The Very Real Threat of Nuclear Terrorism

Islamic State (IS) has already managed to obtain chemical weapons and has put them to use in the battlefield. In Europe, meanwhile, it may have tried to target nuclear facilities in Brussels. While it is currently unlikely to obtain an actual nuclear weapon, write Emily Landau and Shimon Stein, one or another terrorist group could very well use radioactive material in an attack:

To be sure, the threat of nuclear terrorism is not new. . . . But events surrounding the Brussels attacks raise the possibility of intent being joined by capability, if Islamic State terrorists are able to exploit the security vulnerabilities of nuclear facilities, . . . either to attack these sites or steal materials from within. A radiological attack could occur through dispersion of radioactive materials from a drone . . . or by an attack on a nuclear facility that released these materials. . . .

The recent attempts in Brussels by members of Islamic State to sabotage and gain access to material and know-how in the nuclear realm highlight the urgency, and underscore that the international community must do its utmost at the national, regional, and global levels to deny the terrorists that possibility. . . .

What might be Israel’s contribution to these international efforts? Israel has been a part of President Obama’s nuclear-security initiative from the start, and has actively participated in all of the [relevant] summits with high-level delegations. Israel attributes great importance to the issue, especially in light of the increase in nuclear programs throughout the Middle East. [At the most] recent summit, Israel noted that it is prepared for the scenario of a radiological attack; moreover, it is prepared to help other states in the region prevent the smuggling of radioactive materials into their territory. Indeed, this is an issue that could be discussed in a regional framework, if a regional security dialogue were to be initiated in the Middle East.

Read more at Institute for National Security Studies

More about: Belgium, ISIS, Israeli Security, Nuclear proliferation, Politics & Current Affairs, Terrorism

Why Egypt Fears an Israeli Victory in Gaza

While the current Egyptian president, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, has never been friendly to Hamas, his government has objected strenuously to the Israeli campaign in the southernmost part of the Gaza Strip. Haisam Hassanein explains why:

Cairo has long been playing a double game, holding Hamas terrorists near while simultaneously trying to appear helpful to the United States and Israel. Israel taking control of Rafah threatens Egypt’s ability to exploit the chaos in Gaza, both to generate profits for regime insiders and so Cairo can pose as an indispensable mediator and preserve access to U.S. money and arms.

Egyptian security officials have looked the other way while Hamas and other Palestinian militants dug tunnels on the Egyptian-Gaza border. That gave Cairo the ability to use the situation in Gaza as a tool for regional influence and to ensure Egypt’s role in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict would not be eclipsed by regional competitors such as Qatar and Turkey.

Some elements close to the Sisi regime have benefited from Hamas control over Gaza and the Rafah crossing. Media reports indicate an Egyptian company run by one of Sisi’s close allies is making hundreds of millions of dollars by taxing Gazans fleeing the current conflict.

Moreover, writes Judith Miller, the Gaza war has been a godsend to the entire Egyptian economy, which was in dire straits last fall. Since October 7, the International Monetary Fund has given the country a much-needed injection of cash, since the U.S. and other Western countries believe it is a necessary intermediary and stabilizing force. Cairo therefore sees the continuation of the war, rather than an Israeli victory, as most desirable. Hassanein concludes:

Adding to its financial incentive, the Sisi regime views the Rafah crossing as a crucial card in preserving Cairo’s regional standing. Holding it increases Egypt’s relevance to countries that want to send aid to the Palestinians and ensures Washington stays quiet about Egypt’s gross human-rights violations so it can maintain a stable flow of U.S. assistance and weaponry. . . . No serious effort to turn the page on Hamas will yield the desired results without cutting this umbilical cord between the Sisi regime and Hamas.

Read more at Washington Examiner

More about: Egypt, Gaza War 2023, U.S. Foreign policy