Brennan: Islamic State creating chemical weapons

CIA director John Brennan said in an interview with 60 Minutes that the Islamic State is developing the capability to use chemical weapons on the battlefield and in terror attacks.

Washington Examiner:

"There are reports that ISIS has access to chemical precursors and munitions that they can use," Brennan said Sunday on "60 Minutes."

"We have a number of instances where ISIL has used chemical munitions on the battlefield," Brennan continued.

"60 Minutes" further reported, "The CIA believes that ISIS has the ability to manufacture small quantities of chlorine and mustard gas."

To buttress his accusation, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) confirmed that laboratory tests had come back positive for the sulfur mustard, after around 35 Kurdish troops were sickened on the battlefield in Iraq last August.

Reuters:

The OPCW will not identify who used the chemical agent. But the diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity because the findings have not yet been released, said the result confirmed that chemical weapons had been used by Islamic State fighters.

The samples were taken after the soldiers became ill during fighting against Islamic State militants southwest of Erbil, capital of Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region.

The OPCW already concluded in October that mustard gas was used last year in neighboring Syria. Islamic State has declared a "caliphate" in territory it controls in both Iraq and Syria and does not recognize the frontier.

The matter is expected to be raised at the next meeting of the OPCW's 41-member Executive Council in a month, an official said.

If Islamic State used chemical weapons, experts are still uncertain of how the group might have obtained them, or whether it could have access to more.

It would be a mistake to underestimate the human resources available to the Islamic State.  Nuclear and chemical engineers and computer science experts, not to mention those trained in the Western arts of marketing and public relations – these are not a bunch of ignorant jihadis. 

They also are being assisted by many officers in Saddam Hussein's old army.  It's possible they would have knowledge of where Saddam may have hid some of those precursor chemicals.  Otherwise, ISIS could obtain most of what they need on the black market.

Brennan had a sobering warning for America:

"I think ISIL does eventually want to find its mark here," Brennan said. "I'm expecting them to try to put in place the operatives, the material, whatever else that they need to do, in order to incite people to carry out these attacks."

"But clearly, I believe that their attempts are inevitable, I don't necessarily think their successes are," Brennan said.

The adage bears repeating: we have to be successful in stopping the terrorists 100% of the time.  The terrorists need to be successful only once.

When Brennan says, "I'm expecting them to try to put in place the operatives, the material, whatever else that they need to do," how do we think the terrorists will try to infiltrate the U.S.?

Right now, as I write this, European security services are running all over Europe trying to track down dozens of potential ISIS plants among the more than 1 million refugees who arrived on the continent last year.  Maybe they'll catch them before they carry out attacks.  Maybe they won't.

Why is our government willing to make the same gamble?

CIA director John Brennan said in an interview with 60 Minutes that the Islamic State is developing the capability to use chemical weapons on the battlefield and in terror attacks.

Washington Examiner:

"There are reports that ISIS has access to chemical precursors and munitions that they can use," Brennan said Sunday on "60 Minutes."

"We have a number of instances where ISIL has used chemical munitions on the battlefield," Brennan continued.

"60 Minutes" further reported, "The CIA believes that ISIS has the ability to manufacture small quantities of chlorine and mustard gas."

To buttress his accusation, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) confirmed that laboratory tests had come back positive for the sulfur mustard, after around 35 Kurdish troops were sickened on the battlefield in Iraq last August.

Reuters:

The OPCW will not identify who used the chemical agent. But the diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity because the findings have not yet been released, said the result confirmed that chemical weapons had been used by Islamic State fighters.

The samples were taken after the soldiers became ill during fighting against Islamic State militants southwest of Erbil, capital of Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region.

The OPCW already concluded in October that mustard gas was used last year in neighboring Syria. Islamic State has declared a "caliphate" in territory it controls in both Iraq and Syria and does not recognize the frontier.

The matter is expected to be raised at the next meeting of the OPCW's 41-member Executive Council in a month, an official said.

If Islamic State used chemical weapons, experts are still uncertain of how the group might have obtained them, or whether it could have access to more.

It would be a mistake to underestimate the human resources available to the Islamic State.  Nuclear and chemical engineers and computer science experts, not to mention those trained in the Western arts of marketing and public relations – these are not a bunch of ignorant jihadis. 

They also are being assisted by many officers in Saddam Hussein's old army.  It's possible they would have knowledge of where Saddam may have hid some of those precursor chemicals.  Otherwise, ISIS could obtain most of what they need on the black market.

Brennan had a sobering warning for America:

"I think ISIL does eventually want to find its mark here," Brennan said. "I'm expecting them to try to put in place the operatives, the material, whatever else that they need to do, in order to incite people to carry out these attacks."

"But clearly, I believe that their attempts are inevitable, I don't necessarily think their successes are," Brennan said.

The adage bears repeating: we have to be successful in stopping the terrorists 100% of the time.  The terrorists need to be successful only once.

When Brennan says, "I'm expecting them to try to put in place the operatives, the material, whatever else that they need to do," how do we think the terrorists will try to infiltrate the U.S.?

Right now, as I write this, European security services are running all over Europe trying to track down dozens of potential ISIS plants among the more than 1 million refugees who arrived on the continent last year.  Maybe they'll catch them before they carry out attacks.  Maybe they won't.

Why is our government willing to make the same gamble?