Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop says the Islamic State has recruited Western-trained technicians with the capability to produce chemical weapons, such as chlorine and sarin, for use in their insurgent campaign. Photo: ShutterStock / ausnewsde
MELBOURNE, June 6 (UPI) -- The Islamic State has recruited proficient technicians who have the capability to produce chemical weapons for the radical insurgent group -- which have already been used in recent years, a senior member of Australia's cabinet says.
Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop made the remarks during a late Friday speech to a group that has the authority to deny the issuance of licenses to export chemical and biological weapons-related materials. In her remarks, Bishop called the IS "one of the gravest security threats we face today."
Bishop said the terror group, which also goes by the name Daesh, has Western-trained, weapons-proficient scientific experts working for them -- a fact she said is evidenced by the group's use of the toxins sarin and chlorine over the last four years.
"The use of chlorine by Daesh and its recruitment of highly technically trained professionals, including from the west, have revealed far more serious efforts in chemical weapons development," she said. "Daesh is likely to have ... the technical expertise necessary to further refine precursor materials and build chemical weapons."
The Iraqi government has made similar accusations, claiming that the terror group used chlorine in attacks against its fighters in January.
"The fact that atrocities such as this continue to occur shows that we must remain vigilant to the threat of chemical and biological weapons," Bishop was quoted by the International Business Times.
Melbourne has stated concern recently that more than 100 of its citizens have traveled to the Middle East to fight for the Islamic State -- as well as those who have aided the terror group without ever leaving the nation's borders.
An Australian man, Neil Prakash, who traveled to Syria was placed on the United Nations financial terror sanctions list earlier this week -- a list that contains nearly 100 suspected IS sympathizers from around the world. The Australian government said anyone who aids him in any terrorist enterprise faces a 10-year prison term.
Bishop said Prakash sought to commit terror acts in Australia and used social media to rally his cause -- and to recruit women and girls to join him in the Middle East to fight for the Islamic State.
"They seek to undermine and overthrow that order, and was we have seen, are prepared to use any and all means, any and all forms of violence they can think of to advance their demented cause," she said. "That includes the use of chemical weapons."