Cops rule out terrorism in radioactive device theft

Ayub Khan confirmed that the case was not linked to terrorism. — Bernama pic
Ayub Khan confirmed that the case was not linked to terrorism. — Bernama pic

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PETALING JAYA, Aug 21 — The police have eliminated terrorism as a possible motive for the suspected theft of a 23kg radioactive dispersal device (RDD) worth RM75,000.

A police source told Malay Mail that as the case involved radioactive materials, the counter-terrorism department was immediately notified and a thorough investigation was conducted.

“Background checks were conducted on the (two initial) suspects and investigations showed there was no element of terrorism.

“We also checked if the suspects had been in contact with any militant group in the past,” the person said.

The Special Branch’s Counter-Terrorism Division principle assistant director Datuk Ayub Khan Mydin Pitchay also confirmed that the case was not linked to terrorism.

“The investigations now will be by the state Criminal Investigation Department,” he said.

Separately, Selangor police chief Datuk Mazlan Mansor said the case was first reported on Aug 10 when a technician from a radiography firm reported that the company’s radiography projector unit called “Sentinel Delta 880” containing radioactive material was stolen.

“The technician and his colleague had just completed an inspection at a factory in Senawang,

Negeri Sembilan where they were using the device to inspect a leakage.

“The duo had loaded the RDD device into the back of the company’s pick-up truck and left for their office located in Kota Kemuning,” he said.

The two claimed they found the device missing when they returned to the vehicle at 2am.

Both were arrested the next day and remanded until Aug 17, after which they were released due to lack of evidence.

Mazlan said the police are working together with the Atomic Energy Licensing Board (AELB) to locate the missing RDD.

Citing the AELB, he said the RDD is a non-nuclear industrial radiography equipment containing the radioactive isotope Iridium-192 that emits beta and gamma radiation.

“Depending on the quantity of the radioactive substance that is inside the projector it can cause harm to the people,” he said.

Among symptoms of exposure include dizziness, nausea and vomiting, although Mazlan said the most severe effect of direct contact would be surface burns.

He urged anyone with such symptoms to seek medical treatment immediately.

The suspected theft is the latest such incident involving a radioactive apparatus.

In February last year, residents at an apartment in Shah Alam were exposed to radiation following the discovery of two stolen radioactive canisters that were unsealed.

The canisters were components from a radioactive scanning device belonging to an oil-and-gas company and were reported stolen from a car.

Eight people were arrested in Klang and Shah Alam, but the motive for the theft was never publicly disclosed.

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