"The University of Mosul is the best Daesh [Arabic acronym for IS] research center in the world," Iraq’s top explosives officer Gen. Hatem Magsosi told The Wall Street Journal. "Trainees go to Raqqa [IS stronghold in northern Syria], then to Mosul university to use the existing facilities."
Materials made at the lab include peroxide-based chemical bombs, suicide bomb vests, nitrate-based explosives and chemical weapons, Magsosi said.
Daesh, outlawed in both the United States and Russia, captured Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city, without any resistance from the US-trained and equipped Iraqi army in June 2014. The newspaper cites people with knowledge of the university as saying "dozens" of IS engineers and scientists had set up a "research hub" at its well-stocked chemistry lab by March 2015.
Foreign IS fighters have reportedly been seen moving through the labs at least since August. A surge in the use of bombs made from a powdery substance known as triacetone triperoxide (TATP), described by Magsosi as the "Satan Recipe" due to its lethal effects and difficulty of detection, was registered around the same time, the newspaper claimed.
Although it could not be established whether the perpetrators of the Brussels and Paris attacks used the Mosul labs, at least one suspect was found last month to have made TATP-based suicide belts and suitcase bombs. Belgian police uncovered 33 pounds of TATP-type substances during a March 23 raid in the Schaerbeek municipality, one day after the deadly acts that killed 32 people and injured 316.
Two weeks after the November 13 Paris attacks, French police found a suicide belt containing bolts and TATP, the same substance believed to have been used in seven vests detonated during the string of attacks that killed 130 people and wounded 368.
According to the publication, despite numerous US-led coalition bombings targeting the site, most recently on March 19, the status of the University of Mosul remains unclear.