Back in May, John Cantlie, a journalist held captive by ISIS, laid out the sum of all fears thesis in the group's English-language online magazine Dabiq. To wit:
Let me throw a hypothetical operation onto the table. The Islamic State has billions of dollars in the bank, so they call on their wilayah in Pakistan to purchase a nuclear device through weapons dealers with links to corrupt officials in the region.
The weapon is then transported overland until it makes it to Libya, where the muj?hid?n move it south to Nigeria. Drug shipments from Colombia bound for Europe pass through West Africa, so moving other types of contraband from East to West is just as possible.
The nuke and accompanying mujahideen arrive on the shorelines of South America and are transported through the porous borders of Central America before arriving in Mexico and up to the border with the United States.
From there it’s just a quick hop through a smuggling tunnel and hey presto, they’re mingling with another 12 million “illegal” aliens in America with a nuclear bomb in the trunk of their car.
Ok, got that? ISIS will buy themselves a nuclear bomb, send it to Libya, move it to Nigeria, then ask cocaine dealers to transport it to Colombia where it will be passed on to somebody else, who will then pass it to Mexican immigrants that will drive it into America and “presto”, a US city blows up.
Now obviously, the outlandishness of that story makes Cantlie’s preface especially amusing because calling that “a hypothetical operation” is a bit like calling the idea of a colony on Saturn a “possible NASA mission”, but that’s not the point.
The point is that like all things ISIS, the story plays into the “sum of all fears” narrative that’s been fed to public via Western media outlets. That is, if ISIS is the greatest threat to human decency since the Reich, then a nuclear ISIS is the worst outcome imaginable.
Of course the other story the Western media wants you to believe is that just under "a nuclear ISIS" on the biggest threats list one can find "resurgent Russia", and the attendant Russophobia that contention has engendered is proof that the Western media spin machine is still plenty effective.
But as we’ve been keen to document, the US has simply run out of ways to explain what’s going on in the Mid-East and so Washington has simply resorted to scare tactics (i.e. "although this makes completely no sense, the Russians are actually going to end up creating more terrorism by eradicating terrorism") while Riyadh has just gone full-sectarian-crazy as clerics are now calling for a Sunni jihad against the Russian army in a kind of engineered Soviet-Afghan redux.
But just in case the American public has any doubt about how dangerous the Russians and ISIS truly are, AP is out today with a story that truly takes the (yellow) cake as we learn that apparently, ISIS and other Islamic extremists have tried to buy dirty bombs from “gangs with suspected Russian connections” four times in the last five years. Thankfully, the FBI was always there to save the day. Here’s AP:
In the backwaters of Eastern Europe, authorities working with the FBI have interrupted four attempts in the past five years by gangs with suspected Russian connections that sought to sell radioactive material to Middle Eastern extremists, The Associated Press has learned. The latest known case came in February this year, when a smuggler offered a huge cache of deadly cesium — enough to contaminate several city blocks — and specifically sought a buyer from the Islamic State group.
Criminal organizations, some with ties to the Russian KGB's successor agency, are driving a thriving black market in nuclear materials in the tiny and impoverished country of Moldova, investigators say. The successful busts, however, were undercut by striking shortcomings: Kingpins got away, and those arrested evaded long prison sentences, sometimes quickly returning to nuclear smuggling, AP found.
Moldovan police and judicial authorities shared investigative case files with AP in an effort to spotlight how dangerous the nuclear black market has become. They say the breakdown in cooperation between Russia and the West means that it has become much harder to know whether smugglers are finding ways to move parts of Russia's vast store of radioactive materials — an unknown quantity of which has leached into the black market.
"We can expect more of these cases," said Constantin Malic, a Moldovan police officer who investigated all four cases. "As long as the smugglers think they can make big money without getting caught, they will keep doing it."
In wiretaps, videotaped arrests, photographs of bomb-grade material, documents and interviews, AP found a troubling vulnerability in the anti-smuggling strategy. From the first known Moldovan case in 2010 to the most recent one in February, a pattern has emerged: Authorities pounce on suspects in the early stages of a deal, giving the ringleaders a chance to escape with their nuclear contraband — an indication that the threat from the nuclear black market in the Balkans is far from under control.
Moldovan investigators can't be sure that the suspects who fled didn't hold on to the bulk of the nuclear materials.
Nor do they know whether the groups, which are pursuing buyers who are enemies of the West, may have succeeded in selling deadly nuclear material to extremists at a time when the Islamic State has made clear its ambition to use weapons of mass destruction.
The cases involve secret meetings in a high-end nightclub; blueprints for dirty bombs; and a nerve-shattered undercover investigator who slammed vodka shots before heading into meetings with smugglers. Informants and a police officer posing as a connected gangster — complete with a Mercedes Benz provided by the FBI — penetrated the smuggling gangs. The police used a combination of old-fashioned undercover tactics and high-tech gear, from radiation detectors to clothing threaded with recording devices.
Ok, so it’s difficult to even decide where to begin there, but the story appears to be that the breakdown in relations between Russia and the West has allowed former KGB operatives turned-Russian "gang" members to obtain “nuclear material” and sell it to vodka-slamming FBI agents driving rented Mercedes to nightclubs in Moldova. Somehow this means that ISIS might have tapped into the Russian nuclear black market.
Here is the alleged mastermind of one such operation (he is known only as "The Colonel"):
And here, apparently, are some "apartment blocks" where AP figures that nuclear smuggling might be going on:
Finally, here's a picture of two random people that AP included for absolutely no reason at all other than to raise the spectre of the "evil" sickle and hammer:
We'll leave it to readers to determine the veracity of what is truly a hilarious story (do yourself a favor and read the entire article) but just note that if ever there were an opportune time for the West to make a spurious connection between Russia, ISIS, and the black market for nuclear material, this is it.
And by the way, "The Colonel" is apparently still on the loose and now his partner is out of prison. Lock your doors...
The ringleader, the colonel, got away. Police cannot determine whether he had more nuclear material. His partner, who wanted to "annihilate America," is out of prison.