Sunday, November 19, 2006

LONDON'S CRACKPOT DIRTY BOMBER: al Qaeda man flaunts feeble grasp of health physics and arithmetic

"The full details of Dhiren Barot's [not Borat's] plot to set off a radioactive 'dirty bomb' containing smoke detectors was revealed yesterday [in Woolwich Crown Court]" wrote the Independent on Nov. 8.

Continuing breathlessly, the newspaper explained: "At a cost of £70,000, Barot, 34, proposed building a bomb that would cause radiation sickness in about 500 people and produce mass panic.

"The Muslim extremist suggested setting off the bomb incentral London, or a city in Spain or the United States . . .

"Edmund Lawson QC, for the prosecution, said that the plan appeared to have been based on an incident in France when a lorry carrying 900 smoke detectors crashed, provoking concern about possible exposure to radiation . . ."

"In a terrorist document Borat#@!Barot wrote: If something so small and simple such as 900 burning smoke detectors could cause so much havoc, then by increasing the amount used, the possibilities are good."

"He suggested in his presentation document to al-Qa'ida leaders that the radiation project should use around 10,000 smoke detectors . . . "

At which point DD, wearing the official GlobalSecurity.Org Senior Fellow T-shirt, let out a horselaugh.

Readers have come to know the stories of many wanna-be terrorists. They have little or no grasp of science and applications, hatching dreams of chemical or biological mayhem with a handful of poison seeds, or even the weird belief, originally nurtured in US neo-Nazi circles, that botulism can be easily cooked up from horse or cow flops.

And readers know of the addled drug addict from Arizona who thought he could make ricin from castor oil. His beliefs, an equally nuts roommate and a marijuana stash activated the federal WMD response network!

So in this scheme, Dhiren Barot's [not Borat's] savvy falls somewhere above the castor oil/marijuana WMDer, perhaps equal to that of US security experts who felt rosary peas could be made into a WMD. Barot is also neck-'n'-neck, intellectually speaking, with murderer Kamel Bourgass. Bourgass envisioned getting significant amounts of cyanide from cherry stones and apple seeds. [Also, see video of Bourgass' paper laden with cherry pits, linked here.]

Make no mistake, the press -- in the UK and in the US -- has taken Borat'sBarot's plans very seriously. And perhaps his bad intent and obvious ill-will must be taken into account. However, as far as masterminding plots of mass destruction through radiation, Barot appears to be a gold-plated feeb. And that is good news!

Dick Destiny will explain why.

Smoke detectors contain a vanishingly small amount of americium-241, a man-made radioactive element indicated as radioactive ammunition for potential dirty bombs.

However, a smoke detector contains only about 1 millionth of a Curie of the element.

In dirty bomb threat analyses -- mostly notably by atom scientists and more recently by the Federation of American Scientists (FAS) -- smoke detectors are not considered as significant sources of americium-241. In fact, they are entirely absent from such analyses. And that's because they contain a trivial amount of the material.

On the other hand, americium sources are used in oil well mapping. Such sources contain much more active material. Much much more.

Did DD just say much more?

A typical radioactive source for oil well logging contains 10 Curies of americium, as noted here, in the Pugwash paper entitled "Nuclear Terrorism." An americium source like it was used as the theoretical basis for part of a dirty bomb impact analysis by the FAS here.

Since our jihadist, Barot, not Borat -- oof (!), didn't have his arithmetic hat on when calculating the efficiencies of his dirty bomb plot, DD will put one on for him.

Barot -- remember, he's not Borat -- would have had to buy ten million smoke detectors. That's ten, followed by six zeros, to make the small dirty bomb payload envisioned in the FAS analysis. Not nine hundred, or even ten thousand. Ten million!

"In the 1980s, annual sales of smoke detectors approached 12 million units..." informs one scholarly government paper on the physics, technical applications, toxicity and health effects of americium.

BoratBarot, then, would have needed not just a truckload of smoke detectors. He would have needed a veritable ocean of them! A corner of the entire market, so to speak. That constitutes quite the stealthy and practical mass terror enterprise!

It's worth restating that it's good news when al Qaeda operatives reveal in detail how utterly incompetent in such arts and sciences they are. It is even more interesting to consider what it says about the leadership and judgment of a terror organization that is swayed by the pipedreams and blandishments of a Barot (or maybe a Borat).

It is not so good news when authorities and the mainstream newsmedia ask their audiences to believe that such skills elevate said terrorists -- meaning Barot -- above the level of the seriously deluded crackpot.

This is another way of saying Barot appears to be the equivalent of our Jose Padilla. And what happens to the Padillas and BoratsBarots of our war on terror?

They're put away, permanently, while playing the parts of boogeymen.

Related: Barot, not Borat -- as seen from the mainstream media.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Besides oil-well logging,
the cosntruction industry
uses soil-compaction gauages
(eg Troxlers) containing
deci- or centi- curies.

Also industrial radiographers
have very nice 100-Ci sources.

Both troxlers and IR vans are
stolen occasionally (Troxlers
weekly), you can find daily
reports on the NRC website.

10:21 AM  

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