Scary ‘dirty bomb’ subplot to Brussels terror attacks

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by NW Spotlight

A rather scary side story re-emerged this week during investigations into Tuesday’s terrorist attacks in Brussels, Belgium – attacks that left 30 dead and 230 injured.

On Tuesday, the NY Times reported that two nuclear plants in Belgium had been evacuated – the result of “new information, and the events of today.”

What new information? 

On Thursday, NBC News reported that “an expert involved in a probe into ISIS threats” told them “the brothers behind this week’s Brussels bombings also spied on a top nuclear researcher and hoped to build a so-called ‘dirty bomb.’”

The brothers “were responsible for planting a hidden camera outside the Belgian researcher’s house,” according to “a French former intelligence official who was hired to investigate potential plots targeting Europe’s nuclear sector.”

As was reported last month by NBC News, “Belgian police discovered the secret film on Nov. 30 while searching the home of a man with ties to ISIS.” According to NBC News reporting this week, the “camera produced more than 10 hours of film showing the comings and goings of senior researcher at a Belgian nuclear center and his family.”

The NBC News reporting last month said “Belgian authorities have since speculated that the group was trying to figure out a way to collect materials from the nuclear center as the first step in building a bomb.”

The same reporting noted “Many U.S. experts consider the eventual detonation by terrorists of a dirty bomb containing radiological materials to be inevitable.”

Dirty bombs: Goal is fear and anxiety – actual radiation danger limited

According to CBS News, a dirty bomb “can use a conventional explosive to disperse radioactive material,” and “is not to be confused with a nuclear explosion, but experts say such a device could release relatively small amounts of radiation over several city blocks and have its most devastating effect in the panic it probably would create.”

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) notes “A dirty bomb is in no way similar to a nuclear weapon or nuclear bomb,” and “is not a ‘Weapon of Mass Destruction’ but a ‘Weapon of Mass Disruption,’ where contamination and anxiety are the terrorists’ major objectives.”

Regarding actual impact, the NRC says a dirty bomb “would not release enough radiation to kill people or cause severe illness – the conventional explosive itself would be more harmful to individuals than the radioactive material.”