Iraq’s defense ministry has broken up an Al-Qaeda terror gang that was working to produce poison gas for their attacks within the country as well as in Europe and North America.
The group of five people built two facilities in Baghdad to produce sarin and mustard gas, using instructions from another Al-Qaeda group, ministry’s spokesman Mohammed al-Askari told a news conference on Saturday.
The members of the cell were prepared to launch attacks domestically, and also had a network to smuggle the toxins to neighboring countries, and further afield to Europe and North America, Askari said.
The arrest of the cell members was possible because of cooperation between Iraqi and foreign intelligence services, he added.
The United Nations said last month that sarin nerve gas was used by militants fighting against the government in neighboring Syria.
Iraq and Syria share a 600-kilometre (375-mile) border, and officials have warned that Al-Qaeda-linked militants opposed to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and the government in Baghdad have set up camp in Iraq’s western desert region.
Al-Qaeda front group the Islamic State of Iraq is still active in the country, launching regular attacks on government and civilian targets.
So far, the group has largely refrained from waging violence outside Iraq, but earlier this year it publicly said it was linked to al-Qaeda-linked Al-Nusra Front, an extremist group fighting the Mr. Assad’s government.
- Iraq captures al Qaeda chemical weapons team (timesofmalta.com)
- Iraq captures suspected Al Qaeda cell that planned to make chemical weapons (abc.net.au)
- Iraq smashes Al-Qaeda poison gas cell in Baghdad (thenewstribe.com)