(NationalSecurity.news) The director of the Central Intelligence Agency has said that the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria [ISIS] has manufactured and even used chemical weapons against enemies.
In an interview with CBS News’ “60 Minutes” program, CIA Director John Brennan said that ISIS fighters have the capability to manufacture small quantities of chlorine and mustard gas.
“We have a number of instances where ISIL has used chemical munitions on the battlefield,” said. ISIL is another name for the Islamic State [Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant].
Brennan also said that the CIA believes that the Islamic State has the capability to also make small amounts of poison gases for weapons. “There are reports that ISIS has access to chemical precursors and munitions that they can use,” he said.
The director the world’s most capable spy agency also warned that it was possible for the Islamic State to try and export such weapons to the West, for financial gain.
“I think there’s always the potential for that. This is why it’s so important to cut off the various transportation routes and smuggling routes that they have used,” he said.
When he was asked if any “American assets [were] on the ground” in the war-torn regions of Iraq and Syria in search of chemical weapons and caches, Brennan said, “U.S. intelligence is actively involved in being part of the efforts to destroy ISIL and get as much insight into what they have on the ground inside” both countries.
Brennan’s comments came a few days after Director of National Intelligence James Clapper made similar statements before a congressional committee.
“ISIL has also used toxic chemicals in Iraq and Syria, including the blister agent sulfur mustard,” Clapper told lawmakers last week, adding that it was the first time an extremist group has made and used a chemical agent in an attack since Japan’s Aum Supreme Truth cult used deadly sarin to kill commuters during rush hour on a Tokyo subway in 1995.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government and rebels it is battling have both accused each other of using chemical warfare in the almost five-year-old civil war that has killed a quarter of a million people.
Following a sarin attack in 2013 outside Damascus that much of the world blamed on the Assad government, he agreed to hand over the country’s chemical arsenal to international organizations.
In November The Associated Press reported that U.S. and Iraqi intelligence officials believed then that ISIS operatives were working to acquire chemical weapons.
AP noted further:
Their quest raises an alarming scenario for the West, given the determination to strike major cities that the group showed with its bloody attack last week in Paris. On Thursday, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls warned that Islamic extremists might at some point use chemical or biological weapons.
“Terrorism hit France not because of what it is doing in Iraq and Syria … but for what it is,” Valls told the lower house of Parliament. “We know that there could also be a risk of chemical or biological weapons.”
NationalSecurity.news is part of the USA Features Media network of sites.