Al Qaeda plotting bio attack on US via Mexico?

By Arun Kumar, IANS,

Washington : Al Qaeda has threatened to smuggle a biological weapon into the United States via tunnels under the Mexico border to stage another mass-casualty terrorist attack on the country, the Washington Times said citing evidence gathered by counter-terrorism officials.

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Counter-terrorism officials have authenticated a video by an Al Qaeda recruiter threatening to do so, the newspaper reported Wednesday describing it as “the latest sign of the terrorist group’s determination to stage” such an attack.

The video aired earlier this year as a recruitment tool makes clear that Al Qaeda is looking to exploit weaknesses in US border security and also is willing to ally itself with white militia groups or other anti-government entities interested in carrying out an attack inside the US, the daily said citing unnamed officials interviewed by it.

The officials, it said, stressed that there is no credible information that Al Qaeda has acquired the capabilities to carry out a mass biological attack although its members have clearly sought the expertise.

The video first aired by the Arabic news network Al Jazeera in February and later posted to several websites shows Kuwaiti dissident Abdullah al-Nafisi telling a room full of supporters in Bahrain that Al Qaeda is casing the US border with Mexico to assess how to send terrorists and weapons into the US.

The Times cited a US counterterrorism official as saying al-Nafisi is a “person of interest” and a veteran recruiter for Al Qaeda.

Misidentified on some blog sites as a professor, he is an Al Qaeda associate who is thought to have communicated with senior Al Qaeda leaders in recent years, the official said.

The recruiter is also said to have close ties to Mullah Mohammed Omar, the senior Afghan Taliban leader now thought to be in Pakistan, the Times said.

Al-Nafisi “is a significant ideological player in terrorist circles, and that makes him dangerous because he can inspire his followers to do extremely bad things”, the official said.

In the video, al-Nafisi emphasised that Al Qaeda had chemical laboratories in Afghanistan prior to the US invasion. He described his admiration for Hezbollah and said that Al Qaeda continues to have scientists and resources at its disposal.

In the video, obtained and translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute, al-Nafisi also suggests that Al Qaeda might want to collaborate with members of native US white supremacist militias who hate the federal government.

The Times cited Sean Smith, a spokesman for Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, as saying the US takes such threats seriously.