Selling Nuclear Material to ISIS

The concept is the foundation for dozens of good, and not-so-good, novels – a terrorist group buys nuclear material from the black market and uses it to construct a weapon. The hero of the novel has to stop the terrorists from exploding the weapon and killing thousands of innocent people – usually Americans.

Unfortunately, that fiction is getting closer and closer to fact.

Moldavan authorities and the FBI cooperated in an operation to stop Russian criminal gangs from selling radioactive material to ISIS terrorists. This investigation is one of four that have been stopped over the last couple of years.

“We can expect more of these cases,” said Contantin Malic, a Moldovan police officer who took part in all four investigations, as reported by the Telegraph. “As long as the smugglers think they can make big money without getting caught, they will keep doing it.”

ISIS NuclearIf officials think that it is still going on, it makes you wonder: if all of these gangs that have access to nuclear material and they are willing to sell to anyone, have all of the attempts been thwarted? All it takes is one successful sale to a terrorist group – and its subsequent use – to have as large an impact on the national character as the attacks of September 11th.

“What has changed is that in ISIL we now have a terrorist group that is mad enough to try it, and also has the money to appeal to a potential seller,” said Mark Galleoti, professor of global affairs at New York University. “That could make the market for this more viable.”

The use of nuclear material in a terrorist attack is getting a lot more press recently. Al Mauroni, Director of the U.S. Air Force Center for Unconventional Weapons Studies, recently wrote about how the fears of a dirty bomb are overrated. Yukiya Amano, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, wrote a commentary on nuclear terrorism printed in the Japan Times. Even our own State Department is looking harder at the potential problems.

Nuclear terrorism needs more attention than it is getting. The Russian state has proven, more than once, that it cannot control the criminal elements within its borders. This black market was built on selling weaponry from the Cold War and nuclear material is just one more weapon to sell.

The material being sold by the Russian mobsters was radioactive caesium – enough to make a dirty bomb that could have contaminated several blocks if detonated. The price for this material was $2.8 million. If this is the last we ever hear about ISIS attempting to buy nuclear material for terrorist attacks, I will be amazed.

Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.

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Matt Towns

Matt is a former military journalist who spent 10 years in the US Navy. He served in various posts during his career, including a couple of deployments on the USS Valley Forge (CG-50). After leaving the Navy, he worked in management for a number of years before opening his own businesses. He ran those businesses until 2012 when he chose to leave the retail industry and return to writing. Matt currently works as a freelance writer, contributing to the US Patriot blog and other websites about political affairs, military activities and sailing.
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