Amid the announcement that bio-chem suits were missing from a Paris hospital, French Prime Minister Valls has warned France may face a chemical and or biological threat from Islamic State. France has also ordered the protection of water facilities under Eau de Paris, which has increased chlorine to five water supply sites.
IS has used crude chemical weapons, against civilians in Syria and the real concern is that they did not steal or divert these munitions, but appear to have acquired a manufacturing capability. On the biological side, some agents do not need to be weaponized to be effectively deployed in terrorist attacks. France has previous experience with terrorists trying to use a ricin like substance, a crudely made toxin they tried to manufacture to commit acts of terrorism. Islamic State's capabilities appear to be more advanced than other non-state supported terrorist organizations in the past. Like Al Qaeda's Yazid Sufaat, IS seems to have recruited scientists and be in the process of attempting to acquire a CBRN capability. Sufaat was recruited by AQ to develop mainly anthrax.
ISIS has used mustard gas on several occasions and according to a Fox report which can be found here: http://www.foxnews.com/world/2015/11/20/islamic-state-group-making-determined-effort-for-chemical-weapons-iraqi-us/
"Iraqi officials expressed concern that the large safe haven the extremists control since overrunning parts of Iraq and Syria last year has left Iraqi authorities largely in the dark over the IS program. They now have complete freedom to select locations for their labs and production sites and have a wide range of experts, both civilian and military, to aid them," a senior Iraqi intelligence official told The Associated Press." As further noted in the report, "IS has set up a branch tasked with pursuing chemical weapons, according to a senior Iraqi military intelligence officer and two officials from another Iraqi intelligence agency. They wouldn't give details of the program, including how many personnel it is believed to have or its budget. But al Zamili, citing intelligence reports he has access to, told the AP that the group has managed to attract chemical experts from abroad as well as Iraqi experts, including ones who once worked for Saddam Hussein's now dissolved Military Industrialization Authority. The foreigners include experts from Chechnya and Southeast Asia, the Iraqi intelligence officials said." "IS recently moved its research labs, experts and materials from Iraq to 'secured locations' inside Syria, al Zamili added--apparently out of concern of an eventual assault on Mosul, Iraq's second largest city, captured by IS in the summer of 2014."
Indeed IS manufacturing of chemical weapons is a huge concern and the potential smuggling of these weapons into France would be a worrying development. However, chemical weapons will not go global. Biological weapons have this capacity and in terms of public health security and the risk of epidemics and pandemics the risk IS poses should they develop BW agents would be a very serious situation not only for France but the international community.
While France has a comprehensive preparedness plan in place for several years, other EU countries do not have such resources allocated to prepare their populations to counter a CBW attack. Several smaller nations in fact have created a false sense of security in their populations and simply do not prepare them at all. This approach to public preparedness is obviously very concerning. The French plan can be found here: https://pro.anses.fr/euroreference/numero7/index.htm The announcement by Valls also touches upon national investment in stockpiling for medical counter measures against a range of highly communicable and infectious disease agents. It is unlikely if we consider the traject of AQ that IS will stop at only manufacturing and using chemical weapons against civilians in Syria. It is highly likely they will attempt to smuggle these agents into the EU via Turkey. All efforts must be made to increase support for front line states processing large numbers of refugees and to increase support for refugee camps running along the boarder of Turkey. Refugees represent a very vulnerable population and the exploitation of routes into Europe by IS, possibly to deploy chemical or biological weapons can only be stopped if we intervene at a much earlier stage and go after production sites in country and target would be IS scientists. Classic threat reduction which we would employ against a state actor needs serious review. If IS continues to emerge as a terrorist state we will have to consider threat reduction using a completely different set of principles.