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December 20, 2005
Have Islamists Begun Using Chemical Weapons?

The Scotsman reports tonight that dozens of Chechnyans have been hospitalized in what looks like a nerve-gas attack in the region where Islamists have surpassed nationalists in a terror war against the ruling Russians. As in nearby Beslan, the attack took place at a school and children comprised the bulk of the victims:

AT LEAST 45 people, most of them children, have been hospitalised in the Russian region of Chechnya with an illness that doctors say might be nerve-gas poisoning.

Pupils, teachers and workers began reporting breathing trouble and headaches on Friday at a school in the town of Starogladovskaya, emergency workers said.

As of yesterday, 38 children and seven teachers had been hospitalised, said Oleg Ugnivenko, a spokesman for emergency situations ministry. Preliminary investigation points to an unspecified kind of nerve gas, said emergency workers and Chechen government officials.

This preliminary report, if confirmed, will certainly cause many people to wonder where the rebels/Islamists got their WMD. One likely source, of course, would be from the Russians themselves, or at least from stocks left over from Cold War production. Another possibility could be Syria or Iran, but that also leaves open the possibility that the weapons themselves originated in Iraq first.

If true -- a big if -- it demonstrates that the fears of WMD falling into terrorist hands were completely justified. The Islamists have no moral compunction about using such weapons, and after the terror and slaughter in Beslan, no one can doubt that they have no second thoughts about selecting children intentionally for their victims. The only consolation from this story is the fact that no one died from the exposure -- meaning that the attackers (if any) didn't have the expertise to use the chemicals properly to achieve a killing effect.

That last part should comfort no one. The Islamists could well be using the children of Starogladovskaya as their lab rats, determining the proper procedures and field-testing their weaponry for a larger attack. That could come in either Chechnya or in Iraq, depending on which target will generate the most headlines. If this has truly been a WMD attack, expect to see more in quick succession, with escalating numbers of dead.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at December 20, 2005 9:58 PM

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» Precursor WMD Attacks in Russia from The Strata-Sphere
Ed Morrissey first posted on a strange illness hitting school children in Chechnya. The Russians had been dismissing a chemical or biological attack so I had held off posting on it. But now there is an new gas attack in a shopping mall there: Score... [Read More]

Tracked on December 26, 2005 9:22 AM


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