On the surface, it may sound inconceivable: a foreign nation dispatching an armed drone to assassinate a fugitive or a political dissident on American soil.
But such a scenario may not be as far-fetched as it seems, analysts and legal scholars say.
The rapid proliferation of military drone technology is reaching the point that other nations — and even non-state actors such as Mexican drug cartels — could engage in the kinds of deadly strikes that the U.S. pioneered more than a decade ago and has increased under presidents of both political parties.
“It’s not outside the realm of possibility that someone flies a drone across the border from Mexico and takes someone out,” said Rachel Stohl, managing director at the Stimson Center, a leading Washington think tank.
“I think that’s the reality we’re going to face,” said Ms. Stohl, who specializes in drones and international arms policy. “I think we will see countries