Monday 20 January 2020

Isil 'plotting biological and nuclear attacks on Europe'

Iraqi security forces arrest a man suspected of being an Isil fighter during a military operation to regain control of Hit, 140 kilometers west of Baghdad, last week. Photo: AP/Khalid Mohammed
Iraqi security forces arrest a man suspected of being an Isil fighter during a military operation to regain control of Hit, 140 kilometers west of Baghdad, last week. Photo: AP/Khalid Mohammed

Tom Whitehead in London

Isil terrorists are plotting to carry out biological and nuclear attacks on Britain and Europe, EU and Nato security chiefs have warned.

There is a "justified concern" that Islamist fanatics in Syria and Iraq are trying to obtain substances of mass destruction such as biological, chemical and radiological weapons.

The terror group is also trying to develop new ways of avoiding security measures to carry out attacks such as bombs implanted in human bodies and hacking driverless cars, an international security conference in London was told.

Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (Isil) is also feared to have obtained a stockpile of former Iraqi short-range missiles such as surface-to-air rockets.

Jorge Berto Silva, deputy head of counter-terrorism for the EC, said Isil had shown an interest in obtaining chemical, biological, radioactive and nuclear (CBRN) materials.

It emerged after the Brussels terror attacks last month that the terror cell had been secretly filming a senior Belgian nuclear official outside his home, fuelling fears they were looking at ways of obtaining such substances.

Mr Silva told the annual Security and Counter Terror Expo: "With CBRN, there is a justified concern."

Dr Jamie Shea, deputy assistant secretary general for emerging security threats at Nato, added: "We know terrorists are trying to acquire these substances."

Dr Shea also warned that Isil may be splitting in two. One part may be trying to protect the so-called caliphate in Syria and Iraq, which is increasingly losing ground from coalition airstrikes, while a second part focuses on setting up terror cells around Europe to launch attacks in the future.

He said the threat was likely to "get worse before it gets better".

Meanwhile, Isil is planning a Tunisia-style massacre of tourists involving bombs placed under sunbeds, Italian security forces have claimed.

And German newspaper 'Bild' reports that Isil hoped to send jihadists to tourist resorts posing as refreshment vendors.

They would detonate suicide belts and bombs placed under sunbeds at French, Italian, Spanish and German resorts, 'Bild' reported, quoting Italian security sources.

The Italian equivalent of MI6 had reportedly been warned of the attacks by a well-placed Isil source in Africa, and informed its German and French counterparts immediately.

Automatic rifles would also be used to gun down tourists, 'Bild' reported, while bombs would be carefully buried in the sand near sunbeds.

It is understood that the south of France and the Costa del Sol were the main targets.

"This could be a new kind of terrorism," the newspaper quoted a senior German security source as saying. "Holiday beaches cannot be protected."

According to German media reports, the threat comes from the Isil-allied group Boko Haram, a jihadist group notorious for its kidnapping of 276 schoolgirls in Chibok, Nigeria.

Last year, 38 people, including three Irish holidaymakers and 30 Britons, were gunned down when terrorists opened fire on a beach resort in Tunisia.

Meanwhile, in Washington yesterday, US President Barack Obama said he had told Russian President Vladimir Putin in a telephone call that Syria was starting to fray more rapidly and that the war-torn country cannot move forward if the US and Russia were not in sync.

"That would serve neither of our interests," Mr Obama said in an interview aired on CBS.

On Monday night, the United States and its allies staged 17 strikes against Isil in Iraq and one in Syria in the coalition's latest operation against the militant group, the US military said in a statement.

The strikes in Iraq were concentrated near Mosul, where seven strikes hit an Isil improvised explosive devices factory, three tactical units and three supply caches, among other targets, the Combined Joint Task Force said in the statement released yesterday.


Other airstrikes hit targets near Al Huwayjah, Al Baghdadi, Ar Rutbah, Kisik, Qayyarah, Sinjar and Tal Afar, it said.

One strike near Ar Raqqah, Syria, hit one of the militant group's tactical units and a vehicle, according to the US-led coalition's statement.

Meanwhile, in Amman, the Syrian government's chief negotiator said President Bashar al-Assad's future was not up for discussion at peace talks, underlining the bleak prospects for reviving UN-led negotiations postponed by the opposition.

Bashar Ja'afari, speaking to Lebanese TV, also said his team was pushing for an expanded government as the solution to the war - an idea rejected by the opposition fighting for five years to topple Assad. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Editors Choice

Also in World News