Bin Laden's nuclear threat -- The Times : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

FRIDAY OCTOBER 26 2001 Bin Laden's nuclear threat BY PHILIP WEBSTER AND ROLAND WATSON OSAMA BIN LADEN and his al-Qaeda network have acquired nuclear materials for possible use in their terrorism war against the West, intelligence sources have disclosed.

The Western sources say that the suspected mastermind of the September 11 attacks on America does not have the capability to mount a nuclear attack but fear he would do so if he could.

They believe that he obtained the materials illegally from Pakistan, which has a nuclear capability.

The knowledge that bin Laden has components for a nuclear weapons device in his arsenal is believed to lie behind the regular warnings from President Bush and Tony Blair that he would commit worse atrocities than the suicide assaults on New York and Washington if he were able to.

They may also explain the speed with which the decision was taken to go after bin Laden and his terrorist network, even if that meant toppling the Taleban regime in Afghanistan first.

The disclosure comes as MPs prepare to learn today the details of British troops earmarked for deployment to Afghanistan. They will include a commando group of about 1,000 Royal Marines, currently on exercise in Oman, as well as a large contingent of special forces and specialist support units. The force will be based on ships that have also been participating in the huge tri-Service exercise. They are expected to include the aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious, stripped of her Harrier jets so she can be used as a platform for helicopters, or HMS Ocean, a dedicated helicopter carrier, two anti-aircraft destroyers to protect the carrier, the assault ship HMS Fearless, and two Royal Fleet Auxiliary support vessels.

Yesterday Mr Blair sought to reassure Muslim leaders that the military action in Afghanistan should be over as quickly as possible. He told the Islamic Response to Terrorism Conference in North London: “I hope you understand that what is important is that we make sure at the same time we take the action necessary now in order to hold to account those who committed the actions of September 11.”

There has been clear evidence for several years that bin Laden’s agents have been trying to buy, steal or smuggle nuclear systems in order to attack the West. He has said that it was his “religious duty” to seek to acquire chemical, biological and nuclear weapons of mass destruction.

An informed source has told The Times that bin Laden appeared to have amassed a “terrifying” range of weapons although he was insistent that he did not have the capacity to launch a nuclear attack.

Intelligence sources, however, have voiced concerns about bin Laden obtaining radioactive material for a “dirty bomb”. Rather than being used in an atomic weapon, the material would be dispersed in a way that would seriously contaminate a small area. In an urban environment hundreds of people could die and thousands more be exposed to radiation poisoning.

In 1993 a senior bin Laden operative, Jamal al-Fadi, met a Sudanese military commander in Khartoum to try to negotiate the sale of a cylinder of enriched South African uranium for a black market price of $1.5 million (£1.2 million). A separate al-Qaeda attempt to buy weapons-grade nuclear material through the Russian mafia was foiled in Prague when several kilograms of highly enriched uranium were seized, according to a German TV report last week.

Earlier this week two former government nuclear scientists in Pakistan were detained amid fears about their links with the Taleban. Bashir uddin Mahmood was project director in Pakistan’s nuclear programme before its 1998 tests. Since retiring from the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission three years ago, he ran a group which carried out relief work in Afghanistan, and was known to be supportive of the Taleban. Chaudry Abdul Majid was a director of the commission in 1999.

Intelligence officials have long been aware of the potential for contraband uranium to be turned into an atomic “suitcase bomb”. An easier outcome is a radiological weapon — a conventional weapon with a radioactive core — which has the ability to contaminate large areas.

George Tenet, Director of the CIA, told the Senate Intelligence Committee last year that bin Laden was trying to obtain nuclear materials.

However, some are convinced bin Laden already has a nuclear capability. According to a book about the terrorist leader, The Man Who Declared War on America, Chechen rebels facilitated the sale of nuclear suitcase bombs in the late 1990s from a range of former Soviet republics including Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Russia.

Quoting Russian and Arab intelligence sources, the author, Yossef Bodansky, says that bin Laden’s go-betweens paid the Chechens $30 million in cash and gave them two tonnes of heroin with a Western street value of up to $700 million for a number of bombs.

In 1998 bin Laden issued a statement entitled “The Nuclear Bomb of Islam”, which said: “It is the duty of Muslims to prepare as much force as possible to terrorise the enemies of God.”,,2001350025-2001372097,00.html

-- Jackson Brown (, October 25, 2001


IMO - this is reason enough to never let up!

The future of the world is at stake.


-- Jackson Brown (, October 25, 2001.

You said it all. This is certainly no trifling matter.

-- Uncle Fred (, October 25, 2001.

This is the worstest of the worst scenarios. Big stakes. I say give war a chance.

-- Stan King (king, October 25, 2001.

I say you can't live in fear. Let's examine the facts. First the hi-rise plane crashes, with our own weapons. Then, the small scale anthrax attacks. Against whom? Only the top power institutions of the country. The major media, capital hill, white house. I still think bin Laden is a small time operator. Probably trying hard for mass destruction, but still WELL SHORT of achieving it. Else there would have been mass plane incidents and mass anthrax attacks against our other, many thousands, seats of power.

If we set out, with firm resolve, be patient, our goal of wiping out this vermin and his ilk, we will get to him before he gets to us. This we MUST do.

Now comes the small pox scare. Way overdone, as far as I'm concerned. Same reasons.

My major concern is not bin Laden, but Iraq (what role do they play in all of this?), and, Saudi Arabia, which seems on the verge of a real upheaval.

-- JackW (, October 25, 2001.

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