Tags: ISIS/Islamic State | washington post | isis | dirty bomb | mosul | iraq

WashPost: ISIS Found Key 'Dirty Bomb' Material in Mosul

Image: WashPost: ISIS Found Key 'Dirty Bomb' Material in Mosul
Iraqi forces patrol a street in west Mosul. / AFP PHOTO / SAFIN HAMED

By    |   Saturday, 22 Jul 2017 09:23 PM

Islamic State terrorists stumbled on the main ingredient for a "dirty bomb" when they captured Mosul in 2014 – but Iraqi forces found the highly radioactive material intact when they liberated the city this month, The Washington Post reported Saturday.

"They are not that smart," a government health ministry official told the Post of ISIS terrorists.

The material was two caches of cobalt-60, "a metallic substance with lethally high levels of radiation," the Post reported. "When contained within the heavy shielding of a radiotherapy machine, cobalt-60 is used to kill cancer cells."

But the material also can be used for dirty bombs, blasting radiation across miles and causing widespread death and damage.

The cobalt was found inside two radiotherapy machines at the University of Mosul. U.S. officials have asked that their current location not be disclosed.

According to the Post, U.S. intelligence agencies knew of the cobalt and "watched anxiously for three years for signs" that ISIS might try to use it.

A November 2015 draft report concluded that the radioactive cores of the material, when new, "contained about nine grams of pure cobalt-60 with a potency of more than 10,000 curies — a standard measure of radioactivity," the Post reported.

In other words, someone "standing three feet from the unshielded core would receive a fatal dose of radiation in less than three minutes."

Two medical centers in Mosul obtained machines in the 1980s while Saddam Hussein was president, according to the draft report. One machine had been used as recently as 2008.

The Post said that it became aware of the draft report last year, but "agreed to a U.S. government request to delay writing about it until after Mosul’s liberation."

The machines remain a broader concern for U.S. intelligence agencies, particularly since similar equipment "exists in hundreds of cities around the world, some of them in conflict zones," the newspaper reported.

"Nearly every country in the world either has them, or is a transit country" through which such equipment passes, Andrew Bieniawksi, a vice president for the Nuclear Threat Initiative in Washington, told the Post.

"This is a global problem."

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Islamic State terrorists stumbled on the main ingredient for a "dirty bomb" when they captured Mosul in 2014 - but Iraqi forces found the highly radioactive material intact when they liberated the city this month, The Washington Post reported Saturday.
washington post, isis, dirty bomb, mosul, iraq
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2017-23-22
Saturday, 22 Jul 2017 09:23 PM
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