Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear weapons are the “game-changers” that jihadists all over the world aspire to get their hands on. Terrorist organizations and other non-state actors continue to seek bona fide WMDs in order to further their goals in most macabre ways – if “terror” is the goal, CBRN is surely the ideal mean.
The ubiquity and efficiency of internet means that any piece of CBRN knowledge published on online terrorist networks is immediately available to all terrorists everywhere. This simple fact translates into an exponential growth of theoretical and operational CBRN knowledge at the fingertips of non-state actors, both foreign and domestic.
It is imperative to infiltrate and monitor these online social platforms where CBRN knowledge is exchanged, in order to keep tabs on the growth of the “game-changer” threat as it develops within adversary networks who are well positioned to connect this knowledge with operational know-how gained in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and beyond.
Consider this brief sampling of recent CBRN happenings gleaned from foreign language open sources and, especially, deep web sources:
- A jihadist forum member posted approximately ten files containing presentations of biology courses in a secure forum, stating that they “would be of benefit to the fighters.”
- In late September Syrian regime forces seized several tunnels belonging to the Syrian rebels in the city of Tadmur, a suburb of Aleppo. Tubes with tablets of Phostoxin (aluminum phosphide) were discovered in the raid, in addition to IEDs, IED precursors and foreign car license plates.
- In mid-September, several Turkish websites published information about the indictment brought against the six members of Jabhat al-Nusra (JN) and Ahrar al-Sham. Five were Turkish citizens and one a Syrian, named Haytham Qassab. The Syrian was charged with being a member of a terrorist organization and attempting to acquire weapons for a terrorist organization. Turkish authorities claim that the six, who had been under surveillance, were recorded discussing their intentions to acquire precursors for producing sarin. The accused were trying to obtain chemicals by contacting official organizations such as state-owned Mechanical and Chemical Industry [MKE] and Adana Cukurova University, in addition to many other organizations and people. Among the items the Turkish authorities claim, the six were attempting to acquire, were time fuses, chrome pipes to make mortars, thionyl chloride (SOCl2), potassium fluoride (KF), methanol (CH3OH), isopropanol (C3H8O), isopropanolamine (C3H9NO), white phosphorus (P4), medical glucose, and bauxite.
- A prominent jihadist forum member uploaded a detailed new manual on the topic of anthrax, explaining the effect anthrax has on humans, its safe handling procedures, and dispersal methods: aerial dispersal from an aircraft and envelope-borne dispersal through the mail.
- A jihadist forum member published three recipes for improvised explosives (HME), including one highly unorthodox recipe said to yield an explosive 1.6 times more powerful than dynamite.
And all this is merely a very recent sampling. It is plain to any online observer that, not only are terrorists eager to obtain CBRN capabilities, but they are also certainly sharing knowledge online at an unprecedented rate. Because much of this sharing takes place in password protected forums and on user-access-controlled social media platforms, Terrogence has developed extensive Virtual HUMINT™ capabilities in order to infiltrate and participate, either passively and sometimes even proactively, in such discussions and threads where CBRN issues are discussed by the terrorists themselves. Findings from such operations are issued monthly in a subscription report called Chimera™.
Contact Terrogence for more detailed information.