Australia’s Foreign Minister Says Islamic State Is Recruiting Chemical Weapons Specialists From West

Australia’s Foreign Minister Julie Bishop is warning that the Islamic State’s quest for chemical weapons may be drawing closer. Bishop claims that the terrorist group has been recruiting chemical weapons specialists from foreign countries, including recruits from the West. Bishop also claims that there is evidence ISIS has already used chemical weapons in the form of chlorine against peshmerga fighters in Iraq.

ABC Australia notes that Foreign Minister Bishop is concerned about the Islamic State’s access to chemical weapons. Bishop went so far as to point out that the “gravest security threats we face today” are from within the Islamic State. Particularly, the foreign minister focused on the potential use of chemical weapons by the terrorist group. Bishop claims that ISIL has recruited “highly technically trained professionals” in a serious effort to create chemical weapons.

Bishop notes that though public focus tends to be on nuclear and biological threats, “toxic chemicals” should be considered a threat as they were widely used was weapons of mass destruction throughout the 20th century.

“We have not yet won the struggle against the ruthless and amoral individuals, organisations, and regimes that seek to develop and deploy such weapons. Chemical weapons often receive less public attention than nuclear and biological threats. However, toxic chemicals were, by far, the most widely used and proliferated weapons of mass destruction in the 20th century.”

According to the Daily Mail, Bishop has noted that up until recently, government bodies around the world have viewed the Islamic State’s attempts at gaining access to chemical weapons as mostly “aspirational.” However, Bishop says that with the recruiting of trained specialists in chemical warfare, the threat should be taken more seriously. She says the struggle is not over, and that the group “likely have amongst its tens of thousands of recruits the technical expertise necessary to further refine precursor materials and build chemical weapons.”

The concerns seem validated by reports that chlorine-based chemical weapons, which are used as a choking agent, were used against peshmerga troops in Norther Iraq by the Islamic State. Therefore, Bishop says that countries around the world need to band together to ensure these weapons of mass destruction cannot be used on a larger scale.

“Countries around the world that are as committed as we are to defeating this threat have got to continue working together to make sure this doesn’t happen.”

Similarly, ISIS has proudly noted that they are “infinitely closer” to obtaining nuclear weapons.

[Image Credit: Getty Images/ Spencer Platt]