While mainstream media continue to worry over the Islamic State’s (ISIS) destruction of artifacts in historic city of Palmyra, regional experts are increasingly concerned that a nuclear-armed Islamic State lurks on the horizon.
The past weeks have seen a quick succession of ISIS victories which means the terrorist group now controls millions of dollars a day in revenue generating assets such as oil fields. Given they don't spend money on military equipment, instead capturing what they use, and don't provide many services to conquered populations, ISIS is awash in cash.
And cash is just what a corrupt Pakistani general who despises the U.S. would be looking for to give them a bomb or radioactive material to make a dirty bomb.
Indian Defense Minister Rao Inderjit Singh warned of just this possibility last month, stating "with the rise of ISIS in West Asia, one is afraid to an extent that perhaps they might get access to a nuclear arsenal from states like Pakistan."
ISIS, boasting “billions of dollars in the bank” has already called on its Pakistani-based arm “to purchase a nuclear device through weapons dealers.” While such calls have been discounted as unlikely and just good propaganda, Western and Arab leaders also did not anticipate the rapid rise of the radical Islamist terrorist juggernaut.
It might seem insane that Pakistan would deliver nuclear weapons to ISIS, but it could happen for good reasons.
Pakistan has notoriously corrupt senior military officials who are sympathetic to anti-American terror groups. Its military harbored Osama Bin Laden for decades, until he was finally killed by American special forces in a raid that was not disclosed to even the most senior Pakistani military officials. The hatred for America and large amount of cash could easily get ISIS a weapon.
But such a deal could also be brokered through more official channels. If a nuclear weapon is the price it takes to buy off the ISIS not to take over the country, that may be an attractive offer for Pakistan.
While its easy to scaremonger and warn that the ISIS is about to bomb Washington believing it will never happen is even scarier.
And yet the Obama administration, perhaps as a ploy to keep Iran preoccupied, refuse to do anything substantive about ISIS. Four top defense officials told The Daily Beast that there’s strong resistance within the Obama administration to making any serious changes to the current strategy for fighting ISIS, despite increasing skepticism inside the Pentagon about the current U.S. strategy.
For reference the current approach, largely conducting air strikes, is far below that of the 2001 Afghan campaign, when there were nearly six times as many daily strikes on average.
The United States stopped Hitler before he could conquer the word, but it waited until his regime slaughtered, and gassed 6,000,000 people.
At the present pace, even without a nuclear weapon, history looks like it will repeat itself.