Just days after ISIS militants in Iraq seized and captured a Saddam Hussein-era chemical weapons facility and all the degraded chemical rockets contained therein, fundamentalist Islamic militants have achieved another coup. According to a report in Reuters, the Sunni insurgent group just captured radioactive materials used in scientific research which Iraqi sources claimed could be smuggled out of Iraq and used in terrorist acts. Sense a pattern developing?
Nearly 40 kilograms (88 pounds) of uranium compounds were kept at Mosul University, Iraq’s U.N. Ambassador Mohamed Ali Alhakim told U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in the July 8 letter obtained by Reuters on Wednesday.
“Terrorist groups have seized control of nuclear material at the sites that came out of the control of the state,” Alhakim wrote, adding that such materials “can be used in manufacturing weapons of mass destruction.”
U.S officials told Reuters that there was a limited threat posed by the non-enriched uranium seized by ISIS militants. Similarly, American authorities “played down the threat” from the takeover of a chemical weapons facility, according to an AP report on that matter.
While it is possible that none of these materials could be used in effective weapons of mass destruction, but it is also apparent that achieving WMD capability is one of ISIS’s paramount goals. Given the fact that American intelligence officials have warned that the group is determined to attack Western targets, this is a worrying development.