How Real is the "Dirty Bomb" Threat?


May 7, 2015 – Utrecht, Netherlands – - European authorities are either unwilling or unable to control the mass Islamic migration coming from Africa and the Middle East, making the mafia organizations which largely control the process more powerful than the governments. These wealthy and ruthless criminals pose an extraordinary threat to European security and stability. Not only do these human traffickers operate outside Europe, their extensive criminal networks assist migrants to cross borders inside Europe. Even where there is a will, police and law enforcement are hardly able to tackle these huge problems and liberal politicians who refuse to act decisively, make matters worse. Intimidated by the migration maffias, they advocate a policy of open borders. People such as German President Joachim Gauck and Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi are implicated in this process, the more they give in, the worse the outcome is going to be.

Last year, some 220,000 asylum-seekers crossed the Mediterranean Sea. This year the number is expected to be between 500,000 and 1 million. There is an additional “Balkan route” via Turkey, Bulgaria and Serbia to the “ Schengen” countries [26 Continental nations which essentially no longer have borders] especially Hungary. For example, in 2014, some 42,000 migrants from Syria, Afghanistan and other Muslim countries arrived in that country, with most of them then travelling on to Germany, Belgium, Holland and Scandinavia.

European cities can’t cope with this huge influx and local Muslim communities are more restive than ever. Too many second-generation Muslims feel attracted to jihadism which is reflected by the increased number of plots which have been thwarted since early 2014. Unfortunately, other spectacular attacks have not been prevented by Europe’s overburdened security and police services. In virtually all of these cases radical Muslims were involved. European interior ministers as well as chiefs of security and intelligence services have issued warnings, saying that the scale of the current threat is unprecedented.

Many of these asylum-seekers [especially those from Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Iran, Somalia, Northern Nigeria, Mali, Libya and Afghanistan] are also anti-Semitic. Thus the process imports the violent cultures of the immigrant’s homeland. As a result Jews are no longer safe in many European cities and many are simply leaving to escape the threat.

In some cases Muslim refugees threw Christians overboard when there was no space for all of them in the tiny boats or dinghies en-route to Italy, offering by way of defense, “here, we only pray to Allah!” Muslim asylum-seekers in Holland, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Belgium, France, Denmark, Norway and Sweden attacked and harassed other asylum-seekers who were Christians – targeting women in particular. Muslim converts to Christianity received numerous death threats and some of them were even brutally murdered.

Today, ISIS terrorists in Libya are openly threatening that they will conquer Rome and Southern Europe. ISIS terrorists also theatened to carry out so-called “dirty bomb” attacks in Europe and the United States.

A dirty bomb is not a nuclear [fission] weapon but a radiological dispersal device (RDD), combining radioactive material with conventional explosives.

In the summer of 2005 Robert S. Leiken published a still highly topical article on “Europe’s Angry Muslims” in Foreign Affairs. Leiken is Director of the Immigration and National Security Program at the Nixon Center and a nonresident fellow at the Brookings Institution. “As a consequence of demography, history, ideology, and policy, western Europe now plays host to often disconsulate Muslim offspring, who are its citizens in name but not culturally or socially...To make matters worse, the very isolation of these diaspora communities obscures their inner workings, allowing mujahideen to fundraise, prepare and recruit for the jihad with a freedom available in few Muslim countries.” Leiken points out that too many of Europe’s “angry Muslims” as well as a lot of “jihadist networks” are involved in terrrorism.

“In March 2004, within days of the London police chief’s pronouncement that a local terrorist attack was ‘inevitable,’ his officers uncovered a plot involving nine British nationals of Pakistani origin and seized their largest cache of potential bomb-making material since the heyday of the Irish Republican Army. A few months later, Scotland Yard charged eight second-generation South-Asian immigrants, reportedly trained in al-Qaeda camps, with assembling a dirty bomb. Three of them had reconnaissance plans showing the layout of financial institutions in three U.S. cities.”

Pakistani, Chechen and ISIS terrorists

Pakistani terrorists still represent a serious security threat, both in Pakistan and elsewhere. Former CIA Director Leon Panetta revealed in his memoirs, Worthy Fights, that in the summer of 2009 the CIA had reason to worry that a Pakistani terrorist, namely one of the leaders of Tehrik-e-Taliban (TTP), had a dirty bomb. “If so, no one doubted he would use it.” The CIA had to kill this man before he would be able to strike.

Osama bin-Laden and al-Qaeda also had a dirty bomb. “In January 2003, British officials found documents in the Afghan city of Herat that led them to conclude that al-Qaeda had successfuly built a small dirty bomb,” the National Terror Alert claims. “In late December 2003, homeland security officials worried that al-Qaeda would detonate a dirty bomb during New Year’s Eve celebrations or college football bowl games.”

Chechen terrorists also have a reputation of being cunning and ruthless. They played an important role in al-Qaeda and subsequently joined the ranks of ISIS. Back in the 1990s there was a lot of highly enriched uranium (HAE) for sale in Russia and Kazakhstan. Since there was no money to pay corrupt security guards or the military the material became available to the highest bidder. It was also easy to steal radioactive Caesium-137, which could be used to make a dirty bomb. Caesium-137 is a harzardous radioactive isotope often used in hospitals to treat cancer. Similar isotopes used in hospitals are Strontium-90 and Iodine-131.

In November 1995, Shamil Basayev, a Chechen terrrorist leader, announced that his group had smuggled nuclear materials into Moscow. In their excellent study “One Point Safe,” Andrew and Leslie Cockburn quote from Basayev’s interview on Russian TV: “A container packed with nuclear materials was buried in the grounds of Izmailovsky Park.” Journalists subsequently uncovered a yellow carrier bag. “Inside was a package that looked like frozen chicken wrapped in plastic bound with black tape. According to the journalists’ radiation monitor, the permissable levels of radiation for Moscow was exceeded by a factor of 310.” The Federal Security Service FSB later announced that the container was full of Caesium 137.

MEMRI, a reliable source, reported that ISIS supporter “Hamel al-Bushra” (“Bearer of Tidings”) threatened a wave of attacks in major western cities. The Twitter posting was January 10, 2015. Al-Bushra did mention the possibility of attacks by “Lone Wolves” using dirty bombs: “Yes, you will feel the Caesium 131 poison spreads in the streets and train stations of Russia, Boston, Dallas, Virginia and Amsterdam.” (Caesium 131 does not exist, they probably meant Caesium 137.) The Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf reprinted part of the original Twitter text.

It cannot be ruled out that ISIS terrorists are indeed in possession of Caesium-137. It could have been smuggled out of Russia or Turkey or it could have been stolen from hospitals

In July 2014, about 88 pounds of uranium was reported missing from Mosul University in Iraq. This city had just been conquered by ISIS. British explosives expert Hamayun Tariq (“Muslim al-Britani”), who joined ISIS, tweeted: “O by the way, ISIS does have a dirty bomb. We found some radio-active material from Mosul University.” “We’ll find out what dirty bombs are and what they can do. We’ll also discuss what might happen if one actually went off in a public area.”

Al-Qaeda’s nearly successful pursuit of a nuclear weapon

Not only did al-Qaeda possess one or more dirty bombs, it also attempted to get an atomic bomb. Thanks to the alertness of the CIA, though, these attempts were thwarted just in time.

In November 2010, former CIA intelligence officer Rolf Mowatt-Larssen wrote an alarming and detailed article on al-Qaeda’s attempts to obtain nuclear weapons. “The CIA received information between late 2002 and early 2003 that al-Qaeda’s senior operative in Saudi Arabia, Abu Bakr al-Azdi, was in communication with senior al-Qaeda associates in Iran – in particular Saif al-Adel – regarding the potential purchase of three nuclear devices.” Rolf Mowatt-Larssen, who is now a leading expert on (nuclear) terrorism at Harvard University, also quotes Ayman al-Zawahiri, who stated in December 2001: “If you have USD 30 million, go to the black market in Central Asia, contact any disgruntled Soviet scientists and dozens of smart brief case bombs are available.” Al-Zawahiri was then deputy chief of al-Qaeda, but he succeeded Osama bin Laden after the latter’s death in 2011. He visited Chechnya in December 1996.

In August 2001, a Pakistani network was offering al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden the nuclear technology necessary to build an atomic bomb, former CIA Director George Tenet writes in his memoirs. “What if we have already the (necessary fissile) material?” Bin Laden asked a Pakistani man named Mahmood. “It appears we had disrupted the organization in the early stages of its efforts to ply with al-Qaeda,” Tenet concludes.

Today, ISIS is even more dangerous than al-Qaeda. It cannot be ruled out that they, too, want to obtain nuclear weapons. These terrorists are highly sophisticated – not only in regards to cybercrime, but also in regards to weapons technology. It is a fact that at least one ISIS terrorist had a previous job in a Belgian nuclear power plant. Uranium could be stolen from power plants in Russia or Europe. But it is not so easy to obtain highly enriched uranium (HAE), which is needed for a real atomic bomb. This kind of uranium could be stolen from nuclear facilities in France, Britain or Russia, or from a Russian warhead. A major problem is then how to transport this highly toxic material safely to Syria. But never underestimate the ingenuity of these religious fanatics who maintain extensive networks of sympathizers and followers among the ever increasing number of angry Muslims in Europe and Russia – some of whom are nuclear specialists.

Morover, western intelligence and security services must be given the resources to stop the ISIS terrorists, just as the CIA somehow managed to prevent al-Qaeda from acquiring a nuclear bomb more than ten years ago. This isn’t a very popular message today, though. Criminal migrant traffickers must also be stopped, they directly threaten our security. These warnings were issued by me on many occasions before. Martin Sommer and Arnold Karskens, two leading writers and columnists in the Netherlands, issued similar warnings.

European states must follow the example of the Australians.

The Six Country Immigrant Integration Comparative Survey by the WZB Berlin Social Science Center concluded in December 2013 that two-thirds of the Muslims interviewed say that religious rules are more important to them than the laws of the countries (Germany, France, Netherlands, Austria, Belgium and Sweden) in which they live. Too many Muslim immigrants in Europe refuse to integrate and Islamic fundamentalism is even more widespread than before. Allowing continued Islamic migration at these levels will only make these problems worse.

Emerson Vermaat is an investigative reporter in the Netherlands specialized in crime, terrorism and anti-Semitism. He is now writing a book on ISIS.



Nieuwsuur (Dutch TV), May 3, 2015 (“Balkan Route”).

Mailoneline/Daily Mail, April 18, 2015, Muslim migrants threw 12 Christians overboard to their deaths because they we not praying to Allah when they asked God for help where their dinghy suffered a puncture, .

“Sniffer Plane” Caught Flying Around Oakland, California, After ISIS Threat Of “Dirty Bomb Attack” And Nearby Dirty Bomb Drills This Coming Saturday, All News Pipeline, April 7, 2015,

Robert S. Leiken, Europe’s Angry Muslims, Foreign Affairs, July/August 2005, p. 123 (“…disconsolate Muslim offspring…”), p. 128 (“…assembling a dirty bomb.)

Leon Panetta, Worthy Fights. A Memoir of Leadership in War and Peace (New York: Penguin Press, 2014), p. 236. 237.

Homeland Security News and Information, National Terror Alert, Dirty Bomb,

Andrew and Leslie Cockburn, One Point Safe. The Terrifying Threat of Russia’s Unwanted Nuclear Arsenal (London: Little, Brown and Company, 1997), p. 220, 221; Nadine Gurr and Benjamin Cole, The New Face of Terrorism. Threats from Weapons of Mass Destruction (London/New York: I.B. Tauris Publishers, 2000), p. 295. “The park is a popular recreational spot for Russians and tourists.”

MEMRI, January 22, 2015, ISIS Supporter Threatens Wave of Terror Attacks in Major Western Cities, Offers Operational Advice to “Lone Wolves,” . See also: De Telegraaf (Amsterdam), January 13, 2015, p. 1, 3 (“Amsterdam in het vizier van terroristen”), =

Colonel G.G. Pamidi, The Islamic State Make Its Terror Plans Even More “Dirty”, December 8, 2014, The United Service Institution of India (USI), . (Quote from Hamayun Tariq.)

Rolf Mowatt-Larssen, Insight Into the Enemy. Al-Qaeda’s Strategy for Acquiring Weapons of Mass Destruction, Jane’s Intelligence Review, November 2010, p. 4 (quote from Zawahiri), p. 8 (“The CIA received information between late 2002 and early 2003…”)

George Tenet, At the Center of the Storm. My Years at the CIA (New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 2007), p. 268.

Ruud Koopmans, Religious Fundamentalism and Out-Group Hostility Among Muslims and Christians in Western Europe, June 2013 (WZB),\ ; Ruud Koopmans, Fundamentalism and Out-Group Hostility: Muslim Immigrants and Christian Natives in Western Europe, WZB Mitteilungen December 2013,

René van Rijckevorsel, Naar Libië, Elsevier (Amsterdam), April 25, 2015, p.13. Van Rijckevorsel is also in favor of “the Australian model.” (“Er rest Europa op termijn geen andere keuze dan het Australische model.”)

©2015 Emerson Vermaat. All rights reserved.