Nine items that could be used to build a dirty bomb are missing from British hospitals, fueling fears that Al Qaeda terrorists are trying to steal material to build a radioactive device.
The revelation comes as a new US State Department intelligence report highlights fears over terror suspects working in the NHS and reveals Britain has launched an urgent operation to track down all radiological material used in its hospitals.
A State Department counter-terrorism official said there was high-level “concern” in Washington about the large number of foreign-born workers in European hospitals with access to materials that could be made into a dirty bomb.
He added: “There is little doubt that eventually a dirty bomb made from radiological materials stolen from a hospital would be exploded.”
The operation to track down the material was launched last year by the Environment Agency with assistance from MI5.
It has identified and disposed of more than 10,000 disused items.
Officials are now trying to account for more than 1,000 other pieces of equipment containing radioactive material.