The Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) has gained access to radioactive material from hospital and research centers in territory it has seized in Iraq and Syria, prompting fears that it could develop a large “dirty” bomb, Australia’s Foreign Minister Julie Bishop told The Australian.
Last Friday, Bishop warned that ISIS is recruiting “highly trained professionals” to develop chemical weapons.
She made those comments while addressing the Australia Group, an alliance of about 40 nations, plus the European Community, established 30 years ago to prevent the export of materials that can be used to develop chemical, biological and radiological weapons.
Bishop told The Australian that the concerns she alluded to during her speech stemmed from reports filed by Australia’s Defense Department and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
NATO expressed concern about ISIS collecting radioactive material from hospitals and research centers that would normally only be available to governments, reportedly said Bishop, adding, “The insurgents did not just clear out the cash from local banks.”
She said the threat is severe enough to have gained the attention of the Australia Group, which held a session on the subject at its summit last week.
“This is really worrying them,” Bishop told The Australian.
In the latest edition of its propaganda magazine Dabiq, ISIS expressed interest in building a weapon of mass destruction (WMD).
“Indian defense officials have previously warned of the possibility the militants could acquire a nuclear weapon from Pakistan,” notes The Independent.
These growing concerns about ISIS developing a WMD come as terrorism experts at the Institute for the Study of War, a U.S. think tank, warn that ISIS is likely planning major attacks in Iraq and Syria to mark the start of the Muslim holy period of Ramadan and the one-year anniversary of its declaration of a “caliphate.”
“For the past three years, ISIS has conducted major offensive operations during the Ramadan holy month,” it said. “ISIS is therefore likely preparing a surge of operations to try to achieve important campaign objectives…ISIS is likely to begin and end Ramadan with attempted spectacular military offensive actions in Iraq and Syria.”