ISIS recruiting professionals to create chemical weapons
ISLAMIC State recruiters are targeting more than just vulnerable youths, with Foreign Minister Julie Bishop saying they are pursuing "highly trained professionals" to make chemical weapons.
Speaking at a the 30th anniversary of the Australia Group - an international forum fighting the spread of chemical weapons - Ms Bishop said the group had already employed chlorine bombs in increasingly sophisticated terror attacks.
She said Islamic State, also known as Daesh, was making "far more serious" efforts at chemical warfare than many realised.
"Daesh is likely to have amongst its tens of thousands of recruits the technical expertise necessary to further refine precursor materials and build chemical weapons," she said.
"They seek to undermine and overthrow that order and, as we have seen, are prepared to use any and all means, any and all forms of violence they can think of to advance their demented cause.
"The use of chlorine by Da'esh, and its recruitment of highly technically trained professionals, including from the West, have revealed far more serious efforts in chemical weapons development."
Ms Bishop's speech followed the claim from Iraqi Kurdish authorities that soil and clothing samples had revealed Islamic State used chlorine gas against their soldiers in January.
She said chemical weapons often received less public attention than nuclear and biological threats, despite the damage they had caused throughout modern history.
"Toxic chemicals were, by far, the most widely used and proliferated weapons of mass destruction in the 20th century," she said.
The terror group is thought to be branching out in its efforts to recruit members. Perth doctor Tareq Kamleh appeared in a recruitment video calling for medical professionals to join the ISIS cause after fleeing to Syria in March.
He has since hit back at claims he was brainwashed into making the move, saying in an open letter it was his "humanitarian duty" to help children injured by the west's drone attacks.
Kamleh and others who join overseas terror groups could face up to 25 years in prison if they return to Australia.
- APN NEWSDESK