April 01, 2023

The Islamic State’s North Korean arms

Pyongyang likely not aiding IS directly, but its weapons may have reached them nonetheless

Keep calm: The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant is probably not buying weapons from North Korea. In recent weeks, several sources have identified North Korean small arms and light weapons in the hands of IS fighters. While this may be the case, an analysis of the weapons used by IS and rival groups in Syria points to the conclusion that no North Korean weapons in the IS arsenal have been purchased or transferred directly from Pyongyang. Instead, the group has likely either looted them from Syrian government stores along the way, or received them in illicit transfers from former Libyan government caches. Proliferation rears its ugly head in many ways.