The Islamic State “has an apocalyptic ideology and believes there is going to be a final war with the United States,” expects to win that war and “would need very powerful weapons to do so . . . if they ever did turn to nuclear weapons, they have more people, more money and more territory under their control and more ability to recruit experts globally than Al Qaeda at its best ever had.” ~ Professor Matthew Bunn of Harvard University’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs
I have sometimes disagreed with Matthew Bunn – mostly on missile defense issues. But I applaud his apt summary description of essential aspects of the existential threat posed by the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq (ISIS). ISIS is my preferred label rather that the “Islamic State,” whose operatives reportedly are now present in at least 20 countries around the world, including the United States, and seek to extend globally their intended Caliphate in Iraq and Syria.
Bunn’s quotation was buried in an important March 25, 2016 New York Times article, “Belgium Fears Nuclear Plants are Vulnerable.” As my regular readers know, I am seeking to assure that our nuclear reactors remain viable following a major electric grid shutdown. So, I find this concern to be valid, and not only in Belgium. Indeed, the reported attacks on nuclear reactors in Belgium are clear warning of possible ISIS interest in carrying out such an attack more generally – including here in America.
The nuclear power plant in Doel, Belgium.
Before elaborating this point, let’s reflect on the conditional aspect of Bunn’s warning of the existential threat that ISIS will pose “if” they turn to nuclear weapons. Surely they will turn to nuclear weapons if they can.
Will we know “when” ISIS might buy, steal or build one or more nuclear weapons to attack the United States?
This question is worth pondering because Bunn is certainly correct to point out that ISIS believes in an “apocalyptic ideology” calling for a final war that destroys the United States – or as the Iranian Mullahs call us: “The Great Satan.”
Never mind that ISIS is Sunni and Iran is Shia – they agree on this key objective. We ignore that fact at our peril. And we should not ignore the possibility that they may cooperate to achieve their common goal.
They could, and we should assume do, see nuclear weapons as a means to that end – and we should protect ourselves against that possibility. ISIS could seek to obtain a nuclear weapon from Iran – the Mullahs undeniably seek to obtain nuclear weapons and demonstrably cannot be trusted to abide by the Joint Cooperative Program of Action (JCPOA) “deal” made by the Obama administration last year. We should remember the “Hall of Shame” of those who went along with this terrible deal – see my October 20, 2015 High Frontier message.
Since this deal opened the door to $150 billion in removed sanctions, Iran has conducted multiple tests of ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons – contrary to previous United Nation resolutions. Repeat, Iran cannot be trusted – and the deal is not verifiable, as emphasized by 56 experts and former senior officials in their letter to President Obama and congressional leaders – see their September 2, 2015 press release in our September 3, 2015 Message.
If we are prudent, we’ll not forget Iran’s connections to its erstwhile ally North Korea. The “Great Leader” also treats UN resolutions with disdain, already has nuclear weapons and could use money from a deal with a now more wealthy Iran. A possible trade, don’t you think?
Then, as last Sunday evening’s Madam Secretary on CBS reminded us in a hypothetical scenario that involved a potential nuclear conflict between Pakistan and India, Pakistan has over a 100 nuclear weapons.
Remember, Osama bin Laden was killed within a mile of Pakistan’s “West Point” where he had hidden for years? In secret from Pakistani leaders, you think? And recall that bin Laden headed al-Qaeda – the Sunni group that spawned ISIS and parted ways because al Qaeda considered ISIS to be too “radical” an offshoot that intends to restore the Caliphate now rather than later.
Speaking of Pakistan, consider reports that a splinter group of the Pakistani Taliban is responsible for a suicide bomber that killed at least 70 people and wounded at least 300 others who were celebrating the Easter holiday in Pakistan second largest city, Lahore. Didn’t the Pakistani Taliban support Osama bin Laden and his al Qaeda followers? Hmmmmmm . . .
While pondering these unpleasant thoughts, also consider that our leaders have refused to identify the threat. Is there any wonder that we have no strategy worth the name for countering the existential threat to all we hold dear?
This fact is finally beginning to gain some appreciation as the unruly debate among Presidential candidates is identifying the unpleasantries associated with the tension between “truth” and the “political correctness” that seeks to avoid identifying any connection between the terrorist actions of jihadis and Islam’s “apocalyptic ideology,” as Bunn referred to it, embedded in the Sharia Law demanded of Islam’s true believers.
Peggy Noonan’s thoughtful OpEd in last weekend’s Wall Street Journal, “Unite to Defeat Radical Jihadism” discusses her perspective of lessons from the attacks in Belgium and her study of what ISIS and so-called “radical Islam” is about. I like her “10-percent rule” explanation for identifying the magnitude of this important problem to the average person:
“Let’s say only 10% of the 1.6 billion [Muslims] harbor feelings of grievance toward “the West,” or desire to expunge the infidel, or hope to re-establish the caliphate. That 10% is 160 million people. Let’s say of that group only 10% would be inclined toward jihad. That’s 16 million. Assume that of that group only 10% really means it-would really become jihadis or give them aid and sustenance. That’s 1.6 million. That is a lot of ferociousness in an age of increasingly available weapons, including the chemical, biological and nuclear sort.”
Peggy Noonan, “Unite to Defeat Radical Jihadism” Wall Street Journal, March 26-27, 2016
Actually, I think Ms. Noonan’s “10-percent rule” underestimates the magnitude of the problem, though all should understand that it does not take many well informed jihadis to create havoc. A small number of dedicated jihadis could pose even an existential threat to all we hold dear – especially if armed with chemical, biological and nuclear weapons, as her above thoughts conclude.
The New York Times article by Alissa J. Rubin and Milan Schreuer that contained my reference to the views of Matthew Bunn was published on March 25, 2016, 3-days after the ISIS jihadi attack in Brussels reportedly killed at least 31 (counting three jihadis), including at least four Americans. According to an early Reuters report , officials identified 24 victims from nine different nationalities from these attacks in the city where the European Union and NATO have their headquarters. Fourteen were identified at the airport and 10 on the metro. An additional four people remained unidentified. 340 people were wounded, according to the latest official toll on Saturday, 101 of them were still in hospital on Saturday – 62 of them in intensive care, many with severe burns.
Press accounts have indicated that the principals who planned the attacks in Belgium were few in number – a handful. At least some of them were associated with the same ISIS group that killed 130 and wounded nearly 400 in Paris last November.
Most important from my perspective, press accounts reveal that, at least in Europe, the intelligence community simply did not “connect the dots” to identify this threat in advance.
Makes one wonder about whether we have learned our lessons in America – or whether we have drifted back to the conditions described by the 9/11 Commission that led to the unanticipated attacks formulated and conducted by a handful of al-Qaeda jihadis on September 11, 2001.
Finally, return to the New York Times article that stimulated this message. Assuring the viability of our nuclear reactors is critically important – as it is in Belgium and elsewhere. If they are successfully attacked by any means – physical as was the case in this article, by a cyber-attack as illustrated by the Aurora demonstration at Idaho National Labs, or by an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack – the result could lead to major radiation leakage, per the Fukushima reactors in Japan.
See my February 24, 2015 High Frontier message “Nuclear Power Reactors: Threat and Solution” for a still pertinent discussion of these important issues.
The truth is that nations that wish us ill – including Iran – understand this reality and include a combined attack strategy (Physical, Cyber and EMP) in their military doctrine, a fact that many U.S. planners still do not take into account.
See the below header recently added to our webpage www.highfrontier.org for the layout of U.S. reactors, and click here to see how today’s wind pattern might affect you in that case. The red dots are our nuclear reactor power plants – mostly in the Eastern Interconnect of our electric power grid.
If we take the right countermeasures, the nation’s nuclear reactors, instead of posing a significant radiation hazard, can become an instrumental aid in re-establishing the electric grid following a major shutdown. See the elaboration in High Frontier’s February 24, 2015 message, which is linked above.
The truth is that ISIS and other jihadis pose an existential threat to all we hold dear – and as the recent events in Belgium illustrate we collectively still are not connecting the dots to understand the nature and specifics of that threat, which is global in nature. The “true believers” are out to bring the entire world into their view of Islam – and give the “infidels” options to: Convert to Islam, Submit to Islam and pay the “jiza” tax to their betters, or Die.
As for me, I am not interested in any of these alternatives. We need to get our act together, understand the threat-particularly in the USA, and deal with it! More for another day.
Near-Term High Frontier Plans.
We will continue to inform our readers of the looming threats we confront – and where appropriate urge them to engage in countering those threats. We will press for building the most cost-effective ballistic missile defenses possible and working with South Carolina folks to build a coalition to engage constructively with private citizens and their local and state representatives and other authorities to work with the SC National Guard in understanding and responding to the existential threats to the electric power grid.
We are especially focused on the nuclear power reactors that produce 60-percent of SC electricity-and more generally 20-percent of the nation’s electricity. If it can be assured that they “operate through” a major blackout of the electric power grid – and I believe it can, then these reactors can play a very important role for resurrecting the grid over an extended time and supporting the general public’s survival in the meantime.
See the new figure just added to the top of our webpage for an illustration of how wind patterns might carry far and wide any significant radiation from the nation’s reactors if we don’t get this right!
What can you do?
Join us in praying for our nation, and for a rebirth of the freedom sought, achieved and passed to us by those who came before us.
Help us to spread our message to the grass roots and to encourage all “powers that be” to provide for the common defense as they are sworn to do.
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