With Weapons Of Mass Destruction
by Felipe Rodriquez, September 17, 2001
The terrorist network around Osama Bin Laden has
been trying to acquire nuclear weapons and nuclear materials since
about 1993. There are various reports that he has succeeded in
obtaining nuclear weapons and material. Any form of retaliation
against Bin Laden and his network should take this information
into account. It is possible that the WTC bombing was a trap,
with the intention to provoke the United States and NATO into
retaliation. Retaliation could be a trigger that provokes terrorist
attacks with nuclear, chemical and biological weapons.
Terrorism & Weapons of Mass Destruction
In May 1998 US congressman Curt Weldon met with
General Alexander Lebed, former Secretary of the National Security
Council in Russia (1). In that meeting Lebed mentioned that the
Soviet Union had manufactured 132 suitcase nuclear explosive devices,
and could locate only 48 of them. These devices have an explosive
charge of about 1 kiloton. They where allegedly created for the
KGB, to be used around the world in the event of a conflict with
Russia. A 1 kiloton nuclear device has a blast radius of about
500 meters, and is capable of destroying part of a city center,
or any landmark building. Lebed said one person could detonate
such a bomb by himself.
In an article in the Jerusalem Report(2) in 1999
Yossef Bodansky says that Bin Laden has acquired portable nuclear
devices. Bodansky reports that Bin Laden's associates acquired
the devices through Chechnya, paying the Chechens $30 million
in cash and two tons of Afghan heroin. Bodanksy is Director of
the US House of Representatives Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional
Warfare, Senior Editor of Defense & Foreign Affairs publications
and director of The International Strategic Studies Association
Israeli military intelligence sources reported
that Bin Laden paid over 2 million pounds sterling to a middle-man
in Kazakhstan, who promised to deliver a "suitcase"
nuclear bomb to Bin Laden within two years. (4)
The Arabic news magazine Al-Watan Al-Arabi reported
that Usama Bin Laden wasengaged in a comprehensive plan to acquire
nuclear weapons.(5) In 1993, BinLaden instructed some of his aides
to obtain weapons-grade uranium that could be used to develop
small nuclear weapons.(6)
Bin Laden wrote a document that was titled the
endorsement of the nuclear bomb of Islam, in it he says that a
nuclear bomb is needed to terrorize the enemies of God, and that
it is the duty of the Muslims to prepare as much force possible
to terrorize the enemies of God (7). This document was found in
the residence of Khalid al Fawwaz. A US indictment against Fawwazz
charges that he acted, together with others of the Al Qaeda group,
in a conspiracy to murder United States nationals.
Jamal Ahmad al-Fadl is a Sudanese national and
the star witness for the prosecution in the United states v. Bin
Laden trial in the US. Al-Fadl alleged that Bin Laden and his
associates sent him to Sudan to buy uranium from Sudanese black
marketeers in 1994/95.(8) Bin Laden's aide Mamdouh Mahmud Salim
reportedly attempted to obtain highly enriched uranium in the
Even if terrorists did not acquire nuclear explosive
devices, they could build a so-called 'dirty bomb', a conventional
weapon that would shower lethal radioactive material over a wide
area. There is a long history of nuclear smuggling incidents,
most of these involve Russian radioactive material. A former greenpeace
President said in 1995 that the organization had been offered
a 800 kg nuclear Scud warhead by a former Soviet officer in 1991
There are also reports available that suggest that
Bin Laden has obtained, or is trying to obtain, chemical and biological
In an interview with Frontline, Samuel R. Berger,
former U.S. National Security Advisor, says that the US has information
that Bin Laden sought to attain chemical weapons, and that he
wanted to use those chemical weapons against the United States
(11). On March 4 2000 APBnews.com ran an article that said that
bin Laden's trainees learn to use chemical weapons, and that there
where chemical engineers present.
Manufacturing chemical weapons is not rocket science.
One can obtain the relevant information from open literature,
acquire the necessary chemicals, and prepare the agent. Formulas
for manufacturing nerve agents, mustard gas, LSD, and herbicides
are readily available in various scientific texts. (12)
In July 1999 the Pentagon considered a suspension
of public tours because of heightened concerns of a possible terrorist
attack with biological weapons by the followers of Osama bin Laden
(13). Biological weapons are any infectious agent such as a bacteria
or virus when used intentionally to inflict harm upon others.
Biological weapons are immensely destructive. For example, botulinum
toxin has been described as 3 million times more potent than the
chemical nerve agent sarin. (14)
Current US policy to counter international terrorism
rests on the following principles; make no concessions with terrorists
and make no deals, bring terrorists to justice for their crimes,
isolate and apply pressure on states that sponsor terrorism and
force them to change their behavior, and bolster the counter terrorist
capabilities of those countries that work with the US and require
assistance (15). This is official US defense doctrine, and it
is exactly how the US has reacted to the WTC attack in New York.
The question is if this doctrine is still valid today, when dealing
with terrorist organizations that have access to weapons of mass
A terrorist attack such as the WTC bombing takes
a long time to prepare. The flight training of the terrorists
itself takes months. It is unlikely that the attack on the WTC
is a standalone activity. A hint in this direction is the assassination
of the leader of Afghanistan's opposition to the ruling Taleban,
Ahmed Shah Massoud two days before the attack in New York. Massoud's
Northern Alliance, the anti-Taliban alliance in northern Afghanistan,
was the only potential US ally in a confrontation with the Taleban.
The WTC attack could well be part of a larger strategy
with the aim of provoking the US and NATO into a full scale offensive.
Such an offensive could give cause for further retaliation in
the form of terrorist attacks with weapons of mass destruction.
There are many indications that groups affiliated with Osama Bin
Laden have obtained weapons of mass destruction.
Because article 5 of the NATO alliance was invoked,
the WTC attack is considered to be an attack on all NATO members.
Once a military campaign against Bin Laden and other terrorist
organizations gets going, NATO members should be aware that they
become targets for terrorist attacks, possibly with weapons of
mass destruction. Europe is in many ways a more open society than
the US, and its intelligence capabilities are much less developed
than those in the US. Europe is therefore more vulnerable to terrorist
attacks. Retaliation of the WTC bombing could have catastrophic
consequences for the US and all NATO members, because the US and
NATO are vulnerable societies; they have a lot to lose, whereas
the terrorist organizations have nothing to lose.
The rules of military engagement have changed.
The US and NATO are not fighting a well known enemy, that can
be defined in terms of infrastructure, its leaders and its military
capabilities. The NATO military apparatus and doctrine is not
adequate to fight an enemy that is global and dispersed, and that
has access to a large pool of funds, human bombs, and weapons
of mass destruction. Military retaliation will not achieve results,
but will provoke a counter reaction.
Taking the well organized attack on the WTC and
the African embassies as example, and considering the fact that
these groups have obtained weapons of mass destruction, a horrible
scenario comes to mind. Every attack that was credited to the
Al Qaeda network was bigger than the last, and some of these attacks
involved multiple targets that where hit simultaneously. A doomsday
scenario would be an attack on multiple city center targets, with
nuclear, chemical or biological weapons. Such an attack would
be devastating enough to destroy the economic and cultural infrastructure
of Europe and the US. It would destroy the foundations of the
society that we live in and treasure. Retaliation is a mistake,
because it could trigger this destruction.
(1) Report of meeting between Lebed and Curt Weldon
(2) Jerusalem Report: October 25th, 1999
(3) Background of the International Strategic Studies
(4) Marie Colvin, "Holy War with US in his
Sights," Times, August 16, 1998.
(5) Report Links Bin-Laden, Nuclear Weapons,"
Al-Watan Al-Arabi November 13, 1998
(6) WMD TERRORISM AND USAMA BIN LADEN
(7)UNITED STATES OF AMERICA v. USAMA BIN LADEN,
et al court transcript of Day 38 of the trial, May 2, 2001.
(8)UNITED STATES OF AMERICA v. USAMA BIN LADEN,
et al court transcript of Day 3 of the trial, February 7, 2001
(9) Benjamin Weiser, "U.S. Says Bin Laden
Aide Tried to Get Nuclear Weapons," New York Times, September
(10) CHRONOLOGY OF NUCLEAR SMUGGLING INCIDENTS
(11) Interview with Samuel R. Berger
(12) CHEMICAL AND BIOLOGICAL TERRORISM: THE THREAT
ACCORDING TO THE OPEN LITERATURE
(13) CNN: Pentagon may cancel public tours amid
fears of germ warfare
(14) Texas Department of Health; Bioterrorism FAQ
(15) US Office of the secretary of defence publication
Proliferation: threat and response, januari 2001, page 61
(C) Felipe Rodriquez Copryright Notice; You
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