al-Qaida To Use Nukes In 10 U.S. Cities?
Experiencing extreme intestinal discomfort, U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said in Chicago last week that America faces a heightened chance of an attack this summer. “I believe we are entering a period this summer of increased risk,” Chertoff told the Chicago Tribune’s editorial board in a blunt assessment of America’s terror threat level. “Summer-time seems to be appealing to them,” he said of al-Qaida. “We do worry that they are rebuilding their activities.”
Chertoff indicated his remarks were based on “a gut feeling” formed by past seasonal patterns of terrorist attacks, recent al-Qaida statements, and intelligence he did not disclose. Days before Chertoff made this announcement, ABC News reported that a secret law enforcement report prepared for homeland security warns that al-Qaida is preparing a “spectacular” summer attack.
On Tuesday, ABC News also reported that “new intelligence suggests a small al-Qaida cell is on its way to the United States, or may already be here.” Adding more fuel to the mounting fears, FBI Director Robert Mueller confirmed to NewsMax that al-Qaida intends to detonate a nuclear device that would kill millions of Americans. He said that the threat is so real he lies awake at night thinking about the effects of such an attack.
These unprecedented announcements are based on the realization that al-Qaida has achieved its goal of developing nuclear and radiological weapons for a simultaneous attack on seven to 10 American cities.
Bin Laden’s first purchase of nuclear material dates back to his stay in the Sudan. In 1993, he purchased a canister of weapons-grade uranium from black-market agents, including a Sudanese official, who obtained the material from Valindaba, a nuclear manufacturing facility near Pretoria in South Africa. The uranium was tested at an al-Qaida laboratory in Khartoum. The canceled check for this transaction remains within the Alec File, the file on bin Laden at the CIA. The CIA agent in charge of the file was Michael Scheuer, who headed the agency’s bin Laden unit. Scheuer also authored the best-selling book “Imperial Hubris.”
Upon his return to Afghanistan, bin Laden made additional purchases of off-the-shelf nukes and nuclear material from the Chechen rebels, the Russian mafia, and various sources in the Ukraine, including international arms dealer Semion Mogilevich. On one occasion, Mogilevich provided bin Laden and company with twenty kilos of uranium-236 that had been enriched to 85 percent — far above the standards of enrichment for weapons-grade material.
These sales have been verified by British, Israeli, Russian, Saudi and Pakistani intelligence, leading media sources (including The London Times and BBC), and U.N. weapons inspectors, such as Hans Blix. Bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri, his favorite sidekick, have been open and candid about these purchases. On one occasion, Zawahiri quipped that such weapons were available from the former Soviet Union to anyone with $10 million.
In the wake of 9/11, empirical proof of the existence of bin Laden’s nuclear/radiological arsenal was uncovered in the caves of Kandahar where U.S. troops uncovered a canister of uranium-238 and at Turnak Farm (the al-Qaida underground laboratory on the outskirts of Kandahar) where CIA officials came upon jars of yellow cake (highly enriched uranium) and additional canisters of uranium-238.
On Oct. 11, 2001, Israel’s Mossad arrested a Pakistani operative who tried to smuggle a plutonium-implosion devise into Israel at the checkpoint at Ramallah. The operative, who had ties to al-Qaida, later died of radiological poisoning. And two British agents managed to infiltrate al-Qaida from a London mosque. They were sent to Heart, Afghanistan, where they saw radiological bombs being prepared for the great jihad. The bombs were never recovered.
More evidence came with the arrest of Dr. Sultan Bashiruddin, the former Chairman of the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission, and Dr. Chaudry Abdul Majid, the chief engineer for the A.Q. Khan Research Laboratory. These scientists admitted that they met with bin Laden, al-Zawahiri, and other al-Qaida officials on several occasions to offer technical assistance on the group’s “Manhattan Project.”
They testified that bin Laden had obtained enough weapons-grade material from the Ukraine to manufacture so-called “bespoke nukes” (devises with explosive yields in excess of 10 kiloton) and that many other scientists and technicians from Pakistan were in bin Laden’s employ.
News of the American Hiroshima — the plan to detonate seven nuclear devises in seven major U.S. cities — was uncovered from the laptop of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, al-Qaida’s military operations chief, who was arrested in Karachi on March 2, 2003. From the same source, coupled with “pocket litter” from prisoners and dead al-Qaida soldiers, U.S. officials learned that the individual singled out to commandeer the attacks was Adnan el-Shukrijumah, a naturalized American citizen.
The FBI issued a BOLO (Be-on-the-lookout) for any sightings of el-Shukrijumah and placed a $5 million bounty on his head. But the wily Adnan, who was trained as a pilot and a nuclear technician, has managed thus far to escape capture.
The threat of the American Hiroshima received tell-tale confirmation with the death of a Pakistani with ties to al-Qaida of radiological poisoning in Kearny, N.J. More bad news about the planned attack came from al-Qaida agents who were arrested in Pakistan in the wake of the “Waziristan Summit” — a gathering of the al-Qaida high command in the tribal province of Pakistan during March and early April of 2004.
When questioned by CIA and ISI officials, Sharif al-Masri, one of the collared terrorists, said that several of bin Laden’s nukes had been forward deployed to Mexico for transport into the U.S. by Latino street gangs. This report was supported by Hamid Mir, the only journalist to interview bin Laden and al-Zawahiri in the wake of 9/11. Mir confirmed from his sources that the weapons had arrived in the U.S. and were being readied for the next attack on American soil. He also said that he recently interviewed an Egyptian scientist who had lost an eye while testing one of bin Laden’s nuclear weapons in the Afghan province of Kunar.
Further alarms of al-Qaida nukes on American soil were sounded in recent months by British intelligence following the interrogation of 45 Muslim physicians involved in the recent terrorist attacks in London and Glasgow.
Will the American Hiroshima occur this summer? The answer to this question is anyone’s guess. Most experts agree that the bombs are in place and are being prepared for detonation. But the timing remains uncertain since bin Laden is a model of patience. His favorite Islamic verse is as follows: “I will be patient until I out-patience patience.”
In the meantime, Chertoff needs more than a doze of Maalox. He may want to store up a supply of iodine tablets in order to survive what bin Laden and his boys have in store for him and the rest of us.
Paul L. Williams, Ph.D.