The Islamic State extremist group has claimed that because it is expanding so rapidly, it will soon be able to purchase its first nuclear weapon and will use it to launch an attack that will make past operations look like "squirrel shoot."
In the latest issue of the propaganda magazine Dabiq, the group claims it will rise from "the most explosive Islamic 'group' in the modern world" to "the most explosive Islamic movement the modern world has ever seen" in less than twelve months, a report from the Independent reveals.
"Let me throw a hypothetical operation onto the table," the article continues. "The Islamic State has billions of dollars in the bank, so they call on their wilāyah in Pakistan to purchase a nuclear device through weapons dealers with links to corrupt officials in the region."
It adds that while such a scenario may be "far-fetched," it emphasized that "it's the sum of all fears for Western intelligence agencies and it's infinitely more possible today than it was just one year ago."
It adds, "And if not a nuke, what about a few thousand tons of ammonium nitrate explosive? That's easy enough to make."
An attack launched by ISIS against America would ridicule "the attacks of the past," the group warns.
"They'll [ISIS] be looking to do something big, something that would make any past operation look like a squirrel shoot, and the more groups that pledge allegiance the more possible it becomes to pull off something truly epic."
The group reminds readers that it has gone from a small, relatively unknown Al-Qaeda splinter group to one of the world's most dangerous jihadist organizations, having overtaken large swaths of Iraq and Syria in mere months.
"Remember, all of this has happened in less than a year. How more dangerous will be the lines of communication and supply a year on from today?" the report asks.
ISIS reportedly attributes the article to British photojournalist John Cantlie, who has been held hostage by the terrorist group for more than two years. Cantlie is often used in the terror group's propaganda and has appeared in a number of videos.
Despite claims, there is no indication that ISIS currently possesses or could easily obtain a nuclear weapon, officials say. However, in November, U.S. President Obama declared that if such a scenario would to occur, he would deploy U.S. ground troops into combat to fight the militant group.
"If we discovered that [ISIS] had gotten possession of a nuclear weapon, and we had to run an operation to get it out of their hands, then, yes," the president told reporters at a news conference in Brisbane, Australia. "I would order it."
Currently, ISIS' finances are estimated to be in the region of $2 billion. The number is expected to grow significantly, however, as the group recently seized the ancient town of Palmyra in Syria, an ancient city that is home to a UNESCO World Heritage Site and many valuable artifacts.
Jonathan Schanzer, vice president for research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told Business Insider that ISIS makes most of its money from racketeering, which includes looting historical sites and selling antiquities on the black market.
"It's a racket. And that's how ISIS continues to survive and thrive," Schanzer said. "They need to jump from community to community in order to sustain themselves financially."
He added, "There are almost certainly going to be antiquities dealers waiting in the wings waiting to spirit this stuff out of [Palmyra]," Schanzer said. "In Turkey in particular ... you've got these fairly lawless borders, borders that have been exploited repeatedly ... so the assumption is that we've got established smuggling routes and people bringing illicit goods over the border."
"The horror and shock, this is the archaeological equivalent of a beheading," Schanzer said. "Certainly there will be the shock value of this and that will jolt people."