“The Al Qaeda videotape shows a small white dog tied up inside a glass cage,” writes famous reporter Peter Bergen today for the New Republic.
“A milky gas slowly filters in. An Arab man with an Egyptian accent says: ‘Start counting the time.’ Nervous, the dog starts barking and then moaning. After flailing about for some minutes, it succumbs to the poisonous gas and stops moving.
“This experiment almost certainly occurred at the Derunta training camp near the eastern Afghan city of Jalalabad, conducted by an Egyptian with the nom de jihad of ‘Abu Khabab.’ In the late 1990s, under the direction of Al Qaeda’s number two, Ayman Al Zawahiri, Abu Khabab set up the terrorist group’s WMD research program, which was given the innocuous codename ‘Yogurt.’ Abu Khabab taught hundreds of militants how to deploy poisonous chemicals, such as ricin and cyanide gas. The Egyptian WMD expert also explored the possible uses of radioactive materials, writing in a 2001 memo to his superiors, ‘As you instructed us you will find attached a summary of the discharges from a traditional nuclear reactor, among which are radioactive elements that could be used for military operations.’ In the memo, Abu Khabab asked if it were possible to get more information about the matter ‘from our Pakistani friends who have great experience in this sphere.’ This was likely a reference to the retired Pakistani senior nuclear scientists who were meeting then with Osama bin Laden.”
All of this sensational material, a lead-in for Bergen’s discussion of the US’s Predator drone assassination campaign in Afghanistan and Pakistan. For it to have value in this story, one must buy into the idea that in erasing ‘Abu Khabab,’ a Predator drone strike eliminated an al Qaeda capability in chemical and biological weapons. Instead of just offing some odious nobody.
But readers have learned that when it comes to the war on terror, and what the enemy is said to be able to do, much is exaggerated, the product of gossip passed on or published by someone else, or simply made up out of whole cloth by unreliable or anonymous sources working their own agendas.
Indeed, many will remember videotape of a small dog being gassed in a room, recovered during the invasion of Afghanistan. Played hundreds of times during news shows, you would have had to be living without power and water in the hills of North Carolina to have missed it.
However, since then, al Qaeda has shown zero capability in the area of chemical and biological weapons. What has been shown, again and again by DD on the web, is that they have had aspirations and lots of rubbish documents, all amounting to nothing. If ‘Abu Khabab’ had been training “hundreds of militants how to deploy poisonous chemicals, such as ricin and cyanide gas,” he was the world’s worst ‘teacher,’ an unmitigated failure and fool.
For examples of jihadist ‘capabilities’ and ‘documents’ on deploying poisonous chemicals see here and here and here on dirty bombs and here on even more poisons. And for a discussion of al Qaeda’s somewhat less-than-successful stabs at making a cyanide gas bomb, see here. And, since Bergen mentioned ricin, don’t forget all the evidence from the London ricin case, here.
‘Abu Khabab,’ the alleged chemical weapons expert, has been peddled for awhile now.
In a longer form at the SITREP blog.