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Nuclear Terrorism: Not If, But When

July 30, 2007
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Today, a nuclear disaster is becoming more likely than ever. In 2004, Yossef Bodansky, former director of the US Congressional Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare, said, “All of the warnings we have today indicate that a major strike—something more horrible than anything we’ve seen before—is all but inevitable.” Journalist Christopher Hitchens wrote, “Terrorism is the tactic of demanding the impossible, and demanding it at gunpoint.” This nuclear “gun” in the hands of a terrorist can kill hundreds of thousands and render entire cities toxic. What if Osama bin Laden and other evil entrepreneurs believe they can harness nuclear devices to strike terror into their enemies? Apart from the tragic loss of life and horrendous injuries, the economy of the region attacked will be blown away, drinking water contaminated, computers shut down, regular services of electricity affected, and the population afflicted with cancer well after the event.

How real is this rhetoric? In 2006, it was estimated that 27,000 nuclear weapons were held by at least eight countries. The United States and Russia held 96% of the devices. A Canadian Broadcasting Corp. documentary “Nuclear Jihad” reported, “No one even knows for certain how much nuclear weapons material the Soviet Union produced. With confirmed incidents of Russian-origin fissile material turning up for sale on the black market, this danger seems more than hypothetical.”

Can Terrorists Get the Bomb?

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is the UN agency responsible for the surveillance of illegal trafficking in nuclear devices. Mohammed El Baradei, director general of the IAEA and a Nobel Peace Prize winner said, “We are in a race against time, because we know that Al-Qaeda and other extremist groups would love to get their hands on nuclear weapons.” He went on to say, “I never in my wildest dreams imagined that you can have a Wal-Mart, a fully operational network trading nuclear material.”

 The mushroom cloud of the atomic bombing of Nagasaki, Japan, 1945

On May 2, 2007, Dr. John Chapman, director general and chief executive of The International Institute of Strategic Studies (IISS), released a dossier entitled, “Nuclear Black Markets: Pakistan, A.Q. Khan, and the Rise of Proliferation Networks—A Net Assessment.” The report read, “In this dossier, the term ‘nuclear black market’ denotes the trade in nuclear-related expertise, technologies, components, or material that is being pursued for non-peaceful purposes and most often by covert or secretive means.”

Pakistan determined to “go nuclear” in December 1971 when they were defeated in conflict by India and lost East Pakistan (Bangladesh). The same trauma inspired nuclear scientist Dr. A.Q. Khan to offer his expertise to Pakistani nuclear ambitions. Some have called Khan “the father of the Pakistani bomb,” but the IISS dossier called that label “an exaggeration of his contribution.” Khan did, however, provide Pakistan with “an indigenous capability to produce the enriched uranium required for an atomic bomb,” the report said. It is known that the techniques perfected by Khan were soon replicated by Iran, North Korea, and, to some degree, India. It took Pakistan only 10 years to reach the point where it was producing nuclear weapons.

Consider the Khan connection to Iran. He began discussions with the Iranians in the mid-1980s. He provided Iran with centrifuges, technical designs, components, and a network into the nuke dealers. The IISS report said his contribution to the Iranian program was not insignificant.

Osama bin Laden describes acquiring weapons of mass destruction as “a religious duty.” Author Grant Jeffrey made this sobering observation in his book The Next World War, “While building a nuclear-fission bomb is beyond bin Laden’s capacity, the FBI and the CIA have stated that the acquisition or development by terrorists of a nuclear radiation device or dirty bomb is quite probable” (author’s emphasis). A Sunday Times (London) headline revealed, “Al-Qaeda Woos Recruits with Nuclear Bomb Website.” The article read: “The manual, posted on October 6 on a forum titled Al-Firdaws, or Paradise, contains 80 pages of instructions and pictures of kitchen bomb-making techniques. It is divided into nine lessons under the overall heading, ‘The Nuclear Bomb of Jihad and the Way to Enrich Uranium,’ and is dedicated as a ‘gift to the commander of the jihad fighters, Sheikh Osama Bin Laden, for the purpose of jihad for the sake of Allah.’”

From Dirty Bombs to “Orphan” Nukes

In a November 2001 interview with a Pakistani reporter, Bin Laden’s deputy, Ayman al-Zawahri, said they had succeeded in buying portable nuclear weapons from former Soviet nuclear scientists. Research scientists have said a sophisticated terror network like Al-Qaeda could make their own nuclear weapons, but the most likely accumulation of a nuclear arsenal will come from the black market and by acquiring “orphan” nukes.

In February 2002, the US National Defense Industrial Association’s National Defense Magazine warned: “The former Soviet republics are the most notable source of orphaned nukes. An average of approximately 375 sources or devices are reported lost or stolen each year, which amounts to about one per day.” The report concluded: “The destructive powers of a successful detonation of a low-yield nuclear device or an RDD [radiological dispersal device] would far surpass the death toll of the September 11 terrorist attacks. The International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War in Cambridge, MA, estimated that an explosive nuclear device, with a 12-kiloton yield, surface-detonated in downtown New York City during peak business hours, would result in 60,065 immediate fatalities, with another 60,065 non-fatally injured.”

In light of this sobering analysis, Alistair Miller, vice president and director of the Fourth Freedom Forum in Washington, DC, said, “Tactical nuclear weapons pose unique dangers as weapons of terror. Their often-smaller size increases their portability and vulnerability to theft by non-nuclear states and potential nuclear terrorists.”

Iran’s Plans for Nuclear Terror

In May 2007, Infolive.tv (Israel) reported, “Iran and Nuclear Terrorism. Not a Threat, a Promise!” Israel security officials had announced to the Israel News Agency that a recent launch of a missile from Iran into space illustrated a direct threat to “both Europe’s and US national security.” The Infolive.tv report said: “On February 25, Iran launched a missile reaching space. ‘Iran has successfully launched its first space missile made by Iranian scientists,’ the head of Iran’s aerospace research center, Mohsen Bahrami, was quoted as saying…Iran Defense Minister Mostafa Mohammad Najjar said Iran was planning to build a satellite and launcher.”

Colonel Adam, an Israeli security source, sounded this alarm: “Iran has no plans to land a man on the moon. The same technology is used to build intercontinental ballistic missiles. This Iran space launch is not a threat to Israel. The Iranians need not reach a space orbit to attack Israel, but such a high orbit would be needed to deliver a nuclear payload into Europe or the US…Take a look at the news media, you don’t see a word about this launch…Western governments were not prepared for Iran to have a nuclear delivery system up and running. Intel is hard to come by regarding Iran. It is very difficult to have real time Intel coming from Iran as it is difficult for operatives to penetrate Iranian society. Most of our Intel comes from external sources, and these sources are reactive, passive, not proactive.” He warned that unless action to halt the Iran nuclear program was immediate, “we will witness catastrophe.”

A source from the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs said, “Iran, which denies that a European Holocaust ever took place, is now planning to create a second Holocaust in Europe and in the US.”

What Motivates This Murderous Mission?

Filmmaker and author Gregory M. Davis wrote the following in his 2006 book, Religion of Peace? Islam’s War Against the World: “Islamic theology divides the world into two spheres which are in perpetual conflict: the House of Islam and the House of War. The House of Islam (Dar al-Islam) embraces territory where Islamic law (Sharia) is the law of the land, while the House of War (Dar al-Harb) comprises the rest of the world. The House of Islam is enjoined by Allah to make war upon the House of War until the latter is permanently assimilated to the former.”

A January 10, 2006 Worldnet Daily report states: “Ahmadinejad is urging Iranians to prepare for the coming of the Mahdi [Islam’s messiah] by turning the country into a mighty and advanced Islamic society and by avoiding the corruption and excesses of the West.” “We must prepare ourselves to rule the world and the only way to do that is to put forth views on the basis of the Expectation of the Return,” Ahmadinejad said. “If we work on the basis of the Expectation of the Return…all the affairs of our nation will be streamlined, and the administration of the country will become easier.” He believes that the Mahdi and Jesus will return together. That belief motivates Ahmadinejad and others like him to press forward with force to gain the submission of the House of War.

In a January 2006 article, author and commentator Daniel Pipes wrote, “The most dangerous leaders in modern history are those (such as Hitler) equipped with a totalitarian ideology and a mystical belief in their own mission. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad fulfills both these criteria, as revealed by his UN comments. That combined with his expected nuclear arsenal make him an adversary who must be stopped, and urgently.”

Jeffrey quotes Saudi Arabian columnist Muhammad bin Abd al-Latif Aal al-Sheikh: “After the ruin, destruction, and bloodshed that Nazism brought upon mankind…the world arose to fight against this murderous ideology…to prevent this ideology from spreading anew. The question arises of why, in light of the similarity between these two ideologies, we haven’t learned a lesson from this human experience.”

The disciples of Yeshua asked Him, “What will be the sign of the end of the age?” (Matt. 24:3) He cited global combat with “wars and rumors of wars” and that “nation will rise against nation” (vv. 6–7). He spoke of betrayal, hatred, pestilence, earthquakes, and famines. We are observing, and some are already experiencing, the dramatic events He foretold. His prophecies are being fulfilled in Israel day by day, and we can rejoice knowing that the most dreadful plans of the enemy will culminate in His glorious victory. Our most worthy position in the midst of the storm is on our knees, but looking up!

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