Growing impact of the role of weapons in terrorism-related mass destruction

Throughout modern history, arms of mass destruction (ADM) have played an important role and the international community has made a major effort to minimise the high risks that they involve, as they have a large political, economic and security impact on a global scale.

The collective QBRNE1 refers to the concept of terrorist acts carried out with chemical, biological, radioactive, nuclear and explosive material. According to Interpol, back in 1994, Ossama Bin Laden, leader of the Al-Qaeda terrorist group, called on Jihadist followers to acquire weapons of mass destruction as a religious duty. In the same vein, over recent years the Islamic State terrorist group has tried to acquire chemical and biological weapons.

The United Nations Security Council gave a warning of the growing risk of terrorist groups obtaining arms of mass destruction during the meeting of 28th June last year, in which the recent use of chemical weapons by Islamic State in Syria and Iraq was noted. The war in Syria, which is now in its eighth year, has caused a great impact both internationally and in the media because of indiscriminate attacks with chemical weapons. Terrorism, which has a growing interest in possessing such weapons, aims to culminate one of the essential goals of its activities: to cause terror.

Therefore, Interpol resorts to three pillars to address such a situation:

  • The exchange of information and assessment of the threat via a monthly report
  • Providing member states with training relevant to the QBRNE collective
  • Operational and investigative support in the case of an attack or incident

International cooperation becomes the fundamental pillar to address this phenomenon. It is of vital importance to guarantee international stability, bearing in mind the magnitude of the threat posed by weapons of mass destruction, and the will to succeed and innovative spirit of current terrorist groups.

[1] The collective refers to Arms of Mass Destruction in chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear components. “Explosive”-type weapons are also included in the terrorist phenomenon. Weapons of mass destruction are extremely destructive inflicting a high death rate if used.


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