The Doomsday Scam

For decades, aspiring bomb makers — including ISIS — have desperately tried to get their hands on a lethal substance called red mercury. There’s a reason that they never have.

Comments: 229

  1. The real-life search for Red Mercury evokes the fictional search in Thomas Pynchon's "Gravity's Rainbow," his late-WWII-situated novel, pursued by parties on all sides, for the Schwarzgerät ("black device"), ostensibly a component to be installed in V2 rocket serial numbered 00000, made from a heretofore unknown plastic named Imipolex G.

    Death, and the lust to wreak Death, imitates Art.

  2. Samuel T. Cohen may well have had a sense of humor and a good feel for psychology as well as a serious concern about nuclear terrorism. Launching a meme as good and durable as "red mercury" would have required a gut knowledge of what appeals to terrorists. The Samuel T. Cohen Memorial Wild Goose Chase.

  3. The substance may be a scam, but the intent is not. ISIS needs to be absolutely destroyed, ideally yesterday not tomorrow.

  4. Thinking of all the time, money, energy and other resources wasted by terrorists in search of this mythical substance, it would seem quite logical to let them keep looking for it and not even attempt to debunk it.

  5. Maybe we should flood the market with "red mercury" and elaborate instructions and diagrams on how to make the "Doomsday Bomb" with it. Make it all very, very expensive but readily available. Lets rob the jihadists!

  6. You have to make them hunt for it though. If it's too easy to get, it's almost certainly the cheap filler, rosebud mercury, which is totally inert. I was in retail. I know these things.

  7. Great, now alchemy's become a factor in terrorist plots.

  8. I find the idea of "wasting terrorists time" intriguing.

  9. Red mercury is a mythical substance, supposedly possessing massive destructive power. It is sometimes referenced in pre-chemistry alchemical texts, though what substance or process it is a codeword for differs from text to text. No credible evidence of the substance's existence has been put forward

  10. The red mercury hoax represents yet another anti-science aspect of the Republican Party's collection of fear toys, and the only reason Americans haven't added red mercury to their list of existential threats to Freedom and Grandma is because they're science illiterate.

  11. I know you didnt just blame the Republicans here. I mean come on man. I know there is a lot of political stuff out there right now but really. Get a grip on your comments here. Not every conversation is an opening to blame the party that you align yourself with the least. Have some dignity, just dog out the jihadists here not the Republicans.

  12. This should not have been published. Maybe the smart won't be tricked, but most people are idiots and keeping the idiots chasing fools gold would probably stop 90% of would be terorists.

  13. This information is nothing new. There is already loads of information showing red mercury to be false for anyone remotely curious enough to seek it, yet in spite of that they choose to believe it. If that hasn't changed their mind already, this won't either. They'll just rationalize this as American propaganda to deter them from seeking the weapon that will finally assure them victory.

  14. Those who are chasing after this elusive ingredient will not be deterred by a simple NYTimes Magazine report. In fact, it will provide evidence of once again, that the Evil Empire of the West is attempting to corrupt minds of true believers.

    The more discussion about how Red Mercury does not exist will actually further fuel the desire to obtain it. Denial of its existence is actual proof of it.

    Crazy, I know, but that's how conspiracy theorists view open discussion that disagree with their mindset. I'm certain those who are willing to blow themselves into pieces to kill the general public are even less likely to accept a Western Newspaper's claims as truth.
    Instead, this article and all the snarky comments will be viewed as simply more propaganda set to distract them from their ultimate goal of obtaining the ultimate ingredient for the ultimate weapon to destroy the infidel hoard.

    love it. :)

  15. To the credulous, the more news stories claiming that the thing they want is non-existent the more they believe it is all a plot to keep them from getting the stuff. I've worked with people, some uneducated some highly educated who believe that if the government claims something doesn't exist then it must exist.

  16. Perhaps this article can best be summed up by: "if you believe blowing up a market with a suicide bomb will get you virgins in heaven, you'll believe anything."

  17. So, do the women who blow themselves up get virgins, too?

  18. No, the women get a car and a driver's license.

  19. So I have only one relevant question. These people overall are mostly unsophisticated, and on their journeys to obtain such material and as mentioned in some cases it may already exist, why haven't they blown themselves up. I know it's a silly question, but we're not talking about nuclear physicists handling these items, in most cases, individuals that lack any real knowledge. Anyway, just curious why we are yet to see a headline of "oops, terrorist organization wipes (name your country of choice) off the map while fiddling with rare explosive devises"? I feel like we should see this happen more often, no?

  20. Nonproliferation tracking works - so they don't have 'rare explosive devices'. They seem to do pretty well blowing themselves up conventionally. I'm sure that happens unintentionally all the time, too, but ISIS is hardly going to release press statements about failed bomb-makers.

  21. Red mercury has been the subject of films, books, newspaper articles, and high-level political intrigue, yet, according to much-publicized statements from British, Russian, and U.S. government officials, no material matching the properties of red mercury exists, and no such material is used in the construction of nuclear weapons. How, then, did red mercury become the nuclear commodity of choice for con artists and unwitting buyers?

    http://www.nti.org/analysis/articles/nuclear-trafficking-hoaxes/

  22. Precisely because there are unwitting buyers. And military-political leaders who have not yet read the book Physics and Technology for Future Presidents.

  23. Red Mercury aligns with fantasies of war and power because it invokes archetypal forms familiar to Jungians: Hermes (Mercury) and Mars (allegorized by the color red). It's the perfect Holy Grail for terrorists who slip through the world like Hermes but imagine themselves as Warriors.

    The reification of a psychological complex of fantasies into a "real" material form is indicative of the epistemological break that susceptible subjects go through to become fundamentalists. In more innocuous forms we can see this in snake handlers and other fetishists, in those cases the fetish may even harmlessly channel some pathology away from violence.

    While a hitter wearing a magic necklace in baseball game may aid performance via a placebo effect, IS is performing an altogether different kind of alchemy. Red Mercury, if deconstructed via depth psychology, is a personification for the kind of slippery and violent outsiders empowered by fantasies of trans-formative power that work to destroy the "polis" - the urbane and poly-valent places we live, work and play in.

  24. There is actually a British movie that was done about 15 years ago or so called Red Mercury. So this scenario has been floating around for a while.

  25. And an episode of MI-5 (Spooks in the UK) from Series 3, episode 2 titled "The Sleeper."

  26. For once, scientific illiteracy works in our favor. Hurray?

  27. This is discriminatory and unacceptable in the NYT: "Abu Omar, a Syrian whose wispy beard hinted at his jihadist sympathies..." "Wispy beards" do not hint at anything other than wispy beards.

  28. Maybe not in LA. But are you so sure about Syria?

  29. "Hinted" is THE perfect word for this description. The writer painted a picture for the reader while keeping reasonable distance from what you're are calling discriminatory.

  30. You are so wrong. The way you fashion your beard and your hair, the hat and clothes you wear, and so on, do indeed indicate tribal, religious, and occupational affiliations, even in LA. In the Middle East these days you can be killed for wearing the "wrong" hat or beard in the wrong neighborhood.

    In your favor tho, a wispy beard may be no more than a genetic inability to grow a full orthodox beard. (Abu Omar, eat you heart out!)

  31. I have an old sewing machine that spins Red Mercury yarns for sale half price, only $25k!

    Also selling Dark Matter by the gram, one kilo will turn your enemy into a black hole.

    Even better, offering genuine Kryptonite, guaranteed to bring any superpower to its knees...

  32. I think that is Red Matter that turns you into a black hole. I saw it featured in the Historical Documentary called Star Trek a few years back. Remember: Never surrender. Never give up!
    It'd be funny if it wasn't for all the tons plastic explosives and innumerable AK47s and RPGs these guys can buy.

  33. I have adamantium containers you can put it in, because it melts through unobtainium containers!

  34. Do purchasers have to spell Rumpelstiltskin?

  35. "Abu Omar, a Syrian whose wispy beard hinted at his jihadist sympathies"

    Really? Having a beard indicates "jihadist sympathies"?

  36. Many religions believe that a beard is a sign of religious devotion. The Muslims, Sikhs and Rastas are examples. It isn't working in my case though.

  37. My 18 year old son has a wispy beard; it indicates that he can grow one, a fact of which he is very proud. I wouldn't put too much emphasis on beards on boys.

  38. Only if it's wispy

  39. I keep hearing that problems in the Middle East are a direct result of US and Western actions alienating local populations. Perhaps there's some truth there. But when we're dealing with a population that wholeheartedly believes in an an alchemical substance brought to the ME after "the American occupation" of the Soviet Union that can be used to "summon jinni," I don't think we should hedge our bets on winning the war over their hearts and minds.

  40. "I keep hearing that problems in the Middle East are a direct result of US and Western actions alienating local populations."

    I've never heard that. I've heard that US actions have exacerbated problems, but I've heard no one say that all problems in the Middle East are the result of US actions. If anyone did say that, it would elicit nothing but laughter.

  41. In any population in any part of the universe, you will find a subsection that believes in outlandish things. If someone were to come to America and examine some of our more ludicrous beliefs, they would come to the same conclusion. Please don't take one anecdote about something desperate people who are fighting for a brutal jihadist organization believe, and make any judgments on a "population."

  42. Oh goodie, this one goes right along side Black Helicopters and Area 51. On the bright side, I'll bet this scam has drained more that few dollars from various nefarious causes like ISIS or Al Qaeda.

  43. My hope for the future has been restored with this delightful article - and it didn't even bring up The Philosopher's Stone or The Holy Grail! Nor did it bring up that astonishing book, "Foucault's Pendulum" by Umberto Eco. Oh, please, please, find some way to work all of that into your future up-date. I won't be surprised if the jihadists have never heard of any of that, all that being Christian in origin, but perhaps that would make them more vulnerable to fall for them? Nothing succeeds like a myth from a different religion and the Philosopher's Stone, alone, kept the Christian mystic-scientists busy for centuries! Of course, they went bonky from sniffing all those mercury vapors, but so much the better! Anything that keeps the jihaddies out of the sex-slave markets, buying one-year-old baby girls to rape is a good thing!

    Yes, my hope for the future has been restored! May they chase their own tails forever! May they track down every myth - ah! The Third Reich had some doozies, too! Oh, please, please - tell them about runes! And Thor's Hammer sounds like an EXACT match for a Singer sewing machine! Yes!

    Oh, yes, this all has possibilities....!
    Keep us informed!
    My thanks for a delightful story!

  44. Red mercury has been known to us dermatologists for decades as being capable of inducing an allergic dermatitis within the areas of its deposition. We know it as "cinnabar", and it had been used for many years because of it's deep red color.

  45. Cinnabar is an ore that contains mercury. It is not mercury itself.

  46. Red Mercury sprinkled on Yellow Cake is divine...

  47. Don't forget to add Agent Orange to the pan to preserve freshness!

  48. Red Herring is the common name of the mix...
    Cinnabar is the red mercury sulfide ore commonly used to extract pure mercury. It is used in Traditional Chinese Medicine and Chinese red lacquer artifacts. Mixed with gold powder, it allowed the first gold plating technique, invented by the Chinese around 400 BC for ritual bronzes. (I hope this information will help dealers in Red Mercury wrap their sales pitch with some cultural background)

  49. Well, now we know what the title of the next Bond movie will be . . . . :-)

  50. Too late, it's already been in the Bruce Willis movie "RED"

  51. Today's "honey pot" for would-be jihadists!

  52. When I lived in West Africa in the early 1980s, people would occasionally approach me to ask if I could procure them some "mercure rouge" (red mercury). (Perhaps they thought as a foreigner I would have access to such things). As I recall, it was believed to be useful for conjuring up large amounts of paper currency through some kind of sorcery.

  53. Unsurprising that deranged souls who fervently believe that killing innocent strangers is a direct ticket to eternal paradise in the bosom of a god who ordained the bloodshed, would also believe in a magical elixir called "red mercury."

    “Men are so quick to blame the gods: they say
    that we devise their misery. But they
    themselves- in their depravity- design
    grief greater than the griefs that fate assigns.”
    ― Homer, The Odyssey

  54. The Catholic Church believed and promoted the same horror for centuries. The Muslim fanatics did not invent it.

  55. Did some one opine that Muslims invented this stupidity? Each and every deist/dualist worldview have had their historic moment of killing in the name of god or a "higher" cause.

  56. Wispy beards are simply wispy beards, not indications of jihadist sympathies. Surprised to see such overt stereotyping in the NYT.

  57. Pray they don't get their hands on ice-nine.

  58. Perfect reference.

  59. Now which presidential candidate will pick up on that and suggest it as a panacea for global warming?

  60. This is a great article, but I'm genuinely interested in what Al-Kurdi's reaction generally was. 'Chlorine' is a gas, so I'm assuming this is some unnamed compound like calcium hypochlorite and a catalyst?

  61. My guess is cal-hypo and something as simple as either ammonia or muriatic acid. Both raise an immediate, choking cloud of caustic fumes.

  62. Wispy beards are simply wispy beards, not an indication of jihadist sympathies. I am surprised to see such overt stereotyping in the NYT.

  63. That's right: they can also indicate a predilection for craft beer and artisan toast.

  64. Wispy beards are ugly, and I'm all for discrimination against men who wear them.

  65. NL - are you currently protesting at Yale, Dartmouth or Princeton?

  66. Ask an American scientist about red mercury and you will get a truthful answer.

  67. Haven't they asked Dr. Samuel Cohen? He gave them the right answer! :-)

  68. Along with their extraordinary capacity for senseless violence, human beings are such seriously weird creatures. The combination is lethal. When we finally become star-faring, the rest of the universe had better run for cover.

  69. Sorry, Bill, but I think our species will wipe itself out long before we develop even interstellar travel capability.

  70. Red mercury a scam? How do you think Keyser Söze made his fortune?

  71. There is actually a real worry: Missing radioactive material. When 9-11 happened, the millions of unexamined containers which enter US ports every year and the loss of weapons-grade radioactive material with the fall of the USSR together suggested that an atomic bomb - or at least a "dirty bomb" - could enter the US. To prevent this, a screening program was planned. The implementation, after a decade and a half, screens only a tiny fraction of containers at the present time. Should our kids be getting those "duck and cover" drills?

  72. Well Frank, whatever the case, there's no sense in "duck and cover" drills. If people are in the blast zone it doesn't matter what position they're in when they get hit by the shockwave of air the density of steel. If they're in the fallout zone they'd need to cover under two feet of lead or the equivalent, not easy to come by. And outside of the fallout zone they'd be fine.

  73. The only useful tip for atomic bomb survival I ever saw came from the non-fiction book Hiroshima Maidens. Wear white. Ideally, a white burkha, but anything is helpful...no patterns, though, just plain white. It protects you from flash burns quite effectively. You may die of radiation sickness later, but at least you'll die with your skin still on your body. Ugh. Burns are the worst.

  74. Don't get fooled again.

    I have Blue Mercury available for Bitcoin.

    It's a 1955.

  75. That's pretty rare. Are you selling it by the gram?

  76. Shssssssss..... we prefer they keep looking for something that doesn't exist.

  77. Isn't that Saddam's line?

  78. dinitrogen tetroxide

  79. There is a gran of truth. Mercury fulminate is explosive. It is used in munition primers. But it isn't red, it's bluish-white and not radioactive Cinnabar is a red mercury compound that was used for years as a cosmetic, a paint coloring and in medicine. It is dangerous to use because of the very serious health risks. It is not explosive.

    Uneducated people conflate things and believe the most bizarre tales. I'm glad that the suppliers for terrorists are spending so much time hunting for "Red Mercury."

  80. Throw in a little red squill and white phosphorus.

    Cool it with a baboon's blood, then the charm is firm and good.

  81. The reporting and writing here are excellent (with the exception, which another poster mentioned below, of that strange "wispy beard" comment). I wish that I could say it was comforting to learn just how stupid and gullible evil people can be. But we all know that stupid people do stupid and destructive things. And I do not like being reminded how much of my tax money goes to fund the hunting down of phantoms. This has been a depressing read for the start of my day.

    I wish that the media would stop attributing any degree of rational thought or dignity to the deeply evil leaders or acolytes of the "Islamic State." In the aftermath of the Paris terroristic attacks, many news outlets used the word "mastermind" to refer to that now-dead individual (he will not be named) who organized mass murder. Now I see that CNN has changed that sobriquet to "ringleader." To my way of thinking, that is still too flattering a name.

  82. Wonderful to see the ultimate scammers scammed.

    Remember how less than a teaspoon of anthrax caused death and panic in W DC and NYC. Well the Russians had multiple reactors each over 5 meters wide and 12 meters high so they could quickly make vast amounts of the stuff for any major war. I believe it was 60 Minutes that did an expose and they showed the reactors and also a super cheap electric refrigerator that had samples and starter batches of anthrax. The only security device was a rusty hasp with an equally rusty lock.

    Also being a former nuclear weapons custodian in the US Navy, nuclear weapons must be periodically refreshed and if not they will not explode. Russia has several missing suitcase size nuclear bombs that are missing but not a big deal because they have been gone for years.

    Get this - the USMC version of this tactical weapon had a trip wire switch!

  83. Dear Butch Burton,
    About the anthrax, there's no reason to fear poor security measures. Anthrax exists in nature, anywhere that had a significant cattle population. People in places like Russia contract anthrax naturally all the time. If people really wanted to get spores to use as weapons, there'd be nothing to stop them from digging up cows that died of it and using those. Of course there'd be nothing to stop them from contracting anthrax in the process either.

  84. Butch, I'm still howling!

  85. Great article! seems like someone's practical joke has taken a life of its own.
    Re-affirms my belief that the human race is looking for a' short cut' or the proverbial silver bullet which does not exist ... no hard slog for these jihadists, they'd rather blow themselves up.

    Weak sauce on the 'Wispy beard' reference ... just one step away from characterizing an entire race as 'terrorists'.

  86. Thought that line was a little jarring. Like you would (or should) never say "his cornrows hinted at his criminal tendencies" so I don't know why that got a pass here.

  87. 'Red mercury' and 'tax cuts' for the rich.

    The perfect solution to every nihilist hellbent on destroying civilization.

  88. Socrates, I'm still howling!!!!!!

  89. It's always good to spread information on killer materials for budding home-style bombers around the world.

  90. I don't think you read the article, phillip. I'm not sure we need to worry about home-style bombers or terrorists acquiring an imaginary substance.

  91. I was surprised that Cinnabar, a sulphide of mercury that was used as a red pigment since ancient times, didn't come up in the recounting of some traditional sources of the legend.
    Cinnabar pigment used to be extremely valuable. It's hard to find now because the mercury is of course toxic.

  92. That is a great observation, Neal. The "cold" form of "red mercury" mentioned in the article could indeed be cinnabar. It was considered a metaphysical element and was sometimes placed in graves and tombs. That was something th reporter should have researched and included.

  93. Actually, REAL cinnabar not too hard to find, IF you know where to look. It's widely available through art supply shops that sell paint pigments, and yea, it's "expensive" so to speak. but not prohibitively. It's also available at old mining sites in places like California. BUT, you run the risk of poisoning yourself as you extract the ore.

  94. I tried finding some on the internet last year, without luck. I did find a lot of geological specimens of the ore for sale. China seems to be the last place where the pigment was manufactured - and no doubt still is. I don't think it's imported to the US, but there are other pigments labeled as such. I'm sure there are great old art supply stores here that still have a stock of the real thing.
    It was the preferred pigment for seal ink - the thick paste used with chinese and japanese seals or "chops".

  95. So then why would you relieve the ISIS of this burden by debunking it? Shouldn't the CIA be spreading this rumor (or maybe they did and it has passed it's sell by date) instead?

  96. a brief google search would enlighten you

  97. Hilarious stuff, reminds me of how Isaac Newton was taken in by the healing powers of mercury. He drank it himself, which may be how he managed to perform optics experiments by inserting a flat needle under his eye to move it around. Mercury, naturally, is actually rather toxic and destroys nervous systems. They'd also use it in Newton's day to cure blocked intestines, and it actually could work, except that it'd give people mercury poisoning at the same time.

    So this is a heartening story too because it highlights how religious terrorists are not James Bond supervillains. They're just not that intelligent, in order to believe in their ridiculous theology, one can't be very analytical. Mercury, the metal, has absolutely no explosive properties, no matter what color dye is added to it. No potential nuclear uses, what they really should be trying to acquire is uranium-235. Luckily there's very little chance of that.

    So they come up with murderous, hare-brained schemes, and use weapons that they could never build (like AK-47's), and try to do as much damage as they can, but they'll never hold the world hostage nor take it over. Their deranged religion prevents them from being innovators.

    It's really lucky for us, because if they were more like a clever guy like myself (and I'm no genius), they could put together very destructive schemes that would do lasting damage to countries' economies and infrastructure.

  98. They already did. We call it "9/11."

  99. Dear Passion for Peaches,
    Heck I don't need a reminder about that, people I know died from it, I witnessed it, it was the worst day of my life.

    But all that was, was a fluke that's not repeatable (cockpit doors now have locks), and it killed less than 3,000 people (this is not actually a large number), destroyed two large buildings and damaged a third. It didn't significantly impact our economy, the great recession started six years later due to other factors. It did nothing to our infrastructure. And fourteen years later, around the world, the terrorists have not managed to match the destruction of that event.

  100. Addendum for nitpickers: to clarify, by "they" I meant terrorists.

  101. This SOUNDED like a promising and timely article - but in reading it felt like it was stretched out and and could have been summed up in a much shorter way.

    What was it that PT Barnum once said?

    And this is supposed to be surprising? That terrorists are as or more gullible than the rest?

  102. My initial thought while reading this is we can't possibly have much to worry about from a bunch of jihadists who are dumb as a box of rocks. But then I started thinking about some of the equally idiotic and disproven dogma espoused by our Republican Party (massive tax cuts for the rich will make the economy soar, The Laughable (Laffer) Curve, walls on the Mexican border, climate change is a hoax) and I had my very own Wile E. Coyote moment.

    Reading CJ Chivers is always a treat.

  103. A fool and his money are soon parted!

  104. Sort of like the purchasing agents for the US Department Defense!

  105. A fool and his money are soon partying........

  106. And here at home, no need to be a fool to be parted from your own money. Ask Madoff. That was smart money begging him to take all of it.

  107. Even on the internet, I can't find a reference, but I am sure that Red Mercury was a villain that superman fought--or was that Red Kryptonite?

  108. What a fantastic article! I'm a huge fan of Homeland, which this year seems to have had an uncanny, if not eerie, vision of the future in creating the Season 5 screenplay--and I found reading this almost as exciting as watching Quinn escape near death with the help of a Syrian physician.

    But while at times hilariously funny (I mean, "Godwatch" as a name?), it all goes to show that PT Barnum's comments about suckers couldn't be more appropriate here. Yet, the very fact that so many are lured in, in an area of the world that is increasingly combining medieval superstition with ruthless military intensity and desire to pull off the ultimate weapon of mass destruction, really isn't very funny. While red mercury--and all the other mercury colors with amazing properties--may be a hoax, I'm more concerned about other substances that ISIS could get its hands on. Like small pox, ebola, bubonic plague or other pathological weapons of mass destruction to be inserted into conventional weaponry.

    Anyway, I thank Times writer CJ Chivers for such excellent, enthralling writing. I found myself alternating between sarcastic comments and genuine concern as to the substance's potential reality, as in, "what if it were true and you could nuke a city in a second with a sandwich bag sized bomb laced with a substance dismissed so readily by the world's major scientists?"

  109. A twee bit pinched to find "Godknows" (not "Godwatch") hilarious, don't you think? Your parents selected your name with a deity root but this blighted soul most likely got his name from missionaries working in the fields of the lord. Many Africans have given names that might be easy to snicker at but given the uneven circumstances between you and the victims of Christian proselytizers it comes off as very small. Like to think in this day and age that no one finds any given name hilarious let alone highlighting your insensitivity in highly visible post. Not a good look for someone high up the food chain.

  110. Red mercury. Trickle down economics. Global warming denialism. Some scams have a life of their own.

  111. ‘‘And there is green mercury, which is used for sexual enhancement"

    That was the end of this article for me.

  112. Swell. Now that they know it doesn't exist they won't spend their time and money trying to obtain it and will be able to engage in more fruitful endeavors. Like killing people.

    We should consider helping them out by shipping them some dimethylmercury to share with their friends.

  113. The "red mercury" story may be confused with "fulminating mercury."

    Wikipedia: "Mercury(II) fulminate, or Hg(CNO)2, is a primary explosive. It is highly sensitive to friction and shock and is mainly used as a trigger for other explosives in percussion caps and blasting caps.
    First used as a priming composition in small copper caps after the 1830s, mercury fulminate quickly replaced flints as a means to ignite black powder charges in muzzle-loading firearms. Later, during the late 19th century and most of the 20th century, mercury fulminate or potassium chlorate became widely used in primers for self-contained rifle and pistol ammunition. "

  114. The WMD in Iraq scam was easy to pull off after reading this. It catered to the bulk of the voting public who believe in narcissistic psychopaths having all the answers. The thing is typical and not an aberration. Psychopaths know it's scam but pretend that they were fooled.

  115. can somebody tell me why we are printing this article instead of letting terrorist idiots continue to chase their tails and spend their money?

  116. Did you bother reading the article? I don't think this piece is going to change their minds.

    "Even a visit to Wikipedia — whose entry on the subject began, ‘‘Red mercury is a hoax substance of uncertain composition’’ — would surely be enough to raise questions for anyone disbursing Islamic State cash. I told Abu Omar that I had spoken with several nonproliferation experts, and they roundly agreed: Red mercury was a scam. Did he believe otherwise?

    Abu Omar listened patiently. His face gave nothing away. Then he replied politely, as if addressing the uninformed. ‘‘I have seen it with my own eyes,’’ he said."

  117. Because it highlights the intensity and degree to which ISIS (and others) will go to find methods and materials to kill, maim and cause mayhem. Red mercury may be the odd diversion, but a much larger portion of their time is spent successfully procuring AK47s, RPGs, plastic explosives and other more easily obtained items that can and do kill. That there is intent and action of this kind on the part of ISIS is very useful for the rest of us to know and come to grips with. Know thine enemy.

  118. Because the information in the article can be considered to be disinformation, designed to lead people to falsely believe that red mercury does not exist, so the article will not change the behavior of those who believe that red mercury does exist.

  119. Why write a piece that disabuses homicidal maniacs of the wild goose they chase?

  120. If you think an article in the NY Times will dissuade such people, then you have a lot to learn about the religious mindset.

  121. They mostly can't read English, nearly entirely don't read the New York Times, and all of them are too religiously deluded to accept what goes against whatever fool thing they believe in. It's nice that we can count on them to be so bone-headed.

  122. Our homicidal maniacs or theirs? Red mercury or Japanese enriched plutonium, licensed by the US? Take your pick, Hamlet: elixir or poison?

  123. Alt doomsday scam: a doomsday scam story in otherwise reliable newspapers as click bait.

    So, now it will take about one day for at least one GOP Presidential candidate to declare that Obama has allowed ISIS to seek "red mercury."

  124. I am still waiting for the first House Republican investigation into the security threat posed by djinn.

  125. Ahaa! If the New York Times debunks it as a hoax, then it must certainly be true, and we are all the victims of an even greater conspiracy than we thought!

  126. So it seems that our terrorist friends and the modern GOP have something in common...belief in the things you want to be true regardless of the facts. Different bubbles, same result.

  127. How can we laugh off red mercury? Every believer knows that "With God, all things are possible".

  128. Interesting, let them waste their time and money on some modern alchemist's fallacy. That said, per usual, I suspect the article will only further reinforce the 'truth' among believers that the 'powers that be' are running a vast disinformation campaign which some gullible dupe from the NYTimes swallowed hook-line-and-sinker.

  129. This is laughable, but it isn't any more ridiculous than believing a man turned water into wine, walked on water, and came back to life after being dead for a few days.

    Seems like few people are concerned about verifiability when it comes to their own beliefs.

  130. Well really John T., there's nothing laughable about walking on water. I've done it all the time, every time the weather has consistently held at less than 32 degrees Fahrenheit.

  131. It's all fun until they turn that same thinking to obtaining stuff that really does blow up. which they undoubtedly have. Making ISIS into cartoon characters doesn't help us understand them, which we need to do as we are presented with such different ideas of how to deal with them.

    And not one mention of the movie Red?

  132. Excellent ! :-) The Pulp Fiction McGuffin in essence !
    Red Mercurians are ludicrites, and I trust they take this paper for one more piece of disinformation luring them away from alchemist superpowers.
    Actually mercury comes mostly in nature as mercury sulfur, which is bright red and has been called red mercury by early chemists.
    It just does not boom.
    But then....

  133. Make that mercury sulfide.

  134. Printing this piece changes nothing. Since it's in a Western paper, it is all part of a plot to help keep red mercury out of the hands of ISIS. Or something like that. *snark*

    Atually, I think this piece does serve a good purpose - the debunking of the idea of a criminal mastermind. The planner of the attack in Paris was no mastermind beyond cleverly sending others to their death while he stayed safe. How brilliant does a criminal have to be to set up teams of shooters and tell them to start firing at 9 p.m. This is what the press stupidly calls a coordinated attack. There is no objective to be taken. No radio station, no newspaper, no governor to be captured. It was all just go out and kill a bunch of people at a set time. This was not the planning of the Normandy Invasion. These guys and gals are just clever enough to get some mooks to put their lives on the line while they are safe and sound. These are the folks who seek red mercury.

  135. If they ever do get their hands on red mercury, hopefully Thor and the rest of the Avengers will save us.

  136. I have a portable Singer sewing machine which is about 60 years old (very heavy). It's just sitting in the back of a closet. Gosh! It might even have Red Mercury hidden in it. I wonder if I could sell it for big bucks in Saudi Arabia or another Middle Eastern country.

  137. Somebody's been watching too many action-adventure movies. You know, the ones where a "highly concentrated" bomb the size of a ping pong ball can demolish an entire building. Sorry, militants, there's an upper explosivity limit to conventional weapons for some scientific reason. But, to paraphase President Obama, please proceed, terrorists.

  138. The similarity to the "red matter" in J.J. Abram's "Star Trek" is striking. I wonder if there's a causal link?

  139. Although it's never obtained the iconic status of red mercury, there's a somewhat similar story concerning the nuclear isomer hafnium 178m2:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hafnium_controversy .

    In the unlikely event that red mercury ever gets effectively debunked, I'm sure Hf-178m2 could perpetuate the scam.

  140. OK, now Trump and company will get word of this and push for legislation to outlaw the substance just as they are now trying to make encryption illegal.

    These guys are all level 1 thinkers/ speakers anyway so is more "red" meat for their level 1 audience.

    Wait for it ---

  141. Strongest explosives are nuclear and too costly for any entity but a whole state.
    But some powerful industrial explosives were not chemically marked in the past (they are now, so that they can be detected, sniffed), and a few old elusive stocks may still exist.
    So there is still a vintage scam about undetectable explosives, but still not old enough to be worn out.

  142. Isn't Red Mercury one of the infinity stones that Thanos is also looking for?

  143. The means may be mythical. But the threat is real. Never forget that these people are well funded, well organized and they mean to do us great harm.

  144. Caveat emptor. I can fully sympathize; I once bought what I believed to be red mercury but turned out to be common red Kryptonite.

  145. Where the physicst ends and the polemicts begins. Sounds EXACTLY like a description of a Global Warming "scientist." Substitute "political correctness" in this article for "red mecury."

  146. Exxon.

  147. Yeah except ONE scientist believed in red mercury and 99% of scientists believe in climate change.

    Face it, you're on the "red mercury is real!" side in that debate.

  148. Like ISIS, you and polemoscientists have an antiscientific belief. Then there is data. Your beliefs can be changed by having an open mind to accepting scientific data, as opposed to accepting zodiac muthology, fraudulent data and models based on it. It will take a while for science to change your beliefs, your ideology, probably as long as it will take ISIS to change theirs. Will probably take the same solution to free the world of ISIS and hucksters in a timely fashion.

  149. Should the article have been re-titled to "Spoiler Alert!: The Doomsday Scam"?

    Next thing NYT will reveal is that there's no Santa Claus or Tooth Fairy...

  150. Yes, some NYT readers certainly need 'safe reading spaces'. Are there any anti-shock shots for oversensitive people, like the reader who did not like the 'wispy beard' comment?

  151. Lot's of religious fanatics believing in something that scientists say, "can not be true." I wish a science fiction author had invented this and based a new religion on it.

  152. Shhhhhh...

    Don't tell Tom!!

  153. I have some Red Mercury....if you mix it with two cups of sugar and a gallon of water, it is cheaper by cup than soda.

    It also comes in Grape and Orange.

  154. One wonders whether Samuel Cohen's "belief" in red mercury was part of a smart, government disinformation plan.

    Excellent reads on the evolution of scientific culture as it evolved from an international fraternity to nationalistic government (and corporate) endeavors resulting largely from nuclear energy discoveries are "Robert Jungk's "Brighter Than a Thousand Suns" and Noel Davis' "Lawrence and Oppenheimer."

  155. I am tickled some readers think a group of religious radicals that literally believes it is playing an active role in precipiating an apocalypse -- one that will involve the prophet Jesus striking down its enemies with a spear in Jerusalem -- will believe something isn't real because the New York Times said so.

  156. Years ago Alistair MacLean wrote a book titled "The Satan Bug" about a bio-weapon so horrible it could destroy all life on earth. (at least that's what I remember - it's been over 35 years since I read it)

    I'm sure that with a bit of effort ISIS agents could find any number of rogue western weapons-lab techs willing to sell them a few kg of the stuff.

  157. Those rogue western weapons-lab tech needs to emphasize to their gullible buyers that there's only one antidote: cyanide, to be taken before they start assembling their bomb.

  158. T3D, that's so much better than my plan...I was trying to devise a recipe that required heating liquid mercury to produce vapor. (A few fun ingredients added here...pubic hairs pulled from ten warriors, that sort of thing), Once you mix it, the only way to check whether it's ready is to lean close and inhale deeply. When you take a lungful and see all those awesome virgins they promised you, your work is complete. Try again each day -- practice makes perfect. And be sure to show your buddies how to do it too.

    Alchemy -- it's da bomb!

  159. It must be true as in all hospitals in the US thermometers with murcury are banned and HASMAT suits are available for cleanup if any of the elusive agent is found.
    Blood pressure machines with murcury are also hazardous.
    I think as a nurse we are protected against this curse since childhood when I played with maze puzzles with blobs of murcury inside.
    We should be on high alert if the market in old Etch a Sketch toys surge. I understand that they can be used to see the future and make a heck of a bomb.

  160. Dear 7666,
    The reasoning behind all that is that mercury is toxic and can be absorbed right through the skin. It can cause nerve damage, blindness, and death. It has no possibility whatsoever of exploding.

    Also Etch a Sketch toys never had mercury in them. That silvery dust is mere aluminum powder, biologically harmless.

  161. I would be careful with any metal powder. Coarse ones will cut you. Ultrafine powders might infiltrate your skin cells. Be sure to wash up with likquid diswashing soap.

  162. My mother thought it had mercury or lead in it.....I was a kid and was facinated in the powder in the etch a sketch as I was in mercury.

  163. This article speaks volumes about the mentality of ISIS and similar groups. Where magical thinking reigns, the creative salesman can sell anything to the insane, lustful client.

    As to dealing with ISIS. I think Alfred said it best in Batman, The Dark Knight, "Some people just want to see the world burn." And how did Alfred and his band of brothers handle it? They burned down the entire forest to rid the world of the fiend. In today's world, we may need to return to WWII style bombing to get the job done, but ISIS will be solved.

  164. "Where magical thinking reigns, the creative salesman can sell anything to the insane, lustful client."
    Hence the republican field of clowns who take themselves seriously as presidential hopefuls.

  165. But will the mentality behind it be solved? And how to address the root causes of the region's problems--such causes and problems being numerous, interlinked, and apparently insoluble.

  166. Wonderful writing by C.J. Chivers, with a little alchemy and some color analysis. It's the Maltese Falcon of terrorism. Abu Omar is in the role of Sidney Greenstreet. And Omar should know that, around the house, we don't
    mix ammonia with chlorine.

    Mercury alone is kind of magical in itself without the food coloring thrown in. It rolls around in a spoon with a curious surface tension that makes it appear like mobile Silly Putty with a captivating glint. There is no wonder that it is the subject of exotic nuclear subterfuge, and aphrodisiacs, evidently.

    This story also shows that when someone is looking for something impossible, there are those who will supply it to him or her who will buy it, sans raison.

    And there is raison, notably physical law. Fusion requires certain initial and boundary conditions for it to take place. These are related to the cross-section of the nuclei involved. This takes some effort to achieve, namely knowing nuclear physics and the nuclear engineering that goes along with it. It's impossible to achieve these conditions in a drop of mercury, just as it was impossible for cold fusion (remember that?).

    So wouldn't it be wonderful if we could bypass this law and knowledge and jump right to fusion? Red mercury is that magical product that the simple-minded seek to achieve their desire effortlessly (effortlessly, other than actually finding the stuff).

    Finding the stuff is a magnificent story. Fine writing, Mr. Chivers.

  167. The box of gold from Ghana. Coming any day now! To solve ALL my problems.

  168. I would be interested to hear what the GOP presidential candidates (especially Mr. Trump or Mr. Carson) views are on the dangers of Red Mercury falling into the hands of ISIS and what they would do to prevent this at their next scheduled debate! - Hopefully they have not read this story yet!

  169. Pan, it may not matter if Carson has already read this story. Likely he has read stories about global warning and the age of the earth without it affecting his "thinking."

  170. What's the difference between shopping for red mercury in Turkey and trying to buy yellowcake in Niger? In other words, this has already happened, and we fell for it.

  171. We?

  172. There are two ends of the sucker pool here, the suckers who want to buy it, and the suckers who want to use the threat of it as a rationale for stepping up their goals of militarization and international adventurism. The right middle person (like an Ahmed Chalabi) can sell the story to both sides and make out like a bandit.

  173. A great lure - but the extremist value system that underlies this desire to "end the world" using anything, should prompt us to envision more effective defense strategies, rather than leaving the borders open to those who would wish to purchase the equivalent of a nuclear bomb.

  174. Yes, but what will you do about the Book of Revelation end-timers trying tobring on Armageddon They already live here...

  175. "Godknows Katchekwama"

    Nice name. Along the lines of Haywood Jamblomé...

  176. No matter the actual evidence, people will believe certain memes...and entrench further when challenged.
    There are no psychics, but they endure
    Dowsing works...well, no
    Nostradamus predicted the future--just silly
    Chakras are "misaligned" Even sillier.

    We only use 10% of our brains...well, could be true if you believe any of the above.

    Excuse me while I go levitate for a bit....

  177. I have an old Singer I'd love to sell for $50,000.

  178. Of course they believe in red mercury. They believe in a lot of unverifiable fantasies, including the popular 'end of the world'. One is tempted to encourage this belief so the jihadists will waste time, money and effort and the gullible will be subjected to evolutionary pressure.

  179. My comment isn't related to this specifically, but this article brings me back to the time I was having fun doing amateur chemistry at home during high school. I tried to make a very small amount (a gram or so) of the explosive compound mercury fulminate by adding one drop of mercury to a few mL of concentrated nitric acid, waiting for the toxic fumes (mostly NO2) to die down, and then adding ethanol. It didn't work - all I produced was some powder that didn't do a thing when hit with a hammer or ignited, but it was a fun little project. I was more successful with nitroglycerin though - that was a blast!

    I did go into science, and now do atmospheric chemistry. Doing somewhat dangerous amateur chemistry experiments, and learning how to be safe while accepting a bit of risk, helps draw people to science in ways that today's safety culture doesn't allow for.

  180. > I tried to make a very small amount (a gram or so) of the explosive compound mercury fulminate by adding one drop of mercury to a few mL of concentrated nitric acid, waiting for the toxic fumes (mostly NO2) to die down, and then adding ethanol. It didn't work...

    Me too, ca. 1960. Our high school chemistry lab would have been the object of major SWAT raids and we would still be in maximum security prison today.

  181. My husband's childhood penchant for fireworks and explosives led him to a career as a physical chemist.

  182. common path to science, as a schoolboy I yearned for a "chemistry set", but alas found nothing "explosive" in it, so I fooled around mixing things in petrol.

    as a grown-up I became a lithium chemist... lithium blows up real good in water.

    now in keeping with the theme of the article, somebody ask me if dilithium crystals really do moderate the mater/anti-mater warp drive

  183. Perhaps the secret to making red mercury has been hidden away in the same place that hides the secret to making Damascus steel.

  184. Don't forget Valyrian steel.

  185. So the weapons of mass destruction have been found?

  186. For a second this article transported me into the fiction/comedy universe even so that I doubted it was the NYT article I began reading.

    You can't make this stuff up!

    Great article

  187. Actually you can make this stuff up. Maybe you forget The NYT writer Judith Miller and her front page hysteria about Saddam and his WMDs, who more than any other legitimate reporter, lent a critical patina of credibility to the Bush march to war. More than a whiff of Bob Woodward here with "reporting" that's mainly anecdotal, hearsay, or dubious, unverifiable sources with or without wispy beards. It's in the magazine for a reason. Sort of an end of tour memoir of bits and pieces gleaned from long nights at hotel bars
    over stale beer and cynicism numbed and on auto-pilot. Just days away from yet another viper strike, this fable is a bedtime story for adults so we can sleep soundly and snugly in our warm beds. May be vipers but at least they're funny and bumbling and deserve a chance to host SNL. Maybe Ted Nugent as the featured band too. And a skit too -- Ted tries to sell red mercury tipped arrows to the wispy bearded jihadist and Steve Martin appears with that trademark arrow through his head...

  188. This piece reminds me of the articles NYT has published about fortune tellers in New York, and the mystical vials Colin Powell presented to the Security Council.

    Brilliant reporting!

  189. You used to be able to commonly find a red Mercury in front of rural Dairy Queens. Perhaps terrorists whose English was a bit lacking heard Alan Jackson sing "Crazy bout a Mercury" and got the wrong idea.

  190. But I have SEEN red mercury! It was so dangerous that it created a black hole that ate up an entire planet! Spock barely survived.

  191. For the last time, that's red matter, not red mercury. Spock knew full well that red mercury was non-explosive.

  192. This somehow reminds me of the incident decades ago when the owner of a trucking company applied to the Department of Transportation for permission to establish a "rate table" for the shipment of yak fat. In almost no time all his competitors clamored to get into the yak-fat shipping business.

  193. I love how many commenters are worried about this article giving the game away, as if all the other information on the Internet debunking this nonsense just wasn't quite enough.

  194. This story and others on the internet debunking the idea of red mercury are obviously the work of government agents trying to throw terrorists off the scent.

    JFK was shot with a bullet containing red mercury, and there was red mercury in the fuel of the jets that struck the twin towers.

    No, really. Now, you terrorists out there should continue looking for red mercury and not wasting your time looking for radiological waste or other dangerous substances.

  195. The story is quite different then what I heard. I thought red mercury is nothing more than a compound used to increase efficiency at uranium refinement. It is not red nor mercury as that's only a code name. Supposedly it was discovered by one of the nuclear club nation as a way to decrease the time needed to produce enriched weapon grade uranium-235 from uranium-238. It is not used by US and Russia as those two uses more efficient, but very investment heavy and impossible to hide, gaseous diffusion method. Smaller nuke powers (one or more of France, UK, Israel) use red mercury with their centrifuges to improve efficiency which is why wannabe nuke states with uranium enrichment program are looking for it. In any case, getting uranium and centrifuge is prerequisite to use red mercury; without it all you got is some valuable compound.

    This is just what I heard a few years back. I don't even know there are new uses for it now. LOL

  196. Gaseous diffusion is very INefficient, both in space and materiel. And it consumes enormous amounts of electricity. We now use centrifuges for the most part.

  197. The conclusion is then that, as long Isis uses their energies in the pursuit of non existing phantoms we can feel secure?

  198. Great, now even the NYT is involved. This conspiracy is far more extensive than I imagined.

  199. While some aspects of this article are comical, what is not funny is the desire for these people to obtain weapons capable of destroying an entire city. I'm sure that if they could get their hands on an atomic bomb, they would not hesitate to use it. The question for us, is how to deal with people with this mentality? I believe in the end it will come to down to do we destroy them or let them destroy us.

  200. Wow! I just finished the new Louise Penny book, "The Nature of the Beast," and what interesting food for thought in this article.

  201. This sounds like another one of Dick Cheney's tricks: he plants a story in the Times, then claims he read it in the Times, so it must be true.

    “Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”

  202. Perhaps Cohen, who had to have known that this was nonsense, perpetuated the story to keep foolish terrorists busy looking down blind alleys. Better they look for something that never existed and will not be found, than something that does exist and might be found some day.

  203. The Egyptian Pyramids were protective shells for red mercury factories. The technology had been transported to Egypt by interstellar aliens.

  204. That was only in the early days, before they discovered that it ruined the grain stored inside the Pyramids.

  205. I think many people are reading into this article that these people are plain stupid. They are manipulative to be sure. If you are poor and fighting a war against enemies with real bombs, real planes, real weapons of mass destruction - then it must be very seductive to allude to your peers that you have access to something even more powerful. It need not exist. It is akin to the nuclear bombs that the superpowers have. Have you ever seen one? Have you seen one go off? No, because no one ever uses them. The terrorist leaders like to convince their own people that they have something so terrible that even they would only use it as a Doomsday device. Their red mercury is almost as mythical as our own H-Bombs. If we ever find out if they work in a real war, it is all over anyway. Seeking and hoarding red mercury is just a power-play and mind game.

  206. My wispy beard hints at my sympathy for fine craft beer and vinyl records with a crunch.

  207. Fine, but if I hear you're strolling around in a pair of capri pants, I'm calling it in.

  208. "Red mercury" sounds oddly like it may have been dreamed up by someone based on some of the physical properties and appearance of chlorine's nasty big brother...the diatomic halogen elemental bromine (Br2). It's extremely dense and exceptionally heavy, and holding any given quantity and comparing its heft to an equal amount of elemental mercury would show the two as being very similar in weight per unit volume.

    In addition to bromine's very high density, its a fuming element that's very deep dark red in color, and can exist in two phases at room temperature (liquid and [fuming] gas/vapor). It stinks, smelling similar to chlorine, and also like chlorine, a vapor cloud from a spill, leak, etc., has the potential to be extremely dangerous.

    I'm not saying that I believe that bromine can do anything even remotely similar to the fictitious "red mercury", especially with regard to detonation and explosion. I am, however, saying that elemental bromine (not a naturally occurring element, which requires manufacture and/or 'refined' from naturally occurring underground brine wells) is a very heavy, corrosive and deep red fuming liquid at standard temperature and pressure, as well as one that has the potential to be quite dangerous when leaked or lost in even surprisingly small amounts....and it may well have furnished some of the physical traits that were hijacked for the purpose of describing the non-element "red mercury".

  209. Density of liquid Br2 is 3.1 g/cc, liquid mercury is 13.5 g/cc or more than 4 tmes denser.

  210. Whether red mercury exists or not is nearly secondary to the larger issue that ISIS would use weapons of mass destruction against the West if they could secure them. Does and should that change how ISIS and its financial and other supporters are dealt with?

  211. "ISIS would use weapons of mass destruction against the West if they could secure them"

    If that is the case, perhaps the west should use some of the nuclear weapons that it does have to destroy ISIS.

  212. Is this a surprise to you? Don't you think Al Qaeda was desperately trying to get a nuke?

  213. Well...if it doesn't exist, then--contra the headline--it can't be lethal.

  214. I suggest we call this comical caper "The Hunt for Red Mad Hatter".
    Source is "Alice in Wonderland", of course. Use enough real mercury and
    you'll believe anything.

  215. they painted th mercury red

  216. "Abu Omar, a Syrian whose wispy beard hinted at his jihadist sympathies"

    So when Muslims have beards it hints at jihadist sympathies? Or just when Syrians have them?

    After all the efforts the NYT tries to make against it, it has NO problem actually being that suggestive media that puts this stuff into people's heads.

    Some Muslims have beards for peaceful religious reasons. Some Muslims are hipsters. Some get a rash from shaving.
    VERY few people with beards have sympathies for terrorists.

  217. Brilliant!

  218. Thank you, Laney.

    That sentence caused my antenna to twitch the same way it does when in proximity of Donald Trump and Madame le Pen -- both of whom are selling a cartoon ideology by turning the targets of their invective into mere cartoons. A dangerous risk-filled gambit, indeed.

    That this sentence got through the editorial process is, quite simply, appalling.

    In spite of this glaring flaw the article is, in one word, amazing.

  219. I have a very full beard...but am no hipster. However, in this case, I believe the whole "wispy beard" thing in conjunction with the fact that Abu deals merch to ISIS provides an image, a context, and a story. Read beyond the sentence and sometimes a more complete picture emerges.

  220. This is what happens when school and college dropouts and cigarette sellers try to take over the world. Should have stayed in school and not rocked back and forth at a madrassa.

  221. Gosh, if they only took their SATs and bothered with those AP credits in high school, they could have done their college tours on camelback and qualified for Pell grants and student aid, like a job in the cafeteria. Such a waste with so many fine colleges and universities in the desert to choose from. With just a bit of grit and effort, they'd have nuclear scientists like the ones we imported as refugees, and could be reprocessing plutonium on their own instead of bribing Pakistanis to obtain the cup or two needed to make god redundant and revisit shock and awe in a city of their liking. We say a mind is a terrible thing to waste. They say we're right and so they'll take out an entire city instead. About that madrassa: our gas guzzling car culture enriched the Saudis -- BFFs to Bush 41, 42 and Bush 0 -- making them alpha pack leader in the middle east. The despotic royal House of Saud is a client of ours (though some might say we're the vassal state) and they swagger about as we gladly turn a blind eye to their Islamic intrigues, which include the funding of madrassas to foment Sunni unrest in Shiite dominant Islamic nations. Without our meddling, Shiite nations would war against Sunni nations either to a standstill or the defeat of one side. We picked the Saudis, and using the trillions we paid them for oil, they harvested a bumper crop of suicidal jihadists from the madrassas, including most of the terrorists who brought us 9/11. They were Saudis.

  222. I know of some red mercury hidden in the girders of a bridge in Brooklyn, and I can sell you both.

  223. How much?

  224. And we're worried about the bad guys? I hope this is how they spend all their time, money and energy. Maybe red mercury will make the world a safer place.

  225. Maybe they mean a red Mercury? Say, 1952, lowered, chopped, channeled,
    with spinner hubs, a skull-shaped gear knob, tan Naguahyde interior, a rebuilt Cobra V8, dual 4-barrel carbs, Offenhauser heads, white sidewall tires, and red metallic paint, 4 coats.
    I'd buy that. I'd never sell it to Jihadis.
    It may not exist, but James Dean does in all of us...

  226. "If I had money,
    I'll tell you what I'd do,
    I'd go downtown and buy a Mercury or two,
    I'm crazy 'bout a Mercury,
    I'm crazy 'bout a Mercury,
    Crazy 'bout a Mercury, drive it up and down the road."

  227. Perhaps the might want to conjure up a golem instead.

  228. We should all recall the Star Trek movie where Spock is racing to deliver a container of "Red Matter" to prevent a star from exploding. Spock arrives too late and the red matter is captured by the surviving crew of a mining ship that is now seeking revenge upon the Federation for falling to arrive on time to save his planet. Such is the stuff of sic-fi fantasy. It makes good movies.
    Had the weapons hunters of this tale sought red matter of the Star Trek movie they may have had better luck.
    This is an outrageous tale and would be laughable if we forget who is seeking weapons of mass destruction.
    Red matter and red mercury are non-existent except in the minds of real and imagined villains who seek to totally destroy their enemies. Therein lies the most serious problem.
    The real terrorists believe that they can get their hands on WMD. It may not be red mercury but it will be destructive and cause massive loss of lives. What we can also take from this tale is that there are people out there who are shopping for the real thing. Sooner or later they're going to get their hands on it. It may be nuclear, chemical or biological weaponry and it will be devastating. These guys will use it.
    I can't imagine the price that the Islamic State would pay if they found and used a weapon of mass destruction. I can imagine what we will suffer if they actually do get their hands on the real goods.
    This is a tale of scam artists and terrorists. Regardless, we must remain on high alert.