By Brett Daniel Shehadey
Special Contributor for In Homeland Security
Baghdad has informed the United Nations and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that Iraqi terrorists have stolen 88 pounds of low-grade Uranium from Mosul University.
IAEA spokeswoman Gill Tudor said, “On the basis of the initial information we believe the material involved is low-grade and would not present a significant safety, security or nuclear proliferation risk.”
Russia recognizes the interests rightly as an “alarming” shift.
Many are playing down the threat; including the U.S. No one wants to start another panic or another war based on WMDs; and this is NOT a WMD anyways, just some Uranium, so why bother?
Still, it is hard to imagine that there is “no” risk. Tudor is correct that there is no nuclear risk. But exploding non-fissile Uranium can cause mass contamination to a population and its surroundings as all nuclear material is poisonous. These are called dirty bombs. Depending on the mixture of nuclear materials, side-effects of exposure can include: radiation, organ and reproductive damage; developmental abnormalities and carcinogenic symptoms. Because of this, its use may be justified to these jihadists that seek to annihilate their ideologically perceived enemies in more painful ways with greater exposure than conventional IEDs and suicide bombs.
The billion dollar terrorist-run Islamic State of Syria and the Levant (ISIL) is clearly gathering a list of material ingredients to manufacture more exotic weapons; including the dirty bombs. Moreover, they need only to start with the depleted Uranium buried in the sands?
Washington and the region must prepare themselves now more than ever before of ISIL terrorists triggering localized dirty bombs. They will likely select soft targets, such as civilian leadership or symbolic and high-traffic areas. ISIL and its sympathizer’s prime targets will include Syria, Iraq, Iran and other actors. There is also the remote possibility that such materials will break through primary lines of intelligence and security defenses of Western nations and Russia.
ISIL’s use of dirty bombs as a deterrent to Baghdad and Damascus is less likely only because it is looking to take enemy territory and total victory in those states. However, if it falls back to a holding posture and consolidates political gains toward a workable state, this could be a potentially effective weapons-based short-term strategy for them. Yet as they become more accountable to a population base, they will face mass reprisals and greater outside pressure.
Right now, ISIL is more worried about losing forward momentum and a dirty bomb attack on their one or more of their neighborly immediate enemies might unfortunately be their prized objective. They need only to intensify its effect and impact through use and terror propaganda to turn something overlooked into a crisis event whose fear and panic might finish off the Maliki regime and give them to live another day and avoid martyrdom.
On the other hand, a last resort option becomes more rational, if that term can be applied. This is because with limited nuclear materials they suffer an even more enraged enemy and greater international opposition in counterterrorism efforts against them.