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CNN LIVE THIS MORNING

Target: Terrorism: Look at Al Qaeda's Dreadful Recipe Book

Aired November 15, 2001 - 09:42   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: Just this morning comes word that Taliban leader Mullah Mohamed Omar in an interview with the BBC said a plan is already under way to destroy America. It turns out that the Al Qaeda terrorists already have a dreadful recipe book on how to do just that.

Chapter and verse now on this exclusive report from Mike Boettcher.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MIKE BOETTCHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The extent of Al-Qaeda's operational knowledge was once contained in these, the never before seen 10-volume Encyclopedia of Afghan Resistance, which the intelligence service of an anti-terrorism coalition partner allowed CNN to videotape.

In the foreword to each volume this: "To the beloved brother Osama bin Laden, who fought in Afghanistan with his should and his money, who still resists there and presses forward with the Jihad until now." Inside platitudes give way to precise instruction in a variety of lethal techniques. "Killings from Close Range" the title of one, with a section on ambushes, complete with diagrams. Another volume is called "bomb and land mines." The explosive volume contains directions on how to set detonators into blocks of TNT and plastic explosive.

(on camera): Since the mid 1990s, the Encyclopedia of Jihad has been the guidebook for Al Qaeda operations.

But now CNN has learned a new and even more frightening volume has been added to the collection. The recently publish 11th book in the collection, distributed on CD-ROMs to Al Qaeda cells, is a how-to manual on chemical and biological terrorism. CNN was permitted by an intelligence agency that intercepting the volume to inspect the entire almost 500-page document, and was given three chapters of the manual, in order to prove it's existence.

It is currently analyzed by Western intelligence agencies. It's not known how many copies of the CD were produced. Precise, deadly formulas packed with new volume. All can be made from ingredients readily available to the public. For example, a chapter entitle "Purifying Manure" describes a clear-cut goal -- quote -- "To acquire pure forms of ammonium nitrate without any foreign substances in order to prepare RDX," a powerful explosive compound.

The poisonous letter is the title of one section no poison inks. "Write a letter to the victim mentioning very exciting and very interesting news," it reads. "Wipe the envelope from the inside with silicone sealant," it goes on, "so it would not kill the mailman."

In the chapter called "Science of Explosives," precise chemical formulas are followed by step-by-step instructions in the manufacture of lethal weapons of mass destruction.

Biological warfare sections of the new volume give exact formulas for the production of deadly toxins botulinum and ricin. But there was no evidence of instructions on how to make or distribute anthrax.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BOETTCHER: Have they been utilizing the formulas, well, coalition sources tell CNN that within the past two years, at least six complete laboratories that could be used to make chemical or biological weapons have been purchased by Al Qaeda. Half of them sent from the United Arab Emirates, and the other half from the Ukraine, and the most recent three purchases were made earlier this year -- Paula.

ZAHN: Mike, how long the U.S. government been aware of the existence of these manuals?

BOETTCHER: Well the Encyclopedia of Afghan Resistance, or sometimes it referred to as the Encyclopedia of Jihad, has been around for quite a few years, and it's been held in the vaults of intelligence services. It's a complete how-to manual, contains a lot of various things, as you saw there, also first aid. But as they have progressed in their knowledge, they have come out with specific new volumes, and this number 11 devoted solely to chem-bio.

Do they have the capability? Paula, one thing that went unnoticed that we uncovered in our investigation was in 1999, a top lieutenant of Al Qaeda went on trial in Egypt, and he told a reporter there without prompting that Al Qaeda does have chemical and biological weapons, and he said -- quote -- "Bin Laden gave the order that they should only be used only in a case of extreme emergency."

ZAHN: And of course Osama bin Laden and most recent statement said would only be used as deterrence, which would suggest, would it not, Mike, some sort of nuclear holocaust if in fact he has the ability to make these kinds of nuclear weapons.

BOETTCHER: Well, I will tell you what I found, Paula, is that we've been really looking for any evidence that he has a nuclear weapon or has built one, haven't yet been able to find that. Although there's some reports of a manual that's in "The Times of London," a manual on how to make a bomb was found. What intelligence analysts think is more likely is what's called fissile or a dirty bomb, which would using radioactive material that would not create a nuclear explosion, but there would be a explosion that would spread radioactivity over an area and make it uninhabitable for several years.

Again, I want to emphasize, we haven't found in our investigation facts that say, yes, he does have nuclear weapons, but across the board, intelligence analyst in these coalition partners, antiterror coalition partners say there's no doubt they have chemical and biological weapons.

ZAHN: But, Mike, if you were to really very carefully analyze this information from the "London Times" reports, was it your interpretation that with the existence of the manual might suggest that perhaps Osama bin Laden could do something more sophisticated that dirty bomb, or you didn't reach that conclusion?

BOETTCHER: Well the reporter on the ground there from the "Times of London" found this half burnt manual, and the way I read it is they were trying to build a big nuclear device like the Nagasaki bomb, which that bomb, if I remember right, was called "the fat man" or "fat boy," and because it's very -- it was huge, and it would be hard to deliver that kind of a weapon. If you look at the manual, what they are doing is -- and the chem-bio manual, is giving their people information in the field, information on how to build weapons that they can acquire the ingredients for in the public domain, so to speak.

Again, I think it's less likely that they would be building this sophisticated device, because it would be so very difficult to deliver it. And that is the body of knowledge right now. Now this manual that's reported on in Afghanistan may change all of that thinking. But that is the current thinking right now among coalition intelligence sources.

ZAHN: Well, thank you for yet another exclusive report Mike Boettcher.

Good to have you with us on the morning side. We know you're working all aspects of this know. We're glad to have you with us in the morning, a fascinating and chilling report.

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