Friday, December 18, 2015

The Very Real Threat Of A Chemical Weapons Attack by ISIS

The Very Real Threat Of A Chemical Weapons Attack by ISIS
December 16, 2015  
By David Smith
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Many in Europe are wondering if police just foiled an ISIS chemical weapons plot. Two Syrians were arrested over the weekend in Geneva on suspicion of transporting 'explosives and toxic gases' as part of a probe into a terror threat.  
Full details have yet to be revealed but the arrest comes right after the release of a report by the European Union Parliament warning, 'European citizens are not seriously contemplating the possibility that extremist groups might use chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear (CBRN) materials during attacks in Europe. Under these circumstances, the impact of such an attack, should it occur, would be even more destabilizing.'

The quest by ISIS for such weapons raises an alarming scenario for the West, given the repeated warnings by ISIS it plans to strike major cities such as New York and Washington, DC after the bloody attacks in Paris.

Developing chemical weapons has been an ambition of the group -- and various other jihadi movements -- for years.

However, Al-Qaida tried for two decades to develop chemical weapons and didn't succeed, showing the technical and scientific difficulties of achieving this task.

ISIS may have an advantage over Al-Qaida and other terror groups in achieving it's aims in that it has conquered large swaths of land from Iraq, Libya and Syria where it has been able to raid non-conventional weapon supplies.

This large amount of land has also given it the opportunity to experiment and work in secret while it develops it's program. 
In 2013 a document was uncovered showing correspondence between the groups leader Abu Bakr al-Bagdadi and his deputy Sameer al-Khalifway in which al-Khalifway wrote that "significant progress" toward producing chemical weapons was taking place and that chemical weapons would ensure "swift victory" and "terrorize our enemies." But, he added, what was needed was "to secure a safe environment to test out experiments".

Add to this significant financial resources to recruit skilled university graduates able to master the technical challenges that would be needed for such an attack in Europe or America and you have a deadly convergence of opportunity. 
In May 2013, Iraqi security forces raided a chemical weapons research lab in Baghdad's Sunni-majority district of al-Doura. Security forces arrested two militants running the lab, Kefah Ibrahim al-Jabouri, who held a master's degree in chemistry, and Adel Mahmoud al-Abadi, who holds a bachelor's degree in physics and worked at Saddam's Military Industrialization Authority before it was disbanded.
Retired Lt. Gen. Richard Zahner, who was the top American military intelligence officer in Iraq in 2005 and 2006 and went on to lead the National Security Agency's electronic spying arm warned that "even a few competent scientists and engineers, given the right motivation and a few material resources, can produce hazardous industrial and weapons-specific chemicals in limited quantities."

Iraqi intelligence has warned that ISIS is extremely intent on getting their hands on chemical weapons and there is already evidence they have used mustard gas on Iraqi forces and other Syrian rebel groups. Iraq is apparently taking no chances that this is not an isolated incident and has begun distributing gas masks to its forces on the ground. Russia, too, is contributing by sending over special anti-chemical warfare suits.

Likewise, the European report suggests that EU governments should begin to take precautions including routinely equipping emergency crews with antidotes to a non-conventional attack and increasing security around key installations.

Never before in the history of the world has any terrorist organization had access to so much funding, well-established chemical weapons facilities, proximity to existing stockpiles and rogue scientists freshly out of work at the same time.

Security agencies around the world are unanimous in the fear that a chemical weapons attack may soon become more than a worst case scenario and into a real life tragedy.

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