A secret group bought the ingredients for a dirty bomb — here in the U.S.


Washington Post, by  Patrick Malone, Aug. 4, 2016:

The clandestine group’s goal was clear: Obtain the building blocks of a radioactive “dirty bomb” — capable of poisoning a major city for a year or more — by openly purchasing the raw ingredients from authorized sellers inside the United States.

It should have been hard. The purchase of lethal radioactive materials — even modestly dangerous ones — requires a license from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, a measure meant to keep them away from terrorists. Applicants must demonstrate they have a legitimate need and understand the NRC’s safety standards, and pass an on-site inspection of their equipment and storage.

But this secret group of fewer than 10 people — formed in April 2014 in North Dakota, Texas and Michigan — discovered that getting a license and then ordering enough materials to make a dirty bomb was strikingly simple in one of their three tries. Sellers were preparing shipments that together were enough to poison a city center when the operation was shut down.

The team’s members could have been anyone — a terrorist outfit, emissaries of a rival government, domestic extremists. In fact, they were undercover bureaucrats with the investigative arm of Congress. And they had pulled off the same stunt nine years before. Their fresh success has set off new alarms among some lawmakers and officials in Washington about risks that terrorists inside the United States could undertake a dirty bomb attack.

Read more

Top Intel Official: Al Qaeda Worked on WMD in Iran


New evidence of the bin Laden-Iran connection.

Weekly Standard, by Stephen F. Hayes and Thomas Joscelyn, July 12, 2016:

Al Qaeda operatives based in Iran worked on chemical and biological weapons, according to a letter written to Osama bin Laden that is described in a new book by a top former U.S. intelligence official.

The letter was captured by a U.S. military sensitive site exploitation team during the raid on bin Laden’s Abbottabad headquarters in May 2011. It is described in Field of Fight, out Tuesday from Lieutenant General Michael Flynn, the former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, and Michael Ledeen of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

“One letter to bin Laden reveals that al Qaeda was working on chemical and biological weapons in Iran,” Flynn writes.

Flynn’s claim, if true, significantly advances what we know about al Qaeda’s activity in Iran. The book was cleared by the intelligence community’s classification review process. And U.S. intelligence sources familiar with the bin Laden documents tell us the disclosure on al Qaeda’s WMD work is accurate.

Flynn notes that only a small subset of bin Laden’s files have been released to the public. The “Defense Intelligence Agency’s numerous summaries and analyses of the files remain classified,” too, Flynn writes. “But even the public peek gives us considerable insight into the capabilities of this very dangerous global organization.”

It’s not just al Qaeda.

“There’s a lot of information on Iran in the files and computer discs captured at the Pakistan hideout of Osama bin Laden,” Flynn writes in the introduction. The authors note that the relationship between Iran and al Qaeda “has always been strained” and “[s]ometimes bin Laden himself would erupt angrily at the Iranians.” Previously released documents and other evidence show that al Qaeda kidnapped an Iranian diplomat in order to force a hostage exchange and bin Laden was very concerned about the Iranians’ ability to track his family members.

And yet the book makes clear that Flynn believes there is much more to the al Qaeda-Iran relationship than the public has been told. And that’s not an accident. Obama administration “censors have been busy,” Flynn writes, blocking the release of the bin Laden documents to the public and, in some cases, to analysts inside the U.S. intelligence community. “Some of it—a tiny fraction—has been declassified and released, but the bulk of it is still under official seal. Those of us who have read bin Laden’s material know how important it is…”

Not surprisingly, Obama administration officials bristle at Flynn’s characterization of their lack of transparency and lack of urgency on jihadists and their state sponsors. “Mike Flynn, in true Kremlin form, has been peddling these baseless conspiracy theories for years. Anyone who thinks Iran was or is in bed with al Qaeda doesn’t know much about either,” an Obama administration official told THE WEEKLY STANDARD.

It’s an odd line of attack, given the fact that the Obama administration has repeatedly accused Iran of directly aiding al Qaeda. The Treasury and State Departments publicly accused the Iranian regime of allowing al Qaeda to operate inside Iran in: July 2011, December 2011, February 2012,July 2012,October 2012, May 2013, January 2014, February 2014, April 2014, and August 2014. In addition, in congressional testimony in February 2012, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper described the relationship as a “marriage of convenience.”

Asked about the administration’s own repeated statements pointing to the Iranian regime’s deal with al Qaeda, the administration official who dismissed Flynn’s claim as a “baseless conspiracy” theory declined to comment further.

The Flynn/Ledeen claim about al Qaeda’s WMD work in Iran comes with an interesting wrinkle. The authors preface their disclosure of al Qaeda’s work on “chemical and biological weapons in Iran” by suggesting that the revelation was included in documents already public.

But the only document released to date that seems to touch on the subject is a March 28, 2007, letter to an al Qaeda operative known as “Hafiz Sultan.” The letter, which discussed the possibility of Iran-based al Qaeda operatives using chlorine gas on Kurdish leaders and includes a likely reference to Atiyah ‘Abd-al-Rahman, was released by the administration via the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point in May 2012. President Obama’s Treasury Department has claimed that Rahman was appointed by Osama bin Laden “to serve as al Qaeda’s emissary in Iran, a position which allowed him to travel in and out of Iran with the permission of Iranian officials.” It is not, however, addressed to bin Laden and it does not include a reference to biological weapons.

And while the U.S. Treasury and State Department have repeatedly sanctioned al Qaeda’s operatives inside Iran and offered rewards for information on their activities, as noted, statements from Treasury and the State Department do not mention al Qaeda’s “chemical and biological weapons” work inside Iran.

The takeaway: It does not appear that the al Qaeda document referenced by Flynn has been released by the U.S. government.

Flynn and others who have seen the documents say there are more explosive revelations in the bin Laden files kept from the public. Those already released give us a hint. One document, released in 2015, is a letter presumably written by Osama bin Laden to the “Honorable brother Karim.” The recipient of the October 18, 2007, missive, “Karim,” was likely an al Qaeda veteran known Abu Ayyub al Masri, who led al Qaeda in the Iraq (AQI) at the time.

Bin Laden chastised the AQI leader for threatening to attack Iran. The al Qaeda master offered a number of reasons why this didn’t make sense. “You did not consult with us on that serious issue that affects the general welfare of all of us,” bin Laden wrote. “We expected you would consult with us for these important matters, for as you are aware, Iran is our main artery for funds, personnel, and communication, as well as the matter of hostages.”

That language from bin Laden sounds a lot like the language the Obama administration used in July 2011, when a statement from the U.S. Treasury noted that the network in Iran “serves as the core pipeline through which Al Qaeda moves money, facilitators and operatives from across the Middle East to South Asia.”

David Cohen, who was then a top Treasury official and is now the number two official at the CIA, told us back then: “There is an agreement between the Iranian government and al Qaeda to allow this network to operate. There’s no dispute in the intelligence community on this.”

Why, then, is the Obama administration attempting to dismiss the cooperative relationship between Iran and al Qaeda as a “baseless conspiracy?” Good question.

And it’s one that releasing the rest of the documents could help answer.

Note: Flynn’s co-author Michael Ledeen is a colleague of Thomas Joscelyn at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

Fears of BIOLOGICAL ATTACK in Europe: ROTTING TESTICLES found in ‘ISIS terrorist’s’ bag


FEARS have heightened an Islamic State sleeper cell are preparing to carry out a primitive biological attack on the streets of Europe after police found ROTTING TESTICLES in the backpack of an alleged terrorist.

Abderamane Ameroud, 38, was shot in the leg by police and then arrested

Abderamane Ameroud, 38, was shot in the leg by police and then arrested

Abderamane Ameroud was snared in a dramatic police operation in Brussels in the aftermath of the Belgium bombings last month.

The 38-year-old was shot in the leg and arrested as he lay by a tram station in the central district of Schaarbeek.

Photos from the raid showed a rucksack dangling from his arm.

It was not immediately clear what the bag contained, but police took no chances and sent in a remote controlled robot to him to check he was not armed or wearing a suicide belt.

However, prosecutors today revealed it contained a plastic bag full of vile material including rotting animal testicles and excrement.

Those items can be used to poison food supplies, or to create a deadly concoction aimed at spreading fatal diseases.

They could also have been used for testing chemical agents on.

Brussels’ prosecutor later sought to quell suspicions that the contents of the bag were evidence of a biological plot, issuing a statement saying: “The rucksack contents … could at no time have been used to make a biological weapon. This has been verified by various tests in laboratories.”

But in February, 10 terrorist suspects were arrested in Morocco, and jars were seized containing dead rats, vomit, and shredded nails.

The foul concoction was tested on mice and they did not survive.

Jihadis, who struck in Brussels on March 22, also came from Belgian-Moroccan backgrounds.

Ameroud, an Algerian national, was jailed in France in 2005 over the 2001 assassination of anti-Taliban Afghan leader Ahmed Shah Massoud.

He has now been charged with membership of a terrorist organisation linked to Reda Kriket, a man arrested in Paris on March 24 and accused of planning a new ISIS attack.

Missing Radioactive Material Found Dumped in South Iraq

Radioactive-symbol-jpgNBC, Feb. 21, 2016:

BAGHDAD — A “highly dangerous” radioactive material that went missing in Iraq has been found dumped near a petrol station in the southern town of Zubair, environment ministry spokesman Ameer Ali said on Sunday.

Ali said it had not been damaged and there were no concerns about radiation from the material, the loss of which raised concerns it could be used as a weapon if acquired by ISIS militants.

The material had been stolen in November from a storage facility belonging to U.S. oilfield services company Weatherford near the southern city of Basra.

It was not immediately clear how the material ended up in Zubair, around 9 miles southwest of Basra.

“A passer-by found the radioactive device dumped in Zubair and immediately informed security forces which went with a special prevention radiation team and retrieved the device,” said Jabbar al-Saidi, the chief of security panel in Basra provincial council.

Related: Smugglers Tried to Sell Nuclear Material to ISIS

“After initial checking I can confirm the device is intact 100 percent and there is absolutely no concern of radiation.”

The material, which uses gamma rays to test flaws in materials used for oil and gas pipelines in a process called industrial gamma radiography, is owned by Istanbul-based SGS Turkey, according to the document and officials.

The material is classed as a Category 2 radioactive source by the IAEA, meaning that if not managed properly it could cause permanent injury to a person in close proximity to it for minutes or hours, and could be fatal to someone exposed for a period of hours to days.


CSP’s Kyle Shideler discusses black market for radioactive material, dangers of it’s dissemination and efforts to track such criminal activities:

Also see:

World on red alert as radioactive material stolen from Iraq that ISIS could use to build dirty bomb

Fears: There are concerns the radioactive material could fall into the hands of ISIS AFP/Getty

Fears: There are concerns the radioactive material could fall into the hands of ISIS

Mirror, by David Raven, Feb. 17, 2016:

Iraq is searching for “highly dangerous” radioactive material stolen last year that could be used to make a dirty bomb if acquired by Islamic State.

The material, stored in a protective case the size of a laptop computer, went missing in November from a storage facility near the southern city of Basra.

It belonged to US oilfield services company Weatherford, a document showed and officials confirmed.

A spokesman for Iraq’s environment ministry said he could not discuss the issue, citing national security concerns.

A Weatherford spokesman in Iraq declined to comment, and the company’s Houston headquarters did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

The material, which uses gamma rays to test flaws in materials used for oil and gas pipelines in a process called industrial gamma radiography, is owned by Istanbul-based SGS Turkey, according to the document and officials.

An SGS official in Iraq declined to comment and referred Reuters to its Turkish headquarters, which did not respond to phone calls.

The document, dated November 30 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 belonging to SGS from a depot belonging to Weatherford in the Rafidhia area of Basra province”.

A senior environment ministry official based in Basra, who declined to be named as he is not authorised to speak publicly, 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 source by the International Atomic Energy Agency, meaning if not managed properly it could cause permanent injury to a person in close proximity to it for minutes or hours, and could be fatal to someone exposed for a period of hours to days.

How harmful exposure can be is determined by a number of factors such as the material’s strength and age, which Reuters could not immediately determine.

The ministry document said it posed a risk of bodily and environmental harm as well as a national security threat.

Also see:

ISIS army of scientists set to wage chemical and biological war on West: Experts warn weapons of mass destruction ‘have been carried undetected’ into European Union

A European Parliament report has warned that ISIS has already smuggled CBRN material into the EU

A European Parliament report has warned that ISIS has already smuggled CBRN material into the EU

  • ISIS already has smuggled chemical and biological weapons into the EU 
  • The terror organisation has also recruited chemists and physicists 
  • Western governments warned to alert the public about potential attacks

Daily Mail, By DARREN BOYLE,  Dec. 6, 2015:

ISIS has recruited experts with chemistry, physics and computer science degrees to wage war with weapons of mass destruction against the West, a shocking European Parliament report has claimed.

The terror organisation, according to the briefing document, ‘may be planning to try to use internationally banned weapons of mass destruction in future attacks’.

The document, which was compiled in the aftermath of the deadly attacks on Paris claimed that ISIS has already smuggled WMD material into Europe.

British police forces have already been training to deal with a potential chemical or biological warfare attack

British police forces have already been training to deal with a potential chemical or biological warfare attack

Police even have access to Geiger counters, pictured, to help detect any nuclear or radiological material

Police even have access to Geiger counters, pictured, to help detect any nuclear or radiological material

Experts fear that ISIS will be able to exploit a failure of EU governments to share information on possible terrorists.

Already, British police forces have been conducting exercises on how to deal with various types of terrorist attack. But the EU report claims that government should ‘consider publicly addressing the possibility of terrorist attack using chemical, biological, radiological or even nuclear materials’.

The report, ISIL/Da’esh and ‘non-conventional’ weapons of terror warns: ‘At present, European citizens are not seriously contemplating the possibility that extremist groups might use chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear (CBRN) materials during attacks in Europe. Under these circumstances, the impact of such an attack, should it occur, would be even more destabilising.’

Rob Wainwright, head of Europol said after the attacks on Paris: ‘We are dealing with a very serious, well-resourced, determined international terrorist organisation that is now active on the streets of Europe.

‘This represents the most serious terrorist threat faced in Europe for 10 years.’

Mr Wainwright warned that ISIS had serious capabilities in terms of resources and manpower.’

Nomi Bar-Yaacov, Associate Fellow in Chatham House’s International Security Department said: ‘There is a very real risk of ISIS using unconventional weapons in Europe and beyond.’

Wolfgang Rudischhauser, Director of the Weapons of Mass Destruction Non-Proliferation Centre at NATO said: ‘ISIS actually has already acquired the knowledge, and in some cases the human expertise, that would allow it to use CBRN materials as weapons of terror.’

The report claims ‘ISIL/Da’esh has recruited and continues to recruit hundreds of foreign fighters, including some with degrees in physics, chemistry and computer science, who experts believe have the ability to manufacture lethal weapons from raw substances.’

EU governments have been warned to watch out for ‘other radicalised individuals, who have access to, or work in, sensitive areas’.

Intelligence services have also been warned to screen returning Jihadi fighters for ‘specialist CBRN knowledge’.

The shocking study claims that 150 cases of nuclear or radiological trafficking are reported annually.

Worse still: ‘CBRN substances have been carried undetected into the European Union.

‘Interpol’s monthly CBRN intelligence reports show numerous examples of attempts to acquire, smuggle or use CBRN materials.’

Read more:

Also see the recent Counterjihad Report exclusive by Brian Fairchild:

Islamic State Can Launch an Undetected WMD Attack on the US

islamic-state-chemical-attack-630x350By Brian Fairchild, Nov. 27, 2015:


  • Based on the analysis of the facts and findings below, as of November 27, 2015, the Islamic State has the intent and capability to launch an undetected WMD attack against the American homeland. Absent specific actionable intelligence, there is no way to predict the specific date or location of an attack, or the type of attack that will occur, but it is clear from the intelligence that such an attack is feasible and credible.

On November 15, 2015, White House Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes stated that the Islamic State aspires to attack the United States in a manner similar to the November 13, 2015 Paris attacks but does not have the capability to do so.  He based his assessment on only one criteria – the number of foreign fighters that had returned to Europe.  He said that while thousands of European foreign fighters have traveled to Syria and then returned, only 40 Americans are known to have gone to Syria and returned.  His assessment, however, does not address the key criteria that would allow an accurate assessment of the Islamic State’s intent and capability to launch such an attack.

The following analysis uses primary sources to answer the following relevant questions regarding the Islamic State’s capabilities:

  • Does it have the intent and desire to attack the United States?
  • Does it have the requisite number of personnel and operational experience to conduct such an attack?
  • Does it have access to conventional weapons and weapons of mass destruction, and, if so, can it smuggle them into the country?
  • Does it have the financial ability to finance such an operation?

Once established, an analysis of these facts leads to general findings about the capabilities of the Islamic State, and these findings allow for a logical and credible forecast of its ability to launch such an attack against the homeland.


Intent and desire to attack the United States:

The Islamic State has issued many direct threats against the United States that illustrate its intent and desire to attack inside America.  The following are a few selected threats that illustrate this point.

  • In August 2014, IS declared war against the US in a document sent to the family of beheading victim James Foley. It was addressed to the “American government and their sheep like people” and threatened the following (NOTE:  all emphasis in the text was added by the Islamic State in the original):

Today our swords are unsheathed towards you, GOVERNMENT AND CITIZENS ALIKE!  AND WE WILL NOT STOP UNTIL WE QUENCH OUR THIRST FOR YOUR BLOOD.  You do not spare our weak, elderly, women or children, so we will NOT spare yours!  You and your citizens will pay the price of your bombings!  The first of which being the blood of American citizen, James Foley.

  • The above threat was followed soon after by the Islamic State’s September 22, 2014, statement encouraging its followers to seek out and kill American, French, and Australian citizens in their homes with whatever weapons are available including cars, knives, and rocks.
  • On April 11, 2015, the Islamic State released an 11 minute video that specifically promised another 9/11-style spectacular attack against the American homeland.
  • On November 18, 2015, in the immediate aftermath of the Paris attacks, the Islamic State released two videos threatening attacks on the United States; one threatening to burn down the White House, the other showing images of New York’s Time Square in conjunction with a suicide bomber zipping his jacket over his suicide vest.


Threats that are not backed-up by trained, willing, and capable personnel are little more than propaganda.  The Islamic State, however, has the requisite number of trained, combat-hardened, and ideologically motivated personnel to conduct attacks against the United States.

  • The CIA estimates that the Islamic State has smuggled approximately 31,000 foreign fighters into Syria and Iraq.  These individuals hail from over 100 countries, including 250 Americans, and 5,000 Europeans.  But their sheer number of foreign fighters only tells part of the story.  There has also been a qualitative change in the character of today’s jihadists – they are more ideologically extreme, and much more brutal than the jihadists of the bin Laden era.  Because of the Islamic State’s extensive and widely disseminated video propaganda and statements of beheadings, crucifixions, rape, torture, the revival of slavery, and the inhumane execution of prisoners, there is no doubt that, before they even leave home, the thousands of foreign radical Muslim fighters that flock to the new caliphate do so fully understanding and embracing its barbaric ideology and actions.
  • In direct response to Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes’ assertion that the Islamic State is incapable of launching an attack against the US because relatively few Americans have gone to Syria and Iraq and returned, there is no Islamic State doctrine, policy, or ideological prohibition that requires it to create attack cells against the United States using only American operatives.
  • The Islamic State emerged from al Qaeda in Iraq which provides some insight into how the organization might prepare and conduct an attack against the United States, and the historical record reveals that no previous al Qaeda-directed attacks against the United States have employed American operatives. Rather, all previous al Qaeda-directed jihadi operatives, including all of the 9/11 conspirators, as well as Richard Reid (the Shoe Bomber), and Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab (the Underwear Bomber), were non-Americans who entered the United States with legal visas.  None of these attacks were discovered by American or Western intelligence agencies prior to their commencement. 
  • The fact that no previous al Qaeda-directed attacks were conducted by American citizens is not to say, however, that the Islamic State does not have the capability to include American citizens in an attack cell.  Quite to the contrary, the Islamic State has an aggressive program to recruit Americans which has alarmed and overtaxed the FBI.  According to FBI Director James Comey, in just the last year, the Bureau’s Islamic State case load has exploded to 900 active cases, a number, he says, that is quickly reaching the point of exceeding the Bureau’s personnel and financial resources. Worse, he says that the bureau is stymied in monitoring the most important of these cases because of the Islamic State’s use of digital encryption technology, which enables it to “go dark”. 


A terrorist organization can have all the intent in the world and thousands of motivated personnel, but if it does not have actual experience in conducting military and clandestine operations its threats against an adversary are not necessarily credible.  The Islamic State, however, has extensive experience in conducting both military and clandestine operations.  

  • On August 21, 2014, then Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel addressed this very question when he stated that the Islamic State demonstrates “a sophistication of strategic and tactical military prowess” that represents an “imminent threat to every interest we have”.
  • This “…strategic and tactical military prowess” was demonstrated recently when, in less than two weeks’ time the Islamic State coordinated and carried-out the following three sophisticated clandestine attacks in Lebanon, Egypt and France:
  1. On November 12, 2015, just a day before the Paris attacks, an Islamic State team defeated the vaunted security measures of Hezbollah’s nerve-center in Lebanon and carried-out two suicide bombings, killing 43 and wounding 239.
  2. On October 31, 2015, Islamic State operatives conducted the first successful terrorist attack against a civilian airliner since September 11, 2001 when it thwarted security at the international airport at Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt and placed an improvised explosive device on-board Russian Metrojet flight 9268. The bomb detonated approximately 20 minutes after take-off killing all 224 passengers.
  3. On November 13, 2015, the Islamic State alarmed all of the world’s western security and intelligence services when, undetected and by surprise, it conducted multi-location attacks in the middle of Paris where French security was operating at its highest alert status. In approximately half-an-hour, three teams, all armed with explosive vests and AK-47 automatic assault rifles, attacked six separate locations including the stadium in which the French president was watching a soccer game, murdering 129 individuals and wounding 350.   This was the worst terrorist attack in France since the end of WWII, and represents the realization of the West’s greatest fears – that foreign fighters would return from Syria and Iraq to wreak havoc.


As stated above, the Islamic State was able to smuggle explosives undetected into Lebanon, as well as through airport security in Egypt to place a device on-board the Russian Metrojet flight.  In Paris, it demonstrated that it had the ability to smuggle conventional explosives and AK-47 assault rifles into the center of Paris.  These operations prove conclusively that the Islamic State can smuggle conventional weapons and explosives into very secure areas.  Because of the brutal nature of the Islamic State and the fact that it recognizes no moral red-line, however, analysts must also consider the likelihood that future attacks in Europe or the United States will include weapons of mass destruction, such as chemical, biological, or radioactive weapons.

  • On November 19, 2015, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls warned of just this possibility in future attacks against France stating: “we know that there could also be a risk of chemical or biological weapons”.
  • On the same day, American and Iraqi intelligence officials revealed that the Islamic State created an organization dedicated to creating chemical weapons and has hired scientists from Saddam Hussein’s chemical weapons program and elsewhere to accomplish this task.  Nobody knows how far the Islamic State’s chemical weapons program has progressed, but according to US officials, ISIS has already used mustard gas against in enemies in Iraq and Syria on at least four separate occasions. Weapons experts state that the Islamic State is likely only capable of manufacturing crude devices at this point, but a crude device detonated in a public space, such as a shopping mall, is all that is required for it to terrorize a civilian population.
  • Separate from creating its own arsenal of chemical and biological weapons, over a year ago, the Islamic State seized already existing chemical weapons from Iraq’s al Muthanna chemical weapons complex.  The seized weapons include munitions containing Sarin gas, Mustard gas, and the nerve agent VX.  The al Muthanna chemical weapons complex was Saddam Hussein’s chemical weapons production line that weaponized these chemical agents in the form of mortar and artillery shells.  Many of these mortar and artillery rounds are not useable in their present form, but in 2006, then Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency Lt. General Michael Maples stated that, while these munitions could not be used as originally intended because of corrosion, “the agent remaining in the weapons would be very valuable to terrorists and insurgents”. 
  • In July 2014, IS fighters seized 88 pounds of uranium compounds from the University of Mosul that can be used to construct a radioactive dirty bomb, and in late November 2014, Islamic State operatives boasted on Twitter that the Islamic State had created a dirty bomb from this material.  The Pentagon confirmed that the Islamic State has the capability to construct such a weapon.

Capability/Transporting WMD or conventional weapons into the United States:

Having access to such weapons of mass destruction and being able to transport them into the United States are two separate matters, which begs the question – “is it possible for the Islamic State to smuggle WMD into the United States?”

This question was definitively answered in March 2015 by US Marine General John Kelly, commander of US Southern Command in his testimony before Congress, in which he described the capabilities of drug smuggling networks and the possibility of terrorist organizations piggy-backing on these networks:

“Clearly, criminal networks can move just about anything on these smuggling pipelines. Terrorist organizations could seek to leverage those same smuggling routes to move operatives with intent to cause grave harm to our citizens or even quite easily bring weapons of mass destruction into the United States.

  • The Islamic State, however, does not have to rely on drug smuggling cartels to smuggle people or weapons into the United States. As recently revealed by the news media, after Islamic State troops were pushed out of the Iraqi city of Sinjar, Kurdish forces discovered that the Islamic State constructed 30 to 40 elaborate tunnels on its own.  The tunnels, some spanning over 200 meters, were wired with electricity, and contained sleeping quarters and weapons storage areas.  It is possible and credible that it could dig its own tunnels into the United States at the southern or northern borders.


  • The Islamic State is described as the richest terrorist organization on earth. It has a war chest estimated at over $2 billion dollars accrued from:  taxes, smuggling oil and antiquities, ransom for hostages, seized bank assets, donations from wealthy Gulf donors, the theft of all property and assets from the minorities it victimizes, and proceeds from zakat (tithing) and Muslim charities.
  • On November 19, 2015, media reports revealed that the US Government recently discovered that it miscalculated the income the Islamic State makes from oil. Originally, the government estimated that it made only $100 million a year, but now realizes that it makes $500 million a year from its oil smuggling operation.


  • Over the past year in numerous videos and statements, the Islamic State has specifically expressed its intent and desire to attack the American homeland, including a video presentation promising another 9/11-type spectacular attack.
  • The Islamic State has tens of thousands of experienced and blooded foreign fighters in its ranks, many thousands of which come from Western Europe and require no visas to travel to the United States. This number also includes at least 250 American citizens, but this number is augmented by the 900 American citizens, spanning all 50 states, that the FBI is currently investigating as supporters and/or operatives of the Islamic State.  It is likely that from among these thousands of operatives and supporters, the Islamic State could, at the very least, create and dispatch a 10 to 20 man team to the United States.
  • The Islamic State demonstrated its “…strategic and tactical military prowess” when it launched three sophisticated terrorist operations in less than two weeks.  By attacking Egypt, Lebanon, and France it demonstrated conclusively that it has the strategic intent and capability to launch operational teams to conduct terrorist operations outside of its immediate area of operation. All three of these attacks took Western intelligence agencies by surprise, establishing the fact that the Islamic State can smuggle its teams and weapons into very secure areas undetected.  This is due to the operational security of the selected teams as well as the Islamic State’s use of very secure encrypted communications technology.
  • The Islamic State has a two-pronged approach to chemical weapons; it is developing its own chemical weapons program, and over a year ago it seized existing chemical weapons and radioactive compounds from Iraqi institutions.  Moreover, according to U.S. officials, it has already used chemical weapons on the battlefield on at least four separate occasions.  The commanding officer of the U.S. Southern Command revealed in Congressional testimony that terrorists could easily smuggle personnel and weapons of mass destruction into the United States via the existing smuggling routes controlled by drug smuggling organizations on the border between Mexico and the U.S.  Moreover, the Islamic State has the capability of unilaterally digging tunnels, as was discovered in the Iraqi city of Sinjar.
  • With a war chest exceeding $2 billion dollars, the Islamic State can easily create, train, and fully support a ten to twenty-man operational cell dispatched to the United States to conduct terrorist operations.
  • Despite the increasing number of American, Russian, and French airstrikes against Islamic State positions in Syria and Iraq, there is no evidence that indicates the Islamic State leadership seeks to avoid further military confrontation with any of these countries. Quite to the contrary, all evidence indicates that it is actively trying to provoke additional confrontations.  On November 24, 2015, the Islamic State released a new video that likely rates as the best piece of terrorist propaganda ever made; it throws down the gauntlet and tells the US and the international community to “bring it on!”


Based on the above facts and findings, as of November 27, 2015, the Islamic State has the desire, intent and all the capabilities required to launch an attack against the American homeland.  Within its ranks it has the expertise, trained operatives, financial resources, and possession of WMD to carry-out such an attack.  Absent specific actionable intelligence, there is no way to predict a specific date or location where attacks will occur.  It is likely, however, that the Islamic State has the capability to launch an attack, undetected, within the United States at a time and place of its choosing.

Brian Fairchild was a career officer in CIA’s Clandestine Service.  He has served in Asia, Southeast Asia, Europe, the Arabian Peninsula, and Afghanistan.  Mr. Fairchild writes periodic intelligence analyses on topics of strategic importance.