Recasting the threat of chemical terrorism in the EU: the issue of returnees from the Syrian conflict

McLeish, Caitriona (2017) Recasting the threat of chemical terrorism in the EU: the issue of returnees from the Syrian conflict. European Journal of Risk Regulation, 8 (4). pp. 643-657. ISSN 1867-299X

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Abstract

Chemical terrorist attacks by non-state actors have traditionally been characterised as low probability events; however the apparent normalisation of chemical weapons use, including by terrorists, in the ongoing conflict in Syria is causing some in the international security community to question whether it will remain low probability. For Europe there is an additional potential concern, namely the numbers of EU citizens who are ‘foreign fighters’ and whose return from the conflict zone might also result in ‘importing’ chemical weapons use. This paper examines the rise of the ‘chemical weapons-returning foreign fighter’ narrative and considers aspects of the European response. These responses predate the current concerns and include important efforts to create a robust public health response, such as early alert and communication systems, so that this might reduce the attractiveness of these weapons being used within a European context. Although there are limitations as to how far one can transfer what happens in a Syrian context to Europe, the suggestion is made that some of the framing assumptions within this response architecture may be now inadvertently limiting the potential to identify and respond to chemical attacks.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Risk, chemical terrorism, foreign fighters, Syria
Schools and Departments: School of Business, Management and Economics > SPRU - Science Policy Research Unit
Research Centres and Groups: Harvard Sussex Program
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare. Criminology > HV6001 Criminology > HV6251 Crimes and offences > HV6431 Terrorism
J Political Science > JZ International relations > JZ5511.2 Promotion of peace. Peaceful change
J Political Science > JZ International relations > JZ5511.2 Promotion of peace. Peaceful change > JZ5587 International security. Disarmament. Global survival
Depositing User: Caitriona McLeish
Date Deposited: 04 Jul 2017 14:22
Last Modified: 11 Dec 2017 10:32
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/69040

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Project NameSussex Project NumberFunderFunder Ref
Urgency Grant: Data Capture of Syria Chemical Weapons AllegationsG1335ESRC-ECONOMIC & SOCIAL RESEARCH COUNCILES/L014505/1
Pathways towards Security: what pathways are being realised in technology infrastructureG1107ESRC-ECONOMIC & SOCIAL RESEARCH COUNCILES/K011324/1