FBI foils plot by ‘Russian smuggling gangs’ to sell nuclear material to ISIS

LONDON: Smuggling gangs with suspected Russian links tried to sell nuclear material to Islamic extremists from Isis, an investigation has found.

In the backwaters of Moldova, authorities working with the FBI interrupted four attempts in the past five years by the gangs that sought to sell radioactive material to Middle Eastern extremists, the Associated Press news agency learned. The latest known case came in February this year, when a smuggler offered a huge cache of deadly cesium — enough to contaminate several city blocks — and specifically sought a buyer from Isis.

The smuggler, Valentin Grossu, offered the supply of cesium to what he thought was an Isis representative in exchange for 2.5 million, according to the investigation. The representative was in fact an informant.

“You can make a dirty bomb, which would be perfect for the Islamic State,” the smuggler said in a meeting at a nightclub in the Moldovan capital of Chisinau. “If you have a connection with them, the business will go smoothly.”

After initial suspicions and 20 meetings, Grossu was persuaded the informant was an authentic Isis representative and the pair met to exchange money, in a sting operation that ended up with Grossu in jail.

The investigation also uncovered an attempt to sell bomb–grade uranium to a eral buyer from the Middle East.

In that operation, wiretaps and interviews with investigators show, a middleman for the gang repeatedly ranted with hatred for America as he focused on smuggling the essential material for an atomic bomb and blueprints for a dirty bomb to a Middle Eastern buyer.

In wiretaps, videotaped arrests, photographs of bomb-grade material, documents and interviews, AP found that smugglers are explicitly targeting buyers who are enemies of the West. The developments represent the fulfillment of a long-feared scenario in which organized crime gangs are trying to link up with groups such as Isis and al-Qaeda — both of which have made clear their ambition to use weapons of mass destruction.

The sting operations involved a partnership between the FBI and a small group of Moldovan investigators, who over five years went from near total ignorance of the black market to wrapping up four sting operations. Informants and police posing as connected gangsters penetrated the smuggling networks, using old-fashioned undercover tactics as well as high-tech gear from radiation detectors to clothing threaded with recording devices.

But their successes were undercut by striking shortcomings: Kingpins got away, and those arrested evaded long prison sentences, sometimes quickly returning to nuclear smuggling, AP found.

For strategic reasons, in most of the operations arrests were made after samples of nuclear material had been obtained rather than the larger quantities. That means that if smugglers did have access to the bulk of material they offered, it remains in criminal hands.

The repeated attempts to peddle radioactive materials signal that a thriving nuclear black market has emerged in an impoverished corner of Eastern Europe on the fringes of the former Soviet Union. Moldova, which borders Romania, is a former Soviet republic.

Moldovan police and judicial authorities shared investigative case files with the AP in an effort to spotlight how dangerous the black market has become. They say a breakdown in cooperation between Russia and the West means that it is much harder to know whether smugglers are finding ways to move parts of Russia’s vast store of radioactive materials.

“We can expect more of these cases,” said Constantin Malic, one of the Moldovan investigators. “As long as the smugglers think they can make big money without getting caught, they will keep doing it.”

The FBI and the White House declined to comment. The US State Department would not comment on the specifics of the cases.

“Moldova has taken many important steps to strengthen its counter nuclear smuggling capabilities,” said Eric Lund, spokesman for the State Department’s bureau in charge of nonproliferation. “The arrests made by Moldovan authorities in 2011 for the attempted smuggling of nuclear materials is a good example of how Moldova is doing its part.”

Wiretapped conversations exposed plots that targeted the United States, the Moldovan officials said. In one case, a middleman said it was essential the smuggled bomb-grade uranium go to Arabs, said Malic, an investigator in all four sting operations.

“He said: ‘I really want an Islamic buyer because they will bomb the Americans.”‘

The middleman, a former KGB informant called Teodor Chetrus clung to a Soviet-era hatred of the West, Malic said, repeatedly ranting about how the Americans should be annihilated because of problems he thought they created in the Middle East.

“He said multiple times that this substance must have a real buyer from the Islamic states to make a dirty bomb,” Malic said.

(Additional reporting by AP)

Article source: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/europe/FBI-foils-plot-by-Russian-smuggling-gangs-to-sell-nuclear-material-to-ISIS/articleshow/49255110.cms

Posted in Plot in India |

Three BMC officials booked in plot scam

BHOPAL: A major irregularity has come to light in Ashoka Vihar Colony in which plots were allotted to employees of Bhopal Municipal Corporation. Irregularities took place in the year 2006 and 8 years later, first case has been registered at … Continue reading

Posted in Plot in India |

Wife has first right to man’s property: HC

Abhinav GargAbhinav Garg,TNN | Oct 7, 2015, 12.49 AM ISTNew Delhi: A woman doesn’t have a claim to her partner’s home over that of his wife, the Delhi high court has said in an important ruling on legal rights in … Continue reading

Posted in Property news |

To Keep INN Or Out

Ever since India opened up its patent regime in January 2005 to include product patents in the field of pharmaceuticals, the patent law in this domain has kept alive the interest of various stakeholders. This is rightly so, since India … Continue reading

Posted in Property news |

Malda food park cut a sorry figure

MALDA: Even subsidizing the price of land could not break the jinx of Food Park at Malda. Even after ten years of its inception, there are handful of takers for making any food processing unit at the Food Park. While … Continue reading

Posted in Plot in India |

53 Bottles of Scotch in Home of Punjab Official Accused of Duping Farmers

Chandigarh:  Details of bank transactions running into crores, thousands of US and Canadian dollars and a large stock of expensive liquor have been recovered from the home of a Punjab bureaucrat, police have said. The stash was found after a … Continue reading

Posted in Plot in India |

Wyndham plots multi-sector expansion in India

Wyndham Worldwide is planning to expand its presence in India and the sub-continent, including the launch of more hotels, resorts and vacation rental properties. The company has unveiled plans for 10 new hotel properties to join Wyndham Hotel Group’s regional … Continue reading

Posted in Plot in India |

Abu Dhabi: India Property Fest on Oct 23-24 – Meet India’s top developers

Media Release Abu Dhabi, Oct 6: After the commendable success of four property exhibitions, Adsync Advertising LLC is all set to launch the 5th edition of its flagship property exhibition, India Property Fest (IPF) on October 23 and 24 at … Continue reading

Posted in Property news |

Author who created inspector Wallander dies

I don’t fear death but I often worry that one morning I will wake up and find that my mind is losing its focus… So I let Wallander enter the world of Alzheimer’s for me.” On a cold January morning … Continue reading

Posted in Plot in India |

What It Will Really Take to Fix India’s Railways

With both Google and Japan on board to help upgrade India’s centuries-old and decaying railways, it seems like the world’s busiest train system may finally be getting a modern overhaul. That is, if everything goes as planned. But given the … Continue reading

Posted in Plot in India |