Organized criminals keep trying to sell material to terrorists

Back when I was peripherally involved in Ronald Reagan’s selling of nuclear-capable cruise missile technology to the House of Saud, the rumor was that the Saudis had gotten the materials for their warheads from the Chechen mafiyah.

@anotherone, if we didn’t provoke others to hate us, what would be our excuse for maintaining a police state? How could we continue to increasingly limit freedom of speech, movement and association without external enemies?


As I understand it the guy that hired to build the bomb just gave them a shiny bomb casing full of used pinball machine parts!


A clear sign that you aren’t dealing with a buyer who knows what he’s buying.
That is a bad news (if you are selling the real stuff) or a good news (if you want to fleece an easy mark).

Geiger counters were plentiful and cheap on eBay before Fuckupshima (I scored a rudimentary DRSB01 for about $20). Then the market got depleted. But you can still score a decent one. Or buy a tube and make your own; I built one around a $80 pancake tube and it has amazing sensitivity; if you want better you have to go scintillation. There’s no excuse to not have one if you want to even just worry about radiation.

I have to get a decent NaI:Tl crystal somewhere…

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That being said, a few grams of radioactive material improperly transported could probably cause more damage, contamination and poisoning wise, than the actual dirty bomb it was used in. Especially relatively easy to access older medical grade radiation emitting items or sources. This kinda shit actually seems to happens way more often than it should:

and of course all of this is miniscule to the history of government radiation accidents. Not to mention the fact that while the United States can bitch and whine as much as it wants about the danger of terrorists or countries we don’t like acquiring nukes or dirty bombs, the U.S. is still the only country in the world to ever use a nuclear weapon during war and against civilians (like, ya know, terrorists would), and more recently the only country to use DU ammunition near a civilian population.

ETA - Countries that have stockpiles of DU ammunition (source):

It is thought that between 17 and 20 countries have weapons incorporating depleted uranium in their arsenals. They include the U.S., the UK, France, Russia, China, India, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Bahrain, Egypt, Kuwait, Pakistan, Thailand, Iraq and Taiwan.


What do you think the likelihood of that being true was?

Yup. Radiation accidents make a fun reading. Criticality ones are even better, as they can happen in even more insidious way.

It’s also interesting to cross-reference individual cases in different books. Even without the names of the victims (some books do, some don’t) it is often rather evident - there are only so few people on the planet who got medical attention for a radiation burn on their buttocks after sitting on a contaminated pipe in the Chernobyl plant.

I consider it not a separate case. Neither affected city topped the list of bombing victims, and the different technology used, instead of the conventional firebombing, did not make so much difference in principle. You got some radiation-related effects, yes, but that doesn’t add so much difference to a leveled city. If it is a single silver bird laying a sun egg that hatches at preset altitude, or if it is a whole sky blackened by birds crapping fire, does not make that much difference for the civilians below.

I may be biased but as a city-dwelling civilian I harbor certain dislike to aerial bombardment of cities full of civilians, and consequent certain like to anti-aircraft artillery. Pew pew.


I don’t know how likely it is that they actually got the material from the Chechens, but they certainly convinced me that they had at least one nuke, and that it was too small to have been of their own devising. They got the launch vehicle from us, labeled “satellite booster”. (At the time we laughed and rolled our eyes and said “right, for the non-existent Saudi comunications satellite industry” but they actually have launched a bunch of satellites since the fall of the USSR.)


I would not go so far as to say I would not consider it a separate case, I think there is something to be said in regards to the lack of humanity (not to mention our current hypocrisy regarding nuclear weapons) required to knowingly use a weapon which, in an instant, can end the lives of thousands of humans. We should not create destruction for the sake of destruction. Now, that is not to say that I believe the ‘standard’ bombings of Japanese cities were somehow not as heinous in principle as Nagasaki and Hiroshima, even thinking of the Tokyo fire bombings brings to mind images of the victims

much like thinking of Hiroshima brings to mind images of the shadows.

I would say that they should be looked at separately but neither should be seen as being inherently worse than the other. They are both monuments to the atrocities of war and the cold, cruel, and calculating decisions some humans feel they have the right to make in regards to another conscious beings continued existence.

Here are those stats you were talking about:

Allied forces conducted many air raids on Japan during World War II, causing extensive destruction to the country’s cities and killing between 241,000 and 900,000 people

The United States dropped atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945, during the final stage of the Second World War. The two bombings, which killed at least 129,000 people, remain the only use of nuclear weapons for warfare in history.


Not that my opinion is universal, but I propose that organized criminals have making money (and without regard to the legality of their methods) as their overarching goal, while terrorists’ overarching goal is to catalyze changes in political power (again, without regard to the legality of their methods).

In practice these goals can overlap quite a bit, but the litmus test as I think of it:

  • If Bob won’t plant a bomb because it’s against the law, he’s a normal citizen.
  • If he wont plant a bomb because it won’t result in money being made, he may well be in organized crime.
  • If he won’t plant a bomb because the bomb would only blow a hole in a bank wall rather than killing the heir to a throne, he may well be a terrorist.

Friendly counterpoint:

I have known many CEO and entrepreneur types, and some high-ranking criminal types. The ones that are in it for money usually fail.

That sounds cliched and whatever else, but just ask a VC. They want founders who are drinking their own kool-aid, every time. The true believers pay the bills.

(ETA - And this, I think, is why Jobs was so effective. I hate his shit, but man was that guy about the end product. And he was the same way before the money came.)

Of the orgs I’ve seen both legit and criminal, the strongest ones had a founder who liked the money (perks, whatever), yes. But that’s not what they did it for.

ETAA - I forgot the second part…

So what the good ones ARE keen on usually (aside from that specific thing that makes them shiver in bed and at the office), is Growth, Decommoditization, and People.


Interesting distinctions, with some validity.

I would posit that some criminals use ideological motives as justification for their psychopathy, and as such are really only criminals.

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What if Charlie won’t plant a bomb because he’s not a murderer, and he doesn’t really care what laws (that generally are propagated by immoral states) may or may not say?

I’d call Bob a garden-variety coward, although granted that may very well be what it means to be a normal citizen these days.


Sometimes a bomb is a tool. A quick way to remove a tree stump, for example.


Excellent use case for tannerite.

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I seem to recall that the DHS classifies Dirty Bombs as economic terror devices.


I’m wondering if they stumbled on a cache of certified reference material at a lab or university that they are using to bait potential customers…
The fact that they gave a sample of Cs-135 in lieu of Cs-137 seems really odd since pure Cs-135 isn’t very common. It is quite common to have 5 gram samples of Uranium in various enrichment levels up to 99.9%.

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It used to be possible to buy sticks of dynamite from hardware stores in the USA. You’d drill a hole in the stump, insert the dynamite, light the fuse, and run!

But these days you can’t even make a large purchase of KNO3 without getting on a watchlist… consequently, I grub stumps out by hand, with much cursing.


That would explain the Cs-135 mystery.

Too bad more of such low-activity well-defined sources aren’t on the black market, for cheaper prices…

Thought… could a calibration source be made from a piece of geological uranium ore sample, potted partially in lead and partially in epoxy, and its emission well-measured?

I misread the last word as “fun”. :smiley:
Good old times. Things seem to be getting worse over time.

I grew up on books with recipes for etchants, inks, metal plating compositions, potting compounds… many of the ingredients would now make our self-appointed caregivers break out in hives.

In many ways, the Eastern Bloc had more freedom before the Revolution…


Also good for cisterns. So I hear.