The following is an excerpt from a more lengthy article on accusations against the Syrian government of chemical weapons deployment.
Al-Qaeda has a well documented history of being intolerant to minorities and “deviant” sects of Islam. The penalty for not adhering to it’s conservative interpretation of Islam can easily result in “sentencing” to death. This modus operandi and ideology does not bode well for the Syrian people, who for decades have habituated in a society of peaceful co-existence and secularism.
Car bombs, multiple casualties and deaths are an almost daily occurrence in Iraq as Al-Qaeda and it’s upholders seemingly aim to break records in sectarian killings. Al-Qaeda’s desire for successful “spectacular” attacks such as those on New York in 2001 provide a particular fascination with chemical weapons. Indeed, much discussion and preparation surrounding a potential “dirty bomb” attack on a major city underlines Western apprehension.
During the investigation in the 1993 World Trade Centre bomb attack, sodium cyanide was found to have been added to the large vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (VBIED). The presence of the agent was dispersed so widely due to the huge blast – investigators only determined it’s presence in the ensuring probe.
Ahmed Ressam, testifying in the 2001 trial for the Millennium bomb plot described training he and others received in an Al-Qaeda facility in Afghanistan. Members were experimenting for building a hydrogen cyanide device, practicing by gassing a dog in a small box.
In December 1998, Osama bin Laden said, “If I have indeed acquired these weapons, then this is an obligation I carried out, and I thank God for enabling me to do so.”
Videos and training manuals confiscated by US troops in Afghanistan supported Ressem’s testimony. Manuals contained information on the building of devices containing biological toxins and chemical agents. These seizures encouraged the CIA to publish information on Al-Qaeda and the chemical and biological warfare threat.
There have been other examples of the deployment of crude devices containing chemical or biological agents, but significantly in 2007, Islamist militants in keeping with their modus operandi, bombed a number of targets in Iraq with VBIED’s containing chlorine gas. Bill Roggio, a respected analyst and author of the Long War Journal details the explosions in March 2007. The reason these attacks are significant, is when contrasted with an alleged incident in Khan al-Asal, Aleppo, on Tuesday March 19th 2013.
Syria’s state television said terrorists fired a rocket carrying chemical agents that killed 25 people and wounded dozens. Witnesses described an overpowering smell of chlorine in the air following the explosion. The rocket was apparently fired from Al-Bab, a district occupied by Jabhat al-Nusra. Indeed, crude homemade grad rockets have been much a weapon of choice by Al-Qaeda or it’s inspired groups. Mohammad Sabbagh, owner of a factory containing tanks of chlorine in Aleppo, was apparently convinced that any homemade device containing chlorine must have come from his factory, in a geographical area controlled by Jabhat al-Nusra.
Significantly also is the reports from Iraq described roadside bombs containing chemical agents. In May 2004, an artillery shell adapted as a roadside improvised explosive device, was found to contain the nerve agent sarin. The bomb was discovered before detonation and later, members of the ordnance team were treated for exposure.
The extremist rhetoric of Al-Qaeda and it’s endorsers, it’s previous deployment of weapons of mass destruction and its alleged use in Aleppo in March greatly contrast with consistent statements from Iran disapproving andcondemning use of such weapons. Indeed, the outspoken positions taken by the United States and Israel are peculiar when considering proven and alleged deployment of white phosphorus with catastrophic effects on civilians. Allegations abound on the use of various chemical agents during the Fallujah offensive in 2004. White phosphorus is not prohibited but its use against targets in close proximity to civilians or civilian property is.