The U.S. Has Struck a Major Blow Against ISIS Chemical Warfare Plot

A top ISIS commander captured by American commandos revealed plans to use mustard gas.
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A top ISIS commander captured by American commandos revealed plans to use mustard gas.
ISIS chemical warfare

(Photo: TheSpeakerNews / Flickr)

In case anyone forgot they were absolutely evil, the Islamic State—ISIS—has been attempting to expand its arsenal into chemical warfare. With the capture of chemical weapons expert Sleiman Daoud al-Afari, American special forces may have kneecapped the terrorist state's efforts to re-visit World War I-style horrors on their enemies. 

The New York Times reported that Al-Afari once worked in Saddam Hussein's military operations and the detainee, who is being held in Erbil in Northern Iraq, is an important prisoner:

Mr. al-Afari, described by the military as a “significant” Islamic State operative who was captured a month ago by commandos in an elite American Special Operations force, has, under interrogation, provided his captors with details about how the group had weaponized mustard gas into powdered form and loaded it into artillery shells, the officials said.

One official said that the gas was not concentrated enough to kill anyone, but that it could maim people.

The information the Times reported al-Afari was disclosing is already paying off. Early Wednesday, CNN reported that air strikes had been conducted against locations that the U.S. military "believes are crucial to ISIS' chemical weapons program."

CNN's Barbara Starr further reported that the U.S. "goal is to locate, target and carry out strikes that will result in the destruction of ISIS's entire chemical weapons enterprise." In particular, they aim to take out mustard gas production. 

Mustard gas, a.k.a. sulfur mustard, is a substance so vicious it can zero out any further use of an area where it's been used, as it can cling to surfaces for weeks, continually affecting anyone who comes in contact with it. 

If military efforts can't completely destroy ISIS alone, removing the jihadi state's ability to create such a weapon is still a huge step toward weakening ISIS's efforts to expand its territory.

h/t CNN, New York Times