Monday, September 28, 2015


Recently, newspaper reports noted the confirmation by U.S. officials of the use of mustard gas by the forces of the Islamic State (IS, formerly known as ISIS).  The reports noted that investigations by a number of Western intelligence agencies have led to this conclusion.
The Rubin Center for Research in International Affairs was the first to reveal clear evidence of the use of Chemical Weapons (CW) by the Islamic State. Our October 12, 2014, MERIA Special Report published exclusive pictures showing the physical results of IS use of a chemical agent--which we identified as most likely mustard gas--in a fight against Kurdish militants in a village in the Kobani area of northern Syria.

The pictures and information were obtained by Rubin Center Director Dr. Jonathan Spyer on a 2014 reporting trip into Kobani.

Using our network of contacts in the relevant professional echelon, the Rubin Center obtained a preliminary confirmation of the likely truth of claims of CW use, following which we published a world exclusive on this crucial development.
Ten months later, the result of exhaustive investigations by the relevant agencies of Western governments have confirmed our initial findings.
The Rubin Center was first to bring this war crime of the most heinous nature to the world’s attention, months in advance of any other body.  This early warning confirms the usefulness of the methods the Rubin Center has been pioneering in the field of Middle East research.    These methods involve the combination of field reporting and the maintenance of an extensive network of sources throughout the Middle East, with access to relevant professional agencies and adherence to the highest standards of research methodology.

The CW report is only one example of the fruits of our research over the last year.  Rubin Research Fellow Aymenn Jawad al-Tamimi’s groundbreaking work in obtaining, translating, and making available administrative documents of the Islamic State has obtained wide recognition.  While the majority of research on IS has focused only or mainly on their murderous activities, Tamimi’s work draws a deeper and more complex picture of this dangerous phenomenon--one that is essential if it is to be understood and defeated.
In other areas, too, our work has placed us ahead of the game.  The Rubin Center was the first to flag the role of Iran-supported Shi’i militias as playing a vital role in the battle against IS in Iraq. Spyer and Tamimi’s December 2014 article addressed this issue and the problematic implications for Western policy vis-à-vis Iraq and Syria months before it had become a noted phenomenon.
Jonathan Spyer is also one of the few Western researchers to have embedded with the Shi’i militias, gaining exclusive access to the highest levels of command and visiting frontline positions of the militias in Anbar Province and the Baiji area of Iraq.
The Rubin Center is also pleased to announce the addition of Research Associate Alex Grinberg, a former officer of IDF Military Intelligence and an Iran specialist, and Arabic-language media expert Dave McAvoy, who has been closely following Arabic TV news coverage for a decade.
The Rubin Center--founded by the late Prof. Barry Rubin, one of the most prolific and dedicated Middle East scholars of our time--is a non-profit, self-funded organizationNow, when factual information and a clear picture of the situation in the Middle East are more important than ever, the Rubin Center needs your support in order to continue its groundbreaking research.

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