ISIL/Da'esh and 'non-conventional' weapons of terror

Briefing 03-12-2015

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 the beginning of October 2015, terrorist attacks in Ankara, the Sinai Peninsula, Beirut, Paris and Tunis, for which ISIL/Da'esh has claimed responsibility, have cost the lives of 500 people. Immediately following the latest attack in Paris, 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. This has prompted 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, European citizens are not seriously 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.