Intelligence officials say Assad still has chemical weapons and rebel forces in Syria may be close to capturing them. Sounds like “The Third Target,” but this isn’t fiction. Here’s the latest.

gasmask3(Paris, France) — What if Syrian President Bashar al-Assad did not fully disclose all of his chemical weapons stockpiles several years ago, despite his insistence that he had been completely forthcoming? What if Assad and his government didn’t turn over all of their sarin gas stockpiles to the international community in their deal to avoid American airstrikes? What if a cache of chemical weapons in Syria were captured by ISIS terrorists?

Readers of this blog know these questions formed the premise of my recent geopolitical thriller, The Third Target, released in January. Now, news reports indicate this may not simply be the stuff of fiction. There are growing concerns by U.S. and other intelligence agencies that:

  1. The Assad government did not, in fact, disclose and destroy all of its stockpiles of chemical weapons, including sarin gas, despite its pledge to do so.
  2. The Assad government has continued to use chemical weapons against its enemies.
  3. Rebel forces in Syria may be within striking distance of capturing chemical weapons.

In the novel, my fictional foreign correspondent sneaks into Syria in hopes of tracking down the truth. This sets into motion a harrowing journey that takes him also to Beirut, Istanbul, Washington, Tel Aviv, Amman, Cairo, Baghdad and Mosul, including into a meeting with the head of ISIS himself.

In real life, there are now indications that forces of the Islamic State and other rebel groups may not be far off from obtaining such genocidal weapons.

Consider these excerpts from a Bloomberg article, titled, “U.S. Says Assad Caught With Sarin. Again”:

  • The U.S. government was informed months ago that an international monitoring body found traces of chemical weapons that President Bashar al-Assad had promised to turn over, including sarin gas — a clear violation of the deal he struck with President Obama after crossing the administration’s “red line” two years ago.
  • Officials from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons told the Obama administration early this year that its inspectors had found traces of two banned chemical weapons during an inspection of the Syrian government’s Scientific Studies and Research Center in the district of Barzeh near Damascus, two administration officials told us.
  • A report by Reuters May 8 said that OPCW inspectors had found traces of sarin and VX nerve agent at the site in separate inspections in December and January.
  • The discovery set off a months-long debate inside the administration about how to respond. President Obama is said to have not yet decided.
  • Meanwhile, a coalition of rebel groups on the ground has been attacking the area around the facility, raising the danger that the chemical weapons could fall into the hands of the rebels, many of whom are linked to Islamic extremists…..
  • “The real danger is if the regime loses control of these chemical materials,” one administration official who works on the Middle East told us.
  • This official…said that the discovery confirmed long-held suspicions inside the U.S. government that Syria was not completely forthcoming when it declared its chemical weapons in 2013 (part of a bargain to avoid U.S. airstrikes)….
  • “The sarin revelations shouldn’t be a surprise given the regime’s track record,” former U.S. Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford told us. “It’s a violation of the deal we struck with the Russians and it’s a violation of the deal the Syrian regime struck with the UN.”….
  • Former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn said his assessment was that Assad was concealing many chemical weapons sites and most likely still has chemical weapons capability. “It’s nearly impossible to confirm that Syria got rid of all their chemical weapons,” he told us. “Their track record is not one of full compliance on anything.”

The implications of such developments are chilling. What if ISIS or another Radical Islamic terrorist group got hold of such genocidal weapons? Who might they strike with them — the U.S., Israel, a European nation, one of our Arab allies? This is a story worth watching closely.

NOTE: Sorry I haven’t been posting as regularly as I usually do. I’ve been in France for the past two weeks. Will give you an update on that soon.

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