Islamic State and Al-Nusra: Exploring Determinants of Chemical Weapons Usage Patterns

This article seeks to examine the determinants of use and non-use of chemical weapons between two typologically similar non-state actors. By comparing the differing patterns of chemical weapons usage exhibited by the Islamic State and Al-Nusra against commonly offered variables for drivers of non-state actor CBRN usage, it will be determined that they both share the ability to conduct basic chemical weapons attacks and have the same retaliatory and theological justifications to do so. However, the essential difference between the two groups that provides an explanation for the difference in chemical weapons usage can be found in the constraints (or lack thereof) imposed by their respective strategies. The formation of these approaches by their precursor organisations combined with their prior CBRN behaviour will provide further evidence to this conclusion.

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