According to recent news reports, the Islamic State (Isis) in Iraq and Syria seems to have intensified its efforts to build a “dirty” bomb. The reports coming from Iraq indicate that the terrorist group might already be in the possession of required radioactive material. The material was reportedly stolen from an oil facility in southern Iraq and was part a monitoring system used to detect structural flaws in oil and gas pipelines. Reuters news agency writes:

Iraq is searching for “highly dangerous” radioactive material whose theft last year has raised fears among Iraqi officials that it could be used as a weapon if acquired by Islamic State. (…)

The [UN nuclear watchdog] IAEA said the material is classed as a Category 2 radioactive source, meaning that if not managed properly it could cause permanent injury to a person in close proximity to it for minutes or hours, and could be fatal to someone exposed for a period of hours to days.

Radioactive material is often part of diagnostic tools used in medical treatments and industrial monitoring around the world. The same material however can be used by terrorists to make a “dirty” bomb capable of contaminating several city blocks, causing wide-scale fatal radiation sickness and financial losses worth billions.

The reports from Iraq come on the heels of Belgian police investigation that caught Islamic State’s operatives secretly monitoring a nuclear scientist. Police recovered 10 hour of surveillance footage taken from a camera fixed at the residential entrance of a high-ranking nuclear scientist, prompting fears of a plot to kidnap the scientist in order to secure access to nuclear facility. The video material was recovered from a suspect linked to November 13 Paris Attacks. British newspaper The Independent reports:

[Belgian] investigators speculated that the suspects intended to kidnap the official, who had access to secure areas of a nuclear research facility in Mol – potentially to gain access to the facility and acquire enough radioactive material to create a dirty bomb.

Last month, CIA Director John Brennan told CBS News that Islamic State had chemical weapons stockpile and there was a real possibility of sneaking them into Europe and the West.

European leaders are well aware of the “dirty” bomb threat. In December 2015, the European Union issued a report warning the member states to “prepare for the possibility” of a WMD attack by the Islamic State. The report also says that Islamic State has acquired “knowledge” and “human expertise” to deploy chemical and nuclear materials as “weapons of terror.”

But don’t expect EU or European leaders to take any serious action to clamp down on smuggling rings operating across the continent. EU’s ideological commitment to open border policy and unwillingness to secure Europe’s outer borders alone funds the flourishing people smuggling industry.

With recent terror attacks, Islamic State had proven its capability of striking at the heart of Europe at will. As the terror outfit acquires technical know-how and gets hold of chemical and nuclear material, the next attack in Europe could take apocalyptic dimensions.

Watch: CIA Director John Brennan on Islamic State’s chemical weapons stockpile [CBS, February 2016]

[Cover image courtesy Wall Street Journal, YouTube screenshot]


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