The head of Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB) has warned that dangerous non-state actors now possess the capability of equipping drones with chemical weapons and biological weapons in order to maximize mass casualty events.
Speaking at a major conference hosting the security agencies of Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) on Tuesday, FSB chief Alexander Bortnikov highlighted the ever growing sophisticated and high-tech arsenal of global terrorists, including that “The criminals have materials, technology and infrastructure for the production of chemical weapons and biotoxins,” according to one Russian English language report.
He specifically highlighted the jihadist threat from the war-torn Middle East in places like Syria and Iraq, where Russia intervened starting in 2015 at the request of Damascus. "Although international terrorist organizations suffered great losses in Syria and Iraq, they still have enough resources, particularly provided by their foreign sponsors, to carry out attacks around the world," Bortnikov said, according to TASS.
The longtime FSB chief said further that, "large jihadist units have been defeated but now they are trying either to regroup in areas not controlled by the Syrian government or to take shelter in refugee camps."
He also sounded an alarm which has now for years been a familiar worry for Europe - the return of foreign fighters who had previously traveled illegally to Europe. “We know about intentions of the leaders of international terrorist organisations to use widows, wives and children of militants who come back en mass,” he said.
Among ISIS' top military leadership, for example, are Russian and Chechen jihadists from Muslim populations along Russia's peripheries.
The FSB chief's highlighting of the "chemical drone attack" threat was likely in response to repeat drone attacks on Russia's main Syrian air base, called Hmeymim air base in Latakia Province, over the past year. As recently as Monday of this week Russia's Defense Ministry said its forces had repelled yet another drone and missile attack from nearby entrenched Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (formerly Nusra Front or al-Qaeda in Syria).
Recent international reports have highlighted ISIS' capabilities for deploying weaponized Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs).
Though "chemical and biological warfare delivery drones" is a concept which sounds like something out of a sci-fi movie, one recent western military analysis study said that it's already becoming reality, and it is indeed jihadist terrorists at the forefront of such development.
Two CBRN and defense tech exports recently produced a study entitled, "Drones of Mass Destruction: Drone Swarms and the Future of Nuclear, Chemical, and Biological Weapons," wherein they concluded the following:
Drone swarm technology is likely to encourage chemical and biological weapons proliferation and improve the capabilities of states that already possess these weapons. Terrorist organizations are also likely to be interested in the technology, especially more sophisticated actors like the Islamic State, which has already shown interest in drone-based chemical and biological weapons attacks...
Indeed, swarms have the potential to significantly improve chemical and biological weapons delivery. Sensor drones could collect environmental data to improve targeting, and attack drones could use this information in the timing and positioning for release, target selection, and approach. For example, attack drones may release the agent earlier than planned based on shifts in wind conditions assessed by sensor drones.
The study also pointed out that "As the technology underlying drone swarms matures and spreads, the barriers to entry will almost inevitably fall." It specifically cites Islamic State and other terror groups in Syria who have shown incredible sophistication in the way they've adapted drones.
The report also noted the fact that merely one drone is enough to shut down an entire international airport, such as last December's Gatwick incident.