The Islamic State group (ISIS) is aggressively pursuing development of chemical weapons, setting up a branch dedicated to research and experiments with the help of scientists from Iraq, Syria and elsewhere in the region, according to Iraqi and U.S. intelligence officials.
Their quest raises an alarming scenario for the West, given the determination to strike major cities that the group showed with its bloody attack last week in Paris. U.S. intelligence officials don’t believe ISIS has the capability to develop sophisticated weapons like nerve gas that are most suited for a terrorist attack on a civilian target. So far the group has used mustard gas on the battlefield in Iraq and Syria.
Still, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls on Thursday warned that Islamic extremists might at some point use chemical or biological weapons.
“Terrorism hit France not because of what it is doing in Iraq and Syria … but for what it is,” Valls told the lower house of Parliament. “We know that there could also be a risk of chemical or biological weapons,” he added, though he did not talk of a specific threat.