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Thinking the Unthinkable: The Islamists’ Manhattan Project

The frightening reality is that international institutions like the UN simply aren't set up to prevent a nuclear attack on an American city.

by
N.M. Guariglia

Bio

September 30, 2010 - 12:00 am
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The intent is there. The technology exists and is proliferating exponentially. This isn’t a possibility. It’s a probability.

What would this day of days look like? Jerome Corsi once wrote a second-by-second synopsis of a nuclear attack in midtown Manhattan. The improvised nuclear device (IND) is in the back of a truck, driven by the terror cell’s leader. The operatives know they are going to die. “Assume the IND is detonated outside the Empire State Building at 11:45 a.m.  Assume that the weapon is a 150-kiloton HEU gun-type bomb,” Corsi states.

1 second after detonation: “a shock wave with an overpressure of 20 psi (pounds per square inch) extends four-tenths of a mile from ground zero. This destroys the Empire State Building and all other buildings within that radius, including Madison Square Garden, Penn Station and the New York Public Library.”  A mushroom cloud rises into the sky from the center of Manhattan. In this second, between 75,000 and 100,000 people die. “New York City falls off the world communication map.” Nobody knows what happened.

4 seconds after detonation: “The shock wave extends for at least a mile with an overpressure of 10 psi … all concrete and steel-reinforced commercial buildings are destroyed or so severely damaged that they begin to collapse.” An additional 300,000 people perish. The survivors are all burned and injured, buried in hundreds of feet of rubble. Those in the subway system are trapped underground. There is no radio, television, or telephone communication with New York City.

6 seconds after detonation: Midtown is gone. The Chrysler Building, Grand Central Station, the skyscrapers on Madison and Park Avenue — destroyed.  Another 220,000 people are killed.  “The outside world has virtually no contact with New York City.  The first six seconds is too short an interval for government officials in Washington, D.C., to have any real idea what has happened to New York.”

Though Corsi’s reputation has suffered somewhat, his portrayal of a nuclear attack is a tour de force. Corsi elaborates the horror: the situation one hour after detonation, by the end of the day, contemplating the U.S. response, and so forth. More than 1.5 million people are killed; another 1.5 million injured, more than 75% of which will die within a week. Roads, bridges, and tunnels will be unusable. There will be no police, no fire department, no government authorities; buildings will burn until they fall. The entire city would be contaminated. Thousands would be trapped in elevators and beneath bricks, steel, rubble, and debris.

How would the United States respond? Against whom would we retaliate — and in what way? The attack occurred from an unknowable source. All evidence was destroyed in the blast. As time goes on, what powers would the American public concede to the government? How could anyone ever move their family to a big American city again? An era of de-urbanization would begin at once.

This is the Islamists’ Manhattan Project. Osama bin Laden calls it a “religious duty.” The sole defense against this scenario is executive force: actionable intelligence, military strength, strong partnerships with allies, human espionage, covert and psychological operations, economic and diplomatic pressure — and a whole lot of killing and capturing the enemy, wherever he is, for decades if need be.

The benefits of cultural and economic connectivity — the “togetherness” of globalization — provide our world with great promise and advantageous opportunity for peace. International clubs like the United Nations can, in some cases, provide us with forums in which we can explain our mindset to the world. We must remain tempered in our internationalist idealism, however, and always acknowledge that some men do not consider themselves to be a part of our world. This is an unwelcome thought in 2010, but it is not a point against those who draw conclusions which are not designed as to make one feel happy.

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N. M. Guariglia writes on foreign policy. He can be contacted at nmguar@gmail.com.
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