A classified government document leaked to the Washington Post by NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden suggests that al-Qaida is dedicating significant resources and manpower to fighting the drone strikes aimed at its operatives.
“Al-Qaida’s leadership has 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,” WaPo reported.
While the U.S. government has determined that the terror network is devoting considerable energies to drone attack prevention, it concluded too that al-Qaida cells face “substantial” challenges in doing so.
Still, summaries of the classified reports indicate a growing unease among U.S. agencies about al-Qaeda’s determination to find a way to neutralize drones.
“Al-Qaida Engineers in Pakistan Continue Development of Laser-Warning Systems in Effort To Counter UAV Strikes,” read the headline of one report in 2011, using the military acronym for unmanned aerial vehicles.
Beyond the threat that al-Qaeda might figure out how to hack or shoot down a drone, however, U.S. spy agencies worried that their drone campaign was becoming increasingly vulnerable to public opposition.