Outside Publications by CNS Staff

Chart: Al-Qa`ida's WMD Activities

By Weapons of Mass Destruction Terrorism Research Program (WMDTRP)*

Updated: May 13, 2005

The following table provides a comprehensive listing of reports concerning al-Qa`ida's involvement with chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear weapons between 1997 and 2004. The information about al-Qa`ida's WMD activities derives from a wide array of sources whose reliability is quite variable. Among those sources are the public pronouncements of al-Qa`ida leaders, the testimony of imprisoned al-Qa`ida members, statements by public officials from numerous governments, leaks from unnamed intelligence sources, claims made by more or less dubious individuals, uncorroborated and often biased journalistic accounts, and - most reliably - captured al-Qa`ida documents (including videotapes) or tangible physical evidence in the form of abandoned al-Qa`ida safe houses and laboratory facilities. The difficulties inherent in properly evaluating these diverse sources are partially acknowledged in the table itself, since we have tried to identify uncorroborated incidents by labeling them as "alleged", "reported", "purported", etc. For additional information regarding these matters, please feel free to contact the authors.

*Early versions of this chart were prepared by Lindsey DeFazio, Matthew Osborne and Benjamin Heath. The final version was compiled by Kimberly McCloud, Gary A. Ackerman, and Jeffrey M. Bale. Praveen Abhayaratne, Lauren Harrison, and Lydia Hansell provided updates to the chart as needed. Two subsequent articles were published on the CNS website, one detailing Al-Qaidas WMD activities (coauthored by Gary A. Ackerman and Jeffrey M. Bale), and the other discussing WMD terrorism and Usama Bin Ladin (coauthored by Kimberly McCloud and Matthew Osbourne).

Estimated Date of Incident WMD Incident Date First Reported Source(s) Citations
Unspecified Nuclear A leaked intelligence report states that Bin Ladin allegedly paid over two million British Pounds to a middle-man in Kazakhstan for a "suitcase" bomb. 8/16/1998 Israeli military intelligence sources Marie Colvin, "Holy War with US in his Sights," Times (London), 16 August 1998
Unspecified Nuclear Bin Ladin is supposedly engaged in a comprehensive plan to acquire nuclear weapons, and reportedly has given a group of Chechens $30 million in cash and two tons of opium in exchange for approximately 20 nuclear warheads. 11/ 1998 "secret reports" that have reached the US National Security Council from "several sources," including the Russian FSB Riyad 'Alam al-Din, "Report Links Bin Ladin, Nuclear Weapons," Al-Watan al-Arabi, 13 November 1998; Emil Torabi, "Bin Laden's Nuclear Weapons," Muslim Magazine (Winter 1998)
Unspecified Biological Associates of Bin Ladin are reported to have bought anthrax and plague from arms dealers in Kazakhstan. 6/4/2000 Unspecified "intelligence sources" Paul Daley, "Report Says UBL-linked Terrorist Groups Possess 'Deadly' Anthrax, Plague Viruses," Melbourne Age, 4 June 2000
Unspecified Nuclear/ Radiological Bin Ladin allegedly sends envoys to several Eastern European countries to purchase enriched uranium. These efforts reportedly were both unsuccessful and very costly for the organization. 12/24/2000 "Arab security sources" "Arab Security Sources Speak of a New Scenario for Afghanistan: Secret Roaming Networks that Exchange Nuclear Weapons for Drugs," Al-Sharq al-Awsat, 24 December 2000
Unspecified Nuclear / Radiological Bin Ladin allegedly obtains seven enriched uranium rods, which were supposedly US-made, from mafia connections. 11/2001 Italian anti-organized crime office, according to a "French expert" Uthman Tizghart, "Does Bin Ladin Really Possess Weapons of Mass Destruction? Tale of Russian Mafia Bosfs Simion Mogilevich Who Supplied Bin Ladin With the Nuclear 'Dirty Bomb.'" Al-Majallah (London), 25 November 2001
Unspecified Nuclear / Biological / Chemical Two Pakistani scientists allegedly share nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons information with Bin Ladin, and thereby learn of radiological material given to him by the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan. They tell Bin Ladin that there is insufficient material for use as a weapon. 11/12/2001 Pakistani scientists Sultan Bashir ul Din Mehmood and Abdul Majid; Pakistani government contests their level of nuclear knowledge "Toby Harnden, "Rogue Scientists Gave bin Laden Nuclear Secrets," Daily Telegraph (London), 13 December 2001; Peter Baker, "Pakistani Scientist Who Met Bin Laden Failed Polygraphs, Renewing Suspicions," Washington Post, 3 March 2002; Susan B. Glasser and Kamran Khan, "Pakistan Continues Probe of Nuclear Scientists," Washington Post, 14 November 2001
Unspecified Biological The Kabul office of Pakistani scientist Mehmood is reportedly found to contain documents indicating an interest in anthrax, including calculations concerning the aerial dispersal of anthrax via balloon, and an Associated Press photo showed something at the anthrax vaccine laboratory described as "anthrax spore concentrate". 11/28/2001 The Economist "Sketches of anthrax bomb found in
Pakistani scientist's office," Rediff.com, 28 November 2001
Unspecified Chemical / Biological The 11th volume of al-Qa`ida's 5,000-page Encyclopedia of Jihad is devoted to how to construct CBW. 6/23/2002 al-Qa`ida text: Encyclopedia of Jihad "Osama Bin Laden's bid to acquire weapons of mass destruction represents the greatest threat that Western Civilization has faced," Mail on Sunday (London), 23 June 2002
Unspecified Chemical CNN correspondent Mike Boettcher reports that coalition intelligence agencies have detected several recent purchases of cyanide by al-Qa`ida operatives. 7/31/2002 "coalition intelligence agencies" "Wolf Blitzer Reports," CNN, 31 July 2002
Unspecified Radiological British intelligence discovered documents in western Afghanistan which suggest that al-Qa`ida members built a dirty bomb in Afghanistan. British officials also claim that the Taliban provided medical isotopes to al-Qa`ida members to help construct the bomb. U.S. officials cannot substantiate this claim. 1/30/2003 British Government Ed Johnson, "Report: Al-Qaida Made Bomb in Afghanistan," Associated Press, 30 January 2003.
Unspecified Chemical/ Biological With the capture of Khalid Shaykh Muhammad, investigators uncovered detailed information about production plans for chemical and biological weapons. According to captured documents, certain members of al-Qa`ida had plans and the requisite material to manufacture cyanide and two biological toxins, and were close to producing anthrax bacteria. 1/30/2003 British Government Barton Gellman, "al-Qaida Near Biological, Chemical Arms Production," Washington Post, 23 March 2003.
Unspecified Biological Al-Qa'ida operatives allegedly planned to poison U.S. troops stationed in Afghanistan and Kuwait. Afghan terrorists allegedly delivered an "unspecified poison" to Afghan nationals who were hired as cooks for U.S. forces in Afghanistan. The incident has been tied to the January 2003 arrest of 11 al-Qa'ida suspects in Britain who were reportedly in possession of the biological toxin ricin. Some sources also indicate that the group Ansar al-Islam was involved in this plot to use ricin against U.S. troops. 2/1/2003 U.S. Government James Gordon, "Feds Find Poison Plot vs. Gulf Troops," Daily News, 10 February 2003; Mike Toner, "Humble Bean Produces a Deadly Toxin," Cox News Service, 20 March 2003.
Unspecified Biological/ Nuclear A publication posted by members of al-Qa`ida on the internet included an article by 'Abd al-'Aziz al-Muqrin (Abu Hajir), a leading al-Qa`ida fugitive in Saudi Arabia, which called for supporters to use nuclear and biological weapons in attacks against the Saudi government. 1/18/2004 al-Qa'ida manifesto entitled "The Base of the Vanguard" posted on the internet "Counter-Insurgency in the Middle East," Middle East Newsline Morning Report, 19 January 2004, Vol.6, No. 23.
Unspecified Chemical U.S. Government officials announced that a group of al-Qa'ida members along with Zarqawi established a weapons lab in Kirma, Iraq. The lab was to be used to produce ricin and cyanide. 3/2/2004 U.S. Government "Program Transcript-Terrorist Attacks in Iraq," NBC Nightly News, 2 March 2004.
Unspecified Nuclear In a secret interview with Pakistani journalist Hamid Mir, Ayman al-Zawahiri allegedly claimed that al-Qa'ida possessed nuclear weapons purchased in Central Asia. Zawahiri reportedly told Mir that al-Qa'ida sent representatives to "Moscow, Tashkent, [and] countries in Central Asia" in order to purchase "portable nuclear material." 3/3/2004 Hamid Mir Max Delany, "Under Attack al-Qaeda Makes Nuclear Claim," The Moscow News, 3 March 2004.
Unspecified Nuclear/ Biological/ Chemical According to the 9/11 Commission, al-Qa'ida operatives in Afghanistan prior to the 9/11 attacks were considering ways of using WMD, including mustard and cyanide, against Jews in Iran, "forcing Russian sceintists to fire a nuclear-armed missile at the U.S.", and using air conditioning systems in buildings to pump poisonous gas. 6/16/2004 U.S. Government; 9/11 Commission "Al-Qaeda Operatives Discussed WMD Attacks While Training Prior to 9/11, Report Says," Global Security Newswire,16 June 2004.
Unspecified Radiological An al-Qa'ida insider has alleged that Usama Bin Ladin was pressured by network affiliates to purchase radiological material through contacts in Chechnya. The insider has been named as Abu Walid al-Misri. Misri is reportedly planning to publish a book detailing his relationship with Usama Bin Ladin and al-Qa'ida leadership. 12/19/2004 al-Qa'ida "insider" Nick Fielding, "Bin Laden's Dirty Bomb Quest Exposed," London Times Online, 19 December 2004.
Unspecified Nuclear Pakistani businessman Saifullah Paracha allegedly told al-Qa'ida operatives that he knew where to obtain nuclear weapons that could be used against U.S. troops. Paracha denied the allegations but admitted to meeting Usama Bin Ladin in 1999 to discuss business deals. Paracha owns an import company in New York. 2/11/2005 U.S. Government "Pakistani Told al-Qaeda Operatives to Acquire Nuclear Weapons, U.S. Investigators Say," Nuclear Threat Initiative, 11 February 2005; Frank Davies, "U.S. Alleges Pakistani Businessman Urged al Qaeda to Acquire Nuclear Weapons," Miami Herald, 11 February 2005.
1993-1994 Nuclear/ Radiological Jamal al-Fadhl claims that, on behalf of Bin Ladin, he investigated purchasing uranium for nuclear weapons. 2/2001 al-Qa`ida operative Jamal al-Fadhl, a witness at US trial Kimberly McCloud and Matthew Osborne, "WMD Terrorism and Usama bin Ladin," CNS Report, 20 November 2001, http://cns.miis.edu/pubs/reports/binladen.htm
1996-1998 Chemical Bin Ladin allegedly purchases CW over a two-year period prior to 1998 from European states and the former Soviet Union. This information is allegedly provided under custody by the Jihad leader (arrested on August 20, 1998 in Baku, Azerbaijan) during the April 1999 "Trial of the Returnees from Albania" in Egypt. 4/1999 Ahmad Salama Mabruk (in custody during his trial in Egypt) Muhammad Salah, "Bin Ladin Front Reportedly Bought CBW From E. Europe,"Al-Hayah, 20 April 1999; idem, "US Said Interrogating Jihadist Over CBW,"Al-Hayah, 21 April 1999
1997 - 1998 Chemical / Biological Islamic extremists, including al-Qa`ida members, are allegedly trained in secret camps near Baghdad in how to use CW and BW by instructors from the secret Iraqi military intelligence Unit 999. 7/14/2002 "Abu Muhammad", a former colonel in Saddam Husayn's Fidayin militia Gwynne Roberts, "Militia defector claims Baghdad trained Al-Qaeda fighters in chemical warfare," Sunday Times (London), 14 July 2002
10/1997 Chemical / Biological A meeting is held in Sudan between Bin Ladin, Ayman al-Zawahiri, and Hasan al-Turabi, leader of Sudan's National Islamic Front regime, about the construction of a CBW factory. 10/1997 Unspecified report received by a Western or Arab security agency Jihad Salim, "Report on Bin Ladin, Zawahiri, 'Afghans'," Al-Watan al-Arabi, 16 February 2001
1998 Nuclear On 8 February 2004, the Egyptian newspaper Al-Hayat reported that al-Qa'ida had purchased tactical nuclear weapons from the Ukraine in 1998 and was "storing them for possible use". Al-Qa'ida allegedly purchased the bombs in Kandahar after a visit from Ukrainian scientists. The Ukrainian government denied that the transaction had taken place, stating that all nuclear weapons stored in the Ukraine had been transferred to Russia as of 1996. 8-Feb-04 Al-Hayat newspaper (Egypt) "Al-Qaida Said to Possess Nuclear Arms," Associated Press, 9 February 2004; "Al-Qaida May Have Nuclear Weapons," Al Jazeera.net, 8 February 2004; "Al-Qaida Does Not Have Our Nuclear Bombs Insists Ukraine," The Scotsman, 11 February 2004; Sokov, Nikolai, "Suitcase Nukes: Permanently Lost Luggage," CNS,13 February 2004; Jane Macartney, "Al-Qaeda Unlikely to Have Attained Nuclear Know-How," Reuters, 6 February 2004.
1998 Nuclear / Radiological Russian intelligence allegedly blocks a deal in which a Pakistani firm controlled by Bin Ladin attempted to purchase Soviet-origin uranium. 9/19/2001 A "former Russian intelligence official" Earl Lane and Knut Royce, "Nuclear Aspirations? Sources: Bin Laden Tried to Obtain Enriched Uranium," Newsday, 19 September 2001
1998 Chemical / Biological A reporter purchases two computers from a looter in Kabul, Afghanistan, that had been found in an abandoned al-Qa`ida office. The U.S. government confirms the existence of the computers. One of the computers allegedly contains a file describing "plans to launch a chemical and biological weapons program." Bin Ladin's deputy al-Zawahiri reportedly created computer documents describing his CW and BW program, codenamed "Curdled Milk," which included work on a pesticide/nerve agent that used a chemical to increase absorption and was tested on rabbits and dogs. He was assisted by Midhat al-Mursi / Abu Khabbab, a chemical engineer. 12/2001 al-Qa`ida computers Alan Culluson and Andrew Higgins, "Computer in Kabul holds chilling memos," Wall Street Journal, 31 December 2001; "Report: Al Qaeda Computer Had Plans for Bio-Weapons," Reuters, 21 December 2001
5/1998 Chemical / Biological Bin Ladin's group reportedly purchases three CBW factories in the former Yugoslavia and hires a number of Ukrainian chemists and biologists to train its members. 7/1998 "Arab sources" [?] Guido Olimpio, "Islamic Group Said Preparing Chemical Warfare on the West," Corriere della Sera, 8 July 1998; Yossef Bodansky, Bin Laden: The Man Who Declared War on America (Roseville, CA: Prima, 2001), p. 326.
8/1998 Chemical The United States charges that al-Qa`ida is producing chemical weapons at the al-Shifa pharmaceutical factory in Khartoum, Sudan. As a result, the United States bombs the factory on 20 August, 1998. 8/1998 US Government Michael Barletta, "Chemical Weapons in the Sudan: Allegations and Evidence," The Nonproliferation Review (Fall 1998), pp. 115-36
8/1998 Chemical John Gannon, chairman of the National Intelligence Council, reveals that the CIA discovered that Bin Ladin had attempted to acquire unspecified CW for use against U.S. troops stationed in the Persian Gulf. 8/1998 US Central Intelligence Agency Barry Schweid, "US Suggests Iraq Got Weapons from Sudan," Record (New Jersey), 27 August 1998
9/1998 Nuclear/ Radiological A Bin Ladin aide, Mamduh Mahmud Salim, is arrested in Munich, Germany, on charges of trying to obtain nuclear materials (allegedly for al-Qa`ida), including highly enriched uranium. 9/26/1998 German Government Benjamin Weiser, "US Says Bin Ladin Aide Tried to Get Nuclear Weapons," New York Times, 26 September 1998
9/1998 Chemical Wadi al-Hajj, a Lebanese national, is arrested in Arlington, Texas, for perjury. The FBI contends that he had lied about his affiliation with Bin Ladin in 1997 and 1998 court testimonies. A grand jury investigates al-Hajj's possible activities in procuring CW for Bin Ladin. 12/20/1998 US Government CNN, 20 December 1998
12/1998 Chemical / Nuclear In an interview with Time magazine, Bin Ladin asserts that acquiring weapons of any type, including chemical and nuclear, is a Muslim "religious duty." 12/1998 Usama bin Ladin Time, 24 December 1998, transcript of interview with Bin Ladin
1999 Chemical Local Afghan sources say that Bin Ladin is using a plant in Charassiab, a district 30 kilometers south of Kabul, to produce CW. 12/1999 (Afghan) Northern Alliance "Afghan Alliance -- UBL Trying to Make Chemical Weapons," Parwan Payam-e Mojahed, 23 December 1999
4/1999 Biological Bin Ladin and his followers allegedly obtain BW substances through the mail from countries of the former Soviet Union (the Ebola virus and salmonella bacterium), from East Asia (anthrax-causing bacteria), and from the Czech Republic (botulinum toxin). 8/1/1999 Various defendants in the Egyptian "Trial of the Returnees from Albania" Al J. Venter, "Elements Loyal to Bin Laden Acquire Biological Agents 'Through the Mail'," Jane's Intelligence Review (August 1999); Khalid Sharaf al-Din, "Bin Ladin Men Reportedly Possess Biological Weapons," Al-Sharq al-Awsat, 6 March 1999
6/1999 Chemical / Biological Usama bin Ladin reportedly constructed "crude" CBW laboratories in Khost and Jalalabad, Afghanistan, and acquired ingredients for CW and BW from former Soviet states. 6/1999 Unspecified intelligence sources John McWethy, "Bin Laden Set to Strike Again?", ABC News, 16 June 1999
7/1999 Chemical / Biological An Islamist lawyer states that Bin Ladin's organization has CBW, and will likely use such weapons against the United States. 7/1999 Muntasir al-Zayyat, lawyer defending Islamists in Egypt "Islamist Lawyer on Bin Ladin, Groups," Al-Sharq al-Awsat, 12 July 1999
2/2000 Chemical An apparent plot by nine Moroccans to poison the water supply of the U.S. Embassy in Rome using a cyanide compound is foiled by Italian police. 2/2002 Various media reports Eric Croddy et. al., "Chemical Terrorist Plot in Rome?" CNS Research Story, 11 March 2002
2/2/2000 Chemical / Biological CIA Director George Tenet tells the Senate that Bin Ladin has shown a strong interest in CW and that his operatives have "trained to conduct attacks with toxic chemicals or biological toxins." 8/19/2002 CIA Director George Tenet Pamela Hess, "Al Qaida may have chemical weapons," United Press International, 19 August 2002
Late 2000 Nuclear The intelligence agency of an unnamed European country reportedly intercepts a shipment of approximately twenty nuclear warheads--originating from Kazakhstan, Russia, Turkmenistan, and the Ukraine--intended for Bin Ladin and the Taliban regime of Afghanistan. 12/24/2000 "Arab security sources" "Arab Security Sources Speak of a New Scenario for Afghanistan: Secret Roaming Networks that Exchange Nuclear Weapons for Drugs," Al-Sharq al-Awsat, 24 December 2000
2001 Biological Various reports describe Muhammad Atta, the leader of the September 11 hijackers, meeting in Prague with an Iraqi intelligence agent, who allegedly gave him a vial of anthrax. This claim, originally made by foreign intelligence sources, was later contested by the Czech government. 10/20/2001 Israeli or Egyptian intelligence officials; denied by Czech intelligence chief Frantisek Bublan Compare "FBI Overlooks Iraq's Connections to Anthrax Attacks," Newsmax; Kriendler & Kreindler 9/11 lawsuit; "Prague Discounts an Iraqi Meeting," New York Times, 21 October 2001; "Czechs retract Iraq terror link," UPI, 20 October 2001
2001 Biological Ahmad Rassam, arrested in a plot to bomb LAX, testifies that Bin Laden is personally interested in using low-flying aircraft to dispense BW agents. 10/28/2001 al-Qa`ida operative Ahmad Rassam, in US custody "Bin Laden's Biological Threat," BBC, 28 October 2001
2001 Biological Documents found in Afghanistan ostensibly reveal that al-Qa`ida was doing research on using botulinum toxin to kill 2,000 people. 1/1/2002 al-Qa`ida documents "Al Qaeda tested germ weapons," Reuters, 1 January 2002
2001 Chemical Ahmad Rassam (an al-Qa`ida terrorist who pleaded guilty to plotting to bomb LAX) claims in court in 2001 that he had witnessed the gassing of a dog with cyanide. 8/19/2002 al-Qa`ida operative Ahmad Rassam, in US custody Pamela Hess, "Al Qaida May Have Chemical Weapons," United Press International, 19 August 2002
2001 Biological In December 2001, Yazid Sufaat was arrested in Malaysia for terrorist activities as a member of Jemaah Islamiyah. According to subsequent interrogations of two captured terrorists, Khalid Shaykh Muhammad of al-Qa'ida and Hambali of Jamaah Islamiyah, Sufaat was part of a plan to obtain and weaponize biological warfare agents. Jamaah Islamiyah maintains close ties to al-Qa'ida. 1-Dec-01 Malaysian authorities Maria Ressa, "Reports: Al Qaeda [sic] Operative Sought Anthrax," CNN, 10 October 2003; Judith Miller, "U.S. Has New Concerns About Anthrax Readiness," New York Times, 28 December 2003; "Yazid Sufaat," The Open Source Threat Network Database, 26 January 2004.
2/2001 Chemical The United States allegedly aborts a planned air strike against Afghanistan for fear of a retaliatory chemical attack by al-Qa`ida, after receiving warnings from an Arab embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan. 2/2001 "Arab sources" Sa'id al-Qaysi, "US Said Aborted Planned Attack on Bin Ladin for Fear of 'Chemical Strike'," Al-Watan al-Arabi, 16 February 2001
2/2001 Chemical Bin Ladin's elite 055 Brigade is supposedly reorganized under the leadership of Midhat al-Mursi, aka Abu Khabab, an Egyptian and an expert in sarin gas production. 2/2001 "Sources in Afghanistan" Sa'id al-Qaysi, "US Said Aborted Planned Attack on Bin Ladin for Fear of 'Chemical Strike'," Al-Watan al-Arabi, 16 February 2001
4/2001 Nuclear / Radiological Ivan Ivanov claims he met Bin Ladin just over the Pakistani border in China, and discussed setting up an environmental company to buy nuclear waste. Ivanov was then approached by a Pakistani chemical engineer interested in buying nuclear fuel rods from the Bulgarian Kozlodui reactor. 10/14/2001 Bulgarian businessman Ivan Ivanov and ex-Bulgarian Defense Minister Velizar Shalamanov Adam Nathan and David Leppard, "al-Qa`ida's men held secret meetings to build 'dirty bomb'," Sunday Times (London), 14 October 2001
Since summer 2001 Chemical / Biological / Nuclear Iraqi military instructors allegedly trained al-Qa`ida fighters in northern Iraq in the use of CBW agents, and possibly also in the handling of nuclear devices. Between 150 and 250 al-Qa`ida trainees purportedly passed through the training facilities. 8/20/2002 DEBKA [an online newsletter relying heavily on hawkish Israeli intelligence sources] "Abu Nidal's Nemesis," DEBKA file [Jerusalem], 20 August 2002
Before 9/11/2001 Nuclear Bin Ladin allegedly buys 48 "suitcase nukes" from the Russian mafiya. 9/8/2002 An unnamed French anti-terrorism expert "Al-Majallah Obtains Serious Information on al-Qa`ida's Attempt to Acquire Nuclear Arms," Al-Majallah [London-based Saudi weekly], 8 September 2002
Before 11/2001 Chemical CNN releases videotapes, allegedly made by al-Qa`ida, showing dogs being killed by unidentified toxic chemicals (experts believe either a crude nerve agent or hydrogen cyanide gas is used). 8/19/2002 al-Qa`ida videotapes "Insight," CNN, 19 August 2002
11/2001 Chemical / Nuclear In an interview, Bin Ladin claims "We have chemical and nuclear weapons as a deterrent and if America used them against us we reserve the right to use them." 11/2001 Usama bin Ladin Hamid Mir, "Osama Claims He Has Nukes: If US Uses N-Arms it Will Get Same Response," Dawn (Pakistan), 10 November 2001
11/2001 Chemical / Nuclear In an interview with a Pakistani newspaper reporter, Usama bin Ladin states that "we have chemical and nuclear weapons as a deterrent, and if America used them against us we reserve the right to use them." 11/10/2001 Usama bin Ladin [there are some doubts regarding the authenticity of this interview] Hamid Mir, "Osama claims he has nukes: If US uses N-arms it will get same response," Dawn [Pakistan], 10 November 2001
11/2001 Nuclear al-Qa`ida reportedly acquires a Russian-made suitcase nuclear weapon from Central Asian sources. The device is reported to weigh 8 kg and to possess at least 2 kg of fissionable uranium and plutonium. The report said the device, with a serial number of 9999 and a manufacturing date of October 1998, could be set off by a mobile phone signal. 11/14/2001 "Reports from Pakistan" "N-weapons May be in US Already," Daily Telegraph (Sydney, Australia), 14 November 2001
11/2001 Nuclear A Times (London) reporter discovers a blueprint for a "Nagasaki bomb" in files found in an abandoned al-Qa`ida house in Kabul, Afghanistan. 11/19/2001 al-Qa`ida files "Nuke Plans Found; Brit Paper Discovers Details of Weapons in Kabul Safe House," Toronto Sun, 15 November 2001; Hugh Dougherty, "Afghan Nuclear Weapons Papers 'May Be Internet Spoofs'," Press Association, 19 November 2001
11/2001 Nuclear A so-called "Superbomb" manual, which discusses the advanced physics of nuclear weapons and dirty bombs, is found in Kabul in November 2001. 6/23/2002 Author of Mail on Sunday article "Osama Bin Laden's bid to acquire weapons of mass destruction represents the greatest threat that Western Civilization has faced," Mail on Sunday (London), 23 June 2002
Late 2001 Biological U.S. operatives in Afghanistan allegedly discover evidence indicating that one or more Russian scientists were helping al-Qa`ida weaponize anthrax. 12/9/2001 A "well-placed" US intelligence source Jeffrey Bartholet, "Terrorist Sleeper Cells," Newsweek, 9 December 2001
Late 2001 Biological Reports claim that al-Zawahiri's home in Kabul tested positive (perhaps falsely) for traces of anthrax, as did five of nineteen al-Qa`ida labs in Afghanistan. 12/10/2001 US Government "Al-Qaeda: Anthrax Found in al-Qaeda home," Global Security Newswire, 10 December 2001; Judith Miller, "Labs Suggest Qaeda Planned to Build Arms, Officials Say," New York Times, 14 September 2002
Late 2001 Biological John Walker Lindh allegedly told interrogators that battlefield rumors suggested that a biological attack was expected to be a "second wave" al-Qa`ida attack. 10/3/2002 "American Taliban" John Walker Lindh, citing "battlefield rumors" "US biological attack imminent -- Taliban," iafrica.com, 12 December 2001; "Walker Lindh: Al Qaeda Planned More Attacks," CNN, 3 October 2002
post-2001 Chemical/ Biological French Interior Minister Dominique de Villepin claimed that al-Qa'ida affiliates have produced chemical and biological weapons in Georgia's Pankisi Gorge. De Villepin told members of a bio-terrorism conference in Lyons, France, that after the fall of the Taliban, al-Qa'ida cells moved to the Pankisi Gorge in order to continue efforts to produce anthrax bacteria, ricin, and botulinum toxin. 3-Jan-05 French Government "Al-Qaeda Made Biological Weapons in Georgia--French Minister," Moscow News, 3 January 2005.
2002 Chemical One of the facilities of Ansar al-Islam, a radical Islamist group operating in northern Iraq with ties to al-Qa`ida and Iran, produces a form of cyanide cream (not a WMD) that kills on contact. 8/25/2002 Unnamed U.S. interrogators William Safire, "Tying Saddam to Terrorist Organizations," New York Times, 25 August 2002
first half of 2002 Biological Ansar al-Islam is reported to have been experimenting with ricin, a deadly toxin, including on at least one human being. This report is denied by Ansar spokesman Muhammad Hasan Muhammad. 8/20/2002 US Government "US knew of bioterror tests in Iraq," BBC News, 20 August 2002; "US Monitors Kurdish Extremists," Fox News, 21 August 2002; Isma'il Zayir, "Ansar al-Islam Group Accuses [Jalal] Talabani of Spreading Rumors About Its Cooperation with al-Qa`ida," Al-Hayah, 22 August 2002
1/2002 Nuclear Diagrams of U.S. nuclear power plants are found in abandoned al-Qa`ida camps and facilities in Afghanistan. 1/31/02 al-Qa`ida document cache Bill Gertz, "Nuclear Plants Targeted," Washington Times, 31 January 2002; John J. Lumpkin, "Diagrams Show Interest in Nuke Plants," Associated Press, 30 January 2002
2/2002 Nuclear No evidence was discovered in Afghanistan that al-Qa`ida possesses nuclear weapons, raising the question whether al-Qa`ida might have been tricked into buying metal containers with phony nuclear symbols filled with worthless material. 2/26/2002 US analysts Thom Shanker, "US Analysts Find No Sign bin Laden Had Nuclear Arms," New York Times, 26 February 2002
Before 3/2002 Biological US forces discover a BW laboratory under construction near Kandahar that was abandoned by al-Qa`ida. It was allegedly being built to produce anthrax, but no biological agents or traces thereof were found in the facility. 3/22/2002 US Government Dominic Evans, "US Troops Found Afghan Biological Lab," Reuters, 22 March 2002; Michael R. Gordon, "US Says it Found Qaeda Lab Being Built to Produce Anthrax," New York Times, 23 March 2002
4/2002 Radiological Abu Zubayda claims al-Qa`ida has the interest and know-how to produce a radiological weapon, and the group may already have one in the United States. 4/22/02 al-Qa`ida leader Abu Zubayda Jamie McIntyre, "Zubaydah: al Qaeda Had 'Dirty Bomb' Know-How," CNN, 22 April 2002; "Al-Qaeda Claims 'Dirty Bomb' Know-How," BBC, 23 April 2002
5/2002 Radiological U.S. citizen Abdullah al-Muhajir (formerly José Pedilla), is arrested in Chicago and alleged to be involved with al-Qa`ida in planning to perpetrate a radiological bomb attack in the United States. 6/11/2002 US Government Dan Eggen and Susan Schmidt, "'Dirty Bomb' Plot Uncovered, US Says: Suspected Al Qaeda Operative Held as 'Enemy Combatant'," Washington Post, 11 June 2002
5/2002 Chemical Among the items seized during the arrest of Sami Uthman, a Lebanese national who moved to the US and became an Imam at a Islamist mosque in Seattle, are papers by London-based al-Qa`ida recruiter Shaykh Abu Hamza al-Masri, firearms, military manuals, and "instructions on poisoning water sources." 7/13/2002 confidential "investigative document" Patrick J. McDonnell and Josh Meyer, "Links to Terrorism Probed in Northwest," Los Angeles Times, 13 July 2002
6/3/2002 Radiological al-Qa`ida allegedly attempts to acquire 11 lbs of radioactive thallium from measuring devices on decommissioned Russian submarines, but Russia's Federal Security Service claims to have blocked the attempt. 6/3/2002 Russia's Federal Security Service "Insider Notes," United Press International, 3 June 2002
7/18/2002 Biological Stephen Younger, director of the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, claims that al-Qa`ida's interest in BWs is focused mainly on anthrax. 7/18/2002 Stephen Younger "Weapons Worries," CBS News, 18 July 2002
9/1/2002 Nuclear On 23 January 2005, German police announced the arrest of an Iraqi al-Qa'ida member who had allegedly attempted to purchase uranium in Luxembourg. In September 2002, Ibrahim Muhammad K. attempted to purchase 48 grams (1.5) ounces of uranium from an unnamed group in Luxembourg. Prosecutors claim that the amount of uranium was insufficient for the construction of a nuclear device. 25-Jan-04 German government Craig Whitlock, "Germnay Arrests Two Al Qaeda Suspects," Washington Post, 24 January 2005; "Germany; Al Qaeda Suspects Held," Facts on File World News Digest, 27 January 2005; "Iraqi Al-Qaeda Suspect held in Germany Sent by Bin Laden," Agence France Presse, 29 January 2005.
9/13/2002 Chemical / Biological Pentagon officials admit that lab equipment found near Kandahar, Afghanistan, supports the assessment that al-Qa`ida might have acquired what it needed for "a very limited production of biological and chemical agents." 9/14/2002 US Government Judith Miller, "Lab Suggests Qaeda Planned to Build Arms, Officials Say," New York Times, 14 September 2002
10/2002 or 11/2002 Chemical The Islamist group Asbat al-Ansar, a Lebanon-based Sunni organization affiliated with al-Qa`ida that is currently operating in northern Iraq, reportedly obtained the nerve agent VX from the Iraqi regime. 12/12/2002 US Government Barton Gellman, "US Suspects Al Qaeda Got Nerve Agent From Iraqis," Washington Post, 12 December 2002
11/9/2002 Chemical British security officials arrest three men reportedly plotting a cyanide attack on the London subway. 11/18/2002 Unnamed sources Hala Jaber and Nicholas Rufford, "MI5 foils poison-gas attack on the Tube," Sunday Times (London), 17 November 2002
Early 2003 Radiological After the 2003 Casablanca bombings, a police roundup of Salafia Jihadia exposed a plot by 'Abd al-'Aziz ibn Laysh to attack a French nuclear power plant at Cap de la Hague. Additional evidence indicates that members of al-Qa`ida trained Salafia Jihadia for this mission. 7-Jun-03 Moroccan authorities Martin Arostegui,"Terrorism in Morocco Deeper Than Imagined," United Press International, 7 June, 2003; "Frenchman on Trial in Morocco Over Suicide Bombings," Agence France Presse, 25 August, 2003.
1/5/2003 Biological Six Algerians were arrested in London and charged with plotting to produce ricin. Authorities discovered traces of ricin and equipment used to process castor beans in the apartment. According to news sources, the group was plotting to attack a British military base by poisoning the food. Later reports indicate that the substance tested in the apartment was not ricin. 1/9/2003 British Government Jeffrey Bale, Anjali Bhattacharjee, Eric Croddy, and Richard Pilch, MD, "Ricin Found in London: An al-Qa'ida Connection," Center for Nonproliferation Studies, 23 January 2002, available at http://cns.miis.edu/iiop/cnsdata?Action=1&Concept=0&Mime=1&collect
3/1/2003 Radiological On 20 March 2003, the FBI announced that they were searching for Adnan al- Shukrijuma in connection with the Jose Padilla case. Padilla was arrested May 2002 for plotting to obtain materials in Canada for a dirty bomb. Shukrijuma was identified from documents obtained in connection with the 2002 arrest of Ramzi bin al-Shib, a key 9/11 architect. 3/1/2003 FBI Bill Gertz, "Al Qaeda Pursued a Dirty Bomb," Washington Times, 17 October 2003; pg. A1; Entity Record: "Adnan El Shukrijumah," Sentenial TMS Records: Tracking the Threat, 25 November 2003. Available online at: http://www.trackingthethreat.com/db/ENT1706.htm. Accessed 20 May 2004; Katherine Wexler, "Father Denies Son Linked to Terror," St. Petersburg Times, 22 March 2003; Scott Wheeler, "Evidence Points to Dirty-Bomb Plot," Insight Magazine, 29 October 2003.
2004 Radiological Reports indicate that an al-Qa'ida affiliate named Midhat Mursi may have been constructing a "dirty bomb" in early 2004. Mursi is reportedly in contact with Ayman al-Zawahiri and was suspected of managing al-Qa'ida chemical labs in Afghanistan. Mursi allegedly uses the name "Abu Khabab". 1/1/2004 U.S. Government Muhammad Wajdi Qandyl, "Searching for Weapons of Mass Destruction and Al-Qa'ida," Al-Akhbar (Cairo),18 January 2004.
1/23/2004 Chemical U.S. forces found 3kg of cyanide at the Baghdad house of Ahmad Fadhl Nazzal al-Khalayila, an aide to Zarqawi. The cyanide was to be placed in construction bricks and used against coalition troops. Troops also uncovered a document thought to be written by Zarqawi asking al-Qa'ida for aid. 2/7/2004 U.S. Government John Lumpkin, "U.S. Forces in Iraq Find Some Cyanide," Associated Press, 7 February 2004; Douglas Jehl, "U.S. Aids Report Evidence Tying Al Qaeda To Attacks," New York Times,10 February 2004.
3/1/2004 Chemical British authorities announced they had thwarted a possible chemical attack tenuously linked to al-Qa'ida. The plot, which was in an early planning stage, involved the use of conventional explosions enhanced with osmium tetroxide in London's shopping centers, railway stations, and the Underground. 4/5/2004 British authorities "Deadly Chemical Planned for Use in Potential British Bomb Plot," Agence France Presse, 26 April 2004; "Osmium Tetroxide: A New Chemical Terrorism Weapon," CNS Research Story of the Week,13 April 2004; available at: http://cns.miis.edu/pubs/week/040413.htm.
4/20/2004 Chemical The Jordanian Intelligence Service seized six trucks wired with explosives containing 20 tons of an unknown chemical. The trucks were reportedly part of a plot by Zarqawi and a number of al-Qa'ida members to destroy Jordan's Intelligence Department, Prime Minister's Office, and the U.S. Embassy. 4/21/2004 Jordanian Government "Qaeda-linked Chemical Attack in Jordan Could Have Killed 80,000," Agence France Presse, 26 April 2004; "Confessions of Group Planning Jordan Chemical Attack," BBC Monitoring, 26 April 2004; Interview with Mahmud Al-Kharabsha, Member of the Jordanian Parliament.
6/1/2004 Chemical/ Radiological Eight men were arrested in Britain and charged with conspiracy to murder after they were discovered with information on chemicals, explosives, and radiological materials. Also in their possession were plans of the New York Stock Exchange, the Citigroup Building in New York, the International Monetary Fund in Washington, and the Prudential Building in New Jersey. The arrests occured two weeks after a series of 13 arrests of men allegedly affiliated with the al-Qa'ida network. The men were identified as Dhiren Barot, Omar Abdur Rehman, Zia ul Haq, Abdul Aziz Jalil, Nadeem Tarmohammed, Moammed Naveed Bhatti, Quaisar Shaffi, and Junade Feroze. Aug-04 British Government Ben English, "Britain Charges Eight Over US 'Terror Campaign,'" The Advertiser, 18 August 2004.


Author(s): WMDTRP
Related Resources: Terrorism, Middle East, Nuclear, CBW
Date Created: December 22, 2002
Date Updated: May 13, 2005
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