As the start of the Muslim celebration of Ramadan approaches — and with it the one-year anniversary of the Islamic State’s declaration of its intent to form a caliphate — some Middle East experts fear that ISIS will seek to make itself appear more fierce and formidable by carrying out massive acts of violence. And if Australian intelligence reports are accurate, that violence could include the detonation of a “large and devastating ‘dirty bomb.'”
That’s the gist of an article in The Independent which cites concerns expressed by the Australian foreign minister as well as NATO sources who say the Islamic terrorist group has been seizing radioactive material as it fights its way across Syria and Iraq. The dangerous materials that could be used to build a weapon of mass destruction have reportedly been taken from government research centers and hospitals.
“The threat of Isis’s radioactive and biological weapons stockpile was so severe that the Australia Group, a 40-nation bloc dedicated to ending the use of chemical weapons, held a session on the subject at its summit in Perth last week,” the article said.
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Israeli authorities have been so concerned about the potential for a dirty bomb attack that, according to the Haaretz newspaper, they have carried out a series of tests to measure the damage and the fallout should such a device be exploded.
Business Insider shared details of the report coming out of the Jewish state: “The Haaretz report, which included photographs, said the project conducted 20 detonations with explosives laced with a radioactive substance. Mini-drones measured radiation levels and sensors logged the force of the explosions, Haaretz reported.”
This latest report that ISIS may well have what’s necessary to make a dirty bomb is not the first time this frightening prospect has been raised. The European edition of Newsweek reported in December of last year that Islamic radicals had stolen enough radioactive materials to make such a deadly device, but the Newsweek article downplayed the threat.
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Dina Esfandiary, a research associate with the Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Programme at the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), who recently published a paper on ISIS’s potential acquisition of weapons of mass destruction with colleague Matthew Cottee, confirms that they did likely acquire 40 kilograms of uranium from Mosul university, but is keen to point out that they almost certainly lack the knowledge to be able to turn the low-grade material into a nuclear device.
Australian intelligence and the country’s foreign minister, Julie Bishop, appear to take much more seriously the threat that ISIS could deploy a highly destructive WMD with the radioactive materials militants have seized during their murderous rampage.
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