It’s both a dire warning and lesson to the West when it comes to terrorist organizations. According to the United Nations, the dreaded Islamic State, or ISIS has enough weapons now to continue fighting for two years unabated. The ironic twist? Most of these weapons were stolen from Iraq, provided from the United States to fight against such a contingency.
In either case, ISIS has enough small arms, ammunition and vehicles to wage its war for Syria and Iraq for up to two years.
The group’s arsenal also has durable mobility, range and a limited defense against low-flying aircraft. Even if the U.S.-led bombing campaign continues to destroy the group’s vehicles and heavier weapons, the U.N. report says that this “cannot mitigate the effect of the significant volume of light weapons” that ISIS possesses.
This makes ISIS not only the world’s best-funded terrorist group but among its best armed.
ISIS, along with its former rival turned occasional tactical ally the Nusra Front, are sufficiently armed to threaten the region “even without territory,” the report concludes.
The report recommends that the United Nations implement new steps to cut off ISIS’s access to money and guns.
According to the U.N. assessment, ISIS’ arsenal includes T-55 and T-72 tanks; US-manufactured Humvees; machine guns; short-range anti-aircraft artillery, including shoulder-mounted rockets captured from Iraqi and Syrian military stocks; and “extensive supplies of ammunition.”
“State of the art” weaponry stolen from the U.S.-backed Iraqi military, was “unused” before ISIS seized it, the report finds. The sole bright spot is that some of the relatively complex weapons “may be too much of a challenge” for ISIS to effectively wield or maintain.
ISIS’s potential ability to produce chemical weapons after it seized Iraqi facilities that had contributed to Saddam Hussein’s illicit weapons programs was of a major concern earlier this year. The United Nations report casts doubt on the likelihood that ISIS possesses the “capability to fully exploit material it might have seized.” Nor does the U.N. report believe that ISIS can manufacture its own chemical or other weapons of mass destruction.
However, one anonymous member state has provided information about “chemicals and poison-coated metal balls” placed inside ISIS’s homemade bombs to maximize damage.
Kurdish forces defending the Syrian town of Kobani from ISIS reported cases of skin blistering, burning eyes and difficulty breathing after the detonation of an ISIS bomb.