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Two arms dealers engage in unspecified illegal activity. . .

A: are u there?

B: Marco contacted me already. It's going to be difficult.

A: How? In procuring it?

B: No. Moving it. Too many eyes on me.

.and are finding conducting business increasingly difficult.

A: You're kidding. U're in one of the poorest countries on earth.

B: You're telling me. Dubai was so civilized, but now it's impossible to operate there.

A: Those terrorists are ruining our business. That series of attacks spooked everybody, not just the Americans.

B. How do you know you didn't help the terrorists?

A. Can't know for certain, but I think my ultimate client's different.

Dealer A (in green) seems to think he is working for a country. The material he is interested in could be nuclear technology. However, he intimates that terrorists are also interested in doing business with him.

B. Yeah I know you're committed. I'm in it for the money. Doesn't matter too much who pays just so long as they do.

A. I want my people and faith to be respected. The bomb's important.

B. And to get back at the Crusaders?

A. That too. But the yanks are doing us a favor. Their military threats got my client's attention. He can't wait now for things to happen. The more talk of military action, the better, I say. And I have other buyers who are interested. Let's say more shady types.

Dealer B (in gold) warns that the tide of international public opinion may be turning in favor of stronger counter-proliferation because of the terrorist attacks.

B. Don't be so sure. America's got a lot of support 'cause of the terrorists. People also leery of attacks, especially bw.

A. Yeah they really got the superpower on the run. Even when it isn't WMD, they think it is. Regular hoof and mouth, I heard. Hard to tell the difference at first.

B. Yeah, went overboard. Still I worry. Lots of people sympathize, worry even in Muslim world. America also had its share of the real thing. A big hit that happened before hoof and mouth. That new Patriot Act went way beyond anything imagined after 9/11.

Both dealers indicate they are increasingly worried about new devices that can track them.

A. I worry a lot about the chip.

B. Got one imbedded in you?

A. D--- well better not, but I don't believe what those guys claim about protecting privacy. Too much has happened. Martial law. Talk of preemption, special measures. Those operations last year wrapped up a big chain.

B. You can't trust the Americans, and they have friends in the world to help them.

A. But maybe not as many as they think, if you know what I mean.

Dealer A(in green) looks on the bright side. With the world slipping into a recession because of the terrorist attacks and the severe clampdown, he thinks he can get legitimate businesses to look the other way.

A. Yeah, but that's not necessarily bad for business.

B. Which business? I've got several to tend to.

A. You're right. Lots of legits going belly up. What happened to globalization? Ha, ha.

Dealer A (in green) goes back to explaining why the increased terrorist attacks have also increased government interest in WMD programs.

A. Lots of countries want an insurance policy.

B. Against big brother.

A. Big brother and some of the smaller fry.

B. What do you mean?

A. My client's also scared s------- about the terrorists and their capabilities.

B. Yeah some have turned into mini-states.

A. .or they run them.

Conversation breaks off at this point.

A month later. Dealer A (in black) again talks to Dealer B (in blue). Marco, the in-between mentioned in last month's conversation, has changed aliases and is now known as Sa'id, which may or may not be his real name. The dealer's quip about there being no relation is an obvious inside joke. Dealer also reverts to his theme that the downturn in the world economy has been a boon to the illegal business. Legitimate businesses are now turning a blind eye and selling dual-use technology even when they have doubts about the end user. Dealers have also changed devices, which are shown in new colors.

A. Sa'id contacted you?

B. Yeah. No relation to marco, of course.

A. This recession's helping.

B. What do you mean?

A. Makes the corporate world an easy target.

B. Witting or unwitting?

A. I'd say witting, but with plausible deniability.

B. Got the stuff through?

Dealer A (in black) is no doubt being intentionally cryptic about the material for fear of interception. It may have something to do with nuclear technology or possibly other illicit goods.

A. A little hangup with the certification. Corporate type told me he was questioned. But he was cool. He said Feds did not suspect.

B. Why the feds? It wasn't transiting America.

This would indicate that authorities inside some countries remain helpful despite the clampdown or outward cooperation with the United States.

A. Yeah but they traced it back from the subsidiary. Got some help in other country. Have to be extremely careful these days. They get confused by our names. Can't keep up-marco, sa'id, muhammed. Just don't have an ear for it.

One month later

Dealer A (in red). Are u there? Where are u?

It is not clear if text messaging has failed to go through, Dealer B has gone underground or been swept up by a security roundup. One would hope Dealer A is now getting nervous.


"Lessons Learned"

  • The fear cycle generated by an increasing spread of WMD and terrorist attacks, once under way, would be one of the hardest to break. The greater sense of insecurity might prompt more countries to acquire WMD for protection or deterrence.
  • A complication in combating the spread of WMD would be the ideological factor, as exemplified by one of the dealers in the scenario story. Some dealers would not be in it for the money but to level the playing field between the Muslim world and the West.
  • Achieving a balance so that international commerce was not obstructed by excessive security would be important since any economic meltdown could spur legitimate businesses and scientists to engage in a highly lucrative, albeit illegal activity.
  • Developing and sustaining international cooperation when the fear cycle might drive some to go it alone would be a challenge.

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