Terrorism: March 5, 2002


During October, a clandestine source in the terrorist community (codenamed "Dragonfire") told US intelligence that al Qaeda had gotten their hands on a Russian 10-kiloton nuclear weapon and planned to detonate it in New York City. Such a blast would level an area a kilometer across, kill 100,000 people, give up to a million other people enough radiation to cause lifetime health problems, and cost tens of billions to clean up. The report was considered credible because a Russian general was reporting that a device of this type was missing from his arsenal. A secret alert went out to a small number of US agencies, but Mayor Giuliani insists he was never told. Eventually, US intelligence became convinced that the report was wrong, but the US has placed sensitive nuclear radiation detectors at ports of entry and around Washington DC. Delta Force, the elite hostage rescue unit, has been given another mission, to deal with nuclear-armed terrorist teams. --Stephen V Cole


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