C.J. Chivers, an investigative reporter for the New York Times, released an in-depth look at what he refers to as “the doomsday scam,” calling red mercury, an alleged nuclear substance that could be used to produce the bomb of all nuclear bombs, an urban legend.

A leader for the Islamic State is allegedly willing to pay up to $4 Million for every unit of red mercury that matched a set of photos he had showing a warhead of the mythical substance.  The problem: the substance doesn’t exist. 

That’s right, it seems ISIS is hot on the tail of an urban legend.

Red mercury, the myth claims, is a chemical weapon which can allegedly make nuclear bombs so small and yet more powerful than ever.   As the legend goes, it’s a substance made from mercury iodide, a red powder that is “odourless, tasteless, insoluble in water and poisonous, but it will turn yellow when heated above 126 degrees Celsius,” so reports the International Business Times.

There have been numerous reports on ISIS’ hunt for red mercury, but why are people so quick to dismiss it?  Well, first and foremost, no one has ever seen it.

According to C.J. Chivers, who recently wrote an exposé on the substance for the New York Times, the myth began as a lure designed to “fleece ignorant buyers” of chemical weapons. 

Chivers states that reports of red mercury surfaced in the 1990s from Russian news outlets, some as early as the late 70s, and were picked up by Western European outlets following that.  These reports focused on the substance’s potential for destruction. 

The IB Times also reported that Western intelligence agencies went as far as using it as a ruse to coax terrorists to travel to US for sales of the chemical weapon, where agents were waiting to arrest them.

Essentially, it’s an elaborate hoax used for propaganda purposes.  In certain pockets of the Middle East, however, many are certain of its existence.  The Turkish government for one has gone as far as arresting those in connection with red mercury.

Though some of our friends at the conspiracy theory forum Above Top Secret still believe the substance is out there, most experts are willing to shrug off claims of its existence. 

Still, shouldn’t we be concerned that the hunt for such a substance clearly highlights the goals of ISIS?  It seems that they’re dead-set on total destruction at all costs.

What do you make the red mercury legend, vigilant viewers?  Have you seen claims of its existence?  Sound off below.


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