The Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) is recruiting “highly trained professionals,” including some from Western countries, to develop chemical weapons, warned Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, Australia’s ABC reports.
Bishop accused the jihadist group of using chlorine in an attack, noting that the group is one of the “gravest threats we face today.”
“They seek to undermine and overthrow that order and as we have seen, are prepared to use any and all means, any and all forms of violence they can think of to advance their demented cause,” said Bishop. “That includes use of chemical weapons,” she added.
ISIS’ recruitment of highly trained individuals and use of chlorine is evidence of the group’s serious efforts to make chemical weapons, warned Bishop. “Daesh is likely to have amongst its tens of thousands of recruits the technical expertise necessary to further refine precursor materials and build chemical weapons,” she said, using the Arabic acronym for ISIS.
Foreign Minister Bishop made those comments on Friday while addressing the Australia Group, an informal coalition of nations that seeks to prevent the export of materials that can be used to develop chemical weapons.
“We have not yet won the struggle against the ruthless and amoral individuals, organizations, and regimes that seek to develop and deploy such weapons” despite the group’s efforts, she pointed out during the coalition’s 30th anniversary on Friday.
“Chemical weapons often receive less public attention than nuclear and biological threats,” she also said, later adding, “However, toxic chemicals were, by far, the most widely used and proliferated weapons of mass destruction in the 20th century.”
ABC notes that more than 100 Australians are believed to be fighting alongside ISIS in Syria and Iraq. The Australian government believes another 150 are supporting the jihadist group at home.