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No Word Yet on Whether It Is Terror-Related
August 25, 2017

Indonesian "Militants" Arrested for Plotting Radioactive Dirty Bomb Attack

FYI, Indonesia is the most populous Muslim country, the country always first to be brought up when people argue that not all Islamic countries' citizens pose terror threats, and also not on the travel ban list. (Thanks to @nowhere_NH for pointing that out.)

So: Dirty bomb. Good times.

Religion, peace, of. Some assembly required.

JAKARTA (Reuters) - Indonesian militants planned to detonate a radioactive dirty bomb, security sources said, highlighting the rising ambitions of extremists to wreak destruction in the world's largest Muslim-majority nation.

But experts cast doubt on their expertise, equipment and chances of success.

The plot was foiled when police raided homes and arrested five suspects in Bandung, West Java, last week, the sources with direct knowledge of the plot said. After the raids, police spoke of a plan to explode a "chemical" bomb but provided no other details.

The plot comes as Indonesia grapples with an influx of militants deported from other countries and the fallout from the Islamic State-led siege in the southern Philippines city of Marawi that regional leaders and analysts worry has energized militants across Southeast Asia.

The plot involved getting low-radiation Thorium 232 (half life: 14 billion years) and converting it to highly radioactive uranium 233. This web page explains how that works.

Authorities say they doubt that the "militants" could have achieved that technical process. It looks to me -- a total ignoramus, admittedly -- that the process requires some source of free neutrons to inject into the thorium. The web page suggests to me the typical way to do this is to put the thorium near a nuclear reactor, and allow the bleed of escaping neutrons to bump the thorium up into uranium.

I don't know if there are other ways to do that, or if these "militants" had some kind of access to a nuclear reactor or some other source of free neutrons.

It should be pointed out that building a nuclear reactor is not as difficult or expensive as you might guess.These homebrew "fusors" will generate free neutrons as a byproduct of fusion. (Yes, fusion -- but this kind of fusion requires tons more energy of input than it outputs, so this kind of easily-done fusor is not the type of self-sustaining fusion reactor that we're spending billions to research.)

My guess would be that a DIY fusor would pump neutrons out at such a slow rate it would take years and years to turn thorium into a respectable amount of uranium, but, again, this is just my guess based on the low output of a garage fusor.



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posted by Ace at 05:45 PM

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