Someone tried to fool CBS News with Red Mercury

From CJ Chivers’s blog:

An investigative journalist with CBS News, Jennifer Janisch, obtained the following images from a Syrian smuggler trying to peddle fake antiquities from Iraq and Syria.

CBS News Image 1 CBS News Image 2

I hope it goes without saying that this stuff isn’t Red Mercury.  It’s a very well-manufactured and decorated canister for fooling buyers.  Fortunately for whoever had this, it’s also not an explosive.

My favorite part of the picture is the line “NOT FOR SALE” at the bottom.  Which is true.  Because Red Mercury does not exist.

Michael P. Moore

November 23, 2015

moe (at) landminesinafrica (dot) org

More Red Mercury coverage

The New York Times Magazine article is continuing to generate coverage of the Red Mercury Hoax.

On Slate’s Political Gabfest podcast  (at the 1:06:00 mark) Emily Bazelon, a writer from the Magazine, calls attention to CJ Chivers’s article and refers to Red Mercury as “The Holy Grail of Super Dangerous Weapons.” Which is a good line.

A story on News Corp’s Australian website mentions this website and says efforts like ours to combat the hoax and present the truth are “merely deemed to be the work of non believers” by members of Islamic State.  Yes, we’re non-believers in the myth because that’s what it is: a myth. And we’re right.  Red Mercury is a hoax. A fantasy.  And people who do believe are dying trying to prove otherwise.

Michael P. Moore

November 21, 2015

moe (at) landminesinafrica (dot) org

Red Mercury in South Africa

A piece from highlights how Red Mercury [WHICH DOES NOT EXIST] was thought to be a key ingredient in South Africa’s nuclear weapons program.  The following quote, from South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, probably helped feed some of the hysteria:

“Red mercury may very well exist, in fact red mercury does exist, the contentious issue is whether it plays any role in the nuclear arms sphere. There is no doubt that red mercury exists, I can refer you to the original chemical articles on this particular form of mercury, and there have certainly been a number of unexplained deaths in people who’ve allegedly been linked to the red mercury industry.”

The are no “unexplained deaths” linked to Red Mercury.  People are killed or injured as they try to extract this hoax substance from very real and very deadly explosives like landmines.

Michael P. Moore

November 20, 2015

moe (at) landminesinafrica (dot) org

From the NY Times: The Doomsday Scam

Many thanks to the New York Times and CJ Chivers for call attention to the Red Mercury hoax.

As Chivers says in the article:

“In southern Africa, it has cost lives. According to a regional and especially cruel variation of the legend, the substance is found in conventional military munitions, particularly land mines, there to be claimed by anyone daring enough to take them apart and extract the goods. Tom Dibb, the program manager in Zimbabwe for the Halo Trust, a private mine-clearing organization, said he and the local authorities have documented people being killed in explosions while hunched over land mines or mortar bombs with hand tools.


“In the bloodiest incident, in 2013, six people were killed near Harare, Zimbabwe’s capital, by a blast in the home of a faith healer. One victim was an infant. Dibb spoke with the police and said ‘‘they were pretty convinced that it was a tank mine being taken apart for red mercury.’’ In another case, which Dibb examined himself, two men were killed and another wounded as they tried harvesting land mines for red-mercury extraction from a minefield. The most recent death that the Halo Trust investigated occurred on Nov. 1, Dibb said, when a 22-year-old man, Godknows Katchekwama, was killed while trying to dismantle and remove red mercury from an R2M2, a South African antipersonnel land mine about the size of a tuna can [pictured below].”


R2M2 photo from CAT-UXO

South African-made R2M2 anti-personnel landmine, image from

In the comments for the article, one person says:

“When I lived in West Africa in the early 1980s, people would occasionally approach me to ask if I could procure them some “mercure rouge” (red mercury). (Perhaps they thought as a foreigner I would have access to such things). As I recall, it was believed to be useful for conjuring up large amounts of paper currency through some kind of sorcery.”

This suggests that the Red Mercury hoax exists beyond Southern Africa where we’ve documented it.

Spread the word.  Red Mercury isn’t real and no more lives should be lost in fruitless pursuit.

Michael P. Moore

November 19, 2015

moe (at) landminesinafrica (dot) org