Chlorine Bombs


Its a disturbing development in the Iraq insurgency. So far, 2007 has marked the first time al Qaeda terrorists made good on their promise to use chemical weapons on U.S. troops, Iraqi forcesand Iraqi civilians.

Since January, al Qaeda operatives have detonated six vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices, or VBIEDs, using chlorine gas. Three were employed last week alone. Though a Marine source in al Anbar where most of the attacks have taken place downplays the new tactic, it raises the possibility of U.S. troops having to don their hot, uncomfortable chemical warfare gear once again.

Our friends over at Stratfor have put together a pretty good intel brief on AQIs new weapon of mass destruction.

From Stratfor:

The use of chlorine in chemical VBIEDs is attractive to militants because the chemical is widely available in Iraq and around the world. The problem, as Iraqi militants are finding, however, is dispersing the chemical with a VBIED while maintaining an effective concentration of the gas

Regardless of these bombs’ effectiveness as mass killers, however, insurgents like them because the immediate chlorine odor incites fear. Witnesses of the Iraqi attacks, for example, reported nasty smells and a white plume of smoke that turned black and blue. Furthermore, these attacks are valuable to insurgents as tests for future operations elsewhere. Whether this method of attack is the fixation of a particular insurgent leader or it represents an emerging doctrine by al Qaeda in Iraq, the attacks will allow the insurgents to gain tactical expertise and learn to construct more effective chemical bombs. The attackers also could be conducting these attacks to gauge security weaknesses or to divert attention from a different location where an operation is planned

Chemical VBIED attacks are likely to continue in Iraq and to spread as those responsible for them export the knowledge gained throughout the region and beyond. Al Qaeda units in other locations followed the lead of al Qaeda in Iraq as it increased its use of tactics such as employing roadside bombs and conducting beheadings — and the use of chlorine bombs could be next

Because chlorine is so common, movement of the chemical cannot be severely restricted. This is especially true in areas where the state already has a weak hold on the security situation. Therefore, Iraqi insurgents are likely to continue refining their technique — and their allies and sympathizers beyond the state will start to adopt the tactic themselves.



  • Charles

    And the advantage is that nowadays everyone will be so terrified of the possibility of a chlorine attack that if they smell household bleach after a car bomb attack people are likely to think it is a chlorine attack, and run for their lives.
    Tempted to suggest a “binary” explosive with ammonia and sodium hypochlorite to make the chlorine gas in the explosion itself. The chlorine is giving the impression that the insurgents are switching stuff around, but this appears to be more psychological than anything. IIRC they were dealing with this in WW1 with a rag over the mouth, soaked in water. Don’t know what to say about the eyes though…

  • Marcello

    I don’t think that the actual killing potential of a Chlorine “enhanced” bombing is the point here. With terrorism the point is not what you actually do, but the menace of what you could possibly do.
    Look at what happened after the alleged plan to attack airplanes in london, the simple menace of a possible “liquid explosive” attack prompted (ludicrous) restrictive actions across the whole world.
    Here things are on a different scale, but the advantage of using this kind of bomb is not the people killed or incapacitated by the gas, but the panic that the possibility of a gas attack can create. In the aftermath of a bomb explosion people are already quite shaken, add a strange and strong smell and you have hundreds of people running from the scene, possibly causing more injuries and deaths, and, certainly, a greater disruption in the normal flow of things. US troops would probably cope with this kind of attacks without much problems, but civilians are a whole different thing.
    And consider that insurgents have already demonstrated that they’re quite apt at taking ideas and changing it, making them more effective. These could just the first attempts at creating an effective way to emply chemical weapons, only time will tell if they’ll manage to find a viable solution or switch to some other kind of weapons.

  • Mike Burleson

    My question is: where is the UN outrage over this? What if we used chemical weapons against Al Qaeda?

  • AbleFable

    AlQueda? Perpetuating myths? Are the American’s (sorry coalition of the less and less willing) fighting the local insurgents (Shia and Sunni)or AlQueda in Iraq. It’s amazing that anything “terrible” automatically gets associated with Alqueda. Most experts consider the chlorine bombs the work of Sunni insurgents/resistance, not Alqueda. It’s fine if you want to be cheerleader for the war, but you loose credibility when you repeat obvious falsehoods. The echo chamber lives right here!It’s too bad about what AlQueda has done to my pet food…

  • Vstress

    For chlorine gas all that is necessary is a gas mask anyway, is it not? Absorption through the skin I presume is negligible.

  • Kaltes

    Yeah, Chlorine only kills by getting into your lungs. It turns into acid and reacts with lung tissue. It has to be really concentrated to kill, and usually people run away since it is visible and has a strong odor. A wet rag protects people because the chlorine gets absorbed by the water in the rag instead of the water in your lungs.

  • mech

    Simple, economical, safer, and more effective solution to chlorine water purification and related problems. http://WWW.MIOX.COM

  • Sin

    Does no one remember that after the first gulf war we banned Chlorine and that it has contributed to hundreds of thousands of people dying from contaminated water, i wanna know how its so easy to get it in iraq if they couldn’t even put it in the water…

  • Silvia Teresa Osorio

    Please Mt. Lowe,
    We need some kind of help in South Florida. I have being the Victim of chemical bombing since 2006. It is penetrated by any orifice in the home; water pipes, ceiling fans, AC units, zinc’s drainers. All kinds of different chemicals are used including nerve gas. I have gone all over the place unsuccessfully. Could you suggest where to report this that would be possitively effective? I tried the local police and they claim is out of their scope. I have lost 15 pounds and have liver and kidney damages as a result. My case is not unique, it is happening in different homes around town. People are complaining of chest infections, respiratory problems and a lot of innocent people are dying of cancer.
    Please help us.
    Thank you.
    Silvia T. Osorio

  • I’m pretty sure you’re either making this up or extrememly paranoid. Since your AC and stove fan are close circuits you can’t possibly have any poison gas coming in from those places. Besides if there was an NBC attack the CDC and federal gov’t would be all over it. They don’t let those things go unattended. Also if you have been a victim of a chem attack for 3 years now, I have one word for you…MOVE!!!

  • beron

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  • brad wheeler

    POISEN WAS USED ON sCOTT fLORANCE THE sEATTLE eVERETTE aREA LOTS OF TIMES they want the invisible man to put invisible spit in my drink or on my food I could die poisens the reverse of laftwer the oppisate of life all pills at the mental hospital are poise the ambulaence driver and doctor is a hologram its an empty biulding they took me to blind projections filling the beds the invi sible man froze my matress over and made a deadly poltergies out of my bed negress is in love with all these problems cant visit the mebros embryos growing in a bubble vat chamber incubator