05.18.09

No More Myths from the GWOT, Daddy, Please!

Posted in Bioterrorism, Crazy Weapons, Phlogiston, War On Terror at 4:51 pm by George Smith

“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.


Related:

‘Abu Khabab,’ the alleged chemical weapons expert, has been peddled for awhile now.


In a longer form at the SITREP blog.

4 Comments

  1. Ilvar Khorstoon said,

    May 19, 2009 at 8:51 am

    Sincerly, you sometimes look extremely overconfident about the dangers of terrorists using chemicals or radioactive materials. And I believe that overconfidence is frequently no less dangerous than paranoia. It leads to loose all your senses and shock if the event does occur. And it is quite dangerous being in shock under the heat of a WMD event.

    Anyway, it is completely out of question that you make a very solid point on the capabilities of our most dreaded terrorists: they don’t have a capability. And it is more true than what many DHS may ever reach in their wildest dreams. Today, on Internet, it is superbly easy to find nearly anything on chemical weaponry. All the WWI weaponry is here, from A to Z, with all the steps, the hints and tricks of the trade. Some of this is the same original literature that lead to Ypres btw. And what is completely hillarious – some of these “algorithms” is a simple “bathtube task” (btw some real containers didn’t make a huge difference from a bathtube). It is raw and artisan.

    But. with all this here, so open and even more accessible after 8 years of “War on Terror”, why “terrors” don’t do it? Because you have to do your own homework. You need to know chemistry, have at least some experience, do some math, have patience, ponder the errors and go it all over. No, this is exactly what terrrorists don’t want to do. These guys are amateurs with failed careers and too much coca-cola in their faith. Even those raw, erron-prone and dumb cookbooks of theirs are too much literature to be digested. They want the “bomb-in-a-can”, which you easily push and makes *BUM*. These guys are stupid kids who decided to play the most stupid game of all – kill people.

    But there are no “bombs-in-a-can”. Even grenades demand a little bit of knowledge and care. However you cannot make too much with grenades or even with those fashionable vests of theirs. In the end it is a loosing war, much like their Carbonaria cousins. However, it is more than a titanic task to “do it”, even if you have the right books at hand. Even then, they barely move from the spot they are stucked in. This was shown by the retrieval of a very hot book from a supposedly “hot” site. They had everything. But did Zero.

    Anyway, their total incapacity shall not be intepreted to a conclusion that they are unable to create a mess. These guys, sometimes, have strokes of genius. Wicked genius, but childish. Yes, to get a cargo plane, stuff it with high-grade explosives and drop it into Pentagon was too much an effort. It was too much logistics, tactics, maneuvers, second-thinking, calculations, risks. They found the easiest way by boarding an usual air carrier and divert it. For their “bomb-in-a-can” minds it was the perfect idea. And here DD, you are absolutely right on bashing more than 90% of scenarios made by Pentagon, DHS and alikes. They are based on the “Evil Genius” concept, but we are dealing with script-kiddies of terrorism.

    However this is where we get into a big problem that everyone, even you DD, seem to miss: terror psychadelics are giving ground for the creation of new organisations and forms. Not only terrorists mature, others are considering that terrorism is not such a bad tactic at all. Much like Carbonaria and Narodnaya Volya evolved into hardcore communist factions and nazis, modern terrorism is mutating on a similar fashion. Let’s be clear – who are the Talibanis? They are the modern version of the famous SS’s Sonderkommandos. And their strikingly similarity is not chance, one can find a few things that trace a path between them. The two big problems why we don’t see this is because there are individual specifics and the “raw” material is completely different (Taliban’s base has a much harder kind of meat to chew). However, the “sponsors” have not only managed to stand hidden at backstage but also are wise learned guys and they love working on the warboard.

    And these guys DO HAVE nukes. They have them and may use them one day, somewhere.

  2. George Smith said,

    May 19, 2009 at 5:14 pm

    Today, on Internet, it is superbly easy to find nearly anything on chemical weaponry. All the WWI weaponry is here, from A to Z, with all the steps, the hints and tricks of the trade. Some of this is the same original literature that lead to Ypres btw. And what is completely hillarious – some of these “algorithms” is a simple “bathtube task” (btw some real containers didn’t make a huge difference from a bathtube). It is raw and artisan.

    Not precisely. The bathtub recipes aren’t practical unless one is already highly trained in the art and with access to unrestricted supply. In which case, they’re really not needed. As for Ypres, terrorists just can’t get the mass of chlorine needed to imitate it. They tried using chlorine in Iraq, with little or no success. And then when they found it wasn’t all they thought it would be, they abandoned it.

  3. KMansfield said,

    September 12, 2009 at 1:23 am

    Quote: Ivar” However, the “sponsors” have not only managed to stand hidden at backstage but also are wise learned guys and they love working on the warboard.

    And these guys DO HAVE nukes. They have them and may use them one day, somewhere.”

    That is some kind of scary story, like waking up to the nightmare rather than from it.

    Oh, and George, obviously you didn’t read his whole post.

  4. George Smith said,

    September 12, 2009 at 11:02 am

    Yes, I did. Making up stuff about al Qaeda or the Taliban — or anyone — is what the entire post was about. So some person from the Internet makes something up and tries to sneak it into comments. How novel. Now there’s a thing that certainly doesn’t happen everyday.

    Again, the longer version at GlobalSecurity.Org.