Just when you think the news can’t get any worse, you find out that the Islamic State has been collecting radioactive material from Iraq and now have enough to create a ‘dirty bomb’ that can threaten neighboring countries or even others.
The Pentagon has confirmed the claims that the IS has acquired enough radioactive material from captured Iraqi facilities to make at least one dirty bomb. The radioactive material would be packed around a conventional weapon and the detonation would spread it in a potentially large swath. If used on an urban target, this type of weapon could cause much more terror and damage than conventional explosives.
“We are aware of claims that ISIL has declared its motives of developing a ‘dirty bomb’ in a recent edition of its propaganda magazine,” U.S. Navy Cmdr. Elissa Smith, the Pentagon spokesman, told WND.
The possible seizure and use of radioactive material was reported in Dabiq, an Islamic State sponsored English-language magazine. The claims were assessed by Australian Defense and Intelligence officials and brought to the attention of NATO.
“We share the same concern as our Australian defense officials and regional partners and will continue to use our intelligence resources to remain vigilant of any activity and indicators of this violent extremist organization’s intent to employ such weapons,” Cmdr. Smith continued.
The creation and use of a dirty bomb would certainly fit the pattern of terror already established by IS. It would also, unfortunately, endanger many more innocent lives than the Islamic State has been able to threaten up to this point. Terrorist acts are terrorist acts, but there is a difference between killing twenty Christians by cutting off their heads and murdering hundreds and causing radiation problems and illness to thousands of random people.
“The intent of a dirty bomb is to cause panic with the fear of the radioactivity,” said Matthew Bunn, a professor at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard University. “But that may be more difficult to do if governments can quickly confirm that the amount of radioactivity involved is not a threat to anybody (even though) that in itself is problematic when there’s so much distrust on the subject of radiation risks.”
Although not nuclear weapons in the strictest sense, dirty bombs are fairly simple to construct if you have access to radioactive material. As a terror weapon, they are very effective because the damage continues after the initial explosion is over.
This capability means that the Islamic State will need to be opposed, not just contained. The potential for using a dirty bomb in the surrounding states or in a terrorist scheme in a Western country makes the Islamic State a problem that airstrikes won’t solve.
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