May 7, 2016: ISIS attacks Kurdish village with Chlorine gas

On May 7, 2016 ISIS terrorists launched several mortar rounds containing chlorine gas at the village of Bashir killing three and wounding hundreds

BASHIR, KURDISTAN – We have thankfully avoided mass casualty chemical terrorist attacks but that does not mean there have not been any.

If there is one thing that keeps intelligence agencies awake at night – and trust me there are many, many such things! – it is the possibility of a mass casualty terrorist attack. No one wants the ‘big one’ to come off on their watch. After all, these women and men are expected to PREVENT these events from transpiring and there is usually hell to pay when they fail (but, oddly, seldom praise when they do stop things from going badly).

Once in a blue moon of course the terrorists do pull a large attack off: 9/11 is the obvious example here. But when it comes to what are known in the spy business as CBRN (chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear) ones we have not seen anything on a grand scale. Even the 1995 Aum Shinrikyo sarin attacks in the Tokyo subway were mercifully small.

Life is a gas when you are in a terrorist leader! No, not the guy in front, the other guys! (Photo: sarmoung on flickr, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

That does not entail that groups don’t keep trying.

On this day in 2016

Islamic State (ISIS) terrorists launched several mortar rounds containing chlorine gas at the village of Bashir 20 km south of Kirkuk. Three civilians lost their lives in the attack and hundreds more suffered injuries and scores of Peshmerga (Kurdish) fighters suffered temporary respiratory problems and nausea in the wake of the assault.

The coalition is concerned about ISIL’s use of chemical weapons. ISIL has used them in Iraq and Syria in the past, and we expect them to continue employing these types of weapons.

Col. John Dorrian, US military spokesman in Iraq

This was not the only occasion on which these terrorists tried to weaponise these terrible substances. We have protocols in place to which states have agreed not to use them. Alas, even if it calls itself a ‘state’, ISIS has no intention of following suit.

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By Phil Gurski

Phil Gurski is the President and CEO of Borealis Threat and Risk Consulting Ltd. Phil is a 32-year veteran of CSE and CSIS and the author of six books on terrorism.

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