Nicholas Grossman, according to standard.co.uk, said that IS had already used drones packed with explosives in Syria and that no terror group had done more to exploit the new technology.
He said options for protecting against the danger included using electrical repulsion systems.
But he warned that if the use of drones for commercial deliveries and other purposes becomes more common it will become increasingly difficult to stop terrorists using drones to destructive effect.
There are already concerns about the potential risk that such devices could pose to aircraft if they stray into flight paths, and the possibility that out-of-control drones could injure people. But in his book Drones and Terrorism, Mr Grossman, an academic from the University of Illinois, warns that the “age of the drone terrorist” has arrived, with IS and other extremist groups already using them for attacks in conflicts overseas.
He says the technology is likely to be exploited further to mount attacks in Western cities. “As drones become more commonplace in cities, they will become less conspicuous, making it easier for a terrorist to case or attack a target,” he writes.
“Electronically repelling drones from restricted airspace, or forcing them to land, would protect landmarks, airports, government buildings or other potential targets … [but] of course someone will find a way around any anti-drone technology.
“Perhaps the biggest danger is to airports. If a terrorist could fly a drone into a jet engine during take-off or landing, they could inflict mass casualties.”
The warning echoes similar comments by former Scotland Yard counter-terrorism chief Richard Walton. He told the Standard last month that vigilance was needed about potential attacks using drones because “there are very few methodologies used by terrorist organisations in their war zones that don’t at some stage come over here”.
Mr Walton added that both IS and al-Qaeda, which had not gone away, remained “globally networked organisations” capable of organising attacks.
A recent report by the London Assembly suggested that the “controlled use of drones should be explored” in planning for the future transport needs of the capital.