Counter-Terrorism Expert Warns of ‘Moderately High' Probability

In a concerning development, ISIS extremists have circulated “detailed” manuals for adapting drones to attack the upcoming Paris Olympics, according to Matt Mooney, a counter-terrorism expert who spoke to The National. Mooney, a former US official now with the Recorded Future threat intelligence company, believes there is a “moderately high” probability of a drone attack using a home-made bomb during the games.

‘Drumbeat of Violence' Directed at Sporting Events

The threat to Paris from drones is part of a larger “drumbeat of violence” being directed against sporting events, including the European football championship and cricket's T20 World Cup. Mooney stated that this effort is “almost certain” to result in ISIS supporters attempting or plotting “low-sophistication, lone-actor attacks” on the Olympics.

ISIS Produces ‘Attack Manuals' for Drone Adaptations

While a mass casualty attack on the scale of the 2015 Bataclan concert hall attack is unlikely due to increased security measures, ISIS and other extremists are producing “attack manuals” to help their followers adapt drones to carry explosive devices. Mooney provided an example of a manual that Recorded Future analysts discovered, which focused on commercially available drones and provided a detailed analysis of the types of drones that could be used.

ISIS-K Keen to Demonstrate Ability to Carry Out Attacks Abroad

The branch of ISIS based in 's Khorasan Province, known as ISIS-K, is particularly keen to demonstrate its ability to carry out attacks abroad.

Mooney expressed concern about the circulation of material by extremists threatening sporting events, stating, “When you have a prominent [ISIS] supporter publishing a manual on adopting drones for IED delivery, it's certainly concerning.”

France Ramps Up Anti-Drone Measures

In response to the threat, has set up an anti-drone coordination center at a military base just outside Paris. Officers will monitor air traffic during the Olympics to identify unauthorized drones using radar or pictures sent by officers on the ground. Anti-drone officers will use a shoulder-mounted device called SkyWall Patrol, which can fire a net high into the air to trap drones hovering above the French capital.

AI Technology Employed for Threat Detection

French authorities are also placing technology at the heart of their security operation, including the use of . Four companies have developed AI software that analyzes video streams from existing surveillance systems to help identify threats in public spaces. The algorithms are trained to detect predetermined “events” or abnormal behavior and send alerts accordingly, with humans deciding if the alert is real and whether to act on it.

Opening Ceremony Particularly Vulnerable

Mooney expressed his “biggest concern” that the opening ceremony of the games is particularly vulnerable as it will be held on the River Seine in central Paris, rather than in the Olympic stadium, as is traditional. He noted that the 2024 Paris Olympics likely represent the most challenging physical security threat landscape for an Olympic Games since London in 2012.

DroneXL's Take

The potential use of drones by terrorist groups to attack the Paris Olympics is a serious concern that highlights the evolving nature of security threats in the modern world. As becomes more accessible and sophisticated, it is crucial for authorities to stay ahead of the curve in developing effective countermeasures.

While the French authorities' proactive approach to anti-drone measures and the use of AI technology for threat detection is commendable, it is essential to strike a balance between security and the overall experience of the Olympic Games for athletes and spectators alike. The international community must work together to address the root causes of extremism and prevent the spread of terrorist ideologies that fuel such threats.

As we look forward to the Paris Olympics 2024, it is important to remain vigilant and prepared for potential security challenges while celebrating the spirit of unity, sportsmanship, and human achievement that the games represent.


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Haye Kesteloo
Haye Kesteloo

Haye Kesteloo is the Editor in Chief and Founder of DroneXL.co, where he covers all drone-related news, DJI rumors and writes drone reviews, and EVXL.co, for all news related to electric vehicles. He is also a co-host of the PiXL Drone Show on YouTube and other podcast platforms. Haye can be reached at haye @ dronexl.co or @hayekesteloo.

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