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).

Note to our Readers

GSN ceased publication on July 31, 2014. Its articles and daily issues will remain archived and available on NTI’s website.

NTI Analysis

  • North Korean Ballistic Missile Models

    March 5, 2015

    This page contains interactive 3D missile models for North Korea. 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.

  • Latin America and the Caribbean 1540 Reporting

    Oct. 20, 2014

    This report is part of a collection examining implementation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1540, which requires all states to implement measures aimed at preventing non-state actors from acquiring NBC weapons, related materials, and their means of delivery. It details implementation efforts in Central America, South America and the Caribbean to-date.