by Ian Greenhalgh
This week, Reuters reported that some ‘highly dangerous’ radioactive material has gone missing in Iraq and may have found it’s way into the hands of ISIS. The moment I heard this my ‘bovine fecal matter detector’ started to twitch uncontrollably.
Why this reaction you ask? Simple, it is the timing – the material was supposedly stolen sometime last year, so why announce it now?
Well, first of all, this is just more Fear Porn to make us all afraid of the ISIS bogeyman. Secondly, and far more significantly, it provides a cover story to account for the presence of radiation should someone explode a nuclear weapon or two in Syria. In such an event, the perps can simply point the finger at ISIS and reference this stolen Iraqi material as the source of the radiation.
If you have been keeping up to date with VT’s reporting on the Middle East, you will know that there are over 80 US-owned tactical nuclear weapons stored at Incirlik airbase in southern Turkey; that preparations have been made to steal and deploy these nukes and those nice folks in Israel have provided specially modified F16s to carry them.
The preparations are in place for Turkey to seize and deploy nuclear weapons; this story about stolen Iraqi material has surfaced at just the right time to add a ready made cover story.
So armed with this knowledge, we all should keep an eye on events in Syria and Turkey in the coming days and weeks for any suspiciously large explosions or mushroom-shaped clouds. The culprit will not be ISIS, the source of the radiation will not be this stolen Iraqi material, it will be a tactical nuke, just as was used on the innocent people of San’a in Yemen last year.
‘Highly dangerous’ radioactive material stolen, sparking fears of Isis ‘dirty bomb’
‘We are afraid the radioactive element will fall into the hands of Daesh’
Iraq is searching for “highly dangerous” radioactive material stolen last year amid fears it could fall the hands of Isis jihadis.
The material, stored in a protective case the size of a laptop, went missing from a US-owned storage facility in Basra last November, according to leaked environment ministry documents.
An unnamed senior security official with knowledge of the theft said: “We are afraid the radioactive element will fall into the hands of Daesh (Isis).
“They could simply attach it to explosives to make a dirty bomb”.
The document, dated 30 November and addressed to the ministry’s Centre for Prevention of Radiation, describes “the theft of a highly dangerous radioactive source of Ir-192 with highly radioactive activity from a depot…in the Rafidhia area of Basra province”.
An anonymous senior environment ministry official based in the city told Reuters the device contained up to 10 grams (0.35 ounces) of Ir-192 “capsules”, a radioactive isotope of iridium also used to treat cancer.
The material is classed as a Category 2 radioactive by the International Atomic Energy Agency – meaning it can be fatal to anyone in close proximity to it in a matter of days or even hours.
So far there is no indication that the material has fallen into the hands of Isis – who do not control this part of southern Iraq – but the group has begun using chemical weapons.
The terror group attacked Kurdish forces with mustard gas during a battle near Erbil, the capital of the Kurds’ autonomous region in Iraq, last August with around 35 soldiers being taken ill.
It is believed to be the first time chemical weapons have been used in the country since the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003.
A “dirty bomb” combines nuclear material with conventional explosives to contaminate an area with radiation, in contrast to a nuclear weapon, which uses nuclear fission to trigger a vastly more powerful blast.
A security official said the initial investigation suggested the perpetrators had specific knowledge of how to handle the material and how to gain access to the facility.
There were “no broken locks, no smashed doors and no evidence of forced entry”, he said.
An operations manager for Iraqi security firm Taiz, which was contracted to protect the facility, declined to comment, citing instructions from Iraqi security authorities.
A spokesman for Basra operations command, responsible for security in Basra province, said army, police and intelligence forces were working “day and night” to locate the material.
Two Basra provincial government officials said they were told to work with local hospitals to identify possible victims on 25 November.
One said: “We instructed hospitals in Basra to be alert to any burn cases caused by radioactivity and inform security forces immediately”.