Written by Beatrix Immenkamp,
[Updated May 2016] The European Union and its Member States must prepare for the possibility of a chemical or biological attack on their territory by the self-styled ‘Islamic State’ in Iraq and the Levant (known variously as IS, ISIS or ISIL, and by the Arabic acronym ‘Da’esh’). Since October 2015, terrorist attacks in Ankara, the Sinai Peninsula, Beirut, Paris, Tunis and Brussels, for which ISIL/Da’esh has claimed responsibility, have cost the lives of over 530 people. Immediately following the attacks in Paris and Brussels, the jihadist terrorist group threatened further attacks in European cities.
ISIL/Da’esh has vowed that future strikes will be more lethal and even more shocking, prompting experts to warn that the group may be planning to try to use internationally banned weapons of mass destruction in future attacks. On 19 November 2015, the French Prime Minister, Manuel Valls, raised the spectre of ISIL/Da’esh planning a chemical or biological attack. At present, Europeans are generally not contemplating the possibility that extremist groups might use chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear (CBRN) materials during attacks in Europe. Under these circumstances, the impact of such an attack, should it occur, would be even more destabilising.
European governments and EU institutions need to be on alert, and should consider publicly addressing the possibility of a terrorist attack using chemical, biological, radiological or even nuclear materials. The EU institutions have devoted considerable efforts to preventing a CBRN attack on European soil and preparing worst-case scenarios. However, some gaps remain, in particular with regard to information-sharing among Member States.
This briefing updates the previous edition published on 3 December 2015.
Download the complete Briefing on ‘ISIL/Da’esh and ‘non-conventional’ weapons of terror‘ in PDF.