MUNICH—The Islamic State terror network would like to launch a chemical weapons attack against the U.S., the top U.S. intelligence official said Friday, in the latest warning about the disturbing goals emanating from the group’s base in Iraq and Syria.

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, speaking at an international security conference in Germany, said the Islamic State had already used “industrial chemicals” as weapons, most notably mustard gas, multiple times in the Middle East against adversaries.

(See: Islamic State Wants to Use Chemical Weapons Against U.S., Intelligence Chief Says, Wall Street Journal, 12 Feb 2016)

I don’t doubt the truth of that statement in the sense that ISIS leaders want to use chemical weapons and would if they could.

How realistic is the threat?

For me the most terrifying terrorist attack was not 9 / 11 but this one:

Tokyo subway sarin attack

The Tokyo subway sarin attack, usually referred to in the Japanese media as the Subway Sarin Incident (地下鉄サリン事件 Chikatetsu Sarin Jiken?), was an act of domestic terrorism perpetrated on March 20, 1995 in Tokyo, Japan by members of the cult movement Aum Shinrikyo.

In five coordinated attacks, the perpetrators released sarin on several lines of the Tokyo subway during the rush hour, killing 12 people, severely injuring 50 and causing temporary vision problems for nearly 1,000 others. The attack was directed against trains passing through Kasumigaseki and Nagatachō, home to the Japanese government. It is the most serious attack to occur in Japan since the end of World War II.​

Imagine a suicide bomber in a crowded subway carriage opening a cannister of nerve gas. It’s not just the immediate – and horrible – deaths. It’s the panic and terror it would spread. I suspect just one such attack would change the United States forever. ​

So, yes I think the threat is real. If a ​small Japanese cult could do it then presumably so could ISIS or some other Muslim terrorist group with far greater resources at their disposal.

I guess it’s part of the “new normal”. Despite the best efforts of the security services some terrorist attacks will succeed and one or more of them may involve nerve gas in the subway.

I never believed Saddam had managed to build nukes in 2003. There were inspectors in place on the ground and a project that size is hard to hide. That whole WMD story of Bush’s struck me as baloney.

But terrorist organisations using chemical weapons?

Surprised there haven’t already been attempts.

Maybe there have and we’re not being told.

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