"24" or 5 to 12
By Frank Salvato
Two manufactured events took place last week that lend credence to the notion that we live in very dangerous times. The first, the detonation of a "suitcase nuke" nuclear device on American soil by Islamist terrorists, as portrayed on the FOX series "24," was fiction. The second, the updating of the "Doomsday Clock" to five minutes to midnight, though based in scientific reasoning, is also artificial. But when viewed through the terroristic chaos in which the world is embroiled only the naïve and those in denial can afford the luxury of discounting the probability of an "American Hiroshima" taking place in the near future.
I doubt that my wife and I were the only people who sat speechless as the season premiere of "24" concluded. The cutting edge fictional accounting of the war against Islamist terrorists set on our own soil "went there"; they depicted a nuclear attack in a suburb of Los Angeles. As the vision of a nuclear mushroom cloud emanating from an American city loomed on the television screen my wife captured the moment with "Oh my God, Frank."
Oh my God indeed.
I started thinking about the casualties. In a city like Los Angeles one would have to assume that the dead would be in the hundreds of thousands almost immediately. Perhaps another couple hundred thousand would die the slow torturous death that radiation poisoning affords in the days that followed. The aftermath of a nuclear detonation in an American city would be carnage.
Then I thought about the chaos that would envelop the country should a terrorist detonate a nuclear device within the United States. It would cripple the country for a good period of time – the World to a lesser extent – as our leaders and emergency personnel decided how to handle the situation. Would our leaders then be able to set aside political opportunism to confront the problem of radical Islamist terrorism in earnest? Would the political power-plays then be abandoned for effective, cohesive government? Would our nation set aside the absurdity that is the notion of fighting a politically correct war to stand as one and set out to kill the bastards that attacked us, that killed hundreds of thousands of us? Judging from where we are five years on from September of 2001, the prospects don't look too good.
Then again, this was only a television show…a FOX television show. In the minds of many – and especially among those who comprise the Progressive-Left – this was just a fictitious Armageddon, scare tactics delivered to the American people from the mouthpiece of the Bush Administration. Domestically, we have a handle on radical Islamist terrorism and for that matter there is no concrete evidence that Osama bin Laden or Hassan Nasrallah or any of the lunatics who prefer the 7th Century over the 21st have ever possessed nuclear capabilities, even in the most elementary sense. Right? Now, back to American Idol.
I do have to congratulate the mainstream media progressive propaganda complex. They have done an incredible job of creating a generation of people whose attention spans are so limited they can't even recall the horror they felt on September 11, 2001. The empathy all Americans displayed, but for Ward Churchill, for those who had to leap to their deaths from the upper stories of the World Trade Center has waned. We are back to feasting on the bubblegum for the mind that are the antics of Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan and the feud between the ego with the comb-over and the ego with no talent.
The truth be told, there is quite a bit to be concerned about when it comes to the possibility of Islamist terrorists detonating a nuclear device on American soil. To borrow a phrase, "It's not a question of if…"
Osama bin Laden has been seeking nuclear capability since before the attacks of September 11th. Only a blithering idiot would believe that he has, for some reason, given up his desire to possess them. He believes that the fastest and most effective way to affect an American "surrender" is to duplicate the events that brought Imperial Japan to the decks of the USS Missouri at the end of World War II: nuclear holocaust.
It is common knowledge among those in the law enforcement and counterterrorism communities that Adnan el Shukrijumah, al Qaeda's nuclear expert, hand picked by bin Laden himself (alluded to in a character on "24"), has been fomenting his plan for an "American Hiroshima." The FBI has had el Shukrijumah on their Most Wanted Terrorist List for years. And there is a $5 million reward for information that leads authorities to him. The most recent reports have el Shukrijumah sighted in Mexico, Canada and even in South Florida and California.
In his books The al Qaeda Connection, Osama's Revenge and The Dunces of Doomsday, Dr. Paul L. Williams outlines the threat posed by a nuclear al Qaeda. He sheds light on the misunderstood reality of what many call suitcase nukes, small portable nuclear devices developed by the Soviets during the Cold War. That several of these devices have gone missing from the Russian arsenal should be disturbing to us all.
Critics assert that the Soviet made suitcase nuke is a high maintenance piece of equipment and, therefore, unlikely to be used by terrorists in an attack on the United States. This assertion is somewhat true. One of the most difficult pieces to obtain for a suitcase nuke is also the most difficult to maintain. This component is the "trigger." This piece is used to affect the chain reaction that facilitates the nuclear explosion.
One element, polonium, used in conjunction with beryllium to form a functioning trigger, is rare and, incidentally, quite hard to come by. It is a highly radioactive metalloid that has a brief lifespan, a half-life of only 138.38 days. Coincidentally – or perhaps not – polonium was the substance used to poison former KGB spy Alexander Litvinenko. That this rare substance is "out there," along with the missing suitcase nukes, should send chills down the spines of every American.
I remember the days immediately after September 11th, 2001, how everyone was shaken to the core. I remember how police officers, firefighters and EMTs balanced their emotions between unbridled anger at the deaths of their brothers and sisters murdered at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon and a sense of foreboding as they realized their jobs and their lives had changed forever.
I remember the disturbing feeling that came over me when I passed O'Hare International Airport only to see hundreds of planes on the ground and not one in the skies. I recall news reports of how people were stranded all around the world because the American airspace had been "closed."
The idea that our elected officials are playing political games with securing our borders and defending our nation against a vicious ideologically foe is infuriating. Securing our borders does not have to be married to immigration reform and with el Shukrijumah itching to turn an American city into a nuclear wasteland it shouldn't be. Democrats, Progressives, Republicans and Libertarians should be crafting laws that enable us to defend ourselves, not leaking classified information to the press so our enemies are alerted to our tactics before we get the chance to kill them. Our government is failing us in this fight and this time, if we lose, we lose it all.
As I watched the "make believe" nuclear mushroom cloud shooting skyward on my television, calculating those who would be murdered if it were real, I realized that the anguish and frustration I felt on September 11, 2001 would pale in comparison to the torment and anger I would feel at the devastation of a nuclear attack perpetrated on our soil. Sadly, if our government doesn't come together to fight this threat aggressively, it just may come to pass.
Frank Salvato is the managing editor for The New Media Journal. He serves at the Executive Director of the Basics Project, a non-profit, non-partisan, 501(C)(3) research and education initiative. His pieces are regularly featured in over 100 publications both nationally and internationally. He has appeared on The O’Reilly Factor, and is a regular guest on The Right Balance with Greg Allen on the Accent Radio Network, as well as an occasional guest on numerous radio shows coast to coast. His organization, Basics Project, is partnered in producing the first-ever national symposium series on the threat of radical Islamist terrorism. His pieces have been recognized by the House International Relations Committee and the Japan Center for Conflict. Mr. Salvato is available for public speaking engagements. He can be contacted at email@example.com.
Get weekly updates about new issues of ESR!