Red mercury, rumored to be capable of destroying a city when used in a bomb the size of a sandwich bag, is believed to be a hoax been invented by weapons smugglers to con gullible buyers, The New York Times’s C.J. Chivers reports. Its properties—as powerful as a nuke, able to hide stuff from radar—do not make sense to scientists. It has never been found by law enforcement. A few sellers claiming to possess it were actually holding regular mercury colored with dye. Despite being informed that red mercury is fake, an ISIS smuggler insisted: “I have seen it with my own eyes.”
At times ISIS seems like it’s imitating the bad guys of the worst James Bond movies. Chivers notes that the ISIS smuggler had to track down the right breed of cat. Another time he “rounded up 1,500 silver rings with flat faces upon which the world’s most prominent terrorist organization could stamp its logo.” Tracking silver rings with an evil logo is literally a plot point in Spectre, a boring Bond movie released November 6. But the Islamic State is real, even if red mercury is not.