U.S. forces used a combination of spy drones and bomb-handling robots to help beat back Iraq’s insurgents. Now, those militants have a warning for those American troops still remaining in Iraq: We’ve got robots, too.
In a slick new online video just released by the Ansar al-Islam extremist group, kafiya-clad engineers brag about their skill in designing and making weapons of their own. They show off homemade silencers, fire custom-built rockets, and solder their own circuit boards.
But the climax to the nearly four-minute clip comes when the camera focuses on a car driving in the desert; there’s no one inside the vehicle. Then a tripod-mounted machine gun fires off a few rounds; there are no fingers on the trigger. The car and the gun are remotely-operated — crudely robotic.
“This field of technology is a science developed and excelled in by the West,” one of the militants says. “However, a new era is coming on the horizon, and the mujahideen are now real competitors in this field.”
The upgrade in insurgent technology couldn’t come at a worse time. The last of the American troops are supposed to be out of Iraq by December. Meanwhile, extremist attacks are growing more regular — and more bloody. A car bomb killed 17 and injured 70 more on Friday. On Monday, insurgent gunmen seized control of a police station in western Iraq, taking four lives and dozens of hostages.
The U.S. deployed thousands of robots in Iraq to combat the insurgents. Ground ‘bots disarmed bombs from a safe distance. Flying drones tracked militants without fear of losing a human spy. This video is meant to signal that those capabilities are no longer solely in the counterinsurgents’ hands; the insurgents have a rudimentary version of them as well.
“There are advanced innovations like remotely controlled cars and heavy machine guns that are remotely operated using wireless devices,” the Ansar al-Islam extremist adds. “We also manufacture alternatives to the weapons available now in the field by the brothers like thermal grenades, silencers and mortar shells.”