Islamic State announces it has a 'dirty bomb' but probably unsure how to use it
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With a disturbing series of tweets from Islamic State jihadists across social media, it has been announced that the Islamic State has produced a "dirty bomb" that can wreak havoc over a wide area. If true then it will be the first actual weapon of mass destruction possessed by the Islamic State.
LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Twitter lit up on Sunday with word from several Islamic State members that they now possessed a "dirty bomb." The weapon of mass destruction has been concocted from radioactive materials seized from a university in Mosul when jihadists overran the city last summer.
Both a university professor and officials from the United Nations have affirmed the seizure and the threat that a dirty bomb could pose. So far, there has been no discernible international reaction.
While it is possible that the Islamic State is bluffing, it also remains possible that they are telling the truth. A dirty bomb is a conventional explosive device packed with radioactive elements so that when it explodes, it showers radioactivity over a wide area. Such radioactivity would be dangerous to anyone who came into contact with it, sickening them and possibly causing death, even years later.
Cleanup from such an explosion would be complicated costly, and extremely difficult.
Experts from the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission state that dirty bombs are not technically classified as weapons of mass destruction because the initial, conventional blast is probably more dangerous than the radioactive dispersal that would result. Instead, the Commission refers to them as "weapons of mass disruption."
They would be very disruptive. A dirty bomb set off in an urban area would render at least several blocks off-limits while a lengthy cleanup process ensued. Imagine if no traffic could pass through Times Square or across the busiest city thoroughfare near you.
Several tweets specifically hinted at what kind of disruption such a bomb could do if set off in London.
If the Islamic State has seized the full 40kg (c. 90lbs) of radioactive material stored in Mosul and converted it to use for a dirty bomb, they would then face a daunting task -how to get the bomb to its target without being stopped.
Such a bomb, once rigged with explosives and a device to detonate it, would be too much for one person to carry. It would have to be moved by vehicle, and could not be easily transported. Transferring it to a boat or a plan would also be a challenge. Then, getting it to a target destination would have its own challenges.
In all likelihood, the existence of such a bomb would not pose a significant threat to The U.S.A. or the U.K. because the terrorists would not be able to deliver it. Instead, the bomb is more likely to be used in the region, although it is unclear against whom or even when.
Neither the UN, U.S., or U.K. governments have issued any statement or indicated that they plan to change their strategy towards the Islamic State because of the supposed existence of the weapon.
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