Iraqi soldiers have discovered evidence of ISIS soldiers allegedly testing poisonous chemicals on live humans in Mosul. According to initial reports, these experiments on “human guinea pigs” were conducted in a bid to produce chemical weapons for use against both local targets and for future chemical attacks on the West. According to a report by British newspaper The Times, they are in possession of several documents reportedly obtained from Iraqi soldiers stationed in Mosul that document in detail how ISIS recruits went about conducting experiments on human guinea pigs. Most of the implicating documents were found hidden inside the premises of what used to be The University of Mosul. The majority of the documents were scribbled in Arabic and were later translated to English.
While we do not have details regarding the amount of documents unearthed from the site, one of the documents reportedly talks about experiments with thallium sulfate – which is a lethal poison that is known to gradually kill people without leaving much evidence. Thallium Sulfate is very simple to use and happens to be colorless and tasteless and can be dissolved in water. If ingested, it gradually poisons the person and takes around a week to start working. If left untreated, the victim could die a painful death. What makes the chemical lethal is the gradual manner in which it kills its victims and the fact that symptoms it produces potentially confuses doctors – thereby delaying correct diagnosis and eventual treatment. Thallium sulfate gained international attention after it was referenced in a popular Agatha Christie murder mystery novel.
One of the documents details an experiment with thallium sulfate that was conducted on a man weighing 100 kgs (220 lbs). This man was gradually poisoned using thallium sulfate that was given to him dissolved with his food and water. The man was poisoned over the period of 10 days at the end of which he died an agonizing death. Before dying, he suffered from nausea, fever, and his internal organs started swelling.
Apart from thallium sulfate, the documents also detail several other easily obtainable chemicals that could be potentially used to neutralize opponents. One of the notes, for example, talks about the extraction of nicotine from cigarettes and vaping liquids. Another experiment details how ISIS scientists smeared a chemical on the skin of a victim who lost consciousness within a few minutes. He was also later injected with the same compound. Within two hours of injecting the compound, the man was dead.
Before publishing the report, The Times contacted Hamish de Bretton-Gordon, a UK chemical weapons expert for his opinions on the ISIS experiments. Hamish described the experiments as “horrific” and compared it to the actions of the Nazis who were also known to conduct similar experiments in their concentration camps.
“This is a horrifying throwback to the Nazis who would test nerve agents on live humans. During the Second World War, the Nazis conducted thousands of deadly experiments with mustard gas on prisoners at the Sachsenhausen concentration camp, near Berlin.”
While the Iraqi soldiers were able to gather evidence of humans being used as guinea pigs, there is still no clarity on how the ISIS plans to use these chemical weapons after the developmental stage. The organization is already known to have conducted several attacks in the West – mainly in Europe using unconventional means. The key question now is whether the West should also expect a chemical attack from the ISIS in the near future?
Meanwhile, the operation to wrest control of the city of Mosul from ISIS continues. The operation which started back in October 2016 has seen slow and steady progress. As of May 2017, more than half of the city has been liberated from the control of the ISIS.
[Featured Image by Petros Karadjias/AP Images]