A lot has been written regarding the Islamic States or Daesh since its demise from the once held territory that it had taken in the past. There are thousands of dead Da’esh from attacks by coalition forces from whatever side. But it seems that for the few intelligent ones that remain there maybe a future for them in several capacities. One suggestion is that they may work for advisors to some government but it is not known in what capacity. Another train of thought is that apart from the thugs that belonged to the group the clever ones may set up and continue a guerrilla style warfare using a degree of smartness. On the 10 Oct 18 Britain’s Security Minister stated that the possibility of a terrorist attack using biological or chemical style weapons was getting closer. GCHQ on the 2 Apr 18 told news reporters that the Islamic States had “raised the bar” in technology. This threat, although not knew, is something that governments need to be kept reminded of. A report in the British Guardian newspaper on the 9 Jul 14 claimed that ISIS had seized a former disused chemical weapons plant in the north-west of Baghdad in Muthanna. The Americans did not take the report too seriously mainly because they had been in the country previously and if there had been any rockets filled with chemical weapons then they would have known about it. On the 7 Jun 15 the Australian Foreign Minister, Julie Bishop, said that Da’esh was seriously attempting to develop their chemical arsenal. She said that there was bound to be a large amount of those recruited to have the technical expertise to “refine and build” a chemical weapon. On the 12 Mar 15 reports of the Islamic State using Chlorine Gas in IED’s had been reported but did not have a huge effect due to heat, wind and used in an open area. The biggest factor for the terrorist group was ‘fear’ against its enemy, Chlorine gas is more of a chocking agent, not that that is any reassurance against soldiers on the ground without any chemical protection. The chlorine gas attacks are cheap and easy to deploy and use and the psychological effect will be more damaging. But this would be a start in any advance to using a weapon that causes chemical attack symptoms. Later on the 21 Nov 16 the New York Times reported that these IED’s had been used approximately 52 times in Iraq and Syria. So, they were not going away. Also on the 12 Sep 15 a report claimed that Da’esh had used Mustard Gas. It was believed that approximately 200 tons of the agent had not been declared by the Assad Regime and that some of that chemical material had fallen into the hands of the Islamic State even though the Syrian stockpile of chemical weapons was thought to have been handed over to the United Nations in 2013. With this background and the knowledge that the Islamic State is still a main actor in terrorism and that they may have been defeated on the ground war but are far from being thwarted on the technical front. They would require a host so that they could carryout research and an area for testing. The host would also be used to supply a logistical chain that would need to be discreet. Targets would need to be selected and have a reconnaissance done and a form of delivery for the chemical agent. The selected target would be within the ‘near enemy’ area of play as there would be less restrictions in transporting a device. The device would be placed in a crowded area; a business centre, sports stadium or a crowded transport location. At some point the device would be triggered and the chemical agent dispersed, probably in a non-persistent vapour hazard. There would be a downwind hazard with the area and distance dependent on wind, temperature and dose this would have an effect on the casualties. The wind would disperse the agent downwind causing a huge effect, this is known as ‘weathering’. The temperature would depend on the heat or cold. Heat would mean that the agent would dissipate quickly and cause less casualties. This would also cause a problem to the authorities as there would be less agent for them to analyse. To believe that this type of attack is not possible remember the Sarin chemical weapon attack caused by Aum Shinrikyo on the 20 Mar 95 whereby 13 people lost their lives (12 direct and one succumbing to their injuries later) and approximately 1, 050 non-fatal casualties. If the Islamic State manage to develop this style of weapon then the world will have crossed a red line in terrorism. There would only be one stage further for terrorists to climb and that would be a dirty-bomb. However, the fear and propaganda value in a society that has a huge social network would be immense. The question is really not that this style of attack will happen, the questions are when and where.
The war in Yemen has been a proxy war between Iran and Saudi Arabia something reminiscent of past cold war conflicts between the former USSR and the United States. Since 2015 when the conflict started in Yemen only now are both sides sitting to agree terms that will hopefully stop the war. Another point of consideration is the supporters of the Shia Houthi’s who are in effect the opposition. Iran has denied any support of the Houthis and accusations have been made by the Yemenis, The Saudi Arabian coalition and countries in the west, all of course denied by the Iranians. On the 12 Dec 18 accusations were made by the United Nations claiming they had more proof that suspected Iranian-made weapons had been found in the country. This will come as no surprise as there have been findings in the past of Iranian involvement for some time. Saudi forces had been intercepting and destroying missiles since Nov 17 when a missile was launched from Yemen towards Riyadh. On the 7 Nov 17 the Saudis accused Iran of direct involvement. From this point there have been numerous attacks on Saudi Arabia using either rockets or missiles. There have also been attacks on coastal shipping from the Houthis and recently on the 12 Dec 18 the United Nations stated that two anti-tank containers which had the “characteristics of an Iranian manufacture,” were probably from Iran. Yemen is by far one of the poorest countries that make up the Middle East. It is a low-income country that in normal times has suffered difficult long-term challenges, since the current conflict the suffering has since deteriorated. Since the war unemployment, inflation and damage to the country’s infrastructure amongst famine and cholera have decimated the country. So how are the Houthis able to find the finances, material, knowledge and structure to build and test rockets and missiles without outside influence and help? There have been no reports of the Houthis conducting missile testing (which, if they were being researched and constructed by the Houthis in Yemen they would need to do before firing them at their enemy). There is no industrial structure large enough in the Houthi held part of Yemen to build these weapons and there are insufficient funds to purchase the material and rocket/missile fuel which would be used to launch any form of projectile. According to Conflict Armament research (CAR) a UK based organisation, it states that the Iranians have been arming the Yemeni Houthis as early as Jan 13. As far back as 24 Dec 17, Hossein Naqavi Hosseini, the spokesman for the Iranian Parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Commission stated, “we have announced repeatedly that the Yemeni army and people have the support of Iran. However, we have also made it clear that we have not given any missiles to the Yemenis.” On the other side of the coin the Houthis have stated that, “these missiles are the only means they have to defend their nation.” But the world knows who is behind the conflict. Now though the Houthis and the Saudis want to negotiate a peace settlement. In reality the Houthis are not in a powerful position to negotiate for if it was not for the Iranian involvement would have finished long ago. But with American sanctions being levelled at Iran the Iranians may be thinking its time to stop funding the Yemen war as it would be a long drawn out war of attrition with only the Saudis and its coalition winning. Iran would not accept defeat, but with trouble at home due to the sanctions it is possible that Yemen maybe the first on the Iranian support list to lose funding and that is why we are seeing a serious attempt at peace talks for this needless conflict. After all, if fighting has not worked in the past why now? In times of difficulty you have to tighten your belt, Iran may have pulled it in a notch.