Qaeda Prepares Bio-Terror for US and Israel
January 4, 2003,
10:13 PM (GMT+02:00) DEBKAfile
DEBKA-Net-Weekly’s intelligence sources report mounting fears
within US and Israeli counter-terrorism agencies that al Qaeda’s
three command centers are preparing mega-terror attacks for US and
that, for the time being, al Qaeda has foregone a nuclear, radiological
or chemical option in favor of biological warfare, because of the
weapons systems believed to have been made available by Iraqi military
intelligence and already in the hands of three al Qaeda commanders:
Abu Musaab al Zarqawi, Abdullah Ahmed Abdullah and Khalid Sheikh
Mohammed ,nicknamed “the Mukhtar” .
that a biological attack on Israel will act as an appropriate reprisal
for the threatening US offensive and a possible deterrent.
To be ready
in case Iraq launches its F-1 or L-29 warplanes, or Polish-made
drones – all armed with spray canisters loaded with toxic chemicals
or germs – over Eilat or Aqaba, the Americans have in the past week
been shipping to southern Israel improved, re-engineered PAC-3 anti-missile
batteries together with thousands of US Marines.
the view of our intelligence and military sources, the more immediate
danger to Israel comes not directly from Iraq but from al Qaeda
and its biological weapons arsenal.
They say the
Islamic fundamentalist group has established a headquarters at Bayara
in the radical Kurdish Ansar al-Islam enclave of northern Iraq,
as one of its three main planning centers.
whose full name is Ahmad Fadeel Nazal Abu Mussab al Zarqawi, aka
al Khalayleh, is the senior bio-project director.
counter-terrorism sources report that in November and December,
al Zarqawi was spotted commuting between Baghdad, Bayara, Damascus
and Beirut, giving the Bush administration its first direct proof
of the Baghdad-al Qaeda terrorist link. It prompted the US President
to remark on Tuesday, December 31, that “an attack from Saddam
Hussein or a surrogate of Saddam Hussein would cripple our economy.”
senior officer, Abdullah is based in Pakistan – either in the port
city of Karachi or near the border with Afghanistan, while the whereabouts
of Mohammed, “the Mukhtar” are unknown. He may be in
Bosnia or Europe.
Of the three,
Zarqawi is the ticking bomb waiting to go off.
in his late 30s, he fled the kingdom in 1999 after he was caught
plotting to blow up hotels hosting foreign millennium celebrants.
He is the only al Qaeda operative known for certain to have undergone
extensive terrorist training – including airline hijacking
techniques — in Iraq’s notorious Salman Pak special weapons
Back in October
2001, shortly after the September 11 attacks in the United States,
DEBKA-Net-Weekly reported that Bayara became an al Qaeda base complete
with chemical and biological training laboratories run for the group
by the Iraqis.
sources reveal that Zarqawi was also in charge of the relocation
of 150 to 200 al Qaeda fugitives from Afghanistan to South Lebanon.
The group destined for Lebanon was consisted of hardcore terrorists
trained in chemical and biological warfare.
dropped out of sight lately, raising the suspicion that one of his
mega-terror attacks may be imminent.
Abdullah is believed to be the highest ranking of the trio of al
Qaeda commanders. Aged about 40, he is an Egyptian and member of
the radical Egyptian Islamic Jihad, who since 1991 has been al Qaeda’s
chief money man, while also active in shoring up the group’s
worldwide logistical network and organizing operations. A year ago,
after the US forced the main body of al Qaeda and Taliban out of
Afghanistan, Abdullah took over as overall al Qaeda commander in
Pakistan and Kashmir. Many intelligence sources claim that today,
Abdullah is the top man in al Qaeda, but there is no proof of this.
sources have unearthed two little-known facts about this mysterious
and powerful figure:
First, he lives
under the full protection of Pakistan’s military leaders and
intelligence – the most senior al Qaeda operative to enjoy
this status. Second, Abdullah was the mastermind behind the November
28 strikes against Israeli targets in Mombasa, Kenya, in which 16
people died, although the terrorist team on the spot failed to shoot
down an Israel airliner with 270 people aboard.
This top al
Qaeda commander has CIA and FBI officers in Pakistan chewing their
nails in frustration. They usually know where he is and where he
goes, but they cannot touch him because of the protective umbrella
the Pakistani SIS extends him on orders from President Pervez Musharraf.
This week, a Pakistani unit exchanged fire with US troops who apparently
got too close to areas Pakistani military intelligence designated
as off-limits. There were rumors at the time that Abdullah was in
the neighborhood of the incident. The United States responded with
a B-52 bombing run against the Pakistani contingent.
sources can also disclose that, while an al Qaeda operative called
Mohammed Fazul led the operation against the Israeli-owned Mombasa
Palace Hotel and an Arkia airliner, Abdullah was the operation’s
planner and supreme commander. He picked the terrorist team, decided
how best to smuggle the Strela shoulder-launched missiles into Kenya
and who would fire them at Mombasa airport,
messages between Abdullah and Zarqawi indicate it will be the latter
is setting up the next big al Qaeda attack in the Middle East –
mostly likely in Israel, Abdullah is putting together a large-scale
strike inside the United States.
third command center, known as the European HQ, is headed by Mohammed,
or “The Mukhtar”, who is not authorized to plan or carry
out attacks without approval from above – but his field of
operation is major, covering such key European cities as London,
Paris, Berlin, Rome, Prague and Moscow.
Bush has good
cause to be deeply concerned over al Qaeda’s potential for
biological attacks. Two of the group’s most prominent leaders,
Zarqawi and Abdullah, enjoy the protection and help of the formidable
military intelligence arms of Iraq and Pakistan, the latter ostensibly
a US ally but working behind the scenes against Washington’s
global war against terrorism.
The US president
has another worry: Saudi Arabia and Pakistan could end up aligning
themselves with Saddam Hussein, should he succeed in persuading
al Qaeda to dispatch its fighters to Iraq and locate the group’s
command centers on its soil.