Is ISIS now using chemical weapons? Sounds like “The Third Target,” but U.S. intelligence says the evidence shows the Islamic State now has weapons of mass destruction.

(source: UK Mirror)

(source: UK Mirror)

(Washington, D.C.) — U.S. intelligence officials believe that jihadists operating under the direction of the Islamic State have not only captured chemical weapons — most likely in Syria — but have actually used such weapons of mass destruction on the battlefield.

They are also investigating the possibility that ISIS is mass producing such weapons and asking where will ISIS strike next?

I realize this seems like the plot of my most recent novel — The Third Target — and its forthcoming sequel (The First Hostage, to be released on December 29th). But this isn’t fiction. Unfortunately, this is all too real.

Consider the following headlines from the past few days:

The notion of the Islamic State having chemical weapons is a chilling one and a potential game-changer. The Kurds appear to have been the first ISIS target. But if ISIS has more such weapons stockpiles, against whom will they use them against next? The U.S.? Israel? One of our European allies? An Arab state like Jordan or Egypt?

As more information comes out, I’ll keep you informed. In the meantime, please keep praying for U.S., Western and Middle Eastern leaders to get serious about crushing and truly defeating ISIS, not just pinprick attacks that are not truly neutralizing this serious and growing threat.

Here are excerpts from the article in the Wall Street Journal:

  • Islamic State militants likely used mustard agent against Kurdish forces in Iraq this week, senior U.S. officials said Thursday, in the first indication the militant group has obtained banned chemicals. The officials said Islamic State could have obtained the mustard agent in Syria, whose government admitted to having large quantities in 2013 when it agreed to give up its chemical-weapons arsenal.
  • The use of mustard agent would mark an upgrade in Islamic State’s battlefield capabilities, and a worrisome one given U.S. intelligence fears about hidden caches of chemical weapons in Syria, where Islamic State controls wide swaths of territory. It raises new questions about the evolving threat posed by Islamic State and the ability of U.S. allies on the ground to combat it. Frontline Kurdish, Iraqi and moderate Syrian forces say they aren’t getting enough U.S. support now to counter Islamic State’s conventional capabilities. Officials say these forces may need specialized equipment and training to help protect them against unconventional weapons if they become a fixture on the battlefield.
  • U.S. intelligence agencies thought Islamic State had at least a small supply of mustard agent even before this week’s clash with Iraqi Kurdish fighters, known as the Peshmerga, U.S. officials said. That intelligence assessment hadn’t been made public.
  • The attack in question took place late Wednesday, about 40 miles southwest of Erbil in northern Iraq. A German Defense Ministry spokesman said about 60 Peshmerga fighters, who help protect Kurdish areas in northern Iraq, were reported to have suffered injuries to their throats consistent with a chemical attack while fighting Islamic State.
  • Mustard agent, first employed as a weapon in World War I, can cause painful burns and blisters, immobilizing those affected by it, but it is usually deadly only if used in large quantities….
  • The possibility that Islamic State obtained the agent in Syria “makes the most sense,” said one senior U.S. official. It is also possible that Islamic State obtained the mustard agent in Iraq, officials said, possibly from old stockpiles that belonged to Saddam Hussein and weren’t destroyed.U.S. intelligence agencies are still investigating the source and how it could have been delivered this week on the battlefield, officials said.
  • Islamic State has taken control of territory in Syria close to where President Bashar al-Assad’s forces stored chemical weapons, including mustard agent. The regime said in 2013 that all of its mustard stockpiles had been destroyed, either by Syrian forces themselves or by international inspectors…..
  • Hamish de Bretton-Gordon, a former commanding officer of the British army’s chemical-weapons unit, said the use of mustard agent by Islamic State could give a boost to the group’s psychological warfare campaign. “You mention chemical weapons, people immediately freeze and are irrational. That’s why Islamic State wants to use them,” he said.

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