WASHINGTON – Once again raising the specter of the unthinkable, the Homeland Security Department yesterday issued cleanup standards for a terrorist attack with an “improvised nuclear device.”
Often called “dirty bombs,” improvised nuclear devices use conventional explosives to disperse radioactive material without a nuclear explosion. Such weapons, which could use Cesium 137 or other radioactive material, would be useful as terror devices because they can render an area dangerous, uninhabitable and spread panic.
The guidelines say the impact from detonating such a device could vary widely, from contaminating a small area, such as a single building or city block, to many square miles.
The Homeland Security guidelines would permit long-term radiation exposures of as much as 10,000 millirems per year – a level equivalent to hundreds of chest X-rays a year or 30 times the annual exposure to radiation from natural “background” sources.
However, if the contamination is widespread, some areas may have to be put off limits permanently.
The guidelines are the latest indication the federal government takes very seriously the threat of a nuclear or radiological terrorist attack on American soil.
The announcement follows the disclosure last month that the U.S. government has been monitoring radiation levels at more than 100 mosques, homes, businesses and other sites in and around the nation’s capital and at least five other cities since Sept. 11, 2001.
Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin, the weekly, online intelligence newsletter published by the founder of WND, first reported that law enforcement officials suspect terrorists have secreted nuclear or radiological weapons inside the country – part of al-Qaida’s decade-long plot to detonate nuclear weapons in seven to nine major U.S. cities simultaneously in an operation it calls “American Hiroshima.”
The nuclear surveillance program began in early 2002 and has been run by the FBI and the Department of Energy’s Nuclear Emergency Support Team, or NEST, according to the report.
The other cities being monitored include Chicago, Detroit, Las Vegas, New York, and Seattle.
As WorldNetDaily reported, former FBI consultant Paul L. Williams describes how al-Qaida has already purchased some post-Soviet mini-nukes and hired Russians to help them operate them.
According to one source, Al-Qaida’s prime targets for launching nuclear terrorist attacks are the U.S. cities with the highest Jewish populations, according to captured leaders and documents.
The cities mentioned by al-Qaida documents and captives include New York, Miami, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Chicago, San Francisco, Las Vegas, Boston and Washington, D.C.
One of the sources for the information is Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the chief planner of the Sept. 11 attacks, who is now in U.S. custody.
For complete coverage of Osama bin Laden’s “American Hiroshima” nuclear terrorist threat, subscribe to Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin, the premium, online, intelligence newsletter published by the founder of WND.