Terrorists planning 'dirty bomb' attacks

7th March 2005, Comments 0 comments

7 March 2005, MADRID - The threat of groups launching terrorist strikes using "dirty" bombs, or chemical or biological weapons is likely to focus attention at a international conference in Madrid starting on Tuesday.

7 March 2005

MADRID - The threat of groups launching terrorist strikes using "dirty" bombs, or chemical or biological weapons is likely to focus attention at a international conference in Madrid starting on Tuesday.

The "dirty" bomb distributes radioactive contamination over an area through a conventional, or  non-fission, explosion.

It is considered a very real danger because of its relative simplicity and its capacity to cause panic among people.

Although there is no instance of one being used thus far, the prospect of a "dirty" bomb going off in an airport or a shopping centre raises fears among experts.

"You have to understand that we will never eliminate the risk (of such devices being used) because the material and technology exists," said Marc Lemaire, a doctor specialising in emergency responses.

Nevertheless intelligence services can keep track of, for instance, nuclear waste, and emergency teams can prepare for the worst if a radiological attack occurs, he said.

Bodies such as the World Health Organisation stress that "dirty" bombs are not weapons of mass destruction because their ability to cause harm is limited, as the actual danger posed by scattered radioactive material is relatively small.

The fear factor produced by such devices, however, remains formidable and would guarantee a group immediate infamy- a key goal of terrorism.

Likewise, discussions on a chemical or biological attack revolve more around 'when' rather than 'if', experts say.

An Interpol conference last week opened with the organisation's head, Ronald Noble saying: "After 9-11 and the investigations on Al Qaeda, we know now that the terrorists have investigated the possibility using nuclear materials to make weapons, how to use bio-agents and also the chemicals.

"Now we have to let our imagination run wild and prepare for anything."

US intelligence sources have told the media that the arrest of a Khaled Sheikh Mohammed-considered one of the masterminds of the 9/11 attacks- in Pakistan in March 2003 and an examination of his computers showed that al-Qaeda had studied the possibility of spreading biological disease and poison.

[Copyright EFE with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news

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