November 15, 2002 - Asia Times Online and antivirus.about.com are now reporting the following story IS A FRAUD! AN EMAIL HOAX! Apparently, Asia Times Online "bought it."
This still doesn't answer a number of questions I have.
Is the report really a fraud or a news leak that wasn't supposed to be revealed?? Is the retraction by Asia Times Online and the hoax warning at antivirus.about.com part of a government cover-up to hide the truth and prevent mass panic? If this article is a hoax, then why does today's FBI terrorist bulletin echo exactly what is discussed in the article: an impending attack on America that will bring about "severe damage to the U.S. economy", cause "mass casualties", and create "maximum psychological trauma"? Why are major news networks reporting that there is fear that nuclear devices or dirty bombs are being smuggled into the US via port cities and across the Canadian border from Toronto for a "spectacular" terrorist attack?
Coincidence? Pretty strange coincidence!
Also, I am being told that "a lot of people are posting that the journalist was very respected, and why did they (Asia Times Online) post the article in the first place?"
Here is what another visitor has to say regarding my remarks above:
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Saturday, November 16, 2002 8:24 AM
Subject: Re: News from Atimes Online
I had the same thoughts when I read that it was a hoax, especially after I awoke on Thursday (or Friday) morning to hear the FBI alert about the "spectacular" attack.
P.S. I also receive plenty of the internet hoaxes in my e-mail, and I've never heard of this one... guess I better get in shape because if there is truth to this one, I'll have to start swimming! (I live on Long Island...)
I have to concur: I too have received plenty of internet hoaxes in my email, and have never heard of this one or ever received anything like it.
To read what Mitch Battros of ECTV has had to say about this possible cover-up, read the following commentary dated November 17.
Of course, there are glaring technical errors in the report that might tend to support the belief that the article is indeed a phony:
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Wednesday, November 20, 2002 5:26 PM
Subject: Nuke Hoax
Been out of town and was just catching up on the website. A search for the RD warhead that was quoted in the article shows that it's a rocket engine, not a warhead. A search for T3 missles turns up lots of links to a WW2 Japanese aircraft. Looking over the Soviet weapons at http://nuketesting.enviroweb.org/hew/Russia/Sovwarhead.html doesn't show a T3 or the RD-107.
If it isn't a hoax, it's full of errors.
I don't doubt that the US will feel someone's nuclear wrath in the future, perhaps the near future but this one message feels false to me.
keep up the good work
Yet another visitor to this site has recently expressed alarm about the so-called hoax article, noting that there are too many similarities to other recent interviews and reports and dream visions both she and I had well over a year ago:
----- Original Message -----
From: Mary Ann
Sent: Friday, November 22, 2002 9:01 PM
Subject: recent article hoax
I don't like it ... too many things are true in it... I remember specifically the day of 9/11 and Fox News interviewed Ollie North who said (my memory is perfect on this one) that there were 5,000 operatives in this country ... and that George Bush should declare war on Osama bin Ladin. He said 5,000 ... repeat 5,000 ...
I don't like the part about hidden nukes, fits in with yours and mine dreams. My two white vehicles somewhere outside a nuke station perhaps ... I see a single two lane road with mounds of dirt and a half moon shape overhead road lights ... something like a banker's light fixture. There is no plant life on these mounds, just dirt or dry hills, maybe man-made mounds of some kind. I have never seen anything like the typography ... Oh yes by the way..... two people attempted to crash the Turkey Point nuke station last month, they were in a white van (scary) and never caught and the story quickly quelled by local news.
I don't like the 25th or 27th of the month either... I feel strongly about this one.
Could this mean a nuclear terrorist attack on the USA by December 25 or 27? Bush is giving Saddam 17 days starting November 20 (that's until December 6 or December 7) to fully comply with the UN or else the attack will commence. One viewer has calculated that Saddam will attack Israel on December 15, so this is close. For my remarks in full, enter the Dream Window.
As to the following news report, you will have to be the judge. In the end, like me, you must choose to believe ... or not to believe.
By Pepe Escobar - THE ROVING EYE
Asia Times Online
November 15, 2002
At a time when a tape handed over to the Qatar-based Al-Jazeera television station has received widespread expose for its purported comments by Osama bin Laden in praise of recent terror events around the world, another al-Qaeda message released to the same station has received little coverage.
Al-Jazeera was granted an interview with one Mohammed al-Usuquf, allegedly al-Qaeda's number three. Al-Usuquf is said to be a doctor in physics and to hold a masters degree in international economics. A copy of the interview was sent to the prestigious Arab-language daily Al Quds Al Arabi, edited in London, but it was not printed.
Asia Times Online has obtained a copy of the interview, and reproduces excerpts here, with the caveat that the identity of the man has not yet been confirmed, nor has his membership within al-Qaeda.
Al-Usuquf says that al-Qaeda's Kuwaiti spokesman, Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, and bin Laden himself, suggested that he grant the interview. Bin Laden, he says, is "alive and healthy, along with his commanders Mohammed Atef, Khalid Shaik Mohammed and Mullah Omar".
Al-Usuquf starts by criticizing Washington's disrespect of the Kyoto Protocol on climatic change, the International Criminal Court and the Palestinian cause, as well as the "financial greed" engendering speculative gains over Third World countries. He also criticizes the manner in which America wastes wealth, like US$80 billion a year on gambling. "They [have] lost the notion of spirituality and only live in sin."
For this reason, America must be destroyed, and al-Usuquf insists that "aircraft carriers, nuclear submarines and spy satellites will be worthless in the next war".
Al-Qaeda, according to him, has 5,000 first rank operatives and around 20,000 all over the world. Of all the prisoners in the US, only "20 or 30" are al-Qaeda, and all of them "second-rank". Confirming Asia Times Online information, he swears that there are no first-rank prisoners in Guantanamo in Cuba. Al-Usuquf says, "We have more than 500 first-rank and 800 second-rank [operatives] inside the US." "First rank" are considered ones that have lived in the US for more than 10 years, most of them married with children. "They have an idea about the plans, and they are just waiting for a call." "Second-rank" operatives arrived in the past five years and "have no idea about the plans". They are all willing to die.
Al-Usuquf insists that September 11 "was just the beginning. It was a way to call the world's attention to what's going to happen." He then details a plan to destroy the US by "attacking the heart of what they consider the most important thing in the world: money".
"The American economy is an economy of false appearances," says al-Usuquf. "There's no real economic weight. American GNP is something around $10 trillion, but only 1 percent comes from agriculture, and only 24 percent from industry. So 75 percent of its GNP comes from services, and most of it is financial speculation. For someone who understands economics, and apparently America's Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill does not, or cannot, the US as a whole behaves like an immense dot.com, and dollars are its stocks. The value of stocks from a given company is directly proportional to its profitability. When a company only provides services, but does not produce goods, the value of its stocks depends on its credibility. What I'm saying is if US credibility is affected, its stocks - the US dollar - will fall at tremendous speed, and the whole American economy will collapse."
Al-Usuquf is absolutely positive, "because, in a smaller scale, this is exactly what big financial conglomerates do with Third World countries to collect profits in one month that no Swiss bank would guarantee in four to five years". Al-Usuquf says that al-Qaeda could do the same by "provoking a deficit of $50 to 70 trillion, the equivalent to five to seven years of the GNP of the US". How? By "destroying America's seven largest cities and some other measures". The means? "Atomic bombs." Al-Usuquf's most startling revelation is that the bombs "won't be launched, they are already there". "Seven nuclear heads have already been positioned on American soil, before September 11, and they are ready to be detonated. Before September 11, American security was a fiasco, and even later, if we needed, we could position the bombs there. They arrived through seaports, as normal cargo. A nuclear head is not bigger than a fridge, so it can easily be camouflaged as one. Thousands of containers arrive at a seaport every day, and even with very efficient security, it's impossible to check and examine each one of them."
Al-Usuquf says that the bombs were bought on the black market: five from the former USSR and two from Pakistan. The five Russian heads "are from T-3 missiles, also known as RD-107, and their power is around 100 kilotons each, that is five times the Hiroshima bomb. The Pakistani ones are less powerful, something around 10 kilotons each."
Each of the Russian bombs would have cost around $200 million. Al-Qaeda was able to raise the money "because we have many sponsors. Many countries sponsor us, and also some very rich people." And not all of these are Arab countries. "Some European countries as well are also interested in the fall of the US." As to the "rich people", they are "people who are also tired of seeing the US bleeding the rest of the world."
And Iraq's Saddam Hussein, says Al-Usuquf, is not one of these people, "but just a collaborator, represented by Abdul Tawab Hawaish, his vice prime minister and responsible for Iraq's arms program".
Al-Usuquf says that the bombs cannot be detected by US authorities. "Even if they are old, they were modernized and are very well hidden. Even if they were located, they have autodetonation mechanisms in case something or someone gets close. Even an electromagnetic pulse is not capable of deactivating them." The bombs allegedly cannot be detected because "they are enveloped in thick layers of lead". They could be detonated "by various methods - cellphone call, radio frequency, seismic shock or by their regressive clock".
Al-Usuquf details the whole plan. "First, one head would be detonated, which would cause the deaths of 800,000 to 1 million people and a chaos never seen before. During this chaos, two or three planes, which are now disassembled inside barns near empty roads in the US countryside, would take off in suicide missions to pulverize another two or three big American cities with chemicals. Once the disease was identified, all seaports and airports would be quarantined. Land borders would also be closed. No plane, boat or car would enter or leave the US. This would be total chaos." The first target would be the city "that would offer the best conditions, for example bright sky and winds of eight or more miles an hour blowing towards the center of the country, so radioactive dust can contaminate the largest possible area".
This attack would not knock out the US, recognizes al-Usuquf, "But the process would be initiated. As with the World Trade Center, it would be just a question of time for the whole economic structure to be turned to dust. If the objectives are reached with one bomb and diseases, probably we will save the lives of other people, but it's risky, and probably six more bombs will be detonated, one a week, and more attacks with chemical weapons will be launched." According to estimates made by al-Usuquf "and Ayman al-Zawahiri", al-Qaeda's number 2, about 15 million people would die, victims of the bombs and the radiation. Among those contaminated by diseases, "25 percent will die, a figure around more than 5 million, plus many others due to the chaos anddisorder".
Al-Usuquf does not fear an American military response. "Even if five or 10 cities are chosen at random to be destroyed, it will still be a small price to pay. The problem is that the economic despair will be so great that even if it saves [money] by not using weapons, American liquidity will be near zero, and the US will make more money selling a Nimitz-class aircraft carrier to Turkey or Italy for $5 billion, because they will urgently need to recapitalize. But it will be too late. Moreover, what will remain of an American soldier's morale to fight knowing that his whole family died and his country ceased to exist? To fight for what?"
The world economy would not collapse, says al-Usuquf, although "in the beginning, it will be very difficult. But without the US the world will soon rise in a more just and fraternal manner. Nothing can stop the plan."
And whatever America does, "it's too late". When will the attack begin? "I can't tell."
October 2, 2002
1:00 a.m. Eastern
A new book by an FBI consultant on international terrorism says Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida terrorist network purchased 20 suitcase nuclear weapons from former KGB agents in 1998 for $30 million. The book,"Al Qaeda: Brotherhood of Darkness," by Paul L. Williams, also says this deal was one of at least three in the last decade in which al-Qaida purchased small nuclear weapons or weapons-grade nuclear uranium.
Williams says bin Laden's search for nuclear weapons began in 1988 when he hired a team of five nuclear scientists from Turkmenistan. These were former employees at the atomic reactor in Iraq before it was destroyed by Israel, Williams says. The team's project was the development of a nuclear reactor that could be used "to transform a very small amount of material that could be placed in a package smaller than a backpack."
"By 1990 bin Laden had hired hundreds of atomic scientists from the former Soviet Union for $2,000 a month an amount far greater that their wages in the former Soviet republics," Williams writes. "They worked in a highly sophisticated and well-fortified laboratory in Kandahar, Afghanistan." This work continued throughout the 1990s, the author says.
In 1993, according to the book, Jamal Ahmed al-Fadl, a bin Laden agent who turned into a Central Intelligence Agency source, purchased for al-Qaida a cylinder of weapons-grade uranium from a former Sudanese government minister who represented businessmen from South Africa. The purchase price was $1.5 million and the uranium was tested in Cyprus and transported to Afghanistan.
Al-Fadl reported that, at the time of this transfer, al-Qaida was already working on a deal for suitcase nukes developed for the KGB. Williams says the Russian Mafia made another mysterious deal with "Afghani Arabs" in search of nuclear weapons in 1996. The Russians who sold the material now live in New York.
Then again in 1998, Mamdouh Mahmud Salim was arrested in Munich and charged with acting as an al-Qaida agent to purchase highly enriched uranium from a German laboratory.
That same year, according to Williams, bin Laden succeeded in buying the 20 suitcase nukes from Chechen Mafia figures, including former KGB agents. The $30 million deal was partly cash and partly heroin with a street value of $700 million.
"After the devices were obtained, they were placed in the hands of Arab nuclear scientists who, federal sources say, 'were probably trained at American universities,'" says Williams.
Though the devices were designed only to be operated by Soviet SPETZNAZ personnel, or special forces, al-Qaida scientists came up with a way of hot-wiring the bombs to the bodies of would-be martyrs, according to the book.
Suitcase nukes are not really suitcases at all, but suitcase-size nuclear devices. The weapons can be fired from grenade or rocket launchers or detonated by timers. A bomb placed in the center of a metropolitan area would be capable of instantly killing hundreds of thousands and exposing millions of others to lethal radiation.
Yossef Bodansky, author of "Bin Laden: The Man Who Declared War on America" and the U.S. Congress' top terrorism expert, concurs that bin Laden has already succeeded in purchasing suitcase nukes. Former Russian security chief Alexander Lebed also testified to Congress that 40 nuclear suitcases disappeared from the Russian arsenal after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Williams quotes an anonymous federal official as saying: "The question isn't whether bin Laden has nuclear weapons, it's when he will try to use them."
In addition to the suitcase nukes, Williams reports that al-Qaida has also obtained chemical weapons from North Korea and Iraq. Williams says the FBI confirmed to him that Saddam Hussein provided bin Laden with a "gift" of anthrax spores.
Williams says al-Qaida also includes in its arsenal plague viruses, including ebola and salmonella, from the former Soviet Union and Iraq, samples of botulism biotoxin from the Czech Republic, and sarin from Iraq and North Korea.
From John King (CNN Washington)
Tuesday, September 24, 2002 Posted: 1:06 PM EDT (1706 GMT)
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Citing disruptions in the al Qaeda terrorist network, the Bush administration Tuesday scaled back the government's terrorist threat assessment to "elevated" from its previous level of "high."
The decision, approved by President Bush, means the country's color-coded alert status will drop from orange back to yellow, the midpoint of the scale, after two weeks of the higher threat alert that kicked in around the anniversary of the September 11 terror attacks.
The decision, according to Attorney General John Ashcroft and Homefront Security Adviser Tom Ridge, was "based on a review of intelligence and an assessment of threats by the intelligence community, as well as the passing of the anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks and the disruption of potential terrorist operations in the United States and abroad.
"Contributing to this decision were the recent arrests of six men in suburban Buffalo who are alleged to have provided material support to al Qaeda," they said. "In addition, senior al Qaeda operatives have been captured in Pakistan and other al Qaeda members have been apprehended in Singapore and Yemen. These actions have disrupted terrorist operations by neutralizing certain senior al Qaeda leadership and removing other terrorist planners and operatives."
Bush signed off on a recommendation to go to yellow alert status after receiving his morning intelligence briefing, administration officials said.
Administration sources stressed that even at yellow alert, the government believes there is an elevated or significant risk of terrorist attack. "The lowering of the threat level is not a signal to government, law enforcement or citizens that the danger of a terrorist attack is passed," Ashcroft and Ridge said in a joint statement.
"Detained al Qaeda operatives have informed U.S. intelligence and law enforcement officials that al Qaeda will wait until it believes Americans are less vigilant and less prepared before it will strike again."
14 September 2002
The searches that Geiger counter-packing FBI agents conducted on the Liberian-registered freighter Palermo Senator that steamed into New York on Monday, September 9, left no doubt that the United States has strong suspicions or credible information - that Iraq or the al Qaeda terrorist organization or both - have nuclear weapons. Only recently have US port authorities taken to examining incoming merchant vessels for radiation.
On September 12, members of the US Nuclear Emergency Security Team NEST and Navy SEALS were still clambering over the decks and holds of the Palermo Senator, which was marooned off-shore, south of Long Island, guarded by Coast Guard vessels and US Navy warships. They faced the task of searching through 2,600 20-ft-long containers.
Suspicion was first aroused when unexplained noises issued from several cargo holds after The Palermo Senator docked in New York. The ship was diverted to Port Newark, New Jersey, to be checked for stowaways. When low radiation traces were detected, it was escorted six miles (10 kilometers) out to sea for further examination.
DEBKA-Net-Weeklys counter-terrorism and maritime sources report that US authorities became alarmed when they learned that the ship had taken on its container cargo for the United States at the Italian hub port of Gioia Tauro on August 25. This port, situated on the southern Italian coast near the Straits of Messina, has long been on the high risk watch list of US counter-terrorism agencies and the US Coast Guard. Small container ships from the Black Sea, Mediterranean,Middle East, North Africa and Italy use the port, which has the distinction of having been revealed as the preferred transit point for al Qaeda fighters, senior commanders, weapons and nuclear, chemical -- and possibly biological materials on the move.
On November 30, 2001, DEBKA-Net-Weekly broke the story that, a month earlier, a 43-year-old Egyptian stowaway named Rigk Amid Farid had been caught at Gioia Touro port aboard the German vessel Ipex Emperor. He was ensconced in a container that had been converted into a luxurious suite complete with a comfortable bed, small kitchen, cellular telephones and enough food, water and batteries for three weeks. Canadian passports and entry permits for security men and mechanics to New Yorks Kennedy airport, Newark airport and OHare airport in Chicago were also discovered in his suite.
An investigation showed the container-suite had been loaded on the Ipex Emperor at EgyptsPort Said and painted over to disguise it as the property of the giant Danish Maersk Sealand container company, which it replaced.
With Europe still asleep at the wheel five weeks after the September 11 attacks in New York and Washington, an Italian court ordered the stowaway released on bail. He disappeared without a trace, denying authorities a golden opportunity to discover how al Qaedas human cargo container scheme worked.
When the same sort of
unexplained noises emitted from containers aboard thePalermo
Senator, the FBI agents first thought was that they had
finally found the 40-man al Qaeda terrorist squad reported
heading for Los Angeles by ship and never traced.
The decision to order the ship to Port Newark and call up NEST was taken to ward off any risk of a mega-terror attack on New York during the 9/11 commemoration ceremonies.
September 14, 2002
Pyotr Simonenko, the leader of the Ukrainian Communist Party released a sensational statement on Wednesday. In his words, there were 2400 nuclear warheads in Ukraine, although the export of only 2200 of them was officially documented. Simonenko claimed that nobody knows where 200 Soviet-era nukes in Ukraine are.
The official reaction followed the next day, but it was a rather weak one. Deputy chief of the Ukrainian Army Headquarters, Nikolay Goncharenko, declared that Simonenkoâs statement regarding the disappearance of the nuclear weapons from the territory of Ukraine was absolutely groundless. The high-ranking military official stated that all weapons of the trilateral agreement concerning the execution of the contract for strategic offensive arms had been handed over to Russia. Ok, but how come the leader of Ukrainian communists counted 200 nukes? It seems that the nuke scandal will continue.
September 14, 2002 Posted: 2:49 PM EDT (1849 GMT)
BUFFALO, New York (CNN) -- Five men arrested Friday night in a raid on an apartment complex in a Buffalo, New York, suburb were indicted on charges of providing material support to terrorists, the Justice Department announced Saturday.
Deputy Attorney General Larry Thompson said the men all trained at an al Qaeda camp in Afghanistan and said the arrests "disrupted an al Qaeda-trained terrorist cell on American soil." He said John Walker Lindh, the so-called American Taliban, trained at the same camp. The men were arraigned Saturday afternoon in a Buffalo federal courthouse.
FBI agents arrested the five men -- all U.S. citizens -- in a raid on an apartment building in Lackawanna, a city of 20,000 people just south of Buffalo, arresting suspects and carrying off boxes of evidence. If convicted of the charges, the men could face up to 15 years in prison.
FBI Director Robert Mueller said there was no evidence that the men were planning any attacks. "We do not fully know the intentions of those charged today," Mueller said.
Earlier, Mayor John Kuryak said he had been informed about six months ago that federal officials were investigating possible terrorists in his city. Kuryak said his first reaction upon hearing the news was "disbelief." "We just want to reassure everybody in the city that they're safe," he said. Thompson and Mueller said that members of Lackawanna's Muslim community provided "extraordinary cooperation" to their investigation.
The bust comes on the heels of the capture of Ramzi Binalshibh, one of the al Qaeda operatives most wanted by the U.S. government. Pakistani officials said they are questioning the Yemeni-born Binalshibh.
Binalshibh recently acknowledged playing a role in the planning of the September 11 terrorist hijackings. In an audio message played Thursday on the Arabic news network Al-Jazeera, Binalshibh said he had hoped to be one of the hijackers but could not obtain an entry visa into the United States.
September 10, 2002 Posted: 5:04 PM EDT (2104 GMT)
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- An abundance of credible intelligence information prompted the Office of Homeland Security to raise its nationwide terror state of alert Tuesday for the first time since March, U.S. Attorney John Ashcroft said. "At this time, most intelligence focuses on possible attacks on U.S. interests overseas," Ashcroft said. No targets inside the United States were mentioned.
Ashcroft said President Bush approved recommendations from administration officials to increase the alert level from code yellow to code orange -- signifying a high risk of terror attacks -- after intelligence received information from the debriefings of a senior al Qaeda official.
Al Qaeda cells based in Asia "have been accumulating explosives since approximately January 2002 in preparation for these attacks," Ashcroft said, noting that the potential targets could include the transportation and energy sectors and facilities that are recognized symbols of the United States. The United States has closed several embassies and consulates in Asia as a result of the intelligence.
Ashcroft also said intelligence from the Middle East pointed to possible suicide attacks on U.S. interests, but no targets were known. "The threats that we have heard recently remind us of the pattern of threats we heard prior to September 11," Bush said at the Afghanistan Embassy in Washington.
Bush said the threats were being taken seriously and that Americans "just need to know their government" will be on higher alert to protect them.
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld ordered Tuesday that air defense systems around Washington be armed with anti-aircraft missiles. The unarmed surface-to-air missile systems were deployed at military installations around the city Monday as part of an exercise.
The Pentagon has raised the terrorist alert level for U.S. military forces around the world, including putting troops in Bahrain at the highest alert level, condition Delta. Bahrain is the headquarters of the U.S. 5th Fleet, which operates in the Persian Gulf.
In the U.S. Central Command -- an area that includes the Persian Gulf region -- almost all facilities have been moved to Force Protection Condition Charlie, the second highest level of alert.
In the Pacific Command's area of responsibility the alert level went from Alpha to Bravo, the third highest level. In the European command the alert remained at Bravo.
Despite the heightened alert, Ashcroft urged citizens to go about their daily lives. "We are not recommending that events be canceled, nor do we recommend that individuals change domestic travel plans," Ashcroft said. "We ask that Americans, both at home and abroad, mark the anniversary of last year's savage attacks with a heightened awareness of their environment and the activities occurring around them."
"Let's make sure that every individual citizen who sees something suspicious reports it," said Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge. Ridge encouraged parents to talk to their children about September 11 and "the possibility that those who would do us harm may choose that date ... to do us harm again."
Bush made decision based on 'chatter'
Senior U.S. officials said Bush decided to raise the threat level after being told there was a significant increase in communication among terrorists and suspected terrorists -- including a specific threat against U.S. interests overseas and discussion about the anniversary of the September 11 attacks.
CIA Director George Tenet told the president and other top administration officials at a meeting Monday night he was certain a good deal of the "chatter" was coming from the al Qaeda network, officials said. "I would say it was more credible than specific," said one official familiar with the discussions. "Credible in that it is coming from known entities." Later in the day, Tenet, who earlier gave congressional leaders a classified briefing on Iraq, returned to Capitol Hill to provide House Intelligence Committee members with more information on the latest terrorist alert.
U.S. intelligence officials told CNN the al Qaeda source has been held by an another, unidentified, government for about two months. "He only recently started to talk. We compared his information with other intelligence and believe it is legitimate," said one official.
Cheney at secure, secret location
Because of general security precautions put in place in advance of the September 11 anniversary, Vice President Dick Cheney is spending nights this week at a secure location, administration officials said Tuesday. There is no evidence of specific threat against Cheney or Bush, the officials said. Cheney canceled a speech he was to deliver Tuesday night in Washington, and it was still to be decided whether he would join Bush at three September 11 commemoration events in Washington.
Orange alert triggers more security
Since March, the United States has been on a yellow alert, which indicates a significant risk of terror attacks.
The warning system has five levels, starting with green -- the lowest alert level -- and followed by blue, yellow, orange and red. The latter is the highest alert level, indicating a severe threat. Each code triggers specific actions by federal agencies and state and local governments.
Under an orange alert, security officials are to take additional precautions at public events, prepare to work at an alternate site, and coordinate security efforts with armed forces or law enforcement agencies.
White House press secretary Ari Fleischer said at his daily news briefing that "the American people need to live their lives. That's the best thing the American people can do to send a signal to anybody who would do us harm."
New York City has been on high alert since the September 11 attacks. Top-level police sources said they have no information that would lead them to step-up the city's alert level to red.
Transportation Department spokesman Leonardo Alcivar said "the TSA has fully deployed all air marshals domestically and internationally."
In addition, all airports are in close contact with state and local law enforcement. All TSA personnel at airports were at "heightened alert status," taking a closer look at passengers and baggage.
Alcivar said the U.S. Coast Guard has taken similar steps to heighten its alert status but that the threat did not involve U.S. targets.
John O. Edwards
Monday, July 15, 2002
FEMA, the federal agency charged with disaster preparedness, is engaged in a crash effort to prepare for multiple mass destruction attacks on U.S. cities - including the creation of sprawling temporary cities to handle millions of displaced persons, NewsMax has learned.
FEMA is readying for nuclear, biological and chemical attacks against U.S. cities, including the possibility of multiple attacks with mass destruction weapons.
The agency has already notified vendors, contractors and consultants that it needs to be prepared to handle the logistics of aiding millions of displaced Americans who will flee from urban areas that may be attacked.
The agency plans to create emergency, makeshift cities that could house hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of Americans who may have to flee their urban homes if their cities are attacked. Ominously, FEMA has been given a deadline of having the cities ready to go by January 2003 in about six months.
A source familiar with the deadline believes the effort is related to making the U.S. prepared for counterattacks if the U.S. invades Iraq sometime next year.
FEMA is currently seeking bids from major real estate management firms, and plans to name three firms in the near future to handle the logistics and planning for these temporary cities. FEMA officials have told these firms they already have tents and trailers ordered. The tents and trailers would provide shelter for displaced populations.
The real estate firms are expected to provide engineers and architects to lay the plans for emergency infrastructure needs, such as sewage and electricity.
May 21, 2002 Posted: 6:22 PM EDT (2222 GMT)
(CNN) -- Citing an "abundance of caution," the FBI has alerted New York authorities to be ready for possible terrorist attacks against city landmarks including the Statue of Liberty and the Brooklyn Bridge, sources said. The information was gathered from detainees, but sources said the threats had not been corroborated. The information did not include specifics, such as when an attack could occur. In a statement Tuesday, New York Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said city officials "are taking all necessary precautions."
Morning traffic at the Brooklyn Bridge was scrutinized carefully Tuesday. Security was stepped up at other bridges as well. Tunnels in and out of Manhattan have been a focus of the heightened state of alert since September 11.
The warning came as the FBI agent who wrote a memo last summer warning that members of Osama bin Laden's terror network were training at U.S. flight schools prepared to meet with lawmakers on Capitol Hill. Ken Williams -- the author of the so-called Phoenix memo -- and FBI Director Robert Mueller will talk behind closed doors with members of the Senate Judiciary Committee...
FBI warns apartment managers
U.S. officials said Monday that intelligence services recently picked up al Qaeda discussions about packing explosives in apartments to topple tall buildings. The officials said the purported plot was learned from diverse sources. The "chatter," as it's called in the intelligence community, resulted in the FBI asking apartment owners and property managers to report any suspicious activity.
The FBI did not issue a formal alert or advisory because the information is "uncorroborated" and was not specific to any city or region, one official said. "The discussion was about renting some apartments, packing them with explosives and bringing some tall buildings down," another official said. The official said that as far as he knew the plan had "not gotten beyond the talking stage" -- a sentiment echoed in the FBI memo to property managers...
FBI director: Suicide bombers 'inevitable'
Mueller predicted Monday there would be "another terrorist attack" in the United States. "We will not be able to stop it. It's something we all live with," he said in comments to the National Association of District Attorneys in suburban Washington. The FBI director also called it "inevitable" that the United States would one day see pedestrian suicide bombers.
The State Department on Tuesday released its annual report "Patterns of Global Terrorism." The report cites excellent cooperation among the United States and its allies since September 11. The report identifies seven countries as state sponsors of terrorism: Iran, Iraq, North Korea, Cuba, Syria, Sudan, and Libya...
March 20, 2002
WorldNetDaily -- He predicted the Sept. 11 attacks, and now Islam expert Dr. Robert Morey warns there are three small nuclear devices within the U.S. on standby for more terror, according to Assist News Service (ANS). I have Middle Eastern friends throughout the U.S. who continually feed me information as to what the terrorists are up to, Dr. Morey told ANS. I, in turn, feed that information to the FBI and Naval Intelligence....
Morey claims a good track record with his gathered intelligence, telling ANS I've been right so many times the FBI showed up at my house, suspicious as to whether or not I was somehow involved because I knew too much. I simply pointed out to them they don't have their ear to the ground in the Middle Eastern community.
I told them several years ago that Muslim Pakistanis brought into the U.S. a small nuclear device called a 'dirty bomb' through Niagara Falls out of Canada, Morey says. They are driving this nuclear device in the back of a van or a car waiting for Bin Laden to tell them when it's time to set it off. Morey received the information through Pakistani Christian sources, according to ANS.
My contacts now within the intelligence community have leaked to me it is feared there are three such devices in the U.S., Morey added.
March 1, 2002
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Nearly six months after the September 11 attacks, a backup government of federal agency officials is on standby at bunker locations outside Washington as a precaution against a catastrophic strike on the nation's capital, a senior official told CNN Friday. The secretive operation is based on Cold War protocols and its guidelines and infrastructure are the subject of urgent review within the administration to bring "continuity of government" planning up to modern-day needs and capabilities, the federal official said.
Vice President Dick Cheney had been at "a secure and undisclosed" location for large portions of time since the terrorist strikes on New York and the Pentagon, precautions that were part of the bunker government procedures. But while Cheney has resumed a schedule that is "almost normal," as the senior official put it, the bunker government of "several dozen, roughly 100" senior government workers remains in place, using two secure locations in the eastern United States that were constructed for such a contingency.
Because Bush has decided to leave the operation in place, agencies including the White House and top civilian Cabinet departments have rotated personnel involved, and are discussing ways to staff such a contingency operation under the assumption it will be in place indefinitely, this official said. "We are learning a lot from just putting this in place, and we are adjusting to that," the official said.
Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, D-South Dakota, said Friday he can't say much about the plan. "We have not been informed at all about the role of the shadow government or its whereabouts or what particular responsibilities they have and when they would kick in, but we look forward to work with the administration to get additional information on that."
He was asked if there was a similar plan for Congress. "I don't know if I'd call it a survival plan, but there is a plan that would be implemented were we to be in any jeopardy," Daschle said at a news conference Friday. "Precautions have been taken and arrangements have been made to move the work of the Congress to another location. And that has been in place for some time and refined over time."
The lessons, according to this official, included a dramatic need to improve computer and other communications equipment and capabilities at the secure locations. Also, several departments are reviewing legal requirements to make sure those serving in the bunker government have the statutory or regulatory authority to carry out key government functions should contact with Washington somehow be severed.
The guidelines for such a precaution date back to Cold War preparations for the prospect of a devastating nuclear attack on the United States, and were last significantly revised in the Reagan administration. Bush triggered the precautions in the hours after the September 11 strikes, and has left them in place because of continuing U.S. intelligence suggesting a possible threat.
Concerns that al Qaeda could have gained access to a crude nuclear device "were a major factor" in the president's decision, the official said. "The threat of some form of catastrophic event is the trigger," this official said. This same official went on to say that the U.S. had no confirmation -- "and no solid evidence" -- that al Qaeda had such a nuclear device and also acknowledged that the "consensus" among top U.S. officials was that the prospect was "quite low."
Still, the officials said Bush and other top White House officials including Cheney were adamant that the government take precautions designed to make sure government functions ranging from civil defense to transportation and agricultural production could be managed in the event Washington was the target of a major strike. "And to be honest as time passes this has also been a useful learning experience as to how some of this is grossly outdated and needs to be fixed," the official said.
Bush has placed Chief of Staff Andrew Card and Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge in charge of the operation and the parallel effort to improve the communications and other infrastructure issues, the senior official said.
The Pentagon has a separate operation to ensure continuity of operations; Bush visited one of its secure "command and control" bunkers -- at an Air Force Base in Nebraska -- as he took a careful route back to Washington from Florida on September 11 as the "continuity of government" protocols were first implemented and Cheney took the lead role in Washington, working from a secure bunker deep beneath the White House complex.
Thu Jan 31, 5:48 PM ET By H. JOSEF HEBERT, Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON (AP) - Acting on a tip from an al-Qaida operative, the government alerted nuclear power plants last week that terrorists may be planning an airplane attack on a power reactor, government officials said Thursday.
The alert, sent by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, said "the attack was already planned" and three people "already on the ground" were trying to recruit non-Arabs to take part, a government source said.
"We do not discuss the details of any of our (security) advisories," said NRC spokesman William Beecher. He said that since the Sept. 11 attacks more than 20 advisories have been sent involving potential threats.
The alert stemmed from information obtained during questioning of an "al-Qaida senior operative," prompting the FBI to issue a warning to its field offices, said one government source, who spoke on condition of not being identified further.
On Jan 23, the NRC followed up with an advisory to operators of all 103 commercial nuclear reactors at 63 sites across the country, emphasizing that the information had not been corroborated or otherwise authenticated.
The advisory said the al-Qaida operative had told the FBI "there would be a second airline attack" in the United States and "the plan is to fly a commercial aircraft into a nuclear power plant."
The FBI had been told that "three individuals were on the ground ... recruiting non-Arabs to take part in the attack" and they would choose the reactor to be targeted, the advisory said.
"The plan would include diverting the mission to any tall building if a military aircraft intercepts the plane," said the advisory, according to a source familiar it.
Security at nuclear power plants was increased immediately after the New York and Washington attacks, although federal and industry officials have acknowledged that the threat of an attack using a commercial airliner has never been specifically addressed.
The Jan. 23 advisory heightened industry awareness, but did not prompt any dramatic, new security measures.
Beecher said the nation's nuclear power plants have been "on the highest level of alert" since the Sept. 11 attacks and that has not changed.
Dave Eberhart, NewsMax.com
Monday, Nov. 19, 2001
Shavkh Hisham Kabbani, founder of the Islamic Supreme Council of America (ISCA), stands by and renews his 1999 warning that brainwashed Islamic extremists have infiltrated mosques, Muslim student and community groups, and have bought more than 20 nuclear warheads carried in suitcases.
In his infamous January 1999 address to the U.S. Department of State, Kabbani cautioned officials about imminent danger to America posed by nuclear-armed Islamic extremists. He further described 5,000 suicide bombers being trained by bin Laden in Afghanistan ready to move to any part of the world.
In a post-Sept. 11 pronouncement, ISCA said recently: "Shavkh Hisham Kabbani warned of the dangers of mass terrorism to American cities, and he was brushed aside as a dangerous alarmist. Muslim organizations are no doubt beginning to regret their treatment of him.
Part of that strident alarm sounded by Kabbani in 1999: "We want to tell people to be careful, that something major might hit quickly because they [Islamic extremists] were able to buy more than 20 atomic nuclear heads from some of the mafia in the ex-Soviet Union ...
"Through the universities, there will be the most danger. If the nuclear atomic warheads reach these universities, you dont know what these students are going to do, because their way of thinking is brainwashed, limited and narrow-minded.
Kabbani, an American citizen of Lebanese descent, holds a degree in Islamic jurisprudence, which authorizes him to give legal rulings. He has written several papers and reports on Jihad, the history and evolution of extremism, and radical Islamic groups. His stock has risen considerably since Sept. 11. He has been appearing regularly on TV and doing high-level briefings. Last month he briefed the Senate Foreign Relations Committee staff on Uzbekistan.
ISCA, which features the entirety of the 1999 speech on its Web site as a sort of Gettysburg Address, regularly culls the news for any and all clippings that vindicate or corroborate Kabbanis dire warnings.
A recent case in point: the State Departments rigorous new screening of Arab and Muslim men seeking student visas. More obvious: Osama bin Ladens recent boast that he controls chemical and nuclear weapons.
Hallmarked by a long flowing beard, robe and headdress, Kabanni is a heavyset man with intense eyes set in a friendly face that is often smiling. He admits being hurt by the alienation he has suffered since 1999 at the hands of Muslim groups, including Council on American Islamic Relations and Muslim Students Association. At one point he received FBI protection.
However, years after his controversial warning speech, Kabbanis resolve remains, and he continues to speak out in ways sometimes unpopular with some fellow Muslims. An example is his recent plea to Muslims to inform on those who might have any knowledge of extremist cells and activities that would help investigators:
"I urge all our members of the Islamic Supreme Council of America and many Muslims, that I know in the United States and abroad, to come with every tip they have, with every information that they have, in order to tell the different agencies about it, and inform them as soon as possible, in order to avoid any harassment for the Muslim community.
An under-fire Kabbani explained in 1999 exactly what he meant when he told the State Department that 80% of American mosques had been taken over by extremists. His point, he said, was that a "few extremists were taking over leadership posts, despite a "majority of moderate Muslims, thus "influencing 80% of the mosques.
Today, he sticks even closer to his guns and adds embellishing data: Kabanni visited 114 mosques in the United States. Ninety of them were mostly exposed, and I say exposed, to extreme or radical ideology, he said.
Kibbani bases his exposure conclusion on speeches, board members and materials published. One tell-tale sign of an extremist mosque, said Kabanni, was an unhealthy focus on the Palestinian struggle. When not embroiled in the never-ending fallout from his speech, Kabanni fights what he likes to style his personal "holy war" or "jihad. Following ancient teachings, he divides jihad into four kinds: "jihad by the heart, jihad by the tongue, jihad by the hand and jihad by the sword.
Kibannis jihad by the tongue: "Removing all misconceptions and stereotypes in clarifying the image of Islam held by non-Muslims, building a trusting relationship and working with them in ways that accord with their way of thinking, are all primary forms of jihad. He added: "Islam doesnt teach terrorism, or allow you to kill anyone. Islam tells you to toss a flower on your enemy in order to bring him to your side, not to fight with him.
Kabbani wants to be a voice against terrorism and ideological extremists who use Muslims in America as a vehicle for exploiting foreign political causes.
All this is tough on a quiet scholar who typically goes into seclusion for 40 days each year. "When I was younger, I used to do it for six or nine months at a stretch. That's training your spiritual power and your energy."
Thursday, Nov. 15, 2001
United Press International (UPI)
WASHINGTON Vice President Dick Cheney said Wednesday evening that he and President Bush are kept apart because the United States fears a decapitation attack by terrorists armed with weapons of mass destruction. "You've got people able to organize a conspiracy, able to come into the country and perhaps smuggle weapons of mass destruction in with them and threaten, in effect, not just one individual, but threaten the government and conceivably be able to try to decapitate the federal government," Cheney told CBS' "Sixty Minutes II."
The comments mark the growing concern in the Bush administration over the possible use by terrorists of either radiological bombs or small, portable nuclear weapons, several administration officials told United Press International.
Bin Laden's Nuclear Plans
In Afghanistan, a reporter for a British newspaper found what the Times called al-Qaeda plans for an atomic bomb similar to the ones the United States dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki more than 56 years ago. The reporter discovered partially burned documents in a house in Kabul that residents said had been an al-Qaeda safe house. The plans written in Urdu, Arabic, English and German give detailed instructions on how to use TNT to force together enough uranium to create critical mass and an explosion, the Times reported. Experts said the technical expertise and precision necessary to produce an atomic bomb most likely is beyond the terrorists hiding in a war-torn country. Western experts and intelligence officials have said Osama bin Laden has been seeking nuclear material to make explosives for at least the last five years.
U.S. groups created to respond to nuclear threats such as the Department of Energy's Nuclear Emergency Search Team (NEST) and the Pentagon's Joint Tactical Operations Team are "in stand-by mode, on major alert," according to one administration source. A former senior U.S. intelligence official added: "The level of concern here is very high."
Last week, bin Laden told a Pakistani journalist that he had chemical and nuclear weapons. While many U.S. experts scoffed at the claim, even the possibility of it being true has proved profoundly unsettling to Washington's major policy makers, according to several sources. "It's hard to say for certain that bin Laden has no nuclear devices when we do know he has had multiple sources over many years for acquiring them," said Peter Probst, a terrorism analyst formerly with the Pentagon's Office of Special Operations Low-Intensity Conflict. But Larry Johnson, a former deputy director in the State Department's Office of Counter-terrorism and a onetime CIA employee, cautioned, "Americans are needlessly scaring themselves" about the possibility of a nuclear terrorist attack. "There is a ratcheting up of concern being pushed by certain individuals" in the Bush White House, he said.
While most administration officials said they believe that bin Laden has not been able to acquire a finished nuclear weapon, they also said they did not rule it out. Nor did they rule out the possibility that bin Laden had been able to acquire enriched uranium and hired rogue Russian weapon designers to fashion it into a "workable fission device," in the words of one U.S. intelligence expert.
But there is even greater concern about a radiological bomb a conventional explosive device containing radioactive material which could contaminate a city center and make it uninhabitable for dozens of years, as well as potentially killing thousands of people. A former senior CIA official said, "Detonating a conventional bomb that would strew radioactive waste around would make a terrible mess in downtown Washington, even if no one were killed."
According to U.S. intelligence officials, administration concern is increasingly centering on the nuclear arsenal and weapons facilities of the former Soviet Union, which many experts believe were and still are inadequately protected, making it possible for rogue nations or terrorists using criminal organizations, such as the Chechen mafia, to steal nuclear weapons-grade materials, hire corrupt Russian nuclear technicians, or even buy finished Russian fission weapons.
According to published reports, the countries of the former Soviet Union have 123 sites that house more than 1.100 metric tons of weapons-grade, highly enriched uranium and 160 metric tons of plutonium. Four kilograms are all that are needed to build a nuclear device, analysts said.
Jim Ford, a former Department of Energy intelligence official who dealt with nuclear smuggling, said that in 1994, there were deep concerns about security at Russian nuclear facilities: "There were a number of incidents where Russian technicians or bureaucrats smuggled out materials and sold them in places like Munich or Prague."
He added, "The big, big fear is that nuclear weapons have been sold." Stefan Leader, president of Eagle Research Group, Inc., and a terrorism specialist for a government agency, said that theft and trade of Russian nuclear materials "is an old story, but very worrying because security was so poor in many places and the Russians were in desperate straits."
DOD's Cooperative Threat Reduction Program, known as the Nunn-Lugar program, has spent $4 billion to render harmless 5,708 nuclear warheads, destroy 483 surface-to-air missiles, and turn to junk other Russian weapons systems. Nunn-Lugar and other programs run by the energy and defense departments aim at reducing the threat from former Soviet installations.
Advocates of these programs such as Rose Gottemoeller, who served as assistant secretary of Energy for non-proliferation and national security during the Clinton administration admit that since December 1991, when the Soviet Union dissolved into 14 independent states, with thousands of nuclear weapons, there has been no comprehensive and reliable inventory made of such weapons. Gottemoeller also concedes that improved security had been installed at only 55% of former Soviet Union nuclear sites.
Peter Probst and several U.S. intelligence officials voiced the fear that bin Laden has used contacts in the Russian mafia or the Chechen mafia to broker a deal that brought him a Russian nuclear weapon. U.S. intelligence officials said only that they were aware of reports of efforts by bin Laden to acquire such weapons.
An expert in nuclear smuggling and a government consultant to DOE on the subject, Rensselaer Lee, discounted the widespread belief that most vendors on the black market are selling junk or have been stopped by sting operations: "I think behind the visible market of nuclear smugglers, you have a shadow market that's well-organized and involves nation-states."
Probst and Lee believe that bin Laden has approached Iran or Iraq and attempted to purchase weapons-grade materials from them. "In terms of a nuclear buyer, we live in a post-proliferation environment," Lee said. "The proliferation of these nuclear weapons is a reality. Trying to stop fissile experts from Russia from selling their knowledge or materials is like trying to stop cocaine coming in from Colombia. We catch only about 25% of Colombia's product."
The real question is "what are we going to do for damage control?" he said.
Thursday, 15 November, 2001, 10:31 GMT
(BBC News) - The BBC's Pashto service has interviewed Taleban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar. The BBC asked the questions through a Taleban intermediary over satellite phone. He passed them on to the Taleban leader through a hand-held radio and then attached the phone's receiver to the radio for Mullah Omar's answers.
(The following transcript of the interview deals with Omar's threat to bring about the possible nuclear annihilation of major US cities - MM)
What do you think of the current situation in Afghanistan?
You (the BBC) and American puppet radios have created concern. But the current situation in Afghanistan is related to a bigger cause - that is the destruction of America. And on the other hand, the screening of Taleban [for those who are or are not loyal] is also in process. We will see these things happen within a short while.
What do you mean by the destruction of America? Do you have a concrete plan to implement this?
The plan is going ahead and, God willing, it is being implemented. But it is a huge task, which is beyond the will and comprehension of human beings. If God's help is with us, this will happen within a short period of time; keep in mind this prediction.
Osama Bin Laden has reportedly threatened that he would use nuclear, chemical or biological weapons against America. Is your threat related to his?
This is not a matter of weapons. We are hopeful for God's help. The real matter is the extinction of America. And, God willing, it [America] will fall to the ground.
November 11, 2001
FROM DEBKA INTELLIGENCE FILES
Iraq's Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden are working together on the operational coordination of a potential terrorist nuclear attack on the West, according to DEBKA-Net-Weekly. Hussein ordered his top nuclear scientists to make devices in stock ready for arming earlier this week -- the first time this order has ever been issued. A day later, bin Laden declared: "... if America uses chemical or nuclear weapons against us then we may retort with chemical and nuclear weapons. We have the weapons as a deterrent." Asked where he got the weapons from, he responded: "Go to the next question."
In 1997, before Saddam threw them out of the country, United Nations arms inspectors reported "credible intelligence" that Iraq had built and maintained three or four "implosion devices" that lacked only cores of enriched uranium to make 20-kiloton nuclear weapons. Since then, very little information on the types and quality of Iraqs nuclear devices has reached U.S., British, French or Israeli intelligence agencies, but DEBKA sources believe it safe to assume that Saddam has since made up for his deficiency.
Hussein's Nov. 6 visit took his nuclear program heads, including Dr. Fadhi al-Janabi, its director, by surprise. Middle East intelligence sources add that al-Janabi only had three hours' notice of the presidential visit. He was advised that the event would produce the most important communiqué ever issued on Iraq's nuclear capability. Saddam arrived with two of his sons, Qusai, in the uniform of an Iraqi general and Odai, who edits and owns the newspaper Babil.
In covering the visit, Babil's Nov. 7 report contains two ominous references: one calling the researchers and engineers of the National Nuclear Program "warriors"; the second, a quote from Saddam's words to them: "When the human brain is alive and has a big objective, it will not be diverted from its goal when constrained, but will search for more effective means to reach the goal."
Taken together, these references imply warm praise for the "warriors" of Iraq's nuclear program for their success in developing ways and means of overcoming the obstacles heaped by international sanctions on Iraq's road to attaining nuclear weapons.
The White House said it was taking bin Laden's threat very seriously. DEBKA's intelligence sources say it is possible that al-Qaida's chief may have accumulated as many nuclear devices as Saddam, with only a part of his nuclear stock kept in Afghanistan. Some devices may even have been smuggled into the United States.
November 10, 2001 Posted: 3:12 AM EST (0812 GMT)
ISLAMABAD (CNN) -- In an interview published in a Pakistani newspaper, Osama bin Laden says his al Qaeda group has nuclear and chemical weapons and will use them against the United States if attacked. The interview, said to have taken place November 7, appeared in Dawn, a leading English-language newspaper in Pakistan. It was conducted by Hamid Mir, editor of another Pakistani newspaper, and bin Laden's official biographer. Mir wrote that he was blindfolded and taken in a jeep from Kabul "to a place where it was extremely cold and one could hear the sound of anti-aircraft guns firing away."
After a time, bin Laden arrived with a dozen bodyguards and Ayman el-Zawahri, bin Laden's top lieutenant, and began answering questions. "I wish to declare that if America used chemical or nuclear weapons against us, then we may retort with chemical and nuclear weapons. We have the weapons as deterrent," bin Laden says.
"Where did you get these weapons from?" Mir asks.
"Go to the next question," he says.
The issue of nuclear weapons was raised this week in a news conference with the Taliban ambassador in Pakistan. Asked whether the Taliban has nuclear weapons, the ambassador replied, "We can't even make glass, so how can we make nuclear weapons?"
'Wouldn't put it past him'
Earlier this week, President
Bush warned of threats from bin Laden involving nuclear weapons
and other weapons of mass destruction. "This is an evil man
that we're dealing with, and I wouldn't put it past him to
develop evil weapons to try to harm civilization as we know it,"
Bush said in a Tuesday news conference.
"And that's ... why we work hard to keep our coalition bound together, and that's why we're going to keep relentless military pressure on him in Afghanistan. And that's why we must prevail, and that's why we must win." In the interview, bin Laden repeats several times that the Sept. 11 attacks were part of a "defensive Jihad." He says Muslims are defending themselves against American attacks on the Muslims around the world, including on Palestinians, Chechnya, Kashmir, Iraq, and Bosnia. "This is a simple formula that even an American child can understand," he says. "This is the formula of live and let live."
Nowhere in the interview does he take or deny responsibility for the attacks, and Mir never asks bin Laden whether he was involved. Bin Laden also discounts criticism issued by other Muslims against him, saying they hold no meaning for him because true Muslims support the jihad against the United States.
Mir is the editor of El Ausaf, a daily Urdu-language newspaper in Islamabad. In 1998, bin Laden asked Mir to write his biography following several interviews in Afghanistan. They signed a contract giving bin Laden the right to approve the book's publication and specifying Mir would publish it only in English and Urdu, Pakistan's official language.
Mir hopes to publish his 300-page book, which bin Laden approved six months ago, in December. Bin Laden proposed the title "I Am Not a Terrorist," though Mir has said he prefers the more neutral "The Story of Osama." It was to Mir that bin Laden gave the message on Sept. 11 saying, "I didn't do it."
By RICHARD SALE, UPI Terrorism Correspondent
October 30, 2001
The Bush administration is concerned that the al Qaida network of accused terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden might try to use a small nuclear weapon in a super-spectacular strike to decapitate the U.S. political leadership, according to a half dozen serving and former U.S. government and intelligence officials. "They believe it's a real possibility," said one former senior U.S. government official, adding that secret plans for protecting the U.S. president and his successors in the event of a nuclear attack were in place.
The Bush administration believes that bin Laden -- the prime suspect in the Sept. 11 terror attacks -- may be in possession of one or more small, portable nuclear weapons, according to one former senior U.S. intelligence official. Other experts agree that the danger is real. "We're not at all discounting that possibility," agreed Rose Gottemoeller, senior associate and Russian weapons expert at the Washington-based Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
Bin Laden's efforts to get hold of nuclear material are no secret. Peter Probst, an anti-terrorism analyst formerly with the Pentagon's Office of Special Operations Low-Intensity Conflict says the Saudi fugitive "has been obsessed with nuclear weapons."
During his trial for involvement in the 1998 bombing of two U.S. Embassies in East Africa, Jamal Ahmad al-Fadl, an al Qaida operative, outlined bin Laden's efforts to spend $1.5 million to obtain a cylinder of enriched uranium. Plans were made, said al-Fadl, to test uranium samples to see if they could be made into a bomb. The project fell through, he said, according to court documents. But Monday, the Times of London cited unnamed Western intelligence sources as saying bin Laden had obtained nuclear materials from Pakistan.
And there have also been several reports -- variously citing unnamed intelligence sources from Israel, Russia and Arab nations -- about bin Laden's attempts to purchase a small nuclear device from the arsenal of a former Soviet republic, through terrorist or mafia groups in Chechnya or Central Asia.
According to Probst, what the U.S. intelligence community fears is that tactical nuclear weapons of one kind or another have been sold to terrorists via corrupt Russian military officers or the Russian or Chechen mafias with whom bin Laden is known to have had contact. Probst explained that portable nuclear weapons were developed by the Soviets in the 1960s. They were designed for use by their Spetznatz special operations forces against NATO command and control sites.
Until recently, the best information the United States had about these weapons described them as "suitcase bombs," although former CIA counter-terrorism expert, Vince Cannistraro, says that they are the size of a footlocker and Gottemoeller adds that they actually come in two sections, "both rather cumbersome." Cannistraro denounces reports that bin Laden has obtained such weapons as "total crap." But a former senior U.S. intelligence and Eastern Bloc specialist cautioned that "the Soviets were able to build weapons of such smallness and lightness that they could be carried by one person," pointing out that one U.S. nuclear warhead weighs less than 60 lbs.
While much has been written about suitcase bombs, until now, nothing has appeared in any public report about these smaller "backpack" nuclear weapons, according to several U.S. government sources. One U.S. government expert said that the United States gained new knowledge of the backpack weapons in the 1990s through Russian double agents run by the CIA. One U.S. source familiar with the program said: "We had defectors who trained on backpack weapons and who bluntly told the agency that everything they knew about the devices was wrong. We didn't understand how they were assembled or how they were to be used."
In 1998, this new information was put into a CIA "blue border" report, meaning it "contains material from a foreign source of the greatest sensitivity," a former senior U.S. intelligence official said. The report was presented to then President Bill Clinton and his National Security Advisor Sandy Berger. The report was so secret, the two men were only allowed to initial the document before it was returned to the agency's custody, U.S. government officials said. Berger's assistant told United Press International that he declined to comment because, "It's an intelligence matter."
But the Federation of American Scientists says, "nuclear weapons that can fit in a very heavy, normal-sized suitcase are a real possibility." "The possibility that these devices have been stolen and sold to terrorist groups is nearly anyone's worst nightmare," said Carey Sublette of the Federation of American Scientists.
General Aleksandr Lebed, the former Russian security czar, said in 1997 that several nuclear suitcase bombs and tactical nukes had disappeared from the Russian arsenal. In testimony before the Congressional Military Research and Development Subcommittee in October 1997, Lebed said there were bombs made to look like suitcases that could be detonated by one person with less than 30-minute preparation. Lebed also said that nuclear bombs only 24 x 16 x 8 inches were distributed among Soviet military intelligence units. He made no mention of nuclear backpack bombs.
Probst told UPI he believes that Lebed is accurate about missing Soviet tactical nuclear weapons. "I firmly believe that some were sold to groups by corrupt Russian military, probably in the Central Asian republics," he said. On Oct. 28, 1999, Rep. Curt Weldon (R-Pa.) said that he believed that some 48 Russian nuclear devices remainedunaccounted for. "We simply don't know what was floating around out there when the Soviet Union dissolved," especially in the Central Asian republics, an administration official said. "That's one of the questions we need to ask: what are the threats?"