Research Questions 3 Essay Example

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Research Question

Question 1:

The electromagnetic pulse (EMP) WMD may be a weapon of choice by terrorist organizations or countries possessing the ability to launch such an attack. Discuss an EMP and how is it developed and used as a weapon of cyber-terrorism.

Pitchel (2011) defines electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) as an immediate and powerful energy field that can be overwhelming leading to the distraction of several electrical circuits and high technology microcircuit systems. High altitude EMP (HEMP) is often used as a mechanism to cause disruptions through a nuclear explosion. Various communication channels and weapons used by the US military are prone to terrorism attacks. Terrorist have the capability of implementing the use of EMP for cyber warfare. Cyber terrorism can be facilitated by the use of EMP as a terror weapon to interfere with the communication links and disrupt important U.S facilities (Jerrold et al. 2000).

Research reveals that there are two methods in which EMP energy can be generated to form a weapon. These include overhead nuclear burst and microwave emission. Nuclear burst method allows the attacker to use HEMP to create a high altitude electromagnetic energy that reacts in the atmosphere to produce a nuclear explosion. The nuclear explosion is characterized as the nuclear burst which greatly destroys electronic equipment and systems. Microwave emission method enables the attacker to create a powerful chemical bomb by enabling HPM energy to be transferred through electrical machines which eventually reacts with chemicals. This reaction leads to the emission of powerful microwaves that travel at a very high speed and are capable of destroying electronic gadgets within its vicinity.

Terrorist can employ either of these two methods to disrupt communication in a given region or allow data to be lost. Despite the fact that the effect of such attacks are limited to small areas, the impacts caused as a result have long lasting effects on people.

Question 2:

A radiological dispersal device (RDD) is what terrorists are more likely to use than a true nuclear device. What is the difference between a nuclear device and the RDD? What is the generic term for this type of WMD, and how would terrorists use this WMD in an attack?

According to Pichtel (2011), nuclear weapons are categorized as the most powerful tools for mass destruction. A nuclear device is designed to create a blast through high pressure created by the weapon, thus leading to thermal and radiation effects in targeted areas and worldwide. Radiological Dispersal Device is a weapon that uses radioactive material to launch an attack. This is achieved by the spread of these radioactive components in the targeted areas. The radioactive materials can be dispersed through air by spraying radioactive powder or by strategically placing a vessel containing radioactive material inside it in an open area easily accessible by the public (Graham et al. 2004).

Nuclear weapons can be in the form of bombs or missiles once they are launched cause immediate catastrophic physical and human disasters. Nuclear devices are therefore popular among terror groups as a way to create a destruction and start a war.

In the case of RDD attacks, it is challenging for a terrorist to create a radiation weapon that will cause immediate disasters as in the case of a nuclear attacks. RDD weapons will normally cause deteriorating health effects on people within the affected areas. Due to its nature, RDD weapons are commonly referred to as a ‘dirty bomb’ (Graham et al. 2004).

The term are RDD and ‘dirty bomb’ are commonly used interchangeably to refer to radioactive weapons. Experts argue that RDD weapons are normally used in contaminating a location and anyone that comes into contact with an affected are or person automatically gets infected through radioactive materials. Therefore, terrorist prefer launching radioactive attacks in order to cause panic, disrupt daily human activities and lead to poor health among people with death as the end result. To contain the spread of infection due to radioactive materials, professionals mainly schedule those infected through radioactive materials to avoid further spreading (Graham et al. 2004).


Pichtel, J. (2011). Terrorism and WMDs: Awareness and response. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press.

Foster Jr, J. S., Gjelde, E., Graham, W. R., Hermann, R. J., Kluepfel, H. M., Lawson, R. L., … & Woodard, J. B. (2004). Report of the Commission to Assess the Threat to the United States from Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) Attack. Volume 1: Executive Report. NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC COMMITTEE ON ELECTROMAGNETIC PULSE ENVIRONMENT.

Jerrold M. Post, Kevin G. Ruby, & Eric D. Shaw. (2000). From Car Bombs to Logic Bombs: The Growing Threat from Information Terrorism. Terrorism and Political Violence, 12:2, 97- 122.