CENTCOM proudly announced the death of ISIS chemical weapons expert Abu Malik in an airstrike in Mosul on January 30, 2015, ahead of the well-publicized Coalition Spring Counter Offensive to retake Mosul in Northern Iraq. Is Malik’s positioning in Mosul of strategic importance to the Coalition or just coincidence? It is well documented that ISIS have gathered various chemical, biological and nuclear expertise in Raqqa and Mosul in order to fashion WMD, or at least chemical and biological weapons of terror to attack those who oppose them. On a recent visit to Baghdad, I was briefed by Generals in the Iraqi Security Forces on their concerns that ISIS were continuing to use chlorine-filled mortar bombs and were trying to introduce Bubonic Plague, aka ‘Black death’, to refugee camps in Northern Iraq. ISIS had even developed scorpion bombs which they had rocketed into towns and villages. This all generates psychological terror well beyond any physical threat. Al Qaeda is well known for its chemical weapons program based around the hitherto unused but viable Maktaba hydrogen cyanide bomb, and much of this technology will now reside with ISIS experts.
ISIS have seen how successful the Assad regime’s use of chemical weapons was as a last resort to stave off defeat both in Ghouta in August 2013 and Deir Ezzor in December 2014. And with a ‘no boundaries’ approach to terror it is probably highly likely they [ISIS] will use chemical and possibly biological weapons. As ISIS become further pressed and degraded in Northern Iraq it is becoming increasingly likely that Mosul will be their last stand, their ‘Little Big Horn, OK Corral, Rorke’s Drift’, to be defended at all costs to avoid strategic defeat in Iraq. And hence I believe Malik’s position and role in Mosul is not a coincidence and that he was preparing Mosul’s defense in the way he knows best. And with the delight of CENTCOM took in naming for the first time a character killed in a Coalition strike, let us all hope Malik’s legacy has died with him in the rubble of Mosul.
Note: Hamish de Bretton-Gordon, Managing Director at Avon Protection, will be at IDEX Abu Dhabi, February 22-26, 2015