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ISIS Case Study

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The main concern in Europe (and indeed the USA) would be ISIS’ ability to mount a chemical weapon attack on their soils. Such an attack, whilst perhaps not a mass-casualty scenario, would rock the receiving country to its very core and promote ISIS to the forefront of CBRN terrorism. The ensuing panic would have a destabilising effect on the target population, and would cause economic turmoil if it targeted a central business district. Whilst this would certainly not be easy, with such a wealth of potential CBRN materials in Europe, it is certainly within ISIS’ capability.
As is outlined in the ‘Communication of the European Commission on a new EU approach to the detection and mitigation of CBRN-E risks,’ there are a series of gaps in our
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ISIS may also attempt to divert some of the chemical agents and use them as the basis for further attacks around Europe. There is a particular danger of radicalized supporters from inside the EU, who could use their position at a company, or insider knowledge of key infrastructure, to launch a potentially crippling attack on anything from a water purification facility to a chemical plant. This happened in Saint-Quentin-Fallavier, France, where an ISIS supporter used his post as a trusted deliveryman to drive his car into an Air Products factory causing an explosion designed to disperse noxious chemicals. Similarly, in February 2016, UK police reportedly arrested a man named Mohammed Ammer Ali charged with trying to obtain 500g of ricin, a naturally occurring product from the castor bean which is highly toxic to human beings if aerosolized. These incidents clearly show that CBRN terrorism in Europe is a threat that needs to be taken seriously. It is a problem that will only grow in the coming years, as educated, trained and dangerous ISIS fighters return or are sent home to carry out acts of terror.

For these reasons, it can only be concluded that chemical weapons are the most likely of the CBRN categories to continue to be exploited by ISIS, both in Iraq and Syria, but also in the European theatre. Due to the quantity of chemicals and the scale of storage needed to mount large-scale attacks,
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