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Al Qaeda bluffing about having suitcase nukes, experts say
SFGate.com ^ | 3/23/04 | Anna Badhken - SF Chronicle

Posted on 03/23/2004 10:20:46 AM PST by NormsRevenge

Edited on 04/13/2004 2:46:09 AM PDT by Jim Robinson. [history]

Moscow - Ayman al-Zawahri, al Qaeda's No. 2 man, has bragged that the terrorist group bought suitcase nuclear bombs from former Soviet nuclear scientists in Moscow and Central Asia, but experts on Russia's nuclear program dismiss the statements, saying Osama bin Laden's deputy is bluffing.


(Excerpt) Read more at sfgate.com ...


TOPICS: Crime/Corruption; Foreign Affairs; War on Terror
KEYWORDS: alqaeda; alqaedanukes; alqaida; bluffing; expertssay; suitcasemukes; suitcasenukes

1 posted on 03/23/2004 10:20:47 AM PST by NormsRevenge
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To: Ernest_at_the_Beach; FairOpinion
fyi
2 posted on 03/23/2004 10:21:28 AM PST by NormsRevenge (Semper Fi Mac ... Support Our Troops! ... Thrash the demRats in November!!! ... Beat BoXer!!!)
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To: NormsRevenge
If Al Qaeda or any terrorist org had functional nukes, they would have used them already.

The whole point of nuclear weapons in the hands of stable states is their deterrence factor.

In the hands of terrorist orgs, they are of no value unless used.
3 posted on 03/23/2004 10:25:27 AM PST by MrB
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To: NormsRevenge
I think these lowlifes are full of crap......they are acting like a bunch of losers talking sh!t at a ghetto corner dice game......
4 posted on 03/23/2004 10:26:08 AM PST by sfvgt ("if you're gonna shoot, shoot, don't talk"(Tuco: the good, the bad, and the ugly))
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To: NormsRevenge

Jeez, what the heck you got in here?


5 posted on 03/23/2004 10:29:01 AM PST by billorites (freepo ergo sum)
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To: sfvgt
Maybe another nation (I won't name any names...) wants us to think Al-Qaeda has nukes... Call me crazy...
6 posted on 03/23/2004 10:30:43 AM PST by Rams82
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To: NormsRevenge
Al Qaeda bluffing about having suitcase nukes,

This is a non-story. Just ask any liberal or former klinton admin official, they seem to know who is dangerous and who is not, who has weapons and who does not, and who is evil and who is not.

7 posted on 03/23/2004 10:31:19 AM PST by New Perspective (Proud father of a 2 month old son with Down's)
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To: Southack
FYI - Your analysis on the al-Qaida No. 2:We Have Briefcase Nukes thread is supported by these experts.
8 posted on 03/23/2004 10:35:38 AM PST by PrivateIdaho
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To: NormsRevenge
If they had one, Mohammad Attah would have used it instead of airliners. If the litte fat Dr Zawari bought something from a "Soviet Scientist" its most likely some radioactive material inside a nicely made fake warhead.

Russians are smart and poor, Al Quada are stupid and rich. Similar market forces drive the booming trade in fake Icons from the former S.U.

9 posted on 03/23/2004 10:55:36 AM PST by rageaholic
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To: NormsRevenge
Al-Quaeda bluffing about having testicles. These people give cowards a bad name.
10 posted on 03/23/2004 10:59:20 AM PST by MJM59
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To: Don Joe
"He said the suitcase nukes have a lifespan of only one to three years because some of the materials, such as the battery and the conventional explosives that produce the charge that sets off the nuclear reaction, deteriorate over time and must be replaced. Otherwise, he said, they become radioactive scrap metal."
11 posted on 03/23/2004 11:20:42 AM PST by Southack (Media bias means that Castro won't be punished for Cuban war crimes against Black Angolans in Africa)
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To: Southack; Don Joe; NormsRevenge
Yes, but, batteries and conventional explosives can be replaced ... if they could get their hands on a suitcase bomb that has a bad battery and needs it's fuse updated, that is still a scary scenario.

The stuff that doesn't last 3 years is not that hard to replace .. the stuff that last longer is.
12 posted on 03/23/2004 11:36:36 AM PST by AgThorn (Go go Bush!! But don't turn your back on America with "immigrant amnesty")
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To: Squantos; U S Army EOD
Ping
13 posted on 03/23/2004 11:45:21 AM PST by Travis McGee (----- www.EnemiesForeignAndDomestic.com -----)
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To: AgThorn
The atomic isotope used for nuclear triggers has a typical half-life of 90 days or less. The useful life for the booster isotope (normally tritium) is typically 8 years or so. The core lasts longer, of course, but you've got to have it all for it to do something more than simply fizzle into lethal short-range bursts of radiation and heat.

And even replacing the electronics and conventional explosives is more than meets the eye. You've got to avoid letting much air touch any of your heavy metals (forms rust rapidly), you can't let any vibrations shattle your fragile heavy metals (they are among the most brittle of all metals), and you can't move your core too close to your "bullet". Nor do you want to induce any electrical currents into your circuitry while you are doing your maintenance.

14 posted on 03/23/2004 11:47:59 AM PST by Southack (Media Bias means that Castro won't be punished for Cuban war crimes against Black Angolans in Africa)
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To: Travis McGee
I get a solid 8 hours of sound sleep every night..........but I do have a bad dream now and then about the possibilities. It can be done.

Stay Safe !

15 posted on 03/23/2004 11:51:56 AM PST by Squantos (Be polite. Be professional. But, have a plan to kill everyone you meet.)
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To: AgThorn
Polonium is a chemical element in the periodic table that has the symbol Po and atomic number 84. A rare radioactive metalloid, polonium is chemically similar to tellurium and bismuth and occurs in uranium ores. Polonium had been studied for possible use in heating spacecraft.

Notable Characteristics

This radioactive substance dissolves readily in dilute acids, but is only slightly soluble in alkalis. It is closely related chemically to bismuth and tellurium.

Polonium-210 is a volatile metal with 50% being vaporized in air after 45 hours at 328 K. This isotope is an alpha emitter that has a half-life of 138.39 days. A milligram of this metalloid emits as many alpha particles as 5 grams of radium.

A great deal of energy is released by its decay with a half a gram quickly reaching a temperature above 750 K. A few curies of polonium emit a blue glow which is caused by excitation of surrounding air.

Applications

When it is mixed or alloyed with beryllium, polonium can be a neutron source.
16 posted on 03/23/2004 12:03:28 PM PST by Southack (Media Bias means that Castro won't be punished for Cuban war crimes against Black Angolans in Africa)
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To: Southack

Beryllium-7

     
ISOTOPE    7Be
Half Life / Daughter 53.28 days to lithium-7
Major Radiation Gamma - 477.6 keV
Form LANL: Beryllium (II) in 1 M HCl
BNL: Carbon dispersed in water or Beryllium (II) in 1 N HCl
Activity HCl: > 1.0 mCi/ml (concentration)
Carbon: 30-65 mCi/ 5 g of carbon
Radiopurity 99%
PRODUCTION
Source BNL: Proton spallation in water and stainless steel encapsulated carbon black
LANL: Proton spallation on natural zinc oxide targets
Processing HCl: Dissolution and ion exchange
Carbon: Washing carbon from stainless steel
DISTRIBUTION
Shipment Crimp-seal bottle
Availability Stock
Unit of Sale Millicuries for solution form
Lot for carbon form
Note:
Quantity discounts may be available. Call for current discounted price.
Contacts Oak Ridge National Laboratory

17 posted on 03/23/2004 12:07:34 PM PST by Southack (Media Bias means that Castro won't be punished for Cuban war crimes against Black Angolans in Africa)
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To: NormsRevenge
I tend to agree. I mean, we all forget that al qaeda 2 MO's in the US were 5 guys on planes with freaking box cutters and a truck bomb in NYC.

9/11 worked b/c there was no precedent. That will never work again...sorry, it won't. They blew their load that day (and were sadly effective in doing so) and even such, by the time the 4th plane was flying over PA, their plan was foiled.

F al qaeda and their stupid violence for the sake of violence. if they had nukes of any sort, we'd have seen something by now... this is not to say that they can't get them from a rogue former Soviet state. It's time to put some resources there and start cleaning up that stuff. (easier said than done, i realize.)
18 posted on 03/23/2004 12:15:59 PM PST by whattajoke
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To: Southack
fascinating. Obviously, you have a lot more knowledge in this than I.

I was always under the impression that the 'triggering' material that might deteriorate would / could be something simple, or should I say more readably attainable, like c4 or the like.

Perhaps this is not possible. Which is a relief, I must say.
19 posted on 03/23/2004 12:22:18 PM PST by AgThorn (Go go Bush!! But don't turn your back on America with "immigrant amnesty")
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To: AgThorn
No, two different things. The conventional explosives used are very special. The CCCP had to steal our conventional explosives chemical recipe because theirs weren't handling the radioactive environment very well. And even our conventional explosives don't last that long in that environment.

The trigger, however, is typically a mixture of beryillium and polonium-210...isotopes that decay rapidly due to their short half-lives....which you need short half-lives, of course, because you want to emit lots of neutrons...really, really fast in order to get your BOOM from your chain reaction instead of just nuclear reactor-style heat and radiation.

That being said, it is CERTAIN that the terrorists will set off a dirty bomb at some point. That's basically what any of the old ex-Soviet nukes are going to be by now, at most.

20 posted on 03/23/2004 12:37:10 PM PST by Southack (Media Bias means that Castro won't be punished for Cuban war crimes against Black Angolans in Africa)
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To: AgThorn
Yes, but, batteries and conventional explosives can be replaced ... if they could get their hands on a suitcase bomb that has a bad battery and needs it's fuse updated, that is still a scary scenario.

The stuff that doesn't last 3 years is not that hard to replace .. the stuff that last longer is.

Yup. We're for some odd reason afflicted with seminar posters who are intent on spouting a line that has no basis in fact, using a variety of logical fallacies, such as explaining the complextity of modern American nuclear munitions, and using that as a "proof" of the impossibility of any crude "go boom" devices.

It's like taking down a modern M16 and explaining all the metallurgy, machining, engineering, and hand-tooling and fitting that goes into its manufacture, and using that as "proof" that we have no reason to fear that a bunch of people with rags on their heads could ever come up with something as daunting as "the rifle."

Of course, we've all seen the news footage of the barefoot armorers of Afghanistan, sitting in their dirt-floored stalls, making fully operational machineguns out of scrap auto parts over a charcoal forge maintained by a kid with a bellows.

Here's my reply from the other thread, to one poster's repeatedly spammed "see post 95" non-replies. (Amazingly, they refuse to address any of these facts, preferring to spam the same appeal to authority (their own!) over and over again):

And lots of solid information, such as Are Suitcase Bombs Possible? and Fission Weapon Designs serve well to debunk reams of feel-good whistlling-past-the-graveyard happytalk.

All is not well, and recognition of this reality is not restricted to "chicken little"/"the sky is falling!" types.

You seem deeply vested in the idea that it is impossible for crude nuclear weapons to be constructed and sucessfully deployed.

I don't know why. I do find it disconcerting, however, and I hope that people don't accept your say-so as gospel. There is plenty of solid information available that puts the lie to the "don't worry, be happy" comfortspeak.

For those who still persist in the belief that it's only the uninformed and ignorant who would even consider the possiblity of nuclear-armed terrorists, I leave you with this excerpt from Christopher Hitchens' too-quickly forgotten article, "The night of the weak knees":

The night of the weak knees

Christopher Hitchens
Wednesday December 5, 2001
The Guardian


Four weekends ago, I really did receive two Friday-night telephone calls from well-positioned Washingtonians. "Leave now," they told me. "There's a tactical nuke on the loose, and it's headed for DC." One of these callers was in a position to know, and the other was in a position where he was actually paid to know. Calls were being placed to an immediate circle of friends to which, in theory, I was flattered to belong. Those who were calling were also leaving - while not informing the rest of the citizens. Why, then, did I resolve to stay? It wasn't just British pluck, strong as that naturally is. I thought, first, that it was unlikely that al-Qaida, if it had the bomb, would have conducted a petty dress rehearsal with United Airlines. I thought, second, that the detonation of a "use it or lose it" freelance nuke could not be predicted for any given weekend. And I thought, third, that I would feel a colossal cretin if I fled and then came slithering back on Monday morning (especially if the nuclear holocaust was timed for Monday's rush hour after all). In the end, I did take the family on a pre-arranged trip to Gettysburg, leaving late and returning early.

Officially, nobody now remembers this night of the weak knees. It rated a brief and embarrassed mention in Hugh Sidey's Time column, and that was it. But I shall not forget how some of those in supposed authority decided that the end had come, and made it a point to keep it to themselves and their immediate friends, perhaps to stop the crowding of the roads. That's how it will be on the day of Armageddon, and that's why the citizen should always plan to outlive the state, rather than the other way round.


21 posted on 03/23/2004 1:11:53 PM PST by Don Joe (We've traded the Rule of Law for the Law of Rule.)
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To: Don Joe
Here is a picture of your "crude" gun-type design. Carefully note its size and weight. This is NOT something that could be made from simply hacksawing off part of an old rusty cannon barrel and then be stuffed into a backpack.

Little boy atomic bomb Name: Little Boy
Type: Uranium gun-type fission
Weight: 9,700lb (4400 kg)
Length: 10 ft, 6 in (3.2m)
Diameter: 29 in (0.737m)
Explosive Yield: 15,000 tons of TNT

South Africa, in concert with Israel, likewise managed to build one of these gun-type fission bombs.  It weighed 2,200 pounds (1,000 kg).

22 posted on 03/23/2004 2:38:54 PM PST by Southack (Media Bias means that Castro won't be punished for Cuban war crimes against Black Angolans in Africa)
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To: Don Joe
From *your* source in Post #21:


4.2.6.2 Terrorist Bombs
 
The prospect of terrorist acquisition of weapons has haunted the world since at least the late sixties, when international terrorism gained prominence. A variety of opinions have been expressed on the plausibility of these threats. Claims have been made that a terrorist weapon could:
These claims are all conditionally true: they may be valid, but only under a restrictive set of assumptions. And they also conflict strongly. Some are completely incompatible; others cannot be categorically eliminated as impossible in combination, but in any event it seems that no more two of them could be possible under any scenario.
 
What technologies are plausible for terrorist use? And what types of weapons are reasonable threats?
 
The most fundamental constraint on a terrorist group is the type of fissile material that is available, and in what quantity. ...
 
Clearly the most serious scenario is if weapons-grade HEU can be obtained by a terrorist group. Due to the very low neutron emission rate, very low technology can produce a substantial probability of full insertion and high yield detonation.
 
...
 
A gun-type weapon is not a major concern if plutonium is used. Such a device might actually produce explosive yields in the range of a few tons, but would not be significantly more destructive than conventional truck bombs.
...
 
Now and in the future, reactor grade plutonium appears to be the material most likely to be available to a terrorist group. ...
 
Despite hints to the contrary (for example Ted Taylor's comments in _The Curve of Binding Energy_ among others), it is not plausible that true spherical implosion systems can be developed by a terrorist group. The difficulties in designing and making a working lens system appears to be simply insurmountable.

23 posted on 03/23/2004 2:47:33 PM PST by Southack (Media Bias means that Castro won't be punished for Cuban war crimes against Black Angolans in Africa)
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To: Don Joe
The following clip was lifted from this Dec 13 2003 article [link]. Kind of makes your point.
Curt Weldon began to summarize where we have been and what information that the government missed or chose to overlook prior to the 9-11 attacks. In dramatic fashion, Congressman Weldon held up a brief case and stated, "You've heard of a 'suitcase nuke', here it is." There was a momentary pause as everyone cogitated what he had said. Weldon further explained, "Of course there is no radioactive material in this particular brief case, otherwise I would have never gotten it here."


Photo By Charles Werner

The Honorable Congressman Curt Weldon

Congressman Weldon alarmingly explained that the Russians developed 132 of these "suitcase nukes" and can only account for 48. The Russians reported that they could have been destroyed or they could have been sold during the breakup of the old U.S.S.R. Weldon also said in a very straightforward way, "I will tell you this as I did on prime time live several weeks ago, based on what I know and what I see, I think there's a 50/50 chance that Bin Lad can produce a dirty nuke." Congressman Weldon asked, "What happened to all of those 1000s of metric tons of Russian chemical weapons? The answer, 'we just don't know.'"

Congressman Weldon then listing the things that need to be addressed to deal with this new domestic threat. "We must develop an adequate domestic communication system. This country needs to understand, to respond to any type of disaster, we've got to have an integrative communication system and we can't rely on you [fire service] to raise the funds to buy that equipment." Weldon specifically noted, "If we don't preserve 24 mhz of public safety frequency spectrum, then you won't be able to have an integrated system where you can in fact talk to all those agencies that you're going to deal with."


Photo By Charles Werner

Photograph of 'Suitcase Nuke'

Curt Weldon also expressed his sincere sadness with the loss of a great personal friend, Ray Downey, FDNY Special Rescue Operations Chief. Weldon said that Downey's vision catapulted the USAR movement forward and made it what it is today. Weldon said now we're going to call them "Downey Teams" rather than FEMA Teams. Weldon also said that they are working on naming a building at the National Fire Academy in honor of Ray Downey.

24 posted on 03/23/2004 3:25:36 PM PST by AgThorn (Go go Bush!! But don't turn your back on America with "immigrant amnesty")
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To: NormsRevenge
Sure -- they were also "bluffing", when they talked about flying airplanes into buildings.
25 posted on 03/23/2004 8:56:49 PM PST by FairOpinion (If you are not voting for Bush, you are voting for the terrorists.)
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To: rageaholic
Most probably they have access not to weapons grade materials but to radiological materials like hospital waste, etc. Put that into an explosive device and then you have trouble. I'm just hoping that if these dirtbags might have handled this material, they've done it without the proper precautions - and thus they're slowly dying from radiation poisoning.
26 posted on 03/24/2004 9:46:38 AM PST by John Frum
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