Fast and reliable detection of chemical hazards such as Chemical Warfare Agents (CWAs) and Toxic Industrial Chemicals (TICs) is one of the measures to counter existing threats of terrorist attacks with the use of chemical substances. There is a good deal of information providing valid reasons to believe that effective and state-of-the-art CBRNe detection is crucial to protect European societies. These reasons include:
- The endeavours of ISIS (and related groups) to produce and spread chemical agents, which can be used in conducting terrorist attacks are highly likely, especially considering recent information from U.S. intelligence.
- Chemical agents, in comparison to biological and radiological ones, are quite easy to acquire, produce and adapt to the needs of modern terrorist groups. It costs relatively little to include these types of agents in unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices (VBIEDs). Moreover, the Islamic State has specialized knowledge, which was somehow confirmed after the capture of Mosul in June 2017. At that time, some production facilities were found, which were established by the caliphate.
- According to Interpol, it is still relatively easy to produce and buy chemical agents that can be adjusted and used to carry out terrorist attacks. Some chemical materials can be freely bought in one country and then sent to another state, also in the EU area. Furthermore, a lot of chemical agents can be produced and sold in the frame of industrial production.
At the European Union level, it has been also noticed that modus operandi for attacks is still evolving and being enriched with new threat substances, which require better detection in a global scale. Referring to the Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, The European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions on a new EU approach to the detection and mitigation of CBRN-E risks (2014), there is an urgent need to consider specific risk-based approaches for each protection mission as well as for more targeted detection technology in different areas of public security. One of these solutions is the EU-SENSE project, which tries to propose an efficient network of sensors that will help to detect chemical agents, especially in case of crisis situation including a terrorist attack.
More information about the topic presented above might be found in the following open sources:
- Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, The European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions on a new EU approach to the detection and mitigation of CBRN-E risks [https://op.europa.eu/en/publication-detail/-/publication/9ad01c55-d457-11e3-8cd4-01aa75ed71a1]
- Columb Strack, 2017, The Evolution of the Islamic State’s Chemical Weapons Efforts, “CTC Sentinel”, Volume 10, Issue 9 [https://ctc.usma.edu/the-evolution-of-the-islamic-states-chemical-weapons-efforts/]