U.S. Says Terrorists Could Use Lasers

U.S. Says Terrorists Could Use Lasers (AP)

Federal officials are concerned that terrorists could try to down aircraft by blinding pilots with laser beams during landing approaches. A memo sent to law enforcement agencies recently by the FBI and the Homeland Security Department says there is evidence that terrorists have explored using lasers as weapons. “Although lasers are not proven methods of attack like improvised explosive devices and hijackings, terrorist groups overseas have expressed interest in using these devices against human sight,” the memo said. “In certain circumstances, if laser weapons adversely affect the eyesight of both pilot and co-pilot during a non-instrument approach, there is a risk of airliner crash,” the agencies said.

The federal authorities said there is no specific intelligence indicating al-Qaida or other groups might use lasers in the United States.

In September a pilot for Delta Air Lines reported an eye injury from a laser beam shone into the cockpit during a landing approach in Salt Lake City. The incident occurred about 5 miles from the airport. The plane landed safely. FBI and other federal officials are investigating. It is not clear if a crime was committed or if the laser was directed into the cockpit by accident.

Apparently, the terrorists and/or our intelligence analysts are reading Tom Clancy novels. First, they crash planes into buildings as happened in 1994’s Debt of Honor. Now, they’re talking about using lasers to blind pilots, as he depicted our guys doing in one of his books. I thought it was 1998’s Rainbow Six but Google tells me it may actually have been in Debt of Honor, too. The book is turning into a terrorist training manual, apparently.

Via the same search, I see that Steve Bainbridge, Christopher “Spoons” Kanis, and “Captain Ed” Morrissey wrote about this a few months ago, when the incident with the pilot came first hit the news.

FILED UNDER: Terrorism
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. DC Loser says:

    I’m all for locking up Tom Clancy and sending him to Gitmo as a terrorist accessory.

  2. McGehee says:

    DCL, what about the guy who wrote a book about assassinating George W. Bush?

  3. Zed says:

    I’m more concerned about assasination via internet, that hunting from home website has opened a whole new technology, it is just a matter of time before the technology falls into the wrong hands. Then anyone can simply set up a gun with robotic trigger, and set up their computer to be untracable and start firing away from anywhere in the world.

  4. DC Loser says:

    McGehee, I’m all for locking up anyone that’s ever had an impure thought.

  5. LJD says:

    I’m writing a book where a bunch of terrorists are cornered by special forces, and they decide to jump off a cliff a la lemming….

  6. djthomas says:

    The military has already got special goggles that prevent laser blinding, why don’t commercial pilots have access to these immediately? Because George Bush is our president, that’s why, total inefficiency at its worst.

  7. McGehee says:

    McGehee, I’m all for locking up anyone that’s ever had an impure thought.

    LOL! I’ve been wondering why we’ve never seen you and AshKKKroft photographed together.

  8. McGehee says:

    McGehee, I’m all for locking up anyone that’s ever had an impure thought.

    LOL! I’ve been wondering why we’ve never seen you and AshKKKroft photographed together.