Nuclear Extremist Plot Foiled: How ISIS Nearly Got Nukes From Ex-Soviets

Jeremy Laukkonen - Author

Oct. 7 2015, Updated 1:45 p.m. ET

There’s no way to know for sure how many nuclear extremist plots have been quashed over the years by law enforcement and military operations, but one foiled transaction last February could have put nuclear materials in the hands of ISIS.

The Associated Press, via ABC News, reports that the FBI, working with local authorities, have headed off four attempts in the last five years to sell nuclear materials to Middle Eastern extremists. The sellers in each case have been Eastern European gangs with possible Russian ties, and a plot foiled in February 2015 may have involved an ISIS-connected buyer.

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That plot involved a smuggler in Moldova with suspected Russian sources who sought to sell a large amount of radioactive cesium on the black market. According to the Associated Press, the smuggler claimed to be looking specifically for a buyer with ISIS connections.

Fox News spoke to an unidentified source in law enforcement who confirmed that the FBI had seized an unspecified “harmful illegal chemical material.” However, the source would not confirm that the “illegal chemical” was cesium, that the buyer was connected to ISIS, or that the plot had involved Middle Eastern extremists at all.

The same source also told Fox News that the material that the smuggler in Moldova was trying to sell was “not bomb worthy” and “not radioactive.”

According to NBC News, the ISIS connection is tenuous but still troublesome. During the sting operation, an informant working with the Moldovan police used a cover that positioned himself as a representative of ISIS. So there may have been no actual ISIS connection, but it does appear that the smuggler was perfectly willing to sell deadly radioactive materials to ISIS.

The Associated Press reports that Moldovan authorities have foiled other plots to specifically sell nuclear material to Middle Eastern extremists like ISIS.


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