Smugglers in Moldova ‘repeatedly tried’ to sell radioactive material to ISIS

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Smugglers on several occasions have attempted to sell enough radioactive material to make a so-called “dirty bomb” to Islamic State militants, an AP investigation in Moldova reveals.

Moldovan authorities together with the FBI “interrupted at least four attempts” of such smuggling in the past four to five years.

The most recent case occurred in February 2015 “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,” AP wrote, citing information from Moldovan police and judicial authorities.

"We can expect more of these cases," Constantin Malic, a Moldovan police officer who investigated all four cases, told AP. "As long as the smugglers think they can make big money without getting caught, they will keep doing it."

According to AP, officers, probably no longer employed, of Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) or the Soviet-era KGB were involved in the smuggling. One of them reportedly had dual Russian and Ukrainian citizenship.

The agency showed an example of one operation when a smuggler, Valentin Grossu, was trying to sell radioactive cesium to the police informant.

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"You can make a dirty bomb, which would be perfect for Islamic State," Grossu, whose cesium supplier reportedly was a retired FSB agent, said. "If you have a connection with them, the business will go smoothly."

However, if something happened during cesium delivery or transportation, "They will put all of us against the wall and shoot us," Constantin Malic said, recalling Grossu’s conversation with an informant who was wearing a wire.
However, cesium must have reached areas controlled by Islamic State as the militants “have the money and they will know what to do with it."

A dirty bomb is a mix of explosives, such as dynamite, with radioactive powder or pellets. When the dynamite or other explosives are set off, the blast carries radioactive material into the surrounding area.

READ MORE: ISIS claims to have developed dirty bomb – reports

The reports that Islamic State is developing dirty bombs emerged back in December 2014. They, however, indicated that the extremists were using not cesium, but uranium compounds reportedly stolen from Mosul University in summer 2014.