The Islamic State militant group (ISIS) and its followers have traditionally used shock and awe tactics in their attacks on the West, taking knives, assault rifles and trucks on as weapons in shocking assaults. But the group’s followers are now calling for a hidden weapon: poison. The target? Western grocery stores.
“In the third part of an English-language series promoting lone-wolf jihad in Western countries, potential attackers are advised to inject food for sale in markets with cyanide poison,” U.S.-based jihadi monitoring group SITE Intelligence reported.
A graphic posted by the ISIS supporters in the Furat Wilayah channel on the encrypted messaging app Telegram, a platform popular with jihadists because of its secrecy and lack of takedowns compared to other platforms such as Twitter, read: “First method: poison.”
The potential use of poison is one that has been publicized by the group’s supporters for several years, but never used. Jihadists published a guide that directed “six ways to kill the Jews” in October 2015, the methods given were to “stab him, burn him, poison him.” They have also distributed a guide on how to poison food eaten by “crusaders.” Pro-ISIS groups have also published handbooks on how to make homemade poison.
Even though it has yet to be used, one U.S. case points to a jihadist attempting to follow the orders of the group and its followers. Police charged Amer Sinan Alhaggagi, a 22-year-old man from San Francisco, who spent time in Yemen. He is alleged to have tried to support ISIS, but also to “redefine terror” in the Bay Area.
In his December 2016 court hearing, details emerged that he had discussed lacing drugs with rat poison and distributing them in nightclubs across the Bay Area. He had sought information from an undercover agent about mixing highly-toxic pesticide strychnine and cocaine, according to ABC.
It was also reported in July that a Lebanese suspect detained over a plot to bring down an airliner from Australia to the United Arab Emirates, directed by ISIS, had planned to release a poison gas to incapacitate the passengers and crew of the aircraft.
The suspect abandoned the plot before boarding the plane because his bag weighed several kilograms more than the weight limit for hand luggage to board the flight. The alleged poison gas plot represented a new threat to aviation security.
The jihadist group has killed dozens of Westerners in attacks across the U.S. and Europe, the deadliest being the Paris attacks in November 2015, that left 130 people dead, the truck attack in the southern French city of Nice, that killed 86 people, and the shooting attack at a LGBT nightclub in Orlando that killed 49 people.
But in Iraq, the group has gone further, testing poisons on prisoners in experiments likened to those carried out during the Nazi era. Iraqi special forces reportedly discovered papers at Mosul University that documented the group’s use of “human guinea pigs” to test chemical agents. British and U.S. forces verified the documents, according to The Times.