The rapid post-election growth of the left’s so-called “anti-fascist” (Antifa) movement is alarming. This movement has some clear parallels to the draft protests of the late 1960s. These protests spawned a wave of domestic terrorism with groups like the Weather Underground, the Black Panther Party, the BLA, the FALN, and the SLA. Anyone reading this who is under my age is probably missing out. This is because they don’t have a good recollection of just how profoundly violent the late 1960s and early 1970s were in these United States. Bombings, fake bomb scares, riots, arson, bank robberies, airliner hijackings, attempted assassinations, and kidnappings were all too commonplace.
This period of upheaval all started a few years earlier with large college campus anti-war/anti-draft protests staged by the SDS. But some of those “activists” spun out of control. Soon, an amalgamation of inner city blacks and privileged college whites became increasingly radicalized. Although the FALN bombing campaign continued into the early 1980s, the most memorable climactic event of this age of domestic terrorism came in May of 1974 with the much-publicized SLA shootout. Near the end of the “Golden Age of Terror”, President Gerald Ford survived two assassination attempts in rapid succession–both perpetrated by white women. One was a wacky Manson family follower but the other was a dyed-in-the-wool leftist and a fan of the SLA.
There is an oft-quoted modern proverb: “History doesn’t repeat, but it often rhymes.” I posit that a similar age of terror is now dawning in the United States, as radicalized Clintonista uber-Democrats ramp up from street protests to overt acts of terrorism. (The attempted assassination of Congressman Scalise by James Hodgkinson was just a precursor event. In the tech world, Hodgkinson would be called an early adopter.) I predict that the greatest threat will come from the radical left, rather than from the right.
Most alarmingly, we now live in the 21st Century era of cyberwarfare, neurotoxins, and off-the-shelf quadracopter drones. So the potential damage that just a few malcontents can wreak is enormous.
No More Open Air Speeches
I will go so far as to predict that traditional open-air speeches by politicians will become a thing of the past. Weaponized drones will be difficult to stop. I first warned of the misuse of such technologies back in 1990, when I authored a two-part feature article titled High Technology Terrorism, for Defense Electronics magazine. (At the time, I was an Associate Editor for the magazine, and was already living at a ranch near Orofino, Idaho. There, I prototyped a telecommute life at the sedate rate of 2400 baud.)
Lest anyone should chide me about describing particular technologies that could be used by terrorists, keep in mind that much of what I’ll be mentioning has been in print for more than 27 years. Yes, I wrote about most of these technologies way back then–although then I mentioned radio-controlled model airplanes rather than foreseeing modern quadracopter drones. But even my early writings on this subject were little more than an intellectual traverse from a Rand Corporation report published in 1975. In more recent years, the US CIA has documented in open sources the variety of chemical agents that might be used by terrorists. In recent years there have been dozens of articles penned on the subject.
Modern western military analysts and planners often use the term threat spiral. This describes a situation wherein a nation state reacts to a threat to its security by instituting particular countermeasures and technologies. Their opponent(s) then react to these innovations by adopting new, more powerful technologies of their own, and then the spiral expands.
In recent memory, one of the best examples of a threat spiral was seen in the development of Improvised Explosive Device (IED) warfare in the Middle East and Southwest Asia. Heavily armed convoys that at were difficult to attack with small arms and RPGs. So in reaction, terrorists began using radio-controlled IEDs (RCIEDs). They cleverly used detonators controlled by standard cellular phones. This was a technology perfected by Iran. For more than 15 years, the Iraninan-made RCIED circuit cards (and detailed instructions on explosive-formed penetrators (EFPs) have been widely distributed in Arabic to Islamic terrorist groups–both Shiite and Sunni.)
In reaction to the RCIEDs, the U.S. and Coalition military fielded up-armored Humvees. These were soon supplemented by South African-designed mine protected vehicles. The next arm of the spiral (the counter-countermeasure) of the Islamic terrorists was simple. They merely constructed much more powerful IEDs. These blasts were capable of destroying not just MRAPs but even main battle tanks. (Typically these IEDs used two or even three 122mm artillery shell warheads lashed together, for sympathetic detonation.) The spiral continued with the fielding of CREW systems: Counter RCIED Electronic Warfare systems. This was circa 2000 to 2007. CREWs are sophisticated reactive jammers that block cellular phone signals in the area near a convoy or a protected point target. Western military organizations are now fielding a third generation of CREW systems.
Antifa’s Likely Tactics
How will the Antifa and Counter-Antifa threat spirals develop? First, let’s assume that their violent and absolutist rhetoric will continue. Also, we can assume that their street protests and riots will continue. It is also fairly safe to assume that there will be splinter groups within the Antifa movement. A few splinters might drift toward passive resistance. But several more will likely radicalize directly to the stage of overt terrorism and resistance warfare. There is also the possibility of some cooperation between cells of the Antifa and the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movements.
But predicting the mix of technologies that Antifa terrorists will weaponize is more difficult. The use of small drones is probable. But which weapons will they incorporate or carry on their drones as payloads?
Most off-the shelf aerial drones made for the consumer market are small and light. This limits their payload capacity. Thus, traditional explosives will not be highly effective unless a drone can be flown into contact with (or in very close proximity to) an unarmored human target. To make up for this limitation, greater effectiveness with light weight can be achieved by combination of:
1.) The use of extremely compact high explosives. Crystalline RDX (and similar high explosives) would be a logical choice.
2.) Combining low explosives with toxins. Very simple explosives can vaporize a toxin, and rapidly disperse it throughout a desired target radius. This is doubly effective in confined spaces, and even more so in confined spaces that are conveniently packed with people, such as train stations or concert halls.
3.) Combining various poisons, nerve agents, or biotoxins with transdermal carrier chemicals. Of these, the industrial solvent dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) is the best known. When mixed with DMSO, nearly any chemical makes its way into the bloodstream with amazing rapidity.
There has been a lot of fairly well-founded conjecture published. These describe possible terrorist use of chemical weapons, toxins, and nerve gas. The late John B. Tucker authored the book Toxic Terror: Assessing Terrorist Use of Chemical and Biological Weapons. And Tamar Berger (et al) published Toxins as biological weapons for terror—characteristics, challenges and medical countermeasures: a mini-review.
Of these described agents, I see toxins (harmful proteins derived from plants, bacteria, and fungi) as the likely “best bang for the buck” for terrorists. These toxins are fairly simple to produce, isolate, transport, and dispense.
Nerve agents such as GB and VX are more complicated to produce and handle.
And most biological (disease) weapons that are transmissible are even more complex to develop. But their use could be particularly devastating. One possibility is the creation of designer biowarfare agents that attack only individuals who carry a particular genetic marker. That could be the ultimate terror weapon.
Mix of Low Tech and High Tech
As with other modern guerilla movements, the Antifa spin-offs will probably use a mix of low technology and high technology. Low technoloy techniques includes Monkeywrenching. (A broad set of sabotage techniques popularized by eco-terrorists–also known as Ecotage.) The most likely target for Monkeywrenching will be America’s grid power and telecommunications infrastructure. Rifle fire can be directed at substation transformers. And even just lengths of grounded cable or chain thrown over power wire lines is remarkably effective. (They can also be propelled, with various medieval propulsive devices.) Just a balloon trailing a wire in contact with the ground could cause a lot of damage.
Even lone terrorists can strike fear into national populations, but organized groups can be even more effective. The key difference comes with time-coordinated attacks. These would be designed to inflict maximum terror and panic of the populous, across a wide area. As preppers, we need to be ready to survive turbulent times. The best approach, in my estimation, is to relocate to a lightly-populated region. Why? Because most terror targets will be areas of high population density. It is also important to develop your own off-grid power system, since the three national power grids are very likely terrorist targets. The coming wave of leftist domestic terrorism should be something that you hear about on the news rather than something that you experience first hand. Relocate!
Other High Tech Weapons
There are a variety of other new technologies — electronic, chemical, biological, radioactive, computing, pharmacological, and psychological — that could be employed. A few of these are so clever and nasty that I dare not mention them in print. But I’ll suffice with just pointing out just one that I also mentioned in my 1990s articles. It is called a liquid metal embrittlement (LME) agent. These are fairly benign-looking and smelling chemicals. But when applied to metal alloys cause them to become brittle and prone to stress failure. The potential terrorist use of LMEs on aircraft parts was first publicized by G. Gordon Liddy–back before he became a talk radio host.
In summary, the terrorist threat on America is real. Countering Antifa-inspired terrorists will be difficult.Be ready for quite turbulent times. Plan and prepare, and your chances of survival will be an order of magnitude higher than the average urbanite.
Tomorrow, in Part 2, I will discuss the possible use of cryptography, cyber weapons, non-nuclear localized EMP, and the high vulnerability of utility SCADA systems. I also intend to discuss the possible growth of Antifa into a leaderless guerilla army. This is some scary stuff. Stay tuned.