the group's role in the Battle of Al-Maliha, a strategic town southeast of Damascus, which had been the center of fierce fighting between Syrian regime forces and jihad groups. In the video, JN documents its role in breaking that siege, which, it says, led to the freeing of over 500 mujahideen. The video features JN reconnaissance footage that was apparently taken by a drone. The footage shows Al-Maliha's skyline, as well as various trenches used by the Syrian military.[111]

November 23, 2015: Jaysh Al-Fath Downs Shi'ite Militia Drone

On November 23, 2015, @m4_3aladeny tweeted a photo of a man holding a drone, with the text "#Jaysh_al-Fath downing of a surveillance plane which belong to the Shi'ite militias northeast of Al-Fou'ah in the liberated Suwaghiyyah region."

December 12, 2015: Ahrar Al-Sham Downs Shi'ite Militia Drone

On December 12, 2015, @2ahfadosama tweeted a photo of a man holding a drone, with the text "#Ahrar_Al-Sham downing of a surveillance plane which belong to the Shi'ite militias in a suburb of South Aleppo."

March 28, 2016: Jabhat Fath Al-Sham Telegram Account Releases Video Showing Drone Use

On March 28, 2016, a video showing fighters using drones was disseminated by a Jabhat Fath Al-Sham channel on Telegram. The posts were reposted from Jund Al-Aqsa. Captions added by the channel read: "This drone combat footage from JundAqsa was deleted by youtube... Don't know which rule it broke... However you can watch it and spread it here...Very good watch."

August 2, 2016: Jaysh Al-Fath Releases Drone Footage Of Raqqa, Syria

A video released August 2, 2016 by Jaysh Al-Fath, titled "Air Photography of Raqqa in the Southern Part of Aleppo Province After Its Liberation Before The Mujahideen," showed aerial drone footage of the city of Sharfah, south of Aleppo, after it was captured by Jaysh Al-Fath.

(To view video, click here or above)

Stills from the video. Top left logo: "Jaysh Al-Fath"; top right logo "Ahrar Al-Sham," which is part of Jaysh Al-Fath

August 13, 2016: Ahrar Al-Sham Claims To Have Shot Down Russian Drone Outside Homs

On August 13, 2016, Ahrar Al-Sham claimed to have shot down a Russian drone in Keiseen, outside Homs, Syria, and posted a video of the drone lying on the ground. A tweet of the video stated: "#Ahrar Al-Sham #Homs The surveillance drone downed today by the Mujahideen at Keiseen frontlines in the outskirts of Homs."

(To view video, click here or above)

The tweet and stills from the video

August 27, 2016: JFS Posts Drone Video Of Syrian Regime Troops Fleeing Battle

On August 27, 2016, Jabhat Fath Al-Sham (JFS), formerly Jabhat Al-Nusra prior to its split from Al-Qaeda, posted a video filmed by drone of Syrian regime troops fleeing the battle over the Aleppo Aviation College, which is part of the currently ongoing battle for Aleppo. running over the dead bodies of their own soldiers in their haste. The video is titled "Fath Al-Sham | Rafidite militias leave Nusayri bodies and then run them over with armored vehicles around the technical school."

(To view video, click here or above – WARNING: GRAPHIC IMAGES)

August 28, 2016: Jund Al-Aqsa Documentation Of Martyrdom Attack Against Syrian Soldiers In Hama

On August 28, 2016, the Jund Al-Aqsa group released, on Telegram, images documenting a martyrdom attack against a Syrian soldiers in rural Hama. The image was captioned "Moment of carrying out the martyrdom operation against a gathering of dozens of Nusayris in Madajin Al-Tayba checkpoint." According to the post, the attack was carried out by one Omar Al-Jazrawi.

September 15, 2016: Australian Jabhat Fath Al-Sham Fighter Posts Photo Of Drone On His Snapchat

On September 15, 2016, an Australian Jabhat Fath Al-Sham fighter posted a photo of a drone on his Snapchat account. He captioned it: "Say hello to new member of the family."[112]

September 28, 2016: Drone Footage Of Jabhat Fath Al-Sham Attack

On September 28, 2016, a video was posted to YouTube of drone footage from a Jabhat Fath Al-Sham attack on a Syrian regime position that appears to be held by militia.[113]

October 2016: TIP Drone Video Documents Group's Role In Battle For Aleppo's "1070 Apartments" Neighborhood

In late October 2016, the Syrian branch of TIP, which was fighting to liberate Aleppo alongside the rebel coalition of Jaysh Al-Fath and Jabhat Fath Al-Sham (formerly known as Jabhat Al-Nusra) in a military campaign that focused on liberating the city's 1070 Apartments neighborhood from Syrian regime and pro-Syrian regime forces, published a steady stream of content, including videos, documenting the ongoing battle, on its Telegram channel. One video featured drone footage showing an October 30 suicide attack carried out by a TIP fighter identified as Shaheedullah Al-Turkestani against enemy forces in an apartment complex. TIP said that the attack had killed "40 Iranians."[114]

Shaheedullah Al-Turkestani

Telegram Channel

On October 29, 2016, 2016, the #Lattakia Correspondent Telegram channel posted photos of what it said was a Russian surveillance drone, stating: "Downing of a Russian surveillance plane in Kabani axis in Al-Akrad mountains in the countryside of #Lattakia #Fath Al-Sham."

October 31, 2016: Jihadi Telegram Account Posts Photo Of Alleged Russian Drone, Expresses Hope It Will Be Reverse-Engineered

On October 31, 2016, the account of a Jaysh Fath-Al-Sham fighter on Telegram posted a photo of a drone and wrote: "Russian Surveillance plane falls down in Lattakia [Syria] region near the Sunni Fighters! It could perhaps be a great development if the fighters reverse engineer it!"


January 29, 2016: Syrian Jihadi Shares Information About Drone Use

On January 29, 2016, "Life in Syria (Muhajir)" posted on his Telegram account a photo of a man and a store-bought drone, captioned: "A brother from the surveillance drone team trying a surveillance drone in preparation of a battle!"

Al-Qaeda Central – Leaders' Fear Of Drones, Counter-Drone Strategy

Documents Seized In Abbottabad Raid From 2010-2011 Show Bin Laden's Fears About U.S. Drones

Documents obtained in the May 2, 2011 raid on Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden's compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan detailed bin Laden's fear of U.S. drones and his admonitions to other Al-Qaeda officials regarding how to avoid being targeted. In May 2010, he wrote to Al-Qaeda leader Attiyah Abd Al-Rahman about "the importance of the exit from Waziristan of the brother leaders, especially the ones that have media exposure. I stress this matter to you and that you choose distant locations to which to move them, away from aircraft, photography and bombardment while taking all security precautions." In October 2010, he wrote: "They [the U.S.] can distinguish between houses frequented by men at a higher rate than usual. Also, the visiting person might be tracked without him knowing." He added,"I am leaning toward getting most of the brothers out of the area. We could leave the cars because they are targeting cars now, but if we leave them, they will start focusing on houses and that would increase casualties among women and children. It is possible that they have photographed targeted homes. The brothers who can keep a low profile and take the necessary precautions should stay, but move to new houses on a cloudy day."

In April 2011, bin Laden wrote to Al-Rahman about operatives travelling in cars, saying: "A warning to the brothers: they should not meet on the road and move in their cars because many of them got targeted while they were meeting on the road." In yet another letter, he stated: "Our Waziristani brothers, for example, said that they were frankly exhausted from the enemy's air [drone] bombardments. The enemy has been given almost a worldwide approval to violate the air space of other countries and to attack anyone whom it views as its enemy... The reserves will not, for the most part, be effective in such conflicts. Basically, we could lose the reserves to enemy's air strikes. We cannot fight air strikes with explosives!"[115]

June 17, 2011: Al-Qaeda Document Of Tips For Dodging Drone Attacks – Including From Osama Bin Laden

February 21, 2013, the Associated Press published the original Arabic and English translation of a document dated June 17, 2011, which it titled "The Al-Qaeda Papers – Drones" and which it said was one of several "found by The Associated Press in buildings recently occupied by Al-Qaeda fighters in Timbuktu, Mali."[116] The list of 22 tips for dodging drone attacks included at least one believed to originate with Osama bin Laden.[117], accessed August 2, 2016

The following is the English translation provided by the AP:

"In support of Ibyan province (Yemen) Military Research Workshop.

"I have said in my article 'Strategies of Capabilities for Ansar al-Sharia' that the American retaliation against the Mujahideen military movements in Ibyan province will be restricted to the war of the drone. My expectations have been assured after the recent New York Times leakage that the CIA will handle the situation, and for this, it set up a secret military base for the drones in a neighboring country.[118] [footnote in AP publication] It is important now that we understand this American army strategy and discuss ways to disable this strategy.

"To start with, we have to know that the Americans did not resort to this approach _ The War of the Drone _ because they have shortages in the combat jets like the F16 and other types or they don't possess enough troops, but because it is the most suitable approach for them now. The Americans fully realize that they are in the 10th year of war and that they were economically exhausted and suffered human losses and they were confronted with public pressure backed by the Congress in a way that it made the honorable and responsible withdrawal from the war as a prime goal of the White House. But this does not mean that abandoning the war, rather, they pushed them to seek alternative military strategies that enable them to continue the war without being economically depleted or suffer human losses and avoid the American public opinion pressure. Here the war of the drone appeared as a perfect solution. The drone is unmanned and cost nothing compared to the manned jets and it does not create public exasperation when it crashes because the increase of human losses in the past pushed the American people to go to the streets shouting 'bring back our sons' and if a drone crashes, no one will shout 'bring back our planes.'

"In comparison, the cost of 1,000 drones equals the price of an F15 Eagle jet. If we talk about the latest models, like the Predator, it costs $10 million while the cost of an F16 is $350 million and the fuel for 200 flights of a drone equals the fuel consumed by one flight of F4 Phantom jet. The training of a pilot of a Tornedo costs 1 million Pound Sterling while training a drone operator costs nothing and it takes only three months. Therefore, the Americans have chosen a comfortable war to prove to us their indifference to a long war. For this, they appointed the commander of American forces in Afghanistan (David) Petraeus as CIA director to lead the war from there and they have already tried this strategy in Waziristan that proved success and they are going to apply it now in Yemen. So what are going to do? I believe that foiling this strategy depends on three things: The formation of a public opinion to stand against the attacks, deterring of spies and tactics of deception and blurring.

"These tactics are:

  1. It is possible to know the intention and the mission of the drone by using the Russian-made 'sky grabber' device to infiltrate the drone's wages and the frequencies. The device is available in the market for $2,595 and the one who operates it should be a computer know-how.
  2. Using devices that broadcast frequencies or pack of frequencies to disconnect the contacts and confuse the frequencies used to control the drone. The Mujahideen have had successful experiments using the Russian-made "Racal."
  3. Spreading the reflective pieces of glass on a car or on the roof of the building."

For the rest of the list, see Appendix I.


May 11, 2012: Al-Qaeda Leader Ayman Al-Zawahiri Urges Somali Muslims To Persevere Against U.S. Air Attacks By Drones, Wage Guerilla Warfare Against U.S. Until They "Wipe Them Out"

On May 11, 2012, the Al-Qaeda media company Al-Sahab released an audio message from Al-Qaeda leader Ayman Al-Zawahiri urging Somali Muslims both in Somalia and elsewhere to support and join the jihad in Somalia. He also asked the Somalis to be patient in the face of ongoing U.S. drone strikes, promising that the U.S. would surely fail in its fight, as it failed before in Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan.

In the message, Al-Zawahiri appealed to Somalis both within Somalia and abroad, reminding them of their duty to support and join jihad and answer the call of Allah. He asks them not be concerned or weakened by the ongoing U.S. air strikes against them, noting that in the past (in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan), such air campaigns had failed. Therefore, Al-Zawahiri asks the Somalis not feel overwhelmed by the U.S.'s advanced military capabilities (i.e. the use of drones); rather, they should adopt guerilla warfare tactics against the U.S. in order to "wipe them out, destroy them and blast them." He also calls on them to dig trenches in the ground to shield themselves from these air attacks.[119]

September 3, 2013: Classified U.S. Intelligence Report – Al-Qaeda Has Been Developing Counter-Drone Strategy Since 2010

On September 3, 2013, The Washington Post reported that, according to top-secret U.S. intelligence documents, the Al-Qaeda leadership had assigned cells of engineers to find ways to shoot down, jam, or remotely hijack U.S. drones, hoping to exploit the technological vulnerabilities of a weapons system that has inflicted huge losses upon the terrorist network. Although there is no evidence that Al-Qaeda had forced a drone crash or interfered with flight operations, U.S. intelligence officials had been closely tracking the group's persistent efforts to develop a counter-drone strategy since 2010, the documents show.

The Washington Post was provided with a classified intelligence report titled "Threats to Unmanned Aerial Vehicles," a summary of dozens of intelligence assessments posted by U.S. spy agencies since 2006 on Al-Qaeda's attempts to fight back against the drone campaign, by Edward Snowden.[120]

The following are excerpts from the "Threats to Unmanned Aerial Vehicles" document:[121]


"(U//FOUO) Threats to unmanned aerial vehicles


"(C) Employment of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) has increased in recent years. Threats to UAVs fall into several categories. These include traditional air defense threats from anti-aircraft artillery, surface-to-air missiles and fighter aircraft. However, additional threats have been identified which could interfere with operational capabilities

"Additionally, environmental factors such as terrestrial weather and space weather also play an essential role In ensuring successful UAV operations. Finally, because use of UAVs garners public attention and creates a perception of new technology and unprecedented capability, propagandists and citizens with legitimate social agendas may employ legal and media venues in such a way that UAV operations could be brought under increased scrutiny, perceived to be Illegitimate, openly resisted or undermined.

"(U) Propaganda

"(U) UAVs represent new technology, which draws interest whenever and wherever UAVs are employed. Adversaries have developed propaganda campaigns that target UAV use.

"(C) It may be worthwhile for UAV planners and operations personnel to work closely with Public Affairs Office representatives to 'war-game' and plan strategies to counter potential counter-UAV propaganda."

For the rest of the list, see Appendix II.


October 12, 2013: Al-Qaeda Drone Project In Pakistani Professor's Islamabad Home Broken Up By Pakistani Police, Intelligence Agencies

On October 12, 2013, a drone project aimed at countering the U.S. drones that was being developed by Al-Qaeda's Pakistan chapter in the home of a former Pakistani air force official in Islamabad was broken up by Pakistani police and intelligence agencies.[122] A Pakistani official was quoted as saying, "The Al-Qaeda Pakistan chapter had acquired drone technology and was in the final stages of implementing the plan when intercepted." According to media reports, the home belonged to Professor Irtyaz Gilani, electronic engineer, former Air Weapons Complex employee, and lecturer in electronics at International Islamic University, Islamabad. Police found evidence of his Al-Qaeda connections, and there was also evidence that Tanveer Gondal, a most-wanted Al-Qaeda member, had been staying with Gilani since January 2013, and that the project had been underway for over a year. Already-tested small drones were also found in the house. Sources told media, "The Al-Qaeda people had collected all parts of the spy plane from different sources and completed the assembling process in the basement laboratory in G-15 when the joint team swooped in on them. They conducted a successful test flight of the spy plane in the [nearby] Margalla Hills, but the small drone could fly within a radius of only one kilometer." Also according to reports, a large drone had nearly been assembled and was about to be tested.

Media reports stated: "It is obvious that Al-Qaeda wants to target highly guarded complexes through these drones, where ground access is impeded by the conventional security measures. It is very important to remember that besides a few high-security buildings, there is no mechanism in place to guard against any aerial attack. Having realized the weakness, Al-Qaeda worked on this ambitious plan to give a surprise to the international law enforcement agencies, which has been averted, courtesy of timely intervention by the police. It is believed that Professor Irtyaz Gilani had been chosen for the task due to his qualifications as well as work experience. It may be of value to remember that Ali Gondal, an employee of the AWC, was arrested in 2005 for planning an attack on General Pervez Musharraf. He had planted rockets in Rawalpindi; however, they malfunctioned, leading to his arrest. Ali Gondal is Tanveer's real brother, and links of the troika indicate the presence of Al-Qaeda in leading anti-state operations in Rawalpindi and Islamabad. Professor Irtyaz Gilani was working on a high-level post at the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex, Kamra, having rich technical information about putting up drone aircraft, the investigation report said. But it was still a mystery from where he got parts of the drone, investigators said. The investigation report claimed that Professor Irtyaz Gilani, Tanveer Gondal and Hammad Adil were directly involved in the brazen attack on the Minhas Airbase of Pakistan Air Force (PAF) at Kamra on August 16, 2012, adding that Professor Gilani provided technical information and inside position of vital installations and aircraft to Tanveer Gondal and Hammad Adil before and during the attack, while Tanveer and Hammad provided logistical support to the attackers. Law enforcement agencies are hunting for Tanveer, the wanted associate of Professor Irtyaz and an old member of Al-Qaeda. The police authorities confirmed the report."[123]

Al-Qaeda In The Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) – Targeting U.S. Drone Centers 

Perhaps no jihadi organization has been as impacted by the U.S. drone campaign as Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). In the past few years, the ranks of its leaders have been decimated by U.S. drone strikes.

April 10, 2013: AQAP Deputy Leader Sa'id Al-Shihri Urges Saudis To Act Against U.S. Drone Bases

On April 10, 2013, the AQAP media company Al-Malahim released a new audio recording by the group's deputy leader Sa'id Al-Shihri. The message was the first since the reports of Al-Shihri's death in an American airstrike (he was ultimately confirmed killed in a U.S. drone strike in Yemen in July 2013), and was directed at the people of Saudi Arabia, his home country. In it, he repeatedly stresses the need for Saudis to act against U.S. drone bases in the country.

In the beginning of his message, Al-Shihri condemns the Saudi royal family for their "war on the mujahideen" and their efforts to sway Muslims away from their religion, and reaffirms the mujahideen's commitment to their path of jihad against the Saudi government. He then addresses four messages to four groups in Saudi society: the people, the tribal leaders, the scholars, and the official scholars.

Al-Shihri urges each of these groups, in turn, to act upon the Prophet Muhammad's call to "Expel the polytheists from the Arabian Peninsula" with regard to the American troops in Saudi Arabia. He especially stresses the issue of U.S. bases used to launch drones attacks on Al-Qaeda's fighters in Yemen and the need for all the aforementioned elements in Saudi society to act against them.

Additionally, Al-Shihri encourages the Saudi people to take to the streets in order to topple the Saudi government.

March 7, 2014: AQAP Video Documents Attacks On U.S. Drone Centers In Yemen

On March 7, 2014, Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) released Part II of its "Repulsion of Aggression" video series. This installment in the series documents AQAP attacks in the past year against the operation rooms overseeing U.S. drone operations in Yemen. The video, which is over 30 minutes long, was released on the Al-Fida' jihadi forum. A low-quality version of the video, not released through AQAP-trusted channels, was also posted to YouTube.

(To view video click here or above)

The video begins with footage of civilian Yemeni victims of U.S. drone strikes, including those killed in the December 12, 2013 strike that hit part of a wedding party in Al-Baida Governorate. AQAP says in the video that Yemen has become an open land where American aircraft kill whomever they wish, whenever they wish, and however they wish. This, it says, has become possible due to Yemeni President 'Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi and his military's cooperation with the Americans. AQAP says that faced with Yemen's bitter reality, it had decided to respond to the U.S. aggression with a series of major attacks against what it called "operations rooms" where drone activity in Yemen was being coordinated.

Next, the video shows some of the drone attacks, with details on each, along with the last wills of some of the "martyrs" who carried out suicide attacks. One of the attacks in focus is AQAP's December 5, 2013 attack on the Yemeni Defense Ministry compound in Sana'a, that, according to the video, housed the main drone operations room. It should be noted that with regard to this particular attack, AQAP was later forced to apologize for one of the attackers' killing of innocent Muslims in the Defense Ministry hospital, as revealed by security camera footage taken inside the facility. Also in this video, AQAP reiterates its apology for this "mistake" but adds that the incident had been used by its opponents to divert attention from the country's real problem – that is, U.S. drone strikes. It also stresses several times that this attack had been postponed and the plans modified a number of times to avoid civilian casualties.

The video concludes with AQAP reaffirming its commitment to continue striking targets connected with U.S. drone operations in Yemen, making the Crusaders and their agents pay twice over for their aggression against Muslims.

March 6, 2014: Tweets Showing Crucified Spies In Yemen Who Allegedly Worked For U.S. Drone Program

April 21, 2014: AQAP Claims Responsibility For Attack On Alleged Drone Command Center

On April 21, 2014, AQAP published a communiqué claiming responsibility for the April 2, 2014 attack on Yemeni military headquarters in Aden. AQAP claimed that the targeted site functions as a joint U.S.-Yemeni operations room for conducting drone strikes.

The communiqué read: "In pursuit of mujahideen operations designed to repel the aggression by America and its Sana'a regime ally against the Muslims' lives and honor in Yemen... that finds expression in the barbaric attacks [performed] by remote-controlled American aircraft, on the morning of [April 2, 2014] a group of righteous mujahideen set out to attack the Aden headquarters of the fourth region of the collaborator Sana'a army. This was part of the general mujahideen plan to destroy the joint operations rooms that manage these aircraft."

The AQAP communiqué

The communiqué noted that the attack was launched by detonating a car bomb at the building's gates. Following the blast, a group of infiltrators stormed the compound while a second attack group flanked the compound and stormed it from the rear. The attackers, it said, managed to maintain control of the compound and fortify themselves inside, killing dozens of soldiers and inflicting massive damage to the headquarters. It concluded by stating: "We are continuing with our previously announced plan to target the joint [Yemeni-American] operations rooms that manage the American remote-controlled aircraft wherever we find them and whenever Allah grants us the opportunity to destroy them..."

May 1, 2014: Video: AQAP Continues Anti-Drone Campaign, Documents Recent Attack On Military Headquarters In Aden

On May 1, 2014, an AQAP video documenting the group's attack on the Yemeni military headquarters in Aden was released via the Shumoukh Al-Islam forum. The video is Part IV in AQAP's "Repulsion of Aggression" video series. Like the previous instalments in the series, this video condemns the U.S.'s drone strikes in Yemen and the complicit involvement of Yemeni security and military services in those attacks. The 11:19-minute video was first posted on Shumoukh Al-Islam by a user named Abu Al-Ahnaf Al-Shibani.

The video begins with footage of Yemeni civilian victims of the U.S.'s drone strikes including angry responses by Yemenis. In one part, a man is seen standing in front of two large bags of wheat that USAID delivered to Yemenis as humanitarian aid. The man expresses astonishment at this dichotomy, and wonders how Yemenis accept this bit of U.S. aid when the U.S. itself is killing those same people's family members and friends.

(To view video, click here or above)

Images from the video: above, drone footage; below, on left, Al-Rimi in video: "They must pay the price"; center, Rassas Al-Sana'ani, leader of the Aden attack; right, USAID humanitarian aid

In the video, a narrator says that the U.S. continues to "commit the horrendous brutal crimes of murder against Muslims in Yemen." Those crimes, he says, are committed with the facilitation of local U.S. "lackeys," a reference to Yemeni President 'Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi, who have not only allowed Yemeni airspace to be used by the U.S., but also opened Yemen's land and waters for U.S. troops.

The narrator adds that the U.S.'s crimes in Yemen have in fact made many Muslims become conscious of the truth about the enemy.

Next, the video shows AQAP's response to the U.S. drone strikes, which is exemplified by AQAP's April 2 attack on the Yemeni Army's Fourth Division headquarters in Aden.

The video says that 10 men and one suicide bomber participated in the attack. Next, images of the attackers and footage of their pre-operation training are shown. Several of the men also deliver brief messages extoling jihad against the enemy and calling on Muslims to join it as well. Later in the video, AQAP shows Rassas Al-Sana'ani, the operation leader, and one other man. The two apparently were the only ones to survive the operation.

>Next, the video details the operation and various images of the target and the different stages of the operation are shown.

According to the video, the attack resulted in the deaths of over 80 officers and soldiers, and the burning and destruction of army and military intelligence offices. Next, AQAP military commander Qasim Al-Rimi delivers a message, and says: "They [i.e. Yemeni military and security apparatuses] must pay the price." Al-Rimi adds that anyone, including any organization, ministry, military training camp, or any area in Yemen, that is proven to support the U.S. drone campaign in Yemen, will be a legitimate target for AQAP. "We will not wait until they bombard us, [but] we will attack them [first]," Al-Rimi notes. He also says that AQAP has a "very long list" of targets.

June 2014: In Communiqué, AQAP Says It Shelled U.S. Drone Operations Headquarters In Hadhramaut Governorate, Yemen

Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) published a communiqué taking responsibility for June 27, 2014 attacks on buildings in the city of Seiyun in Hadhramaut governorate, which it said served as U.S. drone operations headquarters.

AQAP stated in the communiqué that as part of the mujahideen's activities to block anti-Muslim aggression by America and its ally, the regime in Sana'a, Yemen, as expressed by the barbarous American drone attacks, a mujahideen squad set out on June 27, 2014 to target facilities in the town of Seiyun, where the U.S. drone operations are headquartered. The organization claimed that this came after the mujahideen had learned that spy recruitment was taking place in these facilities, including distribution of electronic chips (for drone targeting) and administration of drone activity. He emphasized that the attack on these buildings was part of a comprehensive mujahideen plan to strike and destroy the headquarters of those collaborating with the Americans in drone activity.

The communiqué

The communiqué said that the action included the following: a car bomb was detonated against the military intelligence building, destroying it almost completely; a control tower in Seiyun airport was attacked and burned; and the Central Building in Seiyun was attacked and burned. The organization also claimed that only one of its fighters was killed during the operation, but that 15 enemy soldiers and officers were killed, in addition to workers in the military intelligence building.

It concluded: "We take responsibility for this action that is painful to the enemy, and emphasize that as we have declared in the past, we will persevere in our plan to attack the joint operations rooms [to the U.S. and Yemen] for managing drone activity wherever they may be, [and] at every opportunity."

July 28, 2014: In Video, AQAP Documents Attack On Drone Operations Headquarters, Threatens U.S. Embassy

A video released July 28, 2014 by the AQAP media company Al-Malahem, the fifth in its "Repulsion of Aggression" video series, documented the three attacks in the city of Seiyun in late June 2014 (see communiqué above). AQAP claims that the targets were espionage centers that help direct and control American drones in Yemen. The video also features recordings of the fighters and suicide bombers taken before they embarked on their mission, as well as threats to carry out more attacks against Yemeni government interests, due mainly to it being complicit in the killing of Sunnis via U.S. drones. One attacker said in the video that attacks on government offices, bases, and embassies (likely referring to foreign embassies in Yemen) would continue in full force due to its assistance to the U.S. in its drone strikes, its contribution to Iranian expansion in the Arabian Peninsula, and other reasons.

At the beginning of the video, an announcer states: "The mujahideen brigades continue to leave, unit after unit, in order to ruin and destroy the nests of Crusader agents [Yemeni government interests] that control and enable the actions of American drones." He went on to say that the more the drones attack and kill the elderly, women, and children, the more people wish to enact revenge. The announcer says that among those seeking revenge are youths as well as older people "whose hair is turning grey." The video then goes on to show the three simultaneous attacks.


First Attack: Car Bomb Outside Military Intelligence Headquarters In Seiyun

The first attack was carried out by an elderly suicide bomber name Abu Al-Rawi Al-Saya'ri. He drove a car bomb to the military intelligence headquarters via an adjacent date factory. When he arrived at the headquarters, he took advantage of the opening created by the car in front of him, drove through the gate, and detonated the car inside the compound.

Before embarking on the operation, Abu Al-Rawi was filmed praising jihad and martyrdom. He encouraged young and old to carry out suicide attacks and fight against "the collaborator [Yemeni] government" that helps the Americans attack Sunni Muslims with drones. He added that he was proud to target the military intelligence headquarters, where spies are recruited to plant computer chips in activists' cars, thus helping the drones target them. Later, Abu Al-Rawi was shown telling his son (whose face is blurred) to continue on the path of jihad and strive for martyrdom since paradise awaits him at the end of the road. In closing, Abu Al-Rawi asked that the activists unite the ranks and avoid internal conflicts, which play into the hands of the enemies of Islam.

The car bomb driven by Abu Al-Rawi; date factory adjacent to the military intelligence headquarters

Abu Al-Rawi preaches martyrdom to his son


Second Attack: Destroying U.S. Drone Relay Control Room

The second attack took place at a control room in the general administration of wired and wireless communication in Seiyun. According to AQAP, the control room is used to boost communication signals for U.S. drones. The attack involved four AQAP members who infiltrated the control room and set it on fire. They withdrew with no losses.

One participant said that these attacks will continue: "We see our brothers killed in American airstrikes, we see how our collaborator government conducts and manages attacks in Hadhramaut, Abyan, and Shabwah in order to kill Muslims. This, when the Houthis are on the outskirts of Sana'a and the government does not lift a finger. Moreover, the government recruits the Rawafidh [i.e. Shi'ite] Houthis to carry out attacks on our people. As long as this continues, suicide bombers and brave warriors will be sent to ruin your embassies [likely referring to foreign embassies in Yemen], your government buildings, your camps, and your bases. This is only a small payment of a large debt."

General administration of wired and wireless communication in Seiyun that housed the drone relay control room targeted by AQAP; AQAP members who took part in the attack

Third Attack: Control Tower At Seiyun Airport

The third attack took place at the control tower at Seiyun airport. Six AQAP fighters stormed the tower, which AQAP claimed helps direct U.S. drones, and destroyed it. One fighter, Muhammad Al-Dhibani died in the attack.

Al-Dhibani was filmed prior to the attack explaining that attacks and raids on government assets would continue and even increase for to several reasons, including the government's assistance in American drone attacks, preventing the implementation of the shari'a in the country, the abandonment of Sunni Muslims, and using rawafidha (i.e. Shi'ites) and contributing to the Zoroastrian (i.e. Iranian) expansion in the Arabian Peninsula.

Control tower at Seiyun airport; tower during the attack

Muhammad Al-Dhibani, who was killed in the raid on the tower

September 5, 2014: AQAP Releases Video Documenting Its Crackdown On Spy Networks That Support U.S. Drone Strikes, Says 'Striking The Spies Network... Is One Of The Most Important Routes In The Battle Against Drones'

On September 5, 2014, AQAP released a video documenting the group's crackdown on several spy networks that operate on behalf of the U.S. drone campaign in Yemen. The video, 19:21 in duration, is the second installment in a series titled "Harvest Of Spies." It sheds light on the importance that AQAP places on disrupting the drone operations against it in Yemen. "Striking the spies' networks... is one of the most important routes in the battle against drones," says Abu Jabir, a deputy of AQAP's security apparatus, in the video.

Abu Jabir

The video also reveals AQAP's method of investigation following each drone strike, featuring detailed reports from various regions in Yemen where drone strikes occur. Abu Jabir reveals that AQAP employs various tactics to uncover the identity of these spies, including the use of its own spies within the Yemeni security apparatuses, who, he says, "are constantly providing the mujahideen with information."

The video includes confessions by several spies who say that they gathered intelligence and placed electronic chips on targets.

AQAP threatens anyone aiding the Americans, including by placing these chips, with death.

October 2, 2014: AQAP Announces It Apprehended Top Yemeni Officer Who Was Collaborating With U.S. Intelligence

On October 2, 2014, AQAP released a communiqué stating that in its ongoing efforts to fight the operations rooms and spy networks that aid the American drones in their attacks on its fighters, it had successfully carried out a "quality operation" to apprehend Yemeni officer Rashid 'Abdallah Mahdi Al-Habashi, "one of the top security men," who is a member of the main national security council and who since 2010 has headed national security in Hadhramaut, and is even one of its founders.

According to the communiqué, in his work with U.S. intelligence agencies Al-Habashi completed several courses in the U.S. and was a partner in U.S. drone activity against the mujahedeen in Yemen, operating spy networks that supplied them with the information they needed. He was, it said, "directly responsible for several of the American explosions in the Hadhramaut region." It added that Al-Habashi had confessed and had supplied information on the U.S. intelligence plans that had helped AQAP thwart these plans against it.

The organization concluded its announcement with a call to "all the murtadin security officers and spies" involved in activity with U.S. intelligence "to return to Allah" and to cease "this disgraceful activity against their religion, their ummah, and their peoples." It added that if they did not, they were invited "to prepare their shrouds and draw up their wills, since the hand of the mujahideen and of the dignitaries of the Islamic ummah will reach you sooner or later."[124]

December 21, 2014: AQAP Releases First Installment In Video Series Focusing On Dealing With Drones

On December 21, 2014, AQAP released the first installment in a video series about security awareness. The video, titled "Combating Spy Airplanes," focuses on the camera system used in drones, and ways to combat it. The video, 16:14 long, was released via the AQAP-affiliated Twitter account @ABMOGA.

(To view the video, click here or above)

Noting the daytime and infrared camera systems that are used in drones, the video explains how the infrared system works, detecting changes in surface temperature which are then rendered as a black-and-white image. It suggests that mujahideen find ways to conceal their body heat, for example, with a homemade insulating cover for which it gives detailed instructions: A 4x2 meter piece of tarpaulin is folded in half with aluminum foil glued in the middle to act as a heat barrier, keeping the fighter's body heat from being detected by the drone camera system. The cover, which the video says is light and can be easily carried, can be enhanced with additional items like small tree branches, and can be painted for better camouflage. The video shows how it is used.

AQAP fighter unfolds homemade insulating cover and conceals himself underneath it

Additionally, the video offers ways to deal with drones while traveling in a car. For example, it suggests driving in unidentified cars, or, when drones are spotted, to drive near buildings or in areas with vegetation to hide from the drone's cameras.

January 2016: AQAP Releases Video With Drone Footage Documenting Its Takeover Of Waqqar, Abyan Province, Yemen

In early January 2016, Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), aka Ansar Al-Sharia, released a video documenting its takeover of Waqqar in Abyan province, Yemen. The video included aerial footage taken by drones.[125]

(To view the video, click here or above)

"Ansar Al-Shari'a correspondent, Abyan. Liberation of the city of Waqar from the gangs of Abd Allateef Al-Sayyed "; "The sun has risen today to give life to earth again after years of drought and hardship. The Waqar of Shari'a has come back to embrace its children after rough years. Ansar Al-Sharia have come back as they have promised"

Logo: "Abyan Correspondent"; "Scenes from the city of Waqar"

 Logo: "Ansar Al-Sharia"; "Explanation of the plan for the raid"

April 16, 2016: AQAP Says It Executed Two Spies, Shows Photos Of Foreign Fighters, Including Two Australians, Killed In Drone Strikes

On April 16, 2016, Al-Malahem, the official media wing of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), released a video featuring two spies confessing to planting microchips to direct drones to their targets. The video, titled "Harvest of Spies 3," also showed photos of a number of the group's fighters who were killed in drone strikes including foreign fighters from Australia, Egypt and Saudi Arabia.[126]

(To view the video, click here or above)

In the video, links to which were posted on the group's official twitter account, AQAP said that the two spies, Abu Yousouf Al-Shihri and Mohammad Ahmad Abd Al-Qader aka Tha'lab (Arabic for fox), had been executed after being found guilty of apostasy; however, it did not show the actual execution or photos of their bodies.

Abu Yousouf Al-Shihri; left, Mohammad Ahmad Abd Al-Qader aka Tha'lab (Arabic for fox)

In addition to the confession of the two men, the video featured two of the group's security officials, who were masked but were identified as "Abu Jaber" and "Abu Omar." Warning anyone spying on the mujahideen, Abu Omar vowed that such individuals would face severe punishment if they are caught before they repent. "Whoever came to the mujahideen before they arrest him, he will be pardoned, with Allah's permission," Abu Omar said. He then called on all those who are still spying on the mujahideen to repent and to sever ties with intelligence agencies for whom they are working.

Left: Abu Salama Al-Australi; right: Abu Suhayb Al-Australi

At the conclusion of the video, the group plays a short recorded statement by Sheikh Hareth Al-Nazari, a senior AQAP official and ideologue killed in January 2015, in which he praised martyrdom for the sake of Allah and glorified those chosen to be martyrs.

The recording was followed by photos of AQAP members killed in drone strikes. They included Australian nationals Abu Salama Al-Australi and Abu Suhayb Al-Australi; Egyptian nationals Abu Amin Al-Masri and Hammam Al-Masri; Saudi nationals Abdalla Al-Hejazi Abu Khattab Al-Najdi; and Yemen nationals Habib Al-Ta'izzi, Antar Al-Waqari, Qab'a Al-Abyani, Waddah Al-Hadhrami, Mubarak Al-Hadhrami, Abd Al-Sami' Al-Hadda, Samarqand Al-Hadhrami, Abd Al-Salam Al-Hadhrami, and Abu Yousouf Al-Mahfali.

"Abu Omar"

July 19, 2016: Pro-AQAP Telegram Channel Provides Instructions For Lone-Wolf Attacks, Including With Drones, At Rio Summer Olympics; U.S., French, Israeli, British Athletes Singled Out

On July 19, 2016, a pro-Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) Telegram channel named "Inspire the Believers!" posted a list of 17 suggestions for lone-wolf attacks during the upcoming 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The post, which included an English-language schedule of events for the Olympic Games, encouraged potential lone wolves by claiming that travel to Brazil is relatively cheap and easy: "Lone wolf from anywhere in the world can move to Brazil now. Visas and tickets and travel to Brazil will be very easy to get inshaAllah." Suggestions for attacks include attaching small explosives to toy drones, stabbing Americans and Israelis, and entering bars and pubs in the area to attack, kidnap, or rob drunk patrons.[127]

August 30, 2016: AQAP Releases Part IV In Video Series Exposing Agents Who Helped U.S. Target AQAP Members For Drone Attacks

On August 30, 2016, AQAP released Part IV of its "Harvest of Spies" series, which exposes security agents who work with the U.S. and the Yemeni government to identify and locate AQAP members and guide drones to their locations to target them. In this video, two men confess that they were behind the February 2016 killing of AQAP commander Hamza Al-Zinjibari. An AQAP court sentenced both men to death.[128]

(To view the video, click here or above)

December 3, 2016: Al-Qaeda Affiliate In Somalia Al-Shabaab Claims U.S. Surveillance Drone Crashed In Lower Shabelle, Somalia

On December 3, 2016, it was reported that a surveillance drone thought to belong to U.S. intelligence agencies had crashed in an area held by the Al-Qaeda affiliate in Somalia, Al-Shabaab, in Awdheegle town, Lower Shabelle region, Somalia. Photos of the drone were circulated on Twitter by Somali media.[129]

The Islamic State (ISIS) – Developing Drone Capability, Intelligence And Reconnaissance, Using Drones In Attacks

August 23, 2014: First Signs Of ISIS Drone Capability

Just as ISIS has used social media and other technologies for its military purposes, and has also used drone technology, beginning shortly after it was formed. One of the earliest examples of this was a video uploaded to YouTube on August 23, 2014 showing aerial drone footage of Army Military Base 93 near Al-Raqqa, Syria, taken by ISIS. It was reported that a DJI Phantom FC40 unmanned aerial vehicle, described as a "spotter mini-drone" with a smart camera used for surveillance purposes, took the footage. National Defense Magazine reported that the drone gave the militants situational awareness that they would not have achieved otherwise, and that it gives the group's propaganda more credibility among potential recruits. This is the first known instance of ISIS using drones for any purpose.[130]

August 30, 2014: In Response To U.S. Drone Attacks, Pro-ISIS Forum Posts Instructions For Disrupting, Downing Drones, Suggests Using Amazon Octocopter

A document posted August 30, 2014 on the pro-ISIS Jihadi Media Platform forum ( included instructions for disrupting and downing drones employed by the U.S. in Iraq. The document, originally tweeted by @revbaghdad3, was a response to the renewed U.S. bombings of ISIS targets and the provision of air support to Kurdish forces combating the organization's advance.

The document presents nine options for disrupting drone activity:

  • Attacking the drone with antiaircraft fire.
  • Launching helium balloons filled with aluminum foil to disrupt the drone's radar and camera systems.
  • Disrupting the drone's frequencies with jamming equipment installed on dish antennas – preferably round ones, not elliptical ones.
  • Manufacturing small drones "as Hamas did in Palestine," with hooks and long strings attached to their bodies to snare and down U.S. drones.
  • Lighting fires on the ground to create a smokescreen to blind the drone and cause it to fly lower, bringing it within range of antiaircraft fire.
  • Employing activists with the technological knowhow to hack into the drone's frequencies and hijack it.
  • Firing on the drone with a green laser cannon.
  • Firing on the drone with a 57 mm gun.
  • Mounting insulated glass on vehicles or spreading shards of insulated glass at specific locations.

In a different post on the same forum, an ISIS supporter suggested making military use of a small unmanned octocopter (eight-rotor helicopter) that is being developed for Amazon to make deliveries.[131]

September 6, 2014: ISIS Says: We Used Drones To Gather Intelligence For Assault On Syrian Airbase

On September 6, 2014, the information office for the Islamic State's (ISIS) Al-Raqqa province released a video titled "A Filmed Tour of the Al-Tabqa Military Airbase Following its Liberation." The video is accompanied by an explanation provided by an armed ISIS member describing the measures taken prior to the airbase's liberation and during the course of the fighting itself. The video claims that ISIS members also used drones to gather pre-attack intelligence prior to the assault on the airbase.

(To view video, click above or here)

ISIS member in front of airplane hangar at Al-Tabqa airbase

The clip begins as an ISIS member explains that after subduing the Syrian military's strongholds in the Raqqa area – Division 17, Regiment 121 and Brigade 93 – a command was received from ISIS military headquarters to prepare for an attack on Al-Tabqa military airbase. Upon receiving the command, ISIS fighters from Al-Raqqa began gathering pre-attack intelligence, including drone footage. The fighter in the video claims that the pre-attack intelligence was gathered by land and by air with the help of drones. When the pre-attack intelligence gathering and planning stage concluded, ISIS forces began the action itself: First they surrounded the airfield on four sides, then they took over the outer barrier and main gate and finally they took over the headquarters building and completed the full conquest of the base.

The video continues with the camera moving from within a vehicle to document the airbase's entire expanse and demonstrate that ISIS has full control of the base. The film shows Syrian Army tanks taken as loot, burned vehicles and corpses of soldiers, hangars for combat planes, photographs of ISIS militants flying the organization's flag over the base's control tower, a militant seated on an antiaircraft gun taken as spoils and a photograph of the runways.[132]

September 6, 2014: ISIS Video Documents Drone Reconnaissance Of Al-Tabqa Airbase, Followed By Death March And Mass Slaughter Of Syrian Soldiers

A video released September 6, 2014 by Al-I'tisam, an ISIS media and information company, shows ISIS fighters hunting down Syrian soldiers who were trying to flee following the capture of the Al-Tabqa military airbase in northern Syria, and then marching them in their underwear to a place where they are executed by being shot at close range. The video also shows reconnaissance photos apparently shot by an ISIS drone prior to the attack.

The 20-minute video opens with images of children wounded and killed in airstrikes by Assad's warplanes, while a narrator describes the Syrian regime's crimes against Sunni Muslims, and then reads out the Koranic verse which is also the title of the video: "So if you gain dominance over them in war, kill them and make an example of them to discourage those who follow them [Koran 8:58]." The video continues with aerial shots of the base, apparently taken by a drone,[133] identifying strategic locations such as the camp headquarters, soldiers' barracks, and weapons.[134]

October 16, 2014: Shami Witness Tweets Instructions On Building Multi-Rotor Drones

On October 16, 2014 the leading English-language ISIS disseminator Twitter account ShamiWitness[135] tweeted a link to a PDF file titled "The Beginner's Guide to Multicopters," which provides instruction on how to build entry-level multi-rotor drones.

November 17, 2014: ISIS Downs, Captures Iranian Drone

On November 17, 2014, ISIS claimed that it had shot down[136] and captured an Iranian Mohajer 4 drone near Jalula in Diyala province, Iraq.[137] Images of the drone were shared by ISIS sympathizers on Twitter and other platforms., November 20, 2014

Under photo: "Diyala [Province], downing of a drone belonging to the Crusader coalition, by the lions of the caliphate near Jalawla [Iraq]." Tweet: "#Diyala_Province downing a Crusader drone near Jalawla"

December 9, 2014: ISIS Releases Drone Footage of Fighting in Kobane, Syria

On December 9, 2014, ISIS released what appears to be aerial footage highlighting sites of suicide bombings in the besieged town of Kobane, Syria. The video, which ISIS claims was shot from a drone, zooms in on locations where ISIS claims to have carried out suicide attacks.[138] The video was published on one of the group's YouTube channels and was shared repeatedly on Twitter and Facebook.[139] This is the first time that ISIS has used drone footage in its propaganda campaign.[140]

December 11, 2014: ISIS Captures Spy Drone Near Kirkuk

On December 11, 2014, the media company of the Islamic State (ISIS) in Kirkuk Province released a video in which ISIS fighters are seen retrieving a spy drone. The incident occurred in an area near Kirkuk where there was fighting between ISIS and Peshmerga forces. It should be mentioned that the drone resembles the Israeli-manufactured Elbit Systems Skylark; ISIS claims that its fighters shot it down.

The video first shows the drone in daylight, lying in a field with an open parachute beside it. When dusk arrives, an ISIS fighter climbs out of a trench nearby, runs to the drone, picks it up, and carries it back to the trench. As he and his comrades make off with it, the drone buzzes and a red light on it comes on – apparently indicating that its handlers are still trying to control it. The last part of the film shows the drone sitting on the ground in what appears to be an ISIS base. The following are images from the video:

Top left: The captured drone; top right: ISIS fighter runs to pick up the drone; arrows point to "the fighter" (on the left), "the drone" (with a yellow parachute lying beside it) and "Peshmerga bases" on the horizon; bottom left: ISIS fighter carries the drone to the trench; bottom right: close-up of the damaged drone.

A link to the video on was tweeted

December 2014: ISIS Hangs "Traitors" Accused Of Planting Tracking Chips For Guiding Drones

In late December 2014, a pro-ISIS Twitter account tweeted "#IS lesson to the traitors who planting tracking chips to guide crusader drones in Al-Ramadi."[141]

January 25, 2015: Guidelines For Modifying Drones

On January 25, 2015, @mo_jnabi2 tweeted a link to page on[142] containing a document of guidelines for ISIS drone operators. The document showed three drones downed in Kobane, explained that part of the problem is the drones' limited range of 1-1.5 km, advised the use of drones by a different manufacturer, and discussed modifications that could be made, including a link to a YouTube video on the subject, to make them less vulnerable to being downed.

For more photos, see Appendix III.



March 17, 2015: U.S. Airstrike Targets Small ISIS Drone

On March 17, 2015, U.S. airstrikes eliminated a small drone being used by ISIS in Iraq near Fallujah. The drone had been carrying out surveillance and had been placed in the bed of a truck; at that point it was destroyed by an airstrike.[143]

March 24, 2015: ISIS Militants Show Off Drone They Claim To Have Shot Down

On March 24, 2015, several ISIS-linked Twitter accounts tweeted images of ISIS militants holding up a small drone, claiming that it was a Peshmerga drone that they had shot down.

The same day, the ISIS-linked Twitter account Marwan Tunsi tweeted what it said was footage from an ISIS drone filming the aftermath of a suicide bombing in Benghazi, Libya.

The next day, March 25, 2015, the Salwa MZLibya account tweeted that "#IS websites in #Libya posted pics showing the use of #drone s to locate LA checkpoints &the #Tunisian suicide bomber."

April 4, 2015: ISIS Drone Releases Drone Footage of "Pagan Idols"

On April 4, 2015, the information office for ISIS in Dijla province, Iraq, posted a video titled "Smashing the Idols." The video opens with an aerial shot of the archaeological site, which is labelled as having been filmed by a drone belonging to the ISIS information office in Dijla. Superimposed on the aerial footage are graphics marking the locations of the shattered statues.

"Pagan idols" marked in footage allegedly filmed by an ISIS drone

April 7, 2015: ISIS Coordinates Fighting At Baiji Refinery Using Drones

On April 17, 2015, it was reported that ISIS had released a video showing the use of aerial unmanned reconnaissance drones to coordinate fighting at the Baiji oil refinery complex in Iraq. The video also shows ISIS militants controlling the drones from an operations facility, complete with a bank of computer monitors.[144]

Following are screenshots from the video:

April 7, 2015: ISIS Drone Captures Footage of Battle In Syria

On April 7, 2015, ISIS-linked twitter account @abuchair1 tweeted an image taken from an ISIS drone over Idlib, Syria during a battle. Text tweeted along with the image read, "Exclusive Mujahideen drone picture from the checkpoint Ain Sheep taken in the beginning of the battle of Idlib!"

December 2015: ISIS Examines Downed Drone Near Mosul

A December 2015 video released by ISIS shows a drone downed near Mosul being examined.

Stills from the video


(To view video, click here or above)

December 11, 2015: Shi'ite Militia Shows Off ISIS Drone It Downed

On December 11, 2015, the Saraya Al-Salam group, a Shi'ite militia, showed off an ISIS drone it had downed in Al-Hawesh, Samaraa, Iraq.[145]

December 11, 2015: Drone Photo Documentation Of ISIS Suicide Attack On Iraqi Army, Shi'ite Militia In Iraq

Drones have been used to film suicide bombings and other attacks. A photo report posted December 11, 2015 on includes aerial photos taken by drone documenting an ISIS suicide attack on Iraqi army and Shi'ite militia forces west of the Al-Nakhib area in Al-Anbar province, Iraq. It shows the suicide bomber on his way to his target, and the covering bombardment by ISIS so that he can reach his destination.[146]

December 12, 2015: U.S. CENTCOM Reports It Destroyed ISIS Drone Near Manbij, Syria

On December 12, 2015, U.S. CENTCOM reported that one of its military airstrikes against ISIS in Syria and Iraq the previous day had "struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL building and an ISIL drone" near Manbij, Syria.[147]

January 2, 2016: Photo Report Of ISIS Attack On Military Camp Near Fallujah, Including Planning Using Drone Surveillance, Posted On

On January 2, 2016, a photo report on an ISIS "deep strike operation inside Tareq Military Camp, east of Fallujah," including photos of eight suicide bombers and planning of the attack using drone surveillance on a monitor, was posted on the content-sharing website According to the report, "dozens of the Rafidite [Shi'ite] forces" were killed in the attack.[148] The photos were apparently taken from a video showing the planning of the attack.

The photo report's introduction read: "Urgent: Killing tens of Rafidite army [personnel] in an inghimasi [commando-style] operation inside Tariq camp east of Al-Falluja... with Allah's blessing, the caliphate soldiers managed to attack the largest camp of the [Iraqi] army and its Rafidite militias, (Tariq camp), east of Al-Fallujah, where eight inghimasi [commandos] managed to enter the camp, and [engage in] fierce battles for more than three consecutive hours during which they killed dozens of Rafidite forces [personnel] and wounded many more.. And this operation comes as part of the Abu 'Abdallah Sa'd Al-Ansari raid – May Allah accept him..."

Jihadis shared photos from the report widely on Twitter and other social media. On January 2, 2016, a jihadi tweeted a still photo captioned "Explaining the plan for the storming prior to the raid" and with the logo of ISIS's Falluja Province in Iraq. The text in the tweet stated: "Inghimasi Soldiers [i.e. jihadi fighters who carry out deep-strike operations] getting ready to attack the Camp of ISF [Iraqi Security Forces] in East of Fallujah." The tweet was retweeted with a still of fighters from a video of the attack added.

Source: @Mountaindz_Man, @Abu_laptop6, January 2, 2016

Stills from the video were also tweeted by @mrsandman147, with the text: "Islamic state, live drone feed from attack and you see what the Iraqi army do best, RUN for it"

Source: @mrsandman147, January 2, 2016

Others also tweeted and otherwise shared images from the video:

Source: @iraqisuryani1, January 2, 2016;, January 3, 2016

January 4, 2016: ISIS Al-Anbar Province Releases Video Showing Drone Footage Of Suicide Attacks, Battles

A video released January 4, 2016 by ISIS's Al-Anbar Province in Iraq showed drone footage of a number of suicide attacks, including shooting at unseen targets.[149] Part of the video showed jihadis in a darkened room observing live aerial footage and apparently directing an attack on the ground; a man is shouting, "Uncle Ali, advance, advance the apostates are about to be defeated. They have started to flee..." A song then is played; its lyrics state: "We have sold ourselves for the love of Paradise. We have waged wars with truth-filled hearts. We went to them with the edges of swords. We will not stray from [the path of] the intense wars. Gather, gather, oh protector of honor, whether light or heavy."

(To view the video, click here or above)

Below are stills from the full video:

"Chasing the remaining [elements] of the apostates"; "The apostates running away from the confrontation"

January 9, 2016: ISIS In Al-Furat Claims To Have Downed U.S. Drone

In a communique it issued on January 9, 2016, ISIS's Al-Furat Province claimed to have downed a U.S. drone near the Iraqi town of 'Akasaht in Al-Anbar. The communique, posted on the Nasher Al-Khilafa channel on Telegram, features photos of a wrecked drone (see below), and states: "With Allah's grace, the soldiers of the Caliphate managed to down an American drone over the 'Akasaht area, in the southern Al-Furat Province, using anti-aircraft missiles fired by one of [its] air-defense units."[150]

January 16, 2016: ISIS Claims It Downed Iranian Drone In Iraq

On January 16, 2016, ISIS in Salah Al-Din Province released a statement claiming that soldiers from its air defense division had downed an Iranian drone, targeting it on the eastern side of the city of Samarra, Iraq.[151]

(To view the video, click here) or above)

January 15, 2016: ISIS Second-Grade English Schoolbooks Teach About Drones

On January 15, 2016, the anti-ISIS "Raqqa Is Being Slaughtered Silently" group tweeted photos of the covers of second-grade schoolbooks "for the Islamic State," including one for English, that featured a drone flying over New York City.

January 19, 2016: ISIS Releases Video Of Benghazi Battle, With Drone Footage

On January 19, 2016, ISIS Barqa released a video of battle scenes in Benghazi, graphic images of "Sahawat" (local militias) members who were killed, a message from one "Muhajir" urging other groups to join ISIS, and threatening Sahawat and Egyptian Islamists who oppose the mujahideen. The video also includes drone footage of a suicide operation, showing it on a Samsung device that appears to be used to control the drone, that notes its distance, altitude and speed.[152]


January 30, 2016: ISIS Claims It Downed U.S. Drone

In a January 30, 2016 communique issued by the media company of ISIS's Faluja Province in Iraq, the organization took credit for downing an American drone in the Al-Karmah region. The communiqué, posted on the jihadi forum Shumoukh Al-Islam and elsewhere, stated that "one of the [ISIS] air-defense units in the Al-Karmah region succeeded in downing an American drone using surface-to-air missiles." A forum member commented that the craft was a RQ-7 Shadow drone, which costs $750,000. In a 50-second video released by ISIS's Al-A'maq news agency, ISIS fighters show pieces of the downed drone and point out the English writing on them.[153]

February-March 2016: ISIS Engineers And Scientists Collaborate On Aeronautic Projects – Including Drones – On Telegram Channel

On February 20, 2016 a Telegram channel titled "Islamic State Scientists & Engineers" was launched; membership was limited to those who "have pledged [allegiance] to the caliphate & have at least a BSc in one of the following fields: Electrical engineering, Mechanical engineering, Chemical engineering, Aeronautics, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, or any closely related subject."[154] The channel's "Public Goals" included:

"1- collect as much caliphate scientist & engineers as possible from around the world & introduce them to each other.

"2- use them to create a powerful worldwide industrial network to support the military industry in the Islamic State.

"3- support the scientific education in the caliphate

"4- exploit some channel members situation to do research for the military benefit of the caliphate."

A note posted on the channel detailed the specifics of assembling a "Very long range (> 300 Km) missile remote control." It reads in part: "One last important note we need an engine to make a cruise missile or a predator plane, so I have contacted It's a company that took a Subaru car engine and convert it a plane engine and I asked them if I can import their engines to Turkey, and they said yes, they can export their engines to Turkey, so we can take the engine and make a predator plane and then control it with the system mentioned above. Best Regards, member of the Islamic State Scientists & Engineers."

On March 24, an American contributed to the discussion, asking: "Can someone pls explain what we are trying to build in detail. What does success look like? ... Are we talking about an actual guided missile or a drone which can drop payload? I have good access to resources and paid databases on work. My interest has revolved around electronics and microelectronics."

April 26, 2016: Battlefield Update In Issue 9 of Dabiq Reports Use Of Reconnaissance Drone In Capturing Military Base

In its ninth issue, published April 26, 2016, ISIS's English-language magazine Dabiq included a battlefield update reporting on the use of reconnaissance drones in the capture of the 4th Regiment base in Wilayat Shamal Baghdad. According to the report, "the operation to capture the regiment base had multiple phases, including reconnaissance drones and ground units, which succeeded in identifying important targets both inside and outside the regiment base."

May 12, 2016: ISIS Releases Drone Photos Of Attack On Attack Near Ramadi

On May 12, 2016, The Strangers on Telegram forwarded a Khilafah News post announcing a "Massive Attack by the soldiers of the Khilafah on #Safawi Army Positions in #Jarayshi [near Ramadi, Iraq] and #Tarahroad" that included a link to content, including drone photos, created that same day.

"Surveilling enemy sites"; "Burning enemy machinery" (logo: Al-Anbar Province)

May 20, 2016: ISIS Shows Fighters Using Computer To Guide Drone In Attack On Iraqi Forces In Fallujah

During the week of May 20, 2016, the ISIS news agency A'maq posted, on Telegram, an announcement that ISIS fighters in Al-Anbar Province had "carried out a commando assault on the residential compound in Amiriyyat Fallujah." It stated: "Fierce clashes ensued with Iraqi forces, which sustained severe losses of personnel and equipment. At least one hundred Sahwah fighters and Iraqi Army soldiers were killed and wounded... The attack also included an assault on the compound's police headquarters, killing all policemen as well as setting fire to all vehicles present there." A photo showed ISIS fighters using computer, apparently to guide a drone.

May 11, 2016: ISIS News Agency Releases Video Of Downed Iraqi Drone Near Fallujah

On May 11,2016, A'maq, the official ISIS news agency, released a 20-second video showing the wreckage of a downed Iraqi reconnaissance drone east of Fallujah.

May 24, 2016: ISIS Releases Video Of Footage Of Battle In Which U.S. Navy SEAL Was Killed – Including Drone Footage

On May 24, 2016, ISIS's Ninawa Province released a 27-minute video titled "The Attack of the Righteous on the Infidel Peshmerga," documenting the group's large-scale May 3 assault on Peshmerga positions north of Mosul, during which U.S. Navy SEAL Charles Keating IV was killed. The assault was part of ISIS's "Abu 'Ali Al-Anbari Raid," a series of attacks and operations launched on April 26. The video shows the intense fighting between ISIS and Peshmerga forces, assisted by U.S. special operators. Several of the battle scenes are filmed from drones.[155]

Drone footage of the battle showing the Peshmerga frontline positions

May 27, 2016: ISIS's A'maq News Agency Posts Video Of Drone Downed Near Mosul By ISIS Fighters

On May 27, 2016, the ISIS news agency A'maq posted a 16-second video of a tiny drone that was downed near Mosul by ISIS fighters. The video was disseminated via the Nasher2 channel on Telegram.

May 26, 2016: ISIS Releases Drone Images From Attack Near Mosul

On May 26, 2016, ISIS released on images, including a drone photo, from its attack in Ninawa province on Peshmerga barracks on Al-Fadiliyya mountain, northeast of Mosul., accessed July 20, 2016

June 7, 2016: ISIS Posts Video Of "Peshmerga Recon Plane Shot Down" In Iraq

On June 7, 2016, ISIS posted a video online titled "Peshmerga Recon Plane Shot down at the Town of Iyadiyyah North of Tal Afar 07/06/16."[156] The video showed the pieces of a downed drone.

(To view video click here or above).

July 5, 2016: ISIS Video Shows Drone It Downed In Tabqah, Syria

On July 5, ISIS released a video titled "Tabqah – Remains of the American drone downed by Islamic State fighters." The following are still images from the video.

July 7, 2016: Pentagon Says ISIS Is Using Commercially Available Drones Equipped With IEDs, Cameras

It was reported on July 7, 2016 that according to the Pentagon, ISIS is extending its fighting capability by using commercially available drones equipped with IEDs and cameras. According to media reports, the threat has led the Defense Department office charged with monitoring and countering improvised explosive devices to ask that Congress approve shifting $20 million to provide seed money for a counter-drone effort. According to Army Col. Chris Garver, who is the Defense Department's top spokesman, "Just days after the Iraqi forces began occupying Makhmour in Ninevah Province, a video surfaced" on an Islamic State web site "showing forces on the ground there, demonstrating they were using the footage in both reconnaissance and propaganda roles."

The Joint Improvised-Threat Defeat Agency, the Pentagon office that has worked to combat improvised explosive devices since the 2003 Iraq war, has seen Islamic State fly "quadcopters and fixed-wing type drones you can buy commercially" as "both an IED delivery system and for reconnaissance," according to agency spokesman David Small. The commercial drones used by Islamic State have weighed about 50 pounds or less, he said. In addition to using drones with full-motion video to look for attack opportunities and to monitor Iraqi Security Forces, he added, the pilotless aircraft are being used to provide target information for vehicles carrying suicide bombs.[157]

July 5, 2016: ISIS Infographic Details Aircraft Shot Down, Including A U.S. Drone

In an infographic, ISIS showed locations and dates it said it downed aircraft, including three Syrian airplanes, two Syrian helicopters, and a U.S. drone. The drone, it said, was downed July 5 in Al-Tabaqa (Al-Raqqa).

July 20, 2016: ISIS-Affiliated Media Agency Releases Video On Downing Of Drone

On July 20, 2016, the ISIS news agency A'maq released a video titled "Recon Plane Downed by Islamic State Fighters in Iyadiyyah North of Tal Afar [Iraq]." The video showed aJ fighter shooting at a drone and men examining a downed drone.

(To view the video, click here or above)

July 27, 2016: Albanian Network of ISIS Fighters And Supporters On Telegram Shares Photo Of Drone

On July 27, 2016, a photo of an unmanned helicopter drone was posted by a member of an Albanian network of ISIS fighters and supporters on Facebook. The fighter who posted it, Battar Albani, appeared to have been close with the late ISIS commander Omar Al-Shishani.

July 31, 2016: Issue 15 Of ISIS English-Language Magazine Dabiq Reports Capture Of 12 Drones From Sawah Forces

On July 31, 2016, the ISIS Al-Hayat Media Center released Issue 15 of its English-language magazine Dabiq, one section of which provided updates on ISIS operations within its areas of influence. One of the updates described the capture of 12 drones from "Sawah" forces, and read as follows: "Furat Wilayah – On the 24th of Ramadan, the soldiers of the Caliphate confronted a Sahwah force advancing from the American military bases in Jordan, accompanied by American air cover, towards the Caliphate's territory west of the city of Albu Kamal in Furat Wilayah. They battled them at the Hamdan airport in the area of Hizam, massacring 40 of their fighters and taking another 15 of them prisoner. They also succeeded in capturing 6 4-wheel drive vehicles, 6 trucks loaded with weapons and ammo, and 12 reconnaissance drones. The murtaddin who remained alive retreated through the desert, with the mujahidin pursuing them as they fled."

August 22, 2016: ISIS News Channel On Telegram Announces Downing Of Kurdish Reconnaissance Drone In Syria

On August 22, 2016, the ISIS news channel Nasher News on Telegram released a photo by ISIS's Al-Baraka Province in Syria of what it said was a Kurdish reconnaissance drone east of Al-Shaddadi city in the province. It captioned the photo "Al-Baraka Province: Downing a recon drone for the atheist Kurds east of #Al_Shaddadi city."

August 31, 2016: ISIS Reports On Crashed Syrian Army Drone In Hama Province

On August 31, 2016, news of a crashed Syrian Army drone "on the road connecting Ethriya and Raqqah" in Hama province, Syria was posted on the ISIS-affiliated Nasher News 7 channel on Telegram. The post, which included a link to a page of photos, stated: "Hama Province: A drone plane belonging to the Nusairi army fell on the road connecting Ethriya and Raqqah."

Photo caption: "A drone plane belonging to the Nusairi army fell on the road connecting Ethriya and Raqqah"

September 22, 2016: ISIS Video Features Belgian Fighter Urging "Brothers" In France, Germany, And Belgium "Don't Be Afraid Of Death" – And Drone Footage Of His And Other Martyrdom Operations

On September 22, 2016, the media office of the Islamic State (ISIS) in Dijlah, Iraq released a 26-minute video documenting the last wills and testaments, and martyrdom operations, of Abu Nour Al-Baljiki, who is believed to be a Belgian citizen, and Jordanian fighter Abu Usama Al-Ordoni. In the video, "The Epic of Steadfastness (3)," Al-Baljiki addressed "the brothers in France, Germany and Belgium" saying: "Do not be afraid of death, don't be afraid of death, and don't love this life. Wish to meet Allah... May Allah reunite us in Paradise and accept me as a martyr." The video then showed drone footage of Al-Baljiki riding inside a military vehicle, which exploded next to a building referred to as an Iraqi army military base.

Abu Usama Al-Ordoni appealed to the mujahideen in the Islamic State to carry out martyrdom operations, calling them the "fastest way to Paradise," and also asked his friends and family in Jordan to join the Islamic State. The footage of his suicide attack, and of that of a third fighter, were also featured in the video.[158]

September 25, 2016: ISIS's Al-Raqqa Province Claims It Shot Down U.S. Drone

On September 25, 2016, ISIS's Al-Raqqa Province claimed that it had shot down a U.S. drone. However, the photos showed that the "drone" was actually a leaflet bomb.

September 29, 2016: ISIS Video Shows Alleged U.S. Reconnaissance Drone Downed Near Mosul

On September 29, 2016, the ISIS news agency A'maq released a 48-second video showing a downed reconnaissance drone, which ISIS said belonged to the U.S. According to the video, ISIS fighters brought down the drone in the village of Al-Huqoul, northwest of Mosul.[159]

October 5, 2016: Pro-ISIS "IS Drone" Account On Twitter Promises "Vengeance"

On October 5, 2016, the "IS Drone" account on Twitter tweeted: "Soon our drones will seek vengeance research lab."

October 3, 2016: Iraqi Army Targets ISIS Drone Near Mosul

According to an October 3, 2016 report, the Iraqi army's Nineveh Operations Command announced that Iraqi security forces had shot down a drone belonging to ISIS south of Mosul. In a press statement, the Command said: "Security forces from the army's 15th brigade managed, this morning, to shoot down a drone belonging to the Islamic State (ISIS/ ISIL/IS/Daesh) group in al-Raka village in Qayyarah area, south of Mosul." It added: "ISIS was using the drone to monitor the front lines of Iraqi army."[160]

November 10, 2016: WARNING – GRAPHIC: On Instagram, ISIS Chechen Fighter Poses With Corpse Of Drone "Spy"

An Instagram post dated November 10, 2016 showed a Chechen fighter posing with the mutilated corpse identified as that of a spy who gave away ISIS locations to the enemies so that they could be targeted by drones.

October 29, 2016: ISIS In Ninawa Province Says It Targeted Peshmerga Surveillance Drone

On October 29, 2016, ISIS in Ninawa province, Iraq, claimed on the leading jihadi forum Shumoukh Al-Islam that it had targeted a surveillance drone belonging to Peshmerga forces, and posted a photo of a drone in the sky.

November 14, 2016: ISIS Video Documents Its Military Response To Campaign To Retake Mosul

On November 14, 2016, ISIS released a video documenting some of its military operations against the ongoing military campaign by Iraqi and Kurdish forces to retake the city of Mosul. The 26-minute video, titled "Allah's Promise," also features extensive drone footage of the numerous suicide attacks carried out by the group, in addition to segments from previously released speeches by ISIS leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi and by the late ISIS spokesman Abu Muhammad Al-'Adnani. The video claims that ISIS had so far downed nine enemy reconnaissance drones. An ISIS fighter killed in the fighting is featured in the video – a Russian by the name of Abu Zainab Al-Rusi. The video also extols ISIS's resilience in the face of the military campaign to retake Mosul, while urging its fighters to remain steadfast and await the victory that Allah has promised.[161]

November 21, 2016: ISIS Claims It Downed U.S. Drone Near Tel Afar

On November 21, 2016, the ISIS news agency A'maq claimed that the organization had downed a U.S. drone, an MQ-9, near the airport in Tel Afar, Iraq.

December 4, 2016: ISIS Releases Drone Footage Of Raid Near Mosul

On December 4, 2016, ISIS released photos from drone footage of a raid on a village near Mosul showing the systematic use of drones by jihadi groups for command and control.[162]

December 8, 2016: ISIS Releases Photos From Drone Footage Of Attack On Turkish, Rebel Forces

On December 8, 2016, ISIS released photos from drone footage of a VBIED attack that it carried out against Turkish and rebel forces west of Al-Bab, Syria.[163]

December 8, 2016: Pictorial Report Of ISIS Drone Footage Of Attacks In Makhmour, Iraq

A pictorial report posted on the ISIS-affiliated jihadi forum Shumoukh Al-Islam on December 8 showed ISIS attacks on Iraqi military/PMF (Popular Mobilization Forces) south of Makhmour (Dijla), west of Mosul, and drone footage of a martyrdom operation being used in reconnaissance and operations planning.[164]

Captions: Left: "Monitoring and surveying movements of the army and the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) near the village of Kanous Al-Imam, southwest of Makhmour" Right: "Aerial support of the crusader coalition to apostates' campaign near the village of Kanous Al-Imam south west of Makhmour"

"Illustration of the martyrdom operation of Abu Khattab Al-Shammary – may Allah accept him."

December 12, 2016: ISIS: We Downed American RQ-7 Drone Near Haditha Dam

On December 10, 2016, ISIS reported, via A'maq, that on December 8 it had downed a RQ-7 drone near the Haditha Dam, on the Euphrates river in Iraq, using a 23-mm mortar. The next day, the organization's information bureau in Furat Province released photos of the drone. Both reports were posted on the bureau's Telegram channel.[165] The following are some of the photos:


December 16, 2016: ISIS Claims It Downed U.S. Drone In Afghanistan

On December 15, 2016, the Islamic State (ISIS) Khurasan (Afghanistan) province published several images of the wreckage of a reconnaissance drone, allegedly belonging to the U.S. military, that it said it downed in Nangarhar province in eastern Afghanistan. Below are the images:[166]

December 19, 2016: ISIS Pictorial Report Features Drone Footage Of Suicide Operation Near Benghazi

On December 19, a pictorial report was posted on that included drone footage of an ISIS suicide operation near Benghazi, Libya. The report's text read: "Barqa Province – the martyrdom operation carried out by brother Nadheer Al-Harb – May Allah accept him – against a gathering of the tyrant [General] Haftar's soldiers in Al-Hadheer Al-Jumarjiyya area, west of Benghazi." The following are photos from the report:[167]

December 20, 2016: Pro-ISIS Telegram Group Posts Ideas For Using Drones For Attacks

On December 20, 2016, the Telegram group National Geography, which is pro-ISIS, posted a bulleted list of instructions and ideas for using drones for attacks. It noted particularly: "Small toy Drones can be used to drop threatening brochures to the enemies during games or close by raising good media propaganda demanding them to stop their aggression on Muslims ..." and "Drones like DJI Phantom 4 with live camera can be attached with knives all around the drone and speedily steered onto the enemy while seeing through the live cameras!"

This account has also repeatedly posted a graphic image addressed to "Dear Lone Mujahid" and stating: "If you dream of fleeing to the land of jihad to defend Muslims, then before you is the best chance for revenge and to punish the enemies of Allah in their homes and don't hesitate and be of the most sincere intent and trust." It appeared, inter alia, right next to the above post.[168]

December 30, 2016: ISIS Video With Drone Footage Featured At ISIS Kirkuk Media Point

A pictorial report posted December 30, 2016 by ISIS Kirkuk province showed men at an ISIS media point in the province watching a video featuring drone footage.[169] It is interesting to note that this media point is poorly maintained.

January 3, 2017: ISIS Supporter Writes: We Can Hit Enemy Commanders – Even In Fortified Rear Positions – With Our Expert Snipers And Self-Manufactured Attack Drones

On January 3, 2017, pro-ISIS Telegram channels circulated an article about new combat techniques and technologies that the organization is using. The article states that in order to overcome new precautions taken by the enemy, ISIS fighters have greatly improved their sniping abilities, and ISIS now manufactures two types of combat drones that its fighters use in the field. One is a booby-trapped "suicide drone" and the other is an attack drone that can drop bombs from the air, about which the article noted: "This high-quality tool, manufactured in its entirety by the brothers in the Islamic State's military industry, has passed the experimental stage and has become a standard operational means used for hitting selected and suitable targets." Also according to the article, these drones have been in service for several months now, and ISIS has used them to strike targets far behind enemy lines, including inside U.S. bases, and to score direct hits on Iraqi army commanders.[170] 

A plywood drone fuselage discovered at an ISIS workshop in Ramadi, Iraq, in February 2016 (Source:, October 20, 2016)

January 10, 2017: ISIS Weekly Features Guidelines For Jihadis For Protecting Themselves From Targeting By Drones

Issue 62 of the Islamic State (ISIS) weekly Al-Naba', published January 5, 2017, featured an article advising jihadis on how to evade drone surveillance and drone tracking and targeting of their locations. Titled "Escaping Drone Surveillance In Residential Areas," the article also sets out the different types of drones used by the anti-ISIS coalition for intelligence gathering, calling them "the eyes of the enemies." Describing the function of the most well-known types of the drones, and how they are used for espionage by the "Crusader Alliance," the article notes that their main purpose is "monitoring and targeting" jihadis' locations. It reassures the "jihadi brothers" that they need not be intimidated or misled by the might of these drones, as in addition to this surveillance method, the enemies also use actual spies on the ground and monitor jihadis' Internet usage and spying on the wireless communications. It cautions jihadis against using Internet cafes, since most targeted jihadis had been tracked starting from there, explained: "The spy awaits the brother from the Internet [café] point, then takes his information, such as an image of his face [and] the type of [his] car, and then tails him to his home, place of work, and mosque, during which he can obtain new locations (traps) for other brothers... The enemy identifies the jihadis' locations and photographs the cars that comes to the locations frequented by jihadis."[171]

January 12, 2017: In Video, ISIS's Ninawa Province Glorifies Local, Foreign Martyrdom Operations, Features Drone Footage Of The Operations

On January 3, 2016 the Islamic State (ISIS) information bureau in Ninawa province released a 40-minute video titled "Procession of Light" glorifying the martyrdom operations in the battle for Mosul that were carried out by local and foreign fighters, including teen boys. The video included drone footage of the martyrdom operations.[172]


January 13, 2017: ISIS Weekly Publishes Second Article On Countering Drones, Spies In Urban Areas

An article in Issue 63 of the ISIS weekly Al-Naba' provided Operations Security (OPSEC) measures for mujahideen for countering drone and spy surveillance in urban environments. Like the article on a similar topic in the previous issue of the weekly, it notes that these measures are applicable for drone surveillance as well as for monitoring by spies on the ground. Mujahideen, it says, especially those considered by the enemy to be high-value targets, must first and foremost avoid routine and remain on the move as much as possible, and, second, must follow established OPSEC measures and protocols.[173]

January 15, 2017: ISIS Claims To Have Brought Down "3 Iraqi Army Recon Drones"

On January 15, 2017, the ISIS news agency A'maq announced "3 Iraqi army recon drones are brought down in Talkif town north of Mosul." A video was also released of wreckage of drones.

(To view the video, click here or above)

January 24, 2017: In Heavily Promoted Video, ISIS Shows Drones Dropping Bombs On Iraqi Soldiers, Documenting Martyrdom Operations

On January 24, 2017, the media office of ISIS in Ninawa province, Iraq released a video showing its drones dropping dozens of bombs on Iraqi soldiers and documenting martyrdom operations carried out by its fighters, some of them teenagers. In the video, which is titled "Knights of the Department," and which was released on the leading online jihadi forum Shumoukh Al-Islam, ISIS presented its capabilities in carrying out attacks using drones, which they claimed have become "nightmares" for the "infidels," in addition to its martyrdom operations. It documented multiple bombs being dropped on tanks and near groups of soldiers, exploding and causing damage and injuries. In addition to the drone attacks, the video also featured a number of fighters including teenagers and foreigners from Chechnya, Dagestan and Tunisia reading their last wills and testaments before carrying out martyrdom operations, and showed the drone footage of their attacks.[174]

(To view the video, click here or above)

The video was heavily promoted prior to its release. Twenty-four hours in advance, ISIS released a promotional 46-second trailer that showed drone footage of an object being dropped on what appears to be a group of Iraqi soldiers and then exploding, and included an animation of a flying drone dropping bombs.[175]

The trailer generated a great deal of jihadi buzz on social media about the coming video. For example, a very prominent ISIS disseminator on Facebook tweeted "Trailer from soon to come #IS video. Also featuring Debut of Islamic State's Drone Bombs. Enjoy."

Jihadi social media accounts also featured the excitement about the video after its release, posting stills from it of drones, their ammunition, and so on. A January 26, 2017 post showed ISIS fighters in Damascus watching it together, and an ISIS supporter tweeted a still of one of the bombs:

January 24, 2017: Pro-ISIS Telegram Channel Says ISIS Bomb Drones Are Striking "Fear And Terror" Among Enemies

In a January 24, 2017 post on the pro-ISIS Al-Burhan media Telegram channel, titled "War of Drones," pro-ISIS writer Abu Muntasir Al-Iraqi noted that ISIS bomb-carrying drones are striking "fear and terror" among the enemies. He wrote: "If 40 drones carrying 80 bombs continuously raided ground troops (soldiers and vehicles) for a day, what would the expected level of damage be?... Of course it would be a great epic on the ground." Claiming that ISIS had developed car bombs that can be controlled remotely, he added: "Today, we witness a development which is more precise, high quality, less expensive, and makes a great impact in confronting the antagonizing forces." This item appears to have first been posted in August 2016.

January 24, 2017: Pro-ISIS Telegram Channel Posts English Translation Of ISIS Bomb Drones Post

Also on January 24, 2017, the pro-ISIS Al-Burhan English Telegram channel posted an English translation of the above item. In addition to the above, the post stated: "The fact that there are drones with loads of explosives is in itself a source of anxiety and fear towards the opposite forces... The most important question is how many drones will be used later to start off the airstrikes?... How much is the coming load of the airborne bombs going to be?... How long is the flight duration for each drone! What if they were to reload and launch yet another airstrike... The Islamic State has shattered the barrier of fear, and has outperformed the enemy's air force with small and simple operations far more devastating than a missile that weighs a ton!"

January 26, 2017: Pro-ISIS Telegram Channel Posts Photos Of Crashed "Syrian Recon Drone"

On January 26, the pro-ISIS Al-Burhan Telegram channel posted photos of a crashed drone, writing: "#AmaqAgency #Video A Syrian regime recon drone crashed yesterday northeast of #T4 Airbase in the countryside of #Homs."

January 30, 2017: ISIS's Al-Furat Province Video Shows Drone Dropping Bomb On Apparent Military Site

On January 30, 2017, ISIS/s Al-Furat province, in Iraq, released a video showing a drone dropping a bomb inside what appears to be a military site. After the bomb explodes, men are seen scattering.

Left to right: Bomb dropped; explosion; men scattering.

February 1, 2017: ISIS Supporters Distribute Posters Highlighting Impact Of Attack Drones, Threatening Attacks In New York, Washington DC

On February 1, 2017, the pro-ISIS Sawa'eq media group released a poster showing the newly unveiled ISIS attack drones attacking and destroying U.S. landmarks, including the Statue of Liberty and the Capitol in Washington, DC. Pro-ISIS channels on Telegram and other social networks are now distributing additional visual content featuring attack drones. The following are examples of such content released by various pro-ISIS sources on Telegram:

Poster distributed by the pro-ISIS Sawa'eq media group on February 1, 2017, showing drone attack on the Capitol in Washington, DC and with text reading "Iman [belief] vs Kufr [unbelief]." The top part of the poster shows the Capitol in ruins.

Poster distributed by the pro-ISIS Sawa'eq media group on February 1, 2017, showing an ISIS drone targeting the Statue of Liberty. Text reads: "New Islamic State Nightmare"

Image shared on a private pro-ISIS channel on Telegram showing a weaponized drone carrying a rocket launcher, made by a Ukrainian company 

Poster distributed on February 6, 2017 by the pro-ISIS Al-Yaqeen media foundation, listing ISIS claims of damage done by its attack drones from February 2 through February 4, 2017: 14 deaths, 25 injuries, 14 vehicles damaged, and two vehicles destroyed.

Poster distributed on February 6, 2017 by a pro-ISIS Telegram channel, of the Capitol under attack. The text reads "War News/Ummah News."

February 5, 2017: ISIS Releases Images Of Weaponized UAV Attacks Across Iraq

On February 5, 2017, ISIS released three sets of photos documenting the organization's weaponized UAV attacks in Iraq. The photos, taken in real time by the UAVs themselves, show grenades being dropped from the drones on Iraqi army and the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) targets in different locations in the county. These photos show that ISIS's use of multirotor drones to drop grenades on enemy targets can no longer be considered isolated events, and that it constitutes a real threat to ground forces. The images were released to sow fear among ISIS's enemies. One set of photos shows the targeting of Iraqi forces in Mosul, the second shows the targeting of PMU forces on defensive lines around the Tel Afar airport, and the third shows a grenade drop on a PMU Humvee in the Iraqi desert.[176]

Targeting Iraqi forces in Mosul (on the right, the explosion as the grenade hits the target)

Targeting PMU forces around the Tel Afar airport

Targeting PMU Humvee

February 6, 2017: ISIS Releases Additional Photos Of Weaponized Drone Attacks Accros Iraq

ISIS has been releasing more and more photos and videos documenting attacks against various Iraqi forces using weaponized drones. On February 6, it released two pictorial reports showing attacks in Ninawa and Al-Jazeera provinces. Additionally, the ISIS news agency A'maq released a short video documenting drone attacks on Iraqi forces.[177]

Targeting PMU vehicle south of Tel-Afar, Iraq

Targeting Iraqi military tank in Al-Furqan neighborhood, Mosul

Still from A'maq video

February 7, 2017: ISIS Floods Its Media Outlets With Announcements Of Its Drone Attacks

Following ISIS's release, on January 24, 2017, of its video unveiling its attack drones,the organization has flooded its media outlets with announcements of drone attacks it claims to have carried out. On February 5 alone, ISIS released three different sets of photos showing small UAV bombers dropping grenades on Iraqi and Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) targets across northern Iraq. On February 6, ISIS released a poster claiming at least 12 different attacks over a period of 48 hours. 

The Telegram channel Faza' shared a post by a user called #Hazbar who analyzed ISIS's use of attack drones, and stated that by going public with its new capability, ISIS had scored a propaganda achievement, because the enemy now fears the drones as a new danger: "It is well known that drones were used and tried out for a significant period of time before they were announced [by ISIS in an official video]. That said, they did not have a large military effect, and so some of us were perhaps disappointed and despaired. This [understanding] comes from a mundane viewpoint or other reasons; however, if we were to refer to the divine law and reviewed what was before the announcement and what was after it we would find that the [drones'] effect on morale after the announcement is much stronger than the one [they had] before the announcement, and with Allah's permission it will be followed by a military effect. Military preparation is a divine command, and its goal is to terrorize the enemy, as is said in the Koran 8:60: 'And prepare against them whatever you are able of power and of steeds of war by which you may terrify the enemy of Allah and your enemy.'" He added: "The impact [of attack drones] on the idolaters after [their existence] was publicized will be invaluable, with Allah's help... The idolaters have no experience in defending themselves against airstrikes. They do not have the right weapons for it, aside for weapons that the mujahideen possess as well. The desert regions where the apostate positions and checkpoints are located are easy targets for drone strikes. I am certain that they will use anti-aircraft weapons to deal with the threat of these aircraft. With Allah's help, these anti-aircraft weapons will easily fall into the hands of the mujahideen." The author also cited a report stating that American experts fear that ISIS will use these drones for chemical or biological attacks, and added: "I would not be surprised if such weapons will be developed in the near future, or if they are even now being actively and effectively developed."[178]

February 7, 2017: ISIS Releases More Photos Of Bombs Dropped From Drones

On February 7, 2017, ISIS Homs released aerial photos showing bombs being dropped by drones. The photos were uploaded to[179]

February 8, 2017: ISIS Continues To Post Aerial Photos Of Drone Attacks

The following photos of bombs dropped by drones were posted by ISIS on February 8, 2017:

Sinjar, Iraq. Note destroyed equipment and victim in red circles. (

Mosul, Iraq (

Mosul, Iraq ( Note victim on the ground, in red circle, and explosion to his left.

February 9, 2017: ISIS Weekly Praises Group's Attack Drones – A 'New Source Of Horror' For Group's Enemies

On February 9, 2017, ISIS released Issue No. 67 of its weekly newsletter Al-Naba', which featured an article about the organization's recent unveiling of its weaponized drones and the attacks that it carried out with them over the past week in Iraq and Syria. It called the drones a "new source of horror" that is being used against the "apostates," and said that in the past week, the drones had killed and wounded "39 apostates" and damaged or destroyed 19 pieces of military hardware. Most of the attacks listed had been in Iraq, primarily in Ninawa Province, and at least one was in Damascus province in Syria.[180]

February 12, 2017: ISIS Releases Images Of Attack Drones Destroying Iraqi Army "Communication Units" It Says Were By U.S. Military

On February 12, 2017, ISIS in Ninawa Province, Iraq released photos showing attack drones destroying what they said were "Iraqi army communication units." The photos, which were also posted on a Telegram channel shows these units being attacked in the Al-Nabi Yunes area near Mosul and Al-Mazare'. A mobile air traffic control tower is also shown being attacked in Al-Nabi Yunes.[181]

Left: "Attacking Shi'ite army communications unit using a bomb dropped from a drone in the Al-Mazare' area"; right: "Attacking Shi'ite army communications tower using a bomb dropped from a drone in the Al-Nabi Yunes area"

February 13, 2017: ISIS Claims To Have Destroyed Military Vehicle In Iraq With Drone Bomb

On February 13, 2017, ISIS claimed that it had destroyed a military vehicle in Al-Jazirah province, Iraq with a bomb dropped by a drone.

February 14, 2017: Graphic Listing ISIS Drone Attacks Disseminated On Social Media

On February 14, 2017, a graphic listing ISIS drone attacks from February 2-11 was circulated on social media, including by ISIS. It read: Waad Media: #Infographic Islamic State Drone Attacks from 2nd Feb-11th Feb: 27+ various vehicles destroyed/damaged; 79+ killed/injured; 48+ positions/barracks targeted."

February 12, 2017: Private Pro-ISIS Telegram Channel Promotes Use Of Weaponized Drones Against Targets In West

On February 12, 2017, a pro-ISIS channel on Telegram called for using drones equipped with homemade explosives and firebombs to target "apostate and unbeliever" facilities and targets across the Arab world and in the West. The call was posted in Arabic, English and French, with variations. Addressing ISIS supporters and potential lone wolves, the English-language post read: "Whoever can buy a (drone) that [is] able to carry a bottle of (firebomb) – let's do this: Burn a factory... police car... fuel tanks... storages... Mol [sic, mall]... electricity facilities." The Arabic post suggested additional targets, including churches, newspaper headquarters, and broadcasting towers, and asked ISIS supporters to disseminate the post on social media.[182]

The post in French and Arabic on Telegram

February 14, 2017: ISIS Video Features Drone Footage Of Martyrdom Operations By ISIS Fighters And By Yazidi Children

On February 14, 2017, the ISIS media office in Ninawa province, Iraq released a video featuring drone footage of martyrdom operations carried out by a number of Syrian and Iraqi ISIS fighters, as well as by two young Yazidi boys. The video showed the ISIS fighters who participated in the martyrdom operations reminiscing about their life before and after joining the group. It also showed dozens of Yazidi children attending ISIS religious schools and receiving military training, and then highlighted the two boys, Amjad Abu Yousouf Al-Sinjari and his brother As'ad Abu Khattab Al-Sinjar, who had carried out martyrdom operations.[183]

Drone footage of attacks by Yazidi boys 

February 16, 2017: ISIS Releases Video Of Drone Captured In Raqqa, Syria 

On February 16, 2016, the ISIS news agency A'maq released a video showing a drone ISIS had captured in Raqqa, Syria. 

The following are stills from the video: 

February 17, 2017: ISIS Releases Photos Of Night Attacks By Weaponized Drones

According to an ISIS supporter on Telegram, photos released by ISIS's Ninawa province on February 17, 2017 are the first showing the group's weaponized drones used at night. The Telegram user stated that ISIS is now focusing on attacking military vehicles responsible for connecting and coordinating among the commanders and the military units as well as with U.S. drone operators. Targeting these vehicles, the user wrote, disrupts all communication between the military units and their commanders.

February 21, 2017: Video Released By ISIS's Salah Al-Din Province Shows Students In Class Learning How To Weaponize Drones 

A video released by ISIS's Salah Al-Din province in Iraq today, February 21, 2017, showed students learning how to weaponize drones in a class. The video focused on an ISIS fighter with a degree in mechanical engineering who headed the province's media office and trained hundreds of other ISIS fighters in media and other techniques, and who was killed in a U.S. air strike. 

(To view the video, click here or above) 

Fighters in class weaponizing drones 

February 21, 2017: ISIS Photos Show Weaponized Drone Blowing Up Tank

On February 21, 2017, photos released by ISIS's Ninawa province of a weaponized drone dropping explosives on and blowing up an Abrams tank were posted on

March 8, 2017: Iran-Backed Iraqi Shi'ite Al-Nujaba Militia In Syria Using Iranian Drones

In a March 8 interview with the Iranian news agency Tasnim, Hashem Al-Mousawi, spokesman for the Iran-backed Iraqi Shi'ite militia Al-Nujaba, highlighted the militia's activities in Iraq and Syria. Published images show that the militia is operating Iranian drones.[184]

Iranian Yasir drone used by the Al-Nujaba militia (, March 25, 2015; Abna, Iran, December 23, 2014)

March 2017: Jihadis In Syria Dropping Leaflets From Drones As Part Of Psychological Operations

Two videos showing jihadi drones dropping leaflets on civilian and enemy positions in Syria, as part of psychological warfare, were released in late March 2017 – on March 24 by ISIS and on March 23 by the Ibaa news organization belonging to Hay'at Tahrir Al-Sham, which was formed in January 2017 by Jabhat Fath Al-Sham and four other organizations.[185] While leaflet drops are a common practice for regular armies in war zones, they are new for jihadi groups. This is yet another way in which jihadi groups in Syria are using small off-the-shelf drones. The Hay'at Tahrir Al-Sham video shows aerial footage of a quadcopter drone dropping leaflets on the town of Maardis near Hama, Syria, and also shows the same drone being used for reconnaissance and real-time tactical observation of the battlefield. The ISIS video, published by the organization's Al-Khayr province and showing leaflets being dropped in Deir Al-Zour, also features other ISIS military activity in the province; the narrator explains that the ISIS drone program has three objectives: reconnaissance, attack and psychological warfare.[186]

Hay'at Tahrir Al-Sham video, posted on YouTube on March 23, 2017.

Video posted by ISIS Al-Khayr province, March 24, 2017.

March 30, 2017: MEMRI JTTM Reports On Story Revealing Identity Of ISIS Drone Engineer And His Plan To Increase Attack Drone's Ability To Carry Explosives

On March 30, 2017, JTTM researchers reported on a media story that revealed the identity of ISIS's drone engineer, and added further JTTM research on the engineer's activity on Facebook. According to the original report, aired the previous day on the Dubai-based Akhbar Al-An TV, the engineer is Tunisian citizen Fadhel Mensi, aka Abu Yusri Al-Tunisi. A hard drive found in one of ISIS's headquarters in northern Syria led to the discovery, as well as to the information that Al-Tunisi was working on increasing the weight limit that could be carried by ISIS attack drones.[187]

According to the Akhbar Al-An piece, the hard drive included images of drones as well as a document, on the ISIS Aleppo Province letterhead, in which Al-Tunisi presented a drone project codenamed "Ababil" to ISIS command. In this document, Al-Tunisi identified himself as an electrical engineer specializing in aerodynamics and aviation, and noted that "the purpose of Project Ababil is to arm drones with 20 kg of explosives."

An American expert interviewed in the piece stated that increasing the ISIS drones' weight limit to 20 kg is a dramatic and dangerous development, because currently the weight limit is 1 kg.

Akhbar Al-An connected the nom de guerre Abu Yusri Al-Tunisi to Fadhel Mensi and identified Facebook pages belonging to him.

MEMRI JTTM researchers found that both of Fadhel Mensi's Facebook accounts were still online but that no new content had been posted to them since April-May 2015. They found that the Fadhel Mensi account has 12 friends, including the Abu Yusri account, which belongs to Mensi as well. According to the information on this account, Mensi studied at the Lycée Secondaire de Bargou in Siliana, Tunisia. Some of his Facebook friends who share his last name also live in Siliana, indicating that it is his hometown. The page of another Facebook friend of Mensi's, Pacha Isk, who last posted to his account in January 2015, includes a few images that are all associated with ISIS, such as pictures of ISI leader Abu Mus'ab Al-Zarqawi and more. This indicates the possibility that this is another account run by Mensi himself.

Image recovered from the hard drive showing Abu Yusri brandishing a rifle

Image recovered from the hard drive showing Abu Yusri with foreign fighters in Syria


Sally Jones, Widow Of ISIS Hacker And Fighter, Engages With U.S. Drone Operator Involved In Killing Anwar Al-Awlaki

Sally Jones, widow of Islamic State (ISIS) hacker and fighter Junaid Hussain, who was killed in a U.S. drone strike in August 2015, actively carries on her late husband's hacking legacy. She is on a list of ISIS members under sanctions by the UN, and on September 29, 2015, she was also added to the U.S. administration's list of "foreign terrorist fighters." Jones has leaked personal details of members of the U.S. military, focusing on high-profile figures who were involved in targeting militants.[188]

In October 2015, Jones revealed the Twitter account of former U.S. drone operator Brandon Bryant, who was part of the mission that targeted Al-Awlaki. Bryant responded to her, also on Twitter, expressing remorse for his participation in these military operations; he was very vocal about his regrets, and is highly critical of the U.S. government's drone policy.[189]

On October 21, Jones tweeted: "Here's another drone operator who killed 1626 Muslims then sobbed when he obliterated a child..." Bryant replied: "Hate will not bring peace. I am greatly sorrowful for what I've done... Let's stop the madness. I am not your enemy." He added: "I was a fool because I had no idea what I was doing. I wasn't an idiot because I finally figured it out."


On October 21, he confronted Jones on her threat, writing to her: "If somebody wants to attack me fine. They'd show the world just how far this foolishness goes. Attacking my loved ones is petty."

Bryant is very candid about the role he played as a drone operator. On his Twitter account, he fields many questions regarding this period. On August 14, he posted a photo of a mission report which details his involvement in certain operations. Asked how many people he killed on January 27, Bryant replied: "Children: 1, Women: None. That I know of. I only directly killed 13 people. The 1600+ are mission casualties."

Ms. Jones also tweeted: "Lastly... since the Drone pilots all run off social media sobbing... looks like the US military has resorted to fighting Raqqa with leaflets."


Appendix I: Al-Qaeda Document Of Tips For Dodging Drone Attacks – Including From Osama bin Laden, con't

  1. Placing a group of skilled snipers to hunt the drone, especially the reconnaissance ones because they fly low, about six kilometers or less.
  2. Jamming of and confusing of electronic communication using the ordinary water-lifting dynamo fitted with a 30-meter copper pole.
  3. Jamming of and confusing of electronic communication using old equipment and keeping them 24-hour running because of their strong frequencies and it is possible using simple ideas of deception of equipment to attract the electronic waves devices similar to that used by the Yugoslav army when they used the microwave (oven) in attracting and confusing the NATO missiles fitted with electromagnetic searching devices.
  4. Using general confusion methods and not to use permanent headquarters.
  5. Discovering the presence of a drone through well-placed reconnaissance networks and to warn all the formations to halt any movement in the area.
  6. To hide from being directly or indirectly spotted, especially at night.
  7. To hide under thick trees because they are the best cover against the planes.
  8. To stay in places unlit by the sun such as the shadows of the buildings or the trees.
  9. Maintain complete silence of all wireless contacts.
  10. Disembark of vehicles and keep away from them especially when being chased or during combat.
  11. To deceive the drone by entering places of multiple entrances and exits.
  12. Using underground shelters because the missiles fired by these planes are usually of the fragmented anti-personnel and not anti-buildings type.
  13. To avoid gathering in open areas and in urgent cases, use building of multiple doors or exits.
  14. Forming anti-spies groups to look for spies and agents.
  15. Formation of fake gatherings such as using dolls and statutes to be placed outside false ditches to mislead the enemy.
  16. When discovering that a drone is after a car, leave the car immediately and everyone should go in different direction because the planes are unable to get after everyone.
  17. Using natural barricades like forests and caves when there is an urgent need for training or gathering.
  18. In frequently targeted areas, use smoke as a cover by burning tires.
  19. As for the leaders or those sought after, they should not use communications equipment because the enemy usually keeps a voice tag through which they can identify the speaking person and then locate him.

"Deterring the spies:

"The drones used in the attacks in Swat Valley depend on electronic chips or radioactive dyes placed at the target by the spy or the agent then the guided missiles come directly toward these targets. The spy, therefore, is the main pillar of this operation which needed to resort to decisive deterrent means against anyone who might dare to carry out this mission and to be hanged in public places with a sign hanging from his neck identifying him as an 'American Spy' or any other deterrent means similar to that done to (Israeli spy hanged in Syria) Levy Cohen [sic] or (late Afghan president) Najibullah.

"The Formation of a public opinion against these attacks to instigate an alternative Arab and Islamic street.

"I think these measures are capable, with God's help, of disabling the new strategy of the American army at the medium or long-range levels. This is not all we have. There is the golden solution that shortens the long distances and through which we can bring back the pressure of the American public opinion in a more active way depending on the strategy of kidnapping in exchange for the drone strategy and we should not stop until they stop their strategy which will enable all the supporter of jihad to take part in defeating Petraeus and his new strategy. We start kidnapping Western citizens in any spot in the world, whether in the Islamic Maghreb, Egypt, Iraq or any other easy kidnapping places and the only demand is the halt of attacks on civilians in Yemen which is a just and humanitarian demand that will create world support and a public opinion pressure in America as they are being hurt again. We, therefore, aim at the core of the nation's strategy which if failed, America, will accordingly collapse. We also are taking part in laying a block in the promising Islamic State in the Arab peninsula.

"In case there are any other tactics or deterring means, please add them here so that the benefit will be wider and I pray to God to save us from the American intrigues and turn these intrigues against them.

"Written by Abdullah bin Mohammed

"Date 15 Rajab, 1432 (Islamic calendar) corresponding to 17 June, 2011."


Appendix II: Classified U.S. Intelligence Report – Al-Qaeda Has Been Developing Counter-Drone Strategy Since 2010, con't

"(U) Adversary Propaganda Themes

"(U) Examples of potential propaganda themes that could be employed against UAV operations include, but are not limited to:

"(C) Remote Control: Due to the remote control nature of UAV operations, they are less trustworthy (or less safe, less honorable, less precise) than other forms of warfare. To reduce these perceptions, Chief of Staff of the Air Force Gen. Norton Schwartz prefers to call UAVs 'remotely piloted vehicles.' In part to communicate the 'man-in-the-loop' nature of the crews who control UAV operations

"(C) Law of War Challenges: Recent articles in pro-jihad newspapers on Karachi, Pakistan alleged that drones were employing chemical weapons and biological weapons in the Pakistan-Afghanistan border region.

"(U) Sovereignty: Pakistan's government officials are forced to walk a fine line between a populace perceiving violations of Pakistan's sovereignty and international demands for action. For public Pakistani consumption, media and government officials often express official outrage at violations of airspace sovereignty and collateral damage.

"(U) Leverage Collateral Damage: Taliban and Al-Qaeda have repeatedly alleged that civilians were killed in UAV strikes. It can be expected that such charges of collateral damage will be levied, regardless of the accuracy of any attack conducted. In some cases, Taliban members have forced civilians into the same structures, or prevented civilians from departing in order to confront planners and operations personnel with 'lose-lose situations." These and similar human shield tactics have been cynically termed 'Taliban air defense.' The aircraft target Al Qaeda and the Taliban and minimize civilian deaths, U.S. officials say.

"(U) Nationality of Target vs. Due Process: Attacks against American and European persons who have become violent extremists are often criticized by propagandists, arguing that lethal action against these individuals deprives them of due process.

"(U) Drone Strike: A loaded term. Use of the term 'drone strike' evokes many things to English-speaking audiences, which may invoke in an emotional reaction. This is what propaganda intends to do. Drones connote mindless automatons with no capability for independent thought or action. Strikes connote a first attack, which leaves the victim unable to respond. Other phrases employed to evoke an emotional response include 'Kill List,' 'Hit Squads,' 'Robot Warfare,' or 'Aerial Assassins.' The most effective of these terms play on popular terms, including movie titles, television shows, song lyrics, or literature. In reality, there are many aspects to the employment of UAVs to carry out lethal operations against human targets. One potential means of reducing or eliminating the emotionally charged and evocative aspects of discussions about UAV employment is to elevate the conversation onto the issues which lie at the heart of counterterrorism operations. When a person with opposing opinion asks about 'drone strikes ' it may be of benefit to discuss the larger issues which are touched on by lethal UAV operations. These Include:

"(U) International Law

"(U) Military Actions on Sovereign Territory, Airspace or in the Maritime Domain.

"(U) Inherent Right of Self-Defense

"(U) Pre-emptive and Preventive Military Action

"(U) Law of Armed Conflict

"(U) Lethal Operations Against Enemies During War

"(U) Lawful Combatants: what constitutes a lawful combatant?

"(U) Historic Use of Unmanned Weapons. Point out that unmanned weapons date back to naval and land mines (1800s), torpedoes (1800s), and artillery shells. Unmanned weapons increased in lethality, precision and range with the advent of rockets, guided missiles, and precision guided munitions. The first armed UAV, The Kettering Bug, flew in 1918 and was planned to be used in World War One if the conflict had continued into 1919.

"(U) Due Process for US Citizens

"(U) Human Rights

"(U) Military Tactics vs. Concepts of 'Fair Play' or 'Sportsmanship.'"


Appendix III: Photos Of Guidelines For Modifying Drones, con't

Below are more photos from the[190] page for guidelines for ISIS drone operators.


*Steven Stalinsky is Executive Director of MEMRI; R. Sosnow is Head Editor at MEMRI.

** It should be noted that some of the groups mentioned in this report, such as Jabhat Al-Nusra, have undergone name changes and alliance shifts; the names used herein denote these groups' identity at the time of events.




[1], October 9, 2014;

[2], January 10, 2012.

[3], December 10, 2011.


[5] Bloom, David John. "Unmanned Aerial Systems: A Historical Perspective." September 2010. Combat Studies Institute Press,

[6], November 7, 1999.

[7], May 30, 2015.


[10], August 10, 2016. 

[11] The Wall Street Journal, December 14, 2016.

[12], January 10, 2017.

[13], January 26, 2015;, May 15, 2015;, October 9, 2015;, January 26, 2015.

[14], December, 18, 2015.

[15], February 17, 2016.

[16], February 25, 2016.

[17], September 4, 2015.

[18], July 7, 2016.

[19], October 7, 2015.

[20], April 7, 2016.

[21], Mar 9, 2015.

[22], April 13, 2016.

[23], January 22, 2016.

[24], December, 11, 2015.

[25], July 31, 2015.

[26], October 12, 2016.

[27], December 9, 2016.

[28], January 11, 2017.

[29], October 12, 2016.

[30] Times of Israel, August 11, 2016;, October 12, 2016.

[31], October 2, 2016.

[32], October 12, 2016.

[33], October 12, 2016;, October 12, 2016.

[34], October 12, 2016.

[35] The New York Times, October 11, 2016.

[36] The Washington Times, January 24, 2017.

[37], August 12, 2016.

[38], March 31, 2016.

[39], August 12, 2016.

[40] The New York Times, August 31, 2016.

[41], August 27, 2015.

[42], January 19, 2016.

[43], May 2, 2016.

[44], August 22, 2015.

[45], August 13, 2016.

[46], April 23, 2015.

[47], February 28, 2017; AFP, December 29, 2016.

[48] The New York Times, May 23, 2016.

[49], November 1, 2013.

[50] September 9, 2014.

[51], December 1, 2014;, December 1, 2014.

[52], December 12, 2015.


[54], Wall Street Journal, December 17, 2009.

[55] See MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 4448, Hizbullah Al-Manar TV Exclusive on U.S. Drone Captured by Iraqi Insurgents, January 25, 2012.

[56], January 20, 2016;, January 22, 2015.

[57], July 29, 2016; Times of Israel, July 17, 2016.

[58], July 20, 2016;, October 7, 2016.

[59] The Washington Post, September 3, 2013

[60], May 22, 2013.

[61] Washington Post, August 6, 2016.

[62] Washington Post, July 1, 2016.

[63], August 25, 2016.

[64], May 3, 2016.

[65], Spring 2014.

[66], November 5, 2013.

[67], April 4 2005.

[68], Spring 2014.

[69], Wall Street Journal, December 17, 2009.

[70] See MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 4448, Hizbullah Al-Manar TV Exclusive on U.S. Drone Captured by Iraqi Insurgents, January 25, 2012.

[71], October 11, 2012.

[72], October 14, 2012.

[73], October 11, 2012.

[74], October 12, 2012;, Published October 13, 2012.

[75], published October 15, 2012.

[76], April 25, 2013.

[77], April 26, 2013.

[78], September 21, 2014.

[79], September 22, 2014.

[80], April 27, 2015.

[81], November 16, 2012.

[82], November 20, 2012.

[83], November 20, 2012.

[84], October 25, 2013.

[85], November 3, 2014.

[86], October 25, 2013.

[87], November 3, 2014.

[88], 2014.

[89], July 14, 2014.

[90], July 15, 2014.

[91], July 14, 2014.

[92], July 15, 2014.

[93], July 14, 2014.

[94], July 17, 2014;, July 14, 2014.

[95], AFP, December 14, 2014.

[96], accessed April 17, 2015.

[97], August 13, 2015; Times of Israel, August 12, 2015.

[98], August 13, 2015.

[99], May 30, 2016.

[100], December 18, 2016; Times of Israel, December 17, 2016.

[101], December 17, 2016.

[102], December 18, 2016.

[103] Times of Israel, December 17, 2016; Al-Monitor, December 21, 2016;

[104], March 25, 2016.

[105], March 31, 2016.

[110], September 27, 2016.

[113], accessed September 28, 2016.

[115]The Osama Bin Laden Files: Letters and Documents Discovered by SEAL Team Six During Their Raid on Bin Laden's Compound, The Combating Terrorism Center, Skyhorse Publishing, 2012.


[117], February 21, 2013.

[118] AP adds here: "The Associated Press, the New York Times, and other media reported the construction of a drone base to target Yemen in June 2011, but withheld the exact location at the request of senior administration officials. The New York Times disclosed the location earlier this month as Saudi Arabia."

[120] The Washington Post, September 13, 2013.

[121] The Guardian, September 25, 2013

[122], October 12, 2013.

[123], October 12, 2013.


[129], December 3, 2016;, December 3, 2016.

[130], August 28, 2014.

[132], September 6, 2014.

[133] The claim that it used drones to gather intelligence before attacking this base was already made by the IS in a previous video. See MEMRI JTTM report, Islamic State Claims: We Used UAVs To Gather Intelligence For Assault On Syrian Airbase, September 7, 2014.


[136], December 30, 2014.

[137], November 17, 2014.

[138], December 11, 2014.

[139], December 12, 2014.

[140], December 11, 2014.

[141], December 2014.


[143], March 18, 2015.

[144], April 17, 2015.



[147], December 12, 2015.

[148], last accessed July 20, 2016.


[150] See MEMRI JTTM report ISIS In Al-Furat Claims To Have Downed US Drone, January 10, 2016.



[153] See MEMRI JTTM report, ISIS Claims it Downed American Drone, January 30, 2016.

[156] See MEMRI CJL report, Peshmerga Recon Plane Shot Down By ISIS, June 8, 2016.

[157], July 7, 2016.

[159] See MEMRI JTTM report ISIS Video Shows Alleged U.S. Recon Drone Downed Near Mosul, September 29, 2016.

[160], October 3, 2016.

[163], December 8, 2016.

[164], posted December 8, 2016.

[165] See MEMRI JTTM report ISIS: We Downed American RQ-7 Drone Near Haditha Dam, December 12, 2016.

[166] See MEMRI JTTM report ISIS Claims It Downed U.S. Drone In Afghanistan, December 16, 2016.

[167], December 19, 2016.

[168], accessed January 25, 2017.

[169], accessed January 10, 2017.

[176] See MEMRI JTTM report ISIS Video Promo Reveals Use Of Drones With Offensive Capabilities, January 24, 2017.

[178] See MEMRI JTTM report ISIS Attack Drones: A Tactical And Terror Tool, February 07, 2017.

[179],,, accessed February 7, 2017.

[181] See MEMRI JTTM report, ISIS Publishes Images Of Attack Drones Destroying Iraqi Army 'Communication Units' Allegedly Supplied By The U.S. Military, February 13, 2017.

[188] See MEMRI JTTM report, Sally Jones,Widow Of ISIS Fighter Junaid Hussain, Continues Hacking Legacy, October 7, 2015.


Share this Report: