SHUBHDA CHAUDHARY | 29 MARCH, 2016
NEW DELHI: After the Brussels attack on March 22, employees at the Doel Nuclear Power Station and Tihange in the south east were abruptly sent home. Though, around 1000 people work on these nuclear sites, only few were commanded to stay, mainly those whose backgrounds have been properly checked.
In the recent weeks, there has been ample evidence that ISIS is seeking out for nuclear material and weapons of mass destruction. One of the leaked videos by the culprits of the Paris attack, showed how a senior researcher at the Belgian Nuclear Research Centre was being stalked. Even US now perceives that the greater threat is ‘radiological terrorism’, ie, the making of a dirty bomb.
The scarier situation arises when people like Ilyass Boughlab, a 26-year-old technician working at the Doel Nuclear Power station left in 2012 for Syria to support the ISIS. Additionally, out of the 130 countries that have radiological materials, only 23 so far have committed to securing it, making it quite easy for ISIS to get nuclear materials.
Sleiman Daoud al-Afari, a former Iraqi military specialist in chemical weapons who had been captured by the US forces this February, revealed that ISIS has managed to create mustard gas in the form of powder. After the Japanese terrorist cult Aum Shrinrikyo which had released its own created sarin gas in Tokyo, this is the first time that a terrorist organization has done the same, which surely would have jeopardizing consequences in the coming months.
Specialists believe that ISIS might already have some 41kg of radiological material after it raided the Iraqi city of Mosul in 2014. Though, ISIS has not planned to move this material inter-state as that would have been sensed after the radiation sensors put in place after 9/11 attacks. Though for ISIS, it is not that difficult anyway. With so many supporters from Europe itself, all it needs is an employee who works in the nuclear station, who knows the nitty-gritty of making a dirty bomb, simply reaching out to it and taking over it.
That’s definitely a difficult situation to face and guard against. The International Atomic Energy Agency states that from 1993 to 2014, atomic materials that have been trafficked or stolen more than 400 times. And in most of these cases, it has been an insider’s job. It is likely that in the case of Europe, the threat is likely to come from within.
It is quite difficult to predict how the international bodies, International Atomic Energy Agency and powerful western countries are seeking to prevent it. Are they waiting for a more egregious and ‘holocaust’ like form of 9/11 attacks to take place, this time from ISIS? Or are they protecting by building enough guards. Well, in the case of ISIS, it is difficult to predict because even though they may have been losing ground in Iraq and Syria, they are not stopping away from lashing out at the foreign countries.
So, is the Brussels attack an inkling of the upcoming nuclear threat of ISIS?