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Analyze the reports concerning the transfer of nuclear weapons-grade materials and/or tactical nuclear weapons to Al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations. What security strategies can be used to mitigate the threat?

Since the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, intentional acts of terrorism have significantly changed. Terrorism has evolved into a serious and complex problem. Through the use of terrorist networks and globalization, terrorist networks inspired by religious beliefs and political ideologies have gained prominence. The terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, demonstrated the gravity of the terrorist threat along with the need for our nation to prepare in an effort to meet our nation’s constant terrorist challenge. After September 11, 2001, the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was faced with strengthening our defenses, including the use of Weapons of Mass Destruction.

A Weapon of Mass Destruction is a nuclear, radiological, chemical, biological or other improvised explosive device created to harm a large number of people. These weapons have the capability to inflict death and destroy people on a massive scale.

According to Aguiar (2010), a review of the literature on Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) have revealed the following:

The preferred terrorism Weapons of Mass Destruction commonly found in the literature and peer-reviews are; Improvised Explosion Devices (IED), chemical agents, biological agents, and radiological/nuclear matter. The acquisition of nuclear weapons by Iraq and Pakistan, Osama bin Laden and the unaccounted-for nuclear materials in the post-Soviet States posed a global threat. Protecting the United States’ critical infrastructure and preventing terrorists’ efforts from acquiring chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear weapons are of concern and have become critical issues of interest immediate in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001, attacks.

Of concern, are the potential terrorist attacks facilitated through the use of improvised nuclear devices, chemical or biological weapons, or outbreaks of pandemic disease, currently pose increasing serious national security risks. Further, authorities in the United States are capable of scanning only 6 percent of our import containers. As a result, limited cargo inspections can be used as vessels for transmitting hazards and weapons into the United States.

The evolving terrorist threat appears to benefit from the exponential growth of globalization, which facilitates the movement of people and information across international borders. Technology such as the Internet enables terrorists to communicate readily and obtain the necessary expertise to develop and plan bioterrorist attacks, along with nuclear weaponry. In addition, other disasters include natural, mechanical (airplanes), automobiles, storage chemicals fires, and nuclear plant accidents.

In a study conducted by Aguiar (2010), approximately half of the respondents surveyed reported to have sufficiently prepared to address explosives in their business continuity plans. Furthermore, approximately one third indicated they are sufficiently prepared for chemical, biological, or radiological/nuclear incidents. The findings of the study have indicated the existence of a profound gap between private-business terrorism preparedness and the private sector to mitigate on against the use of weapons of mass destruction, despite the recommendation from the Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferation and Terrorism, which has urged the U.S. government to enhance the security posture to safeguard the country against a likely weapon of mass destruction attack in the near future. Unfortunately, the United States is profoundly unprepared to assess, mitigate and respond to the threats of weapons of Mass Destruction posed to our county.

In conclusion, while most terrorist attacks are executed through the use of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), the fear of Weapons of Mass Destruction intensified once Osama Bin Laden threatened the use of Weapons of Mass Destruction against the United States. The threat coupled with intelligence information caused grave concern in the United States. The evolving terrorist threat appears to benefit from the rapid rise of globalization, along with the facilitation of people across international borders. Our world-wide web is now capable of enabling terrorist recruitment, terrorist communication and the ability to develop the necessary expertise to develop bioterrorist and nuclear weaponry. Therefore, our newest infrastructure, Cyberspace security should be our immediate priority.

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