ISIS chemical weapons expert in US custody

Is Mustard Gas the New ISIS Weapon?
Is Mustard Gas the New ISIS Weapon?

An ISIS official captured by U.S. special forces last month is one of the terror group's leading experts on chemical weapons, U.S. defense officials said Wednesday. Under interrogation, the official reportedly told his captors that the group plans to weaponize mustard gas to use during fighting in Syria and Iraq.

Iraqi officials told the AP that the man was Sleiman Daoud al-Afari, a chemical and biological weapons specialist who once worked for Saddam Hussein. Al-Afri is roughly 50 years old, the AP reported, and was in charge of ISIS' research and development unit on chemical weapons. They said he was captured during a raid in Tal Afar, in northern Iraq, last month. U.S. airstrikes have been targeting positions in Iraq and Syria that ISIS might be using to develop the chemical weapons, based on information gleaned from the ISIS detainee, CNN reported.

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U.S. officials confirmed recently that ISIS has been using banned chemical weapons against Kurdish fighters, and as Vocativ recently reported, the group has greater ambitions when it comes to weapons of mass destruction, including hopes to deploy dirty bombs beyond Iraq and Syria and against targets in the West.

The detainee is being held in a facility in Erbil, in northern Iraq, which is under the control of the Kurdish government. The special operations troops, known as the Expeditionary Task Force, began operations in Iraq last month. The Pentagon said the task force's goal is to capture ISIS leaders. Anyone captured was not expected to be held long-term and would eventually be handed over to Iraqi authorities.

The International Committee of the Red Cross said it had been notified of the prisoner's detention and had visited him, but offered no further details.

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