Jump to search Jump to main navigation Jump to main content Jump to footer navigation

Global Security Newswire

Daily News on Nuclear, Biological & Chemical Weapons, Terrorism and Related Issues

Produced by
NationalJournal logo

Al-Qaeda Operatives Discussed WMD Attacks While Training Prior to 9/11, Report Says

Prior to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the United States, al-Qaeda operatives training in Afghanistan considered methods of conducting large-scale attacks involving weapons of mass destruction, according to a report released today by a U.S. commission investigating the Sept. 11 attacks (see GSN, June 2).

Al-Qaeda training camps in then-Taliban controlled Afghanistan “created a climate in which trainees and other personnel were free to think creatively about ways to commit mass murder,” the report states. Such measures, according to the report, included taking control of a missile launcher and forcing Russian scientists to fire a nuclear-armed missile at the United States, using mustard gas or cyanide in attacks against Jewish areas in Iran, pumping poisoned gas into a building through its air-conditioning system, and hijacking and crashing an airliner into an airport terminal or nearby city.

“Trainees in the camps did not focus solely on causing the deaths of enemies,” the report says, noting that many al-Qaeda operatives expressed an eagerness to conduct suicide-type attacks.

The commission also warned today that al-Qaeda continues to explore ways to conduct WMD attacks. The terrorist group is still attempting to obtain a nuclear weapon, and remains interested in conducting attacks with a “dirty bomb,” which combines radiological material and conventional explosives, the report says. It also says that al-Qaeda might attempt to conduct a chemical attack in the future by using common industrial chemicals, or by attacking a chemical plant or hazardous material shipment. 

In addition, U.S. officials believe that “one of the most immediate threats” is that al-Qaeda might conduct a biological attack using anthrax, the report says (National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States release, June 16).

NTI Analysis

  • Russian Ballistic Missile Models

    May 14, 2014

    This page contains interactive 3D missile models for Russia. Users can drag the model by pressing and holding their mouse’s scroll wheel. They can zoom in and out on the model by rolling their scroll wheel up and down, and can orbit the model by clicking and dragging their left mouse button.

  • Sub-Saharan Africa 1540 Reporting

    Jan. 9, 2014

    The UNSCR 1540 implementation process in sub-Saharan Africa has been slow. As of October 2011, 26 of the 48 states in the region have submitted 1540 national reports.