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.
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.
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.
Read More Today in Terrorism
On May 31, 1906 a Spanish anarchist threw a bomb hoping to hit King Alfonso XIII, killing 24 and wounding more than 100.
On May 30, 2009 two pamphlet-bombs exploded outside an Ecuadorian TV station and ministry: no victims or significant damage ensued.
On May 29, 2016 35 civilians were wounded in an ISIS attack using rockets containing chlorine gas in Iraq’s Nineveh Province.