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Nuclear Terrorism: A Threat Assessment for the 21st Century

Organizations also use social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook. Most recently, a terrorist live streamed his New Zealand shooting spree to Facebook through a camera on his helmet.

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Terrorists have been increasingly interested in expanding technological capabilities that could be used as more effective weapons. But devices like drones , which are relatively inexpensive, easy to buy and operate, and can provide anonymity, are becoming popular. Although the U.

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Senate Homeland Security committee that there is a growing risk of this type of terrorist activity. Organizations use drones for different purposes. Hamas and Hezbollah use drones to survey territory. The organization first experimented with this type of technology in October , when it attached a bomb to a drone which detonated upon being picked up, resulting in the death of 2 Kurdish soldiers.

Experts Debate Threat of Nuclear, Biological Terrorism

Later, ISIS developed a grenade-drop mechanism on drones. These weapons, which are meant to strike planes flying at low altitudes, can be transported by one person, making them easy to smuggle and hide. For example, Al-Qaeda is suspected of having many after thousands went missing in Libya in the early s.

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The international community is also concerned that terrorists are exploiting artificial intelligence AI and obtaining weapons of mass destruction WMDs. Terrorists could use AI in numerous ways, such as mapping social networks and automating attacks. As barriers to entry for AI decrease with more people possessing knowledge and skills and tools becoming easier to use, increased competition among terrorist groups is likely. Additionally, the threat terrorists armed with WMDs has lingered for years.


Panel moderator Benjamin Friedman, a research fellow at the Cato Institute, said academic and governmental discussions of acts of nuclear or biological terrorism have tended to focus on "worst-case assumptions about terrorists' ability to use these weapons to kill us. Friedman took issue with the finding late last year of an experts' report that an act of WMD terrorism would "more likely than not" occur in the next half decade unless the international community takes greater action.

One panel speaker offered a partial rebuttal to Mueller's presentation. Jim Walsh, principal research scientist for the Security Studies Program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said he agreed that nations would almost certainly not give a nuclear weapon to a nonstate group, that most terrorist organizations have no interest in seeking out the bomb, and that it would be difficult to build a weapon or use one that has been stolen. However, he disputed Mueller's assertion that nations can be trusted to secure their atomic weapons and materials.

Black-market networks such as the organization once operated by former top Pakistani nuclear scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan remain a problem and should not be assumed to be easily defeated by international intelligence services, Walsh said see GSN , Jan. It is also reasonable to worry about extremists gaining access to nuclear blueprints or poorly secured stocks of highly enriched uranium, he said. Or types of terrorists we don't even imagine," Walsh said. Greater consideration must be given to exactly how much risk is tolerable and what actions must be taken to reduce the threat, he added.

Another two analysts offered a similar debate on the potential for terrorists to carry out an attack using infectious disease material. Milton Leitenberg, a senior research scholar at the Center for International and Security Studies at the University of Maryland, played down the threat in comparison to other health risks.

Summit Aims to Reduce the Risk of Nuclear Terrorism

Bioterrorism has killed five U. Meanwhile, at least , deaths are linked each year to obesity in this country. Much of the money would have been better used to prepare for pandemic flu, he argued. The number of states with offensive biological weapons programs appears to have stabilized at six beginning in the mids, despite subsequent intelligence estimates that once indicated an increasing number of efforts, Leitenberg said.

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WMD: A Case Study on Nuclear Terrorism - International Affairs Forum

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