Does al-Qaida have 20 suitcase nukes?
Author claims bin Laden purchased them in '98 from ex-KGB agents for $30 million
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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. WorldNetDaily