The issue relating to use of chemical and biological weapons by terrorist groups has been discussed for several years now. While the al-Qaeda had boasted of such capability there were similar claims made by the Taliban too. Today it is the ISIS which has made a claim of possessing chemical and biological weapons.
Some threats have been over-estimated and many have said that terrorist groups sometime claim more than they actually have. If there were to be a terror attack using chemical and biological weapons which group is most likely to use it.
In the current day scenario it appears that the ISIS which is growing at such a rapid rate is most likely to use such weapons.
ISIS most likely to use chemical and biological weapons
The ISIS is eager to strike at all times. Moreover this is an outfit which has a huge following which is also coupled with finances. Today it is the richest outfit and very easily can afford chemical or biological weapons or a scientist who can produce it.
Animesh Roul, Executive Director of Research at the New Delhi-based Society for the Study of Peace and Conflict (SSPC) says that the present day ISIS has strong roots in the ideals of Abu Mushab al Zarqawi of Jordan and Jihadi ideologue like Ibn Taymiyyah who propounded the logic of ‘Book' for guidance and ‘Sword' for victory.
IS also adheres to guidelines noted by Abu Bakr Naji about extreme retaliatory violence to deter enemies in a jihadi manual titled (translated) "Management of Savagery."
Abu Mushab Zarqawi and his lingering influence as a founding father of IS leads us to believe that the violent group won't hesitate to use chem/bio weapons against the enemy.
He was identified as al Qaeda's chief biochemical engineer, before his death in 2006 and it was widely believed that Zarqawi imparted training to a special terror cell in Afghanistan and Iraq on the use of bio/chem agents for possible attacks in Europe and the Middle East.
Latest findings, especially a seizure of IS laptop and purported attacks using seized chemical weapons, have brought the world's attention towards Islamic State's intention and capability.
The information on the laptop of a Tunisian IS militant suggests their interest to acquire or develop a biological weapon capability, even if they can be used effectively. A 19-page document in Arabic found in that laptop was on how to develop biological weapons and how to weaponize the bubonic plague from infected animals.
The instruction found on the laptop describing the benefits of biological agents indicated IS approval on the work to weaponize the bubonic plague and other viruses that would have an even greater affect than that of a localized chemical attack.
What is more alarming is that the laptop information had a message of religious approval for the use of such weapons. It reportedly read, "If the Muslims can't overwhelm the infidels in any other way, they are allowed to use weapons of mass destruction to kill everyone and erase them and their descendants from the earth."
The 26-page fatwa was issued by the Saudi jihadi cleric Nasir al- Fahd, who is currently imprisoned in Saudi Arabia. To note, this could be a May 2003 fatwa written by Nasir al- Fahd and endorsed by Ali al-Khudair, another radical cleric.
Following al Fahd's arrest (on May 28, 20003), Saudi intelligence agency found cyanide in an Al Qaeda safehouse in Riyadh. Al-Fahd is the author of a book that approved the use of Weapons of Mass Destruction against the non-believers.
Will ISIS capture secret labs?
Roul further points out that as the IS is advancing for territorial gains in Iraq and Syria at present, it can be speculated that sooner or later it will capture secret labs and factories that can facilitate to pursue chem/bio activities.
In June 2014, there were reports suggesting that IS had captured Saddam Hussein era chemical facility at Muthanna, near the city of Samarra.
By mid October 2014, there were unconfirmed reports from Kobani where Kurdish minorities were fighting against IS forces that unidentified chemical weapon was used by the IS militants.
The claim from the IS side regarding the possession of chemical weapons, such as Mustard agents, came in late August 2015 from a Dutch soldier turned ISIS fighter identified as Omar Yilmaz, who indicated that the group has acquired chemical weapons once belonging to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Yilmaz's revelations came with a series of suspected incidents of mustard gas attacks in northern Iraq and Syria.
Independent sources such as Conflict Armament Research (CAR) and the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) have claimed that the IS has used chemical weapons several times against Kurdish forces between January -June 2015.
In August this year, the German Defence Ministry too reported IS's chemical weapon use in Erbil in Iraqi Kurdistan. The same month, the United States officials stationed in Iraq claimed that ISG have used sulphur-mustard in a mortar attack on Kurdish forces in Makhmour town located in Northern Iraq.
The location has been in the news and a battlefront between the Kurdish forces and the Islamic State.
Various information are still flowing from the war theaters about the use of Mustard gas by the IS forces in Iraq and Syria and while ISIS may not yet have the most potent chemical agents, they will ultimately possess them in future as they advance towards their objectives.