(c) Felipe Rodriquez
17 September 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.


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

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 (3).

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
was engaged in a comprehensive plan to acquire nuclear weapons.(5) In
1993, Bin Laden 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 (10).

There are also reports available that suggest that Bin Laden has obtained,
or is trying to obtain, chemical and biological weapons.

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 destruction.

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 Association

(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


(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 26, 1998.


(11) Interview with Samuel R. Berger


(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

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