Chemicals used by Islamic State militants to produce bombs are seen inside a warehouse at a church in the town of Qaraqosh, south of Mosul, Iraq, April 12, 2017.
Chemicals used by Islamic State militants to produce bombs are seen inside a warehouse at a church in the town of Qaraqosh, south of Mosul, Iraq, April 12, 2017.

WASHINGTON - The Iraqi government on Thursday said it has issued life imprisonment for a female Islamic State (IS) member who helped the group develop chemical and biological weapons.

The woman, identified by the Iraqi Interior Ministry as Abrar al-Kubaisi, reportedly played a key role in research as a part of IS’s team to develop chemical and biological weapons.

Iraq’s Falcon Intelligence Cell did not disclose the time of her arrest, saying only that she had been arrested during an operation at an earlier date.

Life in prison

“The convicted terrorist Abrar al-Kubaisi, who was recently sentenced to life imprisonment, was one of the most prominent biological researchers involved in the IS program to manufacture and train special elements within the Development and Manufacturing Body of the terrorist organization responsible for preparation, production and use of chemical weapons in the country and abroad,” said Abu Ali al-Basri, the head of Iraqi Interior Ministry’s Directorate of Intelligence and Counterterrorism, in a statement for semi-official al-Sabah newspaper.

Al-Basri said Abrar al-Kubaisi had told Iraqi officials that she was lured into the extremist group through the internet and that she helped the IS militants conduct chemical operations in Iraq.

“Confessions of the terrorist Abrar al-Kubaisi show how she was tricked through social media to join the ranks of the terrorist organization,” said the intelligence head, adding that al-Kubaisi followed IS directions to help in the use of chemical weapons materials in several operations in Baghdad.

Chemical weapons in 2015

Reports about the IS use of chemical weapons appeared as early as 2015 when local Iraqi and Kurdish forces complained about sustaining dozens of casualties from the battlefield because of the use of mustard gas by the jihadist group.

U.S. and Iraqi intelligence officials in November 2015 expressed grave concerns that the group was aggressively pursuing the development of chemical weapons. They reported the group was seeking the help of scientists from Iraq, Syria and elsewhere in the region to open a branch devoted to research and experiments of chemical and biological weapons.

By late 2016, the group used chemical weapons, including chlorine and sulfur mustard agents, at least 52 times on the battlefield in Syria and Iraq, according an assessment by London-based intelligence collection and analysis service the IHS Conflict Monitor.