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Attack of the assassin drones

On Saturday, President Nicolas Maduro of Venezuela was giving a speech in Caracas when two armed drones expl...

Posted: Aug 8, 2018 7:06 AM
Updated: Aug 8, 2018 7:06 AM

On Saturday, President Nicolas Maduro of Venezuela was giving a speech in Caracas when two armed drones exploded nearby -- one detonating in the air and another inside an apartment building, authorities said.

President Maduro blamed far-right political opponents for what he called an attempted assassination. Six people have been arrested.

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The apparent attack raises the question: Could a drone assassination work? This would certainly change the way governments handle security for heads of state in public events. It also has implications for the security of overseas military bases and embassies.

The global proliferation of drones

New America tracks the proliferation of armed drones in a "World of Drones" database. Ten countries are known to have used drones in combat.

The United States was the first to use armed drones after the 9/11 attacks. Since then, Azerbaijan, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Nigeria, Pakistan, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates and the United Kingdom have all used armed drones in combat.

It was President Barack Obama who dramatically increased the use of armed drones against suspected terrorists in countries that the United States is not at war with, such as Libya, Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen.

A number of countries have used drones to assassinate their own citizens. Both the United States and the United Kingdom have conducted strikes against their own citizens overseas, while Israel has done so in the Palestinian territories. Countries such as Nigeria, Turkey, Pakistan, and Iraq have conducted drone strikes within their own borders.

Another 19 countries have armed drones but have not used them in combat.

Several terrorist and rebel groups have also used drones both for surveillance and to carry out attacks, including ISIS, Hezbollah, Hamas and the Houthi rebels in Yemen. The Lebanese group Hezbollah was the first nonstate actor to use military-grade drones for surveillance, and has also used armed drones in Syria.

The Palestinian group Hamas has also acquired military-grade unmanned aircrafts, while ISIS has created improvised weapons by attaching explosives to over-the-counter drone models. The Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen have used unmanned vessels to attack Saudi Arabian ships.

Which countries produce armed drones?

Because of human rights concerns, until this year the United States sold its armed drones only to close allies, such as Britain, France and Italy.

This has helped enable China to become a top armed drone supplier. Israel is another leading exporter of armed drones.

China is not a party of the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), which was created to limit the proliferation of missiles, missile technology, and other weapons of mass destruction. Because China has not ratified this agreement, it does not have as many restrictions for its exports, thus Chinese drone sales have boomed.

In April, the Trump administration announced a new policy to allow the sale of armed drones to more countries.

President Donald Trump said that this new policy was meant to boost sales for the American defense industry. But it will also likely mean that regulators give less scrutiny to the risk of buyers committing human rights abuses with these weapons.

The tipping point

The rapid proliferation of armed drones poses novel questions for national security.

The Chinese are testing "swarms" of drones working together powered by artificial intelligence. This kind of technology will help to reshape conventional warfare between states.

At the same time, as truck and car bombs reshaped terrorism in the 20th century, armed, crude drones in the hands of terrorist groups and even lone actors are likely to reshape terrorism in the 21st century.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 497790

Reported Deaths: 9917
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison34102530
DeSoto31839398
Hinds31837622
Jackson24314377
Rankin21881388
Lee15427234
Madison14525279
Jones13772241
Forrest13412250
Lauderdale11937314
Lowndes10934185
Lamar10470135
Pearl River9431237
Lafayette8454138
Hancock7697126
Washington7365156
Oktibbeha7111129
Monroe6727174
Warren6642176
Pontotoc6609101
Neshoba6606205
Panola6460131
Marshall6386132
Bolivar6266145
Union596094
Pike5784152
Alcorn5633101
Lincoln5417134
George491879
Scott470998
Tippah465381
Prentiss464181
Leflore4627143
Itawamba4596104
Adams4570119
Tate4546109
Copiah445191
Simpson4421116
Wayne438572
Yazoo438586
Covington427394
Marion4216107
Sunflower4215104
Coahoma4115104
Leake407787
Newton380879
Grenada3692108
Stone358464
Tishomingo356391
Attala330289
Jasper328265
Winston313191
Clay306375
Chickasaw296767
Clarke290694
Calhoun277945
Holmes266987
Smith262550
Yalobusha232647
Tallahatchie225251
Walthall217763
Greene215548
Lawrence211140
Perry204755
Amite203954
Webster201645
Noxubee185340
Montgomery179056
Jefferson Davis170642
Carroll167438
Tunica158639
Benton147438
Kemper141241
Choctaw133026
Claiborne131237
Humphreys129038
Franklin119128
Quitman106227
Wilkinson104539
Jefferson94234
Sharkey64020
Issaquena1937
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 813481

Reported Deaths: 15179
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1139971910
Mobile722271323
Madison51970686
Shelby37279341
Baldwin37069540
Tuscaloosa34934599
Montgomery33953725
Lee23142240
Calhoun22142470
Morgan20639372
Etowah19758496
Marshall18245300
Houston17302405
St. Clair15912337
Cullman15306290
Limestone15202198
Elmore15075284
Lauderdale14143294
Talladega13715272
DeKalb12569259
Walker11085366
Blount10094174
Autauga9893146
Jackson9789180
Coffee9182189
Dale8859181
Colbert8789200
Tallapoosa7044195
Escambia6732127
Covington6682179
Chilton6587160
Russell625958
Franklin5930105
Chambers5559142
Marion4955126
Dallas4882199
Clarke472782
Pike4719105
Geneva4564126
Winston4473101
Lawrence4264117
Bibb421686
Barbour355475
Marengo334089
Monroe330262
Randolph327063
Butler324794
Pickens313882
Henry310965
Hale309187
Cherokee299957
Fayette290679
Washington250951
Cleburne246958
Crenshaw243575
Clay240367
Macon230562
Lamar215846
Conecuh185652
Coosa178538
Lowndes173761
Wilcox167438
Bullock151744
Perry138040
Sumter131038
Greene125544
Choctaw86927
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Columbus
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Oxford
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A cold front passing through our area overnight will bring into our area some of the coolest temperatures of the season so far. We will see most of the highs this weekend only in the upper 60s to lower 70s. While overnight lows will drop off down into the 40s Saturday night.
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