Magazine article Insight on the News

Scientists Wanted for Questioning: Al-Qaeda Could Have a `Dirty' Nuclear Device That Is Lurking in the United States. (Security)

Magazine article Insight on the News

Scientists Wanted for Questioning: Al-Qaeda Could Have a `Dirty' Nuclear Device That Is Lurking in the United States. (Security)

Article excerpt

Pakistani nuclear scientists, in collaboration with former Pakistani intelligence officers, were assisting Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda organization to develop "dirty" nuclear weapons, U.S. and Pakistani intelligence agencies have concluded. Speaking not for attribution, intelligence officers in Washington and Islamabad are convinced documents uncovered in Kabul, Afghanistan, along with information gleaned during the interrogation of Pakistani nuclear scientists, provide conclusive evidence that al-Qaeda was attempting to put together a "nuclear device in the `dirty-bomb' category" -- radioactive materials wrapped around conventional explosives.

An unidentified former chief of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence agency (ISI) is believed to have coordinated bin Laden's nuclear ambitions. One intelligence source speculated a dirty bomb could have been smuggled out of Afghanistan before the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, transported by truck to Karachi in southern Pakistan and then shipped to the United States in a cargo container. U.S. Customs inspects only 3 percent of the 18 million cargo containers that arrive in the United States, and bills of lading do not have to be produced until they arrive at their final destinations, according to current rules and regulations.

Pakistan's community of nuclear scientists is known as "profoundly fundamentalist" and anti-U.S. They are particularly resentful of U.S. economic and military sanctions against Pakistan as punishment for their country's nuclear-weapons program. …

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