[Securing the United States from terrorist attack will be the focus of the upcoming America’s Truth Forum symposium, “˜Understanding the Threat of Radical Islamist Terrorism,’ taking place in Las Vegas this November 10th and 11th. Dr. Harvey Kushner, Dr. Paul Williams and Hamid Mir will be participating at this event. Go to http://www.americastruthforum.com/ for more details or contact Jeffrey Epstein at (866) 709-3474.]
Just recently, an al-Qaeda field commander in Afghanistan called for Muslims to leave the U.S., particularly the cities of Washington and New York. Some reports suspect that this call is a warning about a potential nuclear attack on the U.S.
Does Al Qaeda have nuclear capability? If not, is it on the verge of acquiring it? What dangers do we face in this context? Is a jihadist WMD attack on U.S. territory an inevitability? What can we do to prevent this horror?
To discuss this issue with us today, Frontpage Symposium has assembled a distinguished panel of experts. Our guests are:
David Dastych, international journalist for over 40 years, now operating his own media agency in Poland. A former Polish covert intelligence agent, he joined the CIA in South Vietnam (1973-1987). Jailed in Poland for his work against the USSR, the Warsaw Pact and communist interests (1987-1990), he was given an eight 8 years’ sentence, but communism collapsed in 1989 and he was released. He monitored illegal nuclear trades for an Israeli organization from 1992-1994.
Hamid Mir, a Pakistani journalist who has more than 18 years experience in covering conflicts and wars in Afghanistan, Kashmir, Bosnia, Chechnya, Sri Lanka, Iraq and Lebanon. He has interviewed Osama bin Laden three times. He is an expert on Al Qaeda’s nuclear ambitions and has travelled to Russia, Uzbekistan, Iran and Syria in his research work. He is currently working with Geo TV in Islamabad and writing for Jang Group of Newspapers.
Paul Williams, a journalist and the author of The Al Qaeda Connection: International Terrorism, Organized Crime, and the Coming Apocalypse; The Vatican Exposed: Money, Murder, and the Mafia; and Osama’s Revenge: The Next 9/11—What the Media and the Government Haven’t Told You. He has served as a consultant for the FBI, as editor and publisher of the Metro in Scranton, Pennsylvania, and as an adjunct professor of humanities at the University of Scranton.
Harvey W. Kushner, Ph.D., the chair at a major university department of criminal justice. He advises and trains a number of federal agencies and appears regularly in the media. Kushner is a contributing editor for FamilySecurityMatter.org. He is the author of many books on terrorism, including the award-winning Encyclopaedia of Terrorism and the widely quoted Holy War on the Home Front: The Secret Islamic Terror Network in the United States.
FP: David Dastych, Harvey W. Kushner, Paul Williams, and Hamid Mir, welcome to Frontpage Symposium.
Paul Williams, let’s begin with you.
What are the dangers we face right now in terms of a WMD attack by Al Qaeda or another Islamist entity?
Williams: The danger is very real. Accounts of the al Qaeda nukes first appeared in such reputable newspapers as The Jerusalem Report and The London Times, and Arabic magazines, including al-Watan al-Arabi and al-Majallah. These sources verified from British, Israeli, and Russian intelligence sources that bin Laden had purchased tactical nuclear weapons from the Chechen Mafia in 1996.
In subsequent years, the foreign press and intelligence sources, including the CIA, have been able to verify additional sales of off-the-shelf nukes and nuclear materials (highly enriched uranium and plutonium) from the former Soviet Union to al-Qaeda. The sellers included not only by the Chechens but also the Russian Mafia and black-marker arms-dealers, such as Semion Mogilevic from the Ukraine. Such information can be obtained by any journalist with a telephone, a computer, and a library card.
These sales to al-Qaeda have been verified by a host of weapons inspectors, including Hans Blix, former director general of the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency. They were even verified by bin Laden and al-Zawahiri in their pronouncements that they have obtained a small arsenal of nuclear weapons from black-market sources.
But these sales are not the scary part. That comes from the ties between bin Laden and Dr. A. Q. Khan and the fact that over 20 nuclear scientists and technicians from Khan’s research laboratories in Pakistan worked with al-Qaeda on a regular basis to maintain and modify the weapons that had been purchased and to develop other weapons, including highly portable “bespoke nukes.”
Dr. Mahmood and Dr. Majeed, two of the leading officials at the Khan facility, confessed to CIA and ISI interrogators that they participated in al-Qaeda’s nuclear projects. The fact that the Chechens possessed the nukes should be no surprise to any reporter or investigator. In 1995, the Chechens under Com. Shamail Basayev planted a radiological bomb in Izmailovsky Park near Moscow. The bomb was made of cesium-137, and, if detonated, would have killed thousands of Russians. This incident represented the first case of a nuke to be deployed as a weapon of terror. Later that same year, Dzokhar Dudayev, the leader of the Chechen Mafia, offered to sell his collection of nuclear weapons to the United States in exchange for U. S. recognition of Chechnya’s independence. The Clinton Administration declined and so the weapons were sold to al-Qaeda.
More importantly, there is empirical proof that al-Qaeda possesses nukes. In 2000, British agents posed as recruits from a London mosque to infiltrate al-Qaeda training camps in Afghanistan. In Herat, they saw nuclear weapons being manufactured. Similarly, an al-Qaeda operative was arrested while crossing the Allenby Bridge toward the checkpoint at Ramallah in Israel in a rusty old Volkswagen van. Within the van, Mossad discovered a bomb which turned out to be a highly sophisticated plutonium-implosion device with an explosive yield of 10 kilotons (equivalent to the bomb dropped on Hiroshima). There are more examples of tangible proof, including the canister of uranium 238 that U.S. military officials discovered in a lead canister in Kandahar at the outset of Operation Enduring Freedom.
Few military and intelligence officials question bin Laden’s ability to launch his plan for the American Hiroshima. Gen. Eugene Habiger, former Executive Chief of Strategic Weapons at the Pentagon, said that an event of nuclear mega-terrorism on U. S. soil is “not a matter of if, but when.” During the 2004 presidential debates, President Bush and Sen. Kerry said that nuclear weapons in the hands of terrorists represent the greatest danger facing the American people, while Vice President Cheney, on the campaign trail, warned that a nuclear attack by al-Qaeda appears imminent. Before leaving office, Attorney General John Ashcroft and Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge both voiced that belief that al-Qaeda’s plan to nuke cities throughout the country soon might come to fruition.
From the private sector, Warren Buffet, who establishes odds against cataclysmic events for major insurance companies, concluded that an imminent nuclear nightmare within the United States is “virtually a certainty.” From the academic community, Dr. Graham Allison, director of Harvard University’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, said: “Is nuclear mega-terrorism inevitable? Harvard professors are known for being subtle or ambiguous, but I’ll try to the clear. ‘Is the worst yet to come?’ My answer: Bet on it. Yes.” Finally, from the mainstream media, Bill Keller, editor of The New York Times, concluded that the only reason for thinking a nuclear attack won’t happen is because “it hasn’t happened yet,” adding that such reasoning represents “terrible logic.” And so, the message has been delivered but few are listening, and the threat is real but precious little is being done to avert it.
Kushner: Dr. Williams is on point. He carefully describes why we should take measures to deal with a potential American Hiroshima. Thinking about the unthinkable is necessary given the mindset of our enemy—radical Islam.
Dr. Williams is also on point when he concludes that “precious little is being done to avert”? an American Hiroshima. We are more than five years past the terrorist attacks of 9/11 and millions of steel-frame ocean-going containers enter our port without inspection. These 20- and 40-foot containers are crammed with everything from furniture to parts for General Motors, and they can weigh as much as 30 tons each. Each one has a potential to contain a weapon of mass destruction that could be detonated when the ship reaches an American port or offloaded and transported to be detonated in one of our major cities.
Customs and Border protection has stepped up inspections of incoming containers—from 2 percent to approximately 4 percent of the total. Four percent of 8 million means 320,000 get inspected—and 7,680,000 do not. Government officials argue that they look at 100 percent of those that are high risk.
That is not a comforting thought when you consider that terrorists have already used such containers for transport. In 1998, an al Qaeda vessel transported explosives into Mombassa that were used in the East African embassy bombings. And in October 2001, a container headed for Toronto was opened during a stop in Italy. Authorities found inside a suspected al Qaeda member who fitted the liveable container forged documents, electronics equipment, and blueprints and floor plans or a number of facilities throughout North America.
In 2003, Undersecretary for DHS Asa Hutchinson told Congress, “If terrorists used a sea container to conceal a weapon of mass destruction and detonated it on arrival at a port, the impact on global trade and the global economy could be immediate and devastating—all nations would be affected.”?
Yes, Dr. Williams is on point—we are doing precious little to counter the threat of an American Hiroshima.
Dastych: Thank you for inviting me to this panel. I happen to know and to work closely with Mr. Mir and Dr. Williams, and I know about Dr. Kushner’s achievements. To me a nuclear threat to the United States, posed by al Qaeda, is real. The “American Hiroshima”? plan, conceived by Osama bin Laden, is at least 10 years old. The information, summarized here by Dr. Williams, is well documented in several of his books.
I have only one remark: Dzokhar Dudaev, before he was killed by a Russian missile, was President of Islamist Chechnya, and before he was a commander of a squadron of Soviet nuclear-bomber planes and a GRU agent. His offer to sell tactical nukes to the U.S. had a political purpose, but President Clinton had no intention to recognize free Chechnya. There were other means to purchase Dudaev’s nukes, and not to provoke Russia.
In the 1990’s, I had a chance to follow some illegal nuclear deals between Russia (and other post-Soviet states) and other countries, seeking nuclear materials or weapons. I must say that most of these deals were controlled by the Russian special services, the GRU (Military Intelligence) in particular.
Osama bin Laden is not a day-dreamer. He made all possible efforts to obtain nuclear materials and tactical weapons, and to hire Russian and other scientists and technicians to maintain and develop his “small nuclear arsenal”?.
The most dangerous connection is not between al Qaeda and the Chechen, or other mafias, but between al Qaeda and the former (or current) members of the Russian Intelligence. And this connection is an established fact, right on American soil. If the Russian Government wanted to convince the U.S. Government of their clean and non-hostile intentions, let them expose the locations of the KGB and GRU nuclear demolition charges, hidden on the territory of the United States. This act could be a great help to the American anti-terrorist activity, and to the protection of the American people.
FP: The Russians have nuclear demolition charges hidden on U.S. territory? What does this mean exactly? Some critics would say that this is just a pie-in-the-sky scare tactic and there is no evidence of this of any kind.
Hamid Mir what are your thoughts about this allegation and possibility?
Mir: Thank you for inviting me to this discussion. I came to know about the nuclear ambitions of Al Qaeda in 1998 when I interviewed Osama bin Ladin the second time in Afghanistan. One ex-Soviet scientist travelled with me from the Pakistani border to Kandhar. Al Qaeda operatives told me that he was looking after their nuclear program. I laughed at their claims. Then I asked Osama about his nuclear ambitions, but he ignored my question at that time. I asked my question again in November 2001 and at that time Osama confirmed that he had nukes.
In the next few years, I came to know that Al Qaeda had a big brigade of nuclear and chemical experts who conducted a dirty bomb test in the mountains of Kunar in 2000. Another Al Qaeda operative, Abu Hamza Al Jazeeri confirmed to me in Afghanistan in 2005 that Al Qaeda had links with Soviet nuclear experts. He visited Ukraine many times between 1995 and 1998 to negotiate with a nuclear scientist. Abu Hamza said that Osama sent special envoys to Russia, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan to contact ex-Soviet agents for their WMD’s hidden in Western countries. I think these links are not sponsored by the Russian government; they are private links.
Nobody should underestimate the nuclear threat of Al Qaeda. This threat is not serious only for USA but to all the members of international coalition against terrorism. Osama determined to organize another attack bigger than 9/11.He will try his best to break his own record made on 9/11.
FP: If Osama has nukes, what is he waiting for? And can the panelists expand on the evidence that the Soviets hid WMDs in Western countries?
Williams: A defining characteristic of bin Laden is patience. His favorite Islamic verse is as follows: “I will be patient until Patience is outworn by patience.”
He started plotting the 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania when he was in the Sudan in 1993; the attack of the USS Cole was more than two years in the making and eight years passed between the first attack on the World Trade Center and the second.
The planned American Hiroshima is enormous in scope. It requires not only development and (in some cases) rebuilding of the weapons along with codification for detonation but also forward deployment, site preparation and precise strategic coordination with scattered cells.
Why the wait? Bin Laden will not allow the attack to take place unless there is certainty of success. His entire resources (including the gains from the poppy fields) have been spent on this operation. After scrutinizing the situation and analyzing the data, Bill Keller, editor of The New York Times, said that the “best reason” for thinking that the nuclear attack by al-Qaeda will NOT happen is because “it hasn’t happened yet,” adding this conclusion represents “terrible logic.”
I agree with him.
Bin Laden can’t sit on these weapons for years. They require constant maintenance. At any given time, a tactical nuke exudes a temperature in excess of 100 degrees Fahrenheit. This means that they are prone to oxidation and rust. Moreover, the triggers that emit large quantities of neutrons at high speeds decay rapidly and have short half-lives – most would become useless without maintenance in less than four months. The nuclear cores also are subject to decay and over the course of several years would fall below the critical mass threshold. Though the shells that encase the cores are the most durable parts of the weapons, they, too, are subject to contamination. The tritium used to compensate for the required amount of conventional explosives to compress the fissile core within the compact devices is less of an issue since it has a half-life of 12.3 years. Taking all things into consideration, the attack should occur within the near future.
Regarding the question of buried nukes, Curt Weldon (R-PA), Chairman of the House Armed Services Subcommittee, announced in 1999 that the Soviets had planted a number of such weapons at strategic locations throughout the U. S. These weapons, Weldon argued, were to be recovered when the Cold War became hot and were to be used for the blowing up of dams, power stations, telecommunications centers, and landing strips for Air Force One. “There is no doubt that the Soviets stored material in this country,”? Weldon said. “The question is what and where.”?
Two years later, Congressman Weldon’s statement about the buried nukes was verified by Col. Stanislav Lunev, the highest-ranking military spy to defect from the Soviet Union and the leading confidential source on Russia’s nuclear arsenal. Lunev told a Congressional committee that nuclear suitcase bombs, indeed, had been buried in the U. S., although he could not pinpoint the exact locations. Such information, Lunev said, remains secret since Russian officials remain convinced that a nuclear conflict between Russia and the U. S. remains “inevitable”? despite the collapse of communism and the spirit of perestroika. The colonel concluded his remarks by saying: “And just now what we are talking about, location of technical nuclear devices, these places we have selected extremely carefully for a long, long period of time, and to believe it is possible to find these places just like that without using extremely, extremely large resources of the country, I don’t think that it would be realistic until the Russian government, which still has the keys to these locations, will disclose their locations.”
Col. Lunev’s comments could be dismissed as less than credible, save for the fact that his testimony was upheld by Vasili Mitrakhin, who served as a chief archivist for the KGB. Mitrakhin confirmed to the same committee that secret stockpiles of suitcase nuclear devices had been buried in upstate New York, California, Texas, and Minnesota. FBI Director Louis Freech, in the wake of these reports, ordered a team of nuclear technicians to excavate several sites around Brainerd. The findings of the excavations remain confidential.
Belgian officials, however, testified that they had found three secret depots with radio sets and tactical nukes that had been buried in Belgium by the Soviets during the Cold War.
The number of nukes that remain buried in the United States is anyone’s guess. The Soviets produced more than seven hundred portable tactical nukes for the KGB in the thirty year period from 1960 to 1990. These weapons were placed under the care of SPETZNAZ technicians for deployment and detonation. Many of these technicians, during the 1990s, were sought out and employed by al Qaeda.
The threat of the buried nukes is contingent on maintenance. Did these nukes receive proper care? If not, they pose no significant threat to national security. For example, the triggers that emit large quantities of neutrons at high speeds would decay rapidly causing the bomb to produce a pop rather than a boom.
Of infinitely greater concern are the “bespoke nukes” that were developed for al Qaeda by Russian and Chinese scientists and officials from the A. Q. Khan Research Facility. These weapons were developed for the American Hiroshima and received loving care from bin Laden and company.
FP: This is all extremely frightening and depressing.
One hope is that the Soviet nukes on our territory, if they are there, have turned into duds due to lack of maintenance.
But in general, is there any room for optimism here? Any hope that the ultimate nightmare can be stopped somehow?
Kushner: Dr .Williams, Mr. Dastych, and Mr. Mir do indeed paint a very ominous picture. Can we stop this nightmare? Do we hope that missing cold-war nukes are no longer capable of inflicting catastrophic damage?
Yes, we can ponder these questions. We do.
In my latest book, “Holy War on the Home Front,”? I write about the Buddhist parable of three blind men asked to describe an object by touch. In describing an elephant, the blind man holding the tail says it’s a snake, the man holding the trunk says it’s a giraffe, and the one holding the leg says it’s a tree stump. None could assembler the “whole”? from its separate “pieces.”? In the same way, it’s time we stopped allowing the whole of Islam’s Holy War on America to be described by politicians, journalists, and others familiar with only part of it.
The only explanation as to why we continue to ignore radical Islam in America is that demands of political correctness has made us so afraid of being branded racists that we force ourselves to be color blind, identity blind, and gender blind till we end up, quite simply, totally blind.
The rules changed on 9/11. It was radical Islam’s signal that from that day on, all weapons of terror, including nuclear weapons, could and would be used, and that the fight is to the death.
We have to stop fighting the Holy War with a Cold War mentality; stop radical Islam from using our constitutional rights to shield itself; make sure that none of the millions of ocean cargo containers coming to the United States contains a nuclear weapon; and hold our elected officials to one simple unambiguous standard—results.
Had 9/11 not alerted America to the terrorists within it, had the terrorists waited just a few more years, radical Islam inside this country would have reached its goal: America riddled with a fully operational terrorist infrastructure, an environment where Islamic network agents’ homes held nuclear weapons instead of guns, and enough radical Muslim operatives and traitors to undermine this country form within—and they may be closer to it than we think.
Dastych: I agree with Dr. Kushner that we have to stop fighting a terrorist war (Holy War? Jihad?) with an obsolete Cold War mentality. And what is that Cold War mentality? It is a strong belief, formed over the last 61 years, since the first American nuclear test on the 16th of July 1945, that the nuclear proliferation can be controlled by the major state powers.
Even during the Cold War, the U.S.A. and the USSR couldn’t help to prevent communist China, India, Pakistan and Israel from obtaining their own nuclear weapons. On the opposite end, the great powers were sometimes instrumental in the promotion of the nuclear proliferation to regional state powers, like France – to Israel, USSR – to India, China – to Pakistan; and recently a regional power: Pakistan to North Korea (through Dr. A.Q. Khan’s network).
Efforts were made to persuade other countries to abandon their nuclear ambitions. There were two principal ways of doing so: either by force (by an Israeli attack on the Osirak reactor in Iraq) or by peaceful means, like a conciliatory mission of an Israeli nuclear expert, the late Shalheveth Freier, in Argentina and Brasil, or a voluntary resignation of the nuclear weapons, declared by Nelson Mandela in South Africa, or – recently – by a combination of pressure and persuasion applied to Gaddafi’s Libya by the United States. But none of these methods worked in case of North Korea, and probably they also won’t work in Iran.
The very fresh, October 9, nuclear test performed by North Korea could begin a “new era” of uncontrolled nuclear proliferation, probably leading to war. And then, the non-state factor: international terrorism. My own experience of the 1990’s in monitoring a part of the illegal nuclear market, Mr. Mir’s eyewitness encounters with Osama bin Laden, Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri and a number of other Jihadists, and Dr. Williams’ years of careful research into the problem of nuclear terrorism, menacing the United States – lead me to a rather sinister conclusion: it can’t be stopped by methods that could work in the Cold War era.
Since 1945, there were carried out over 2,000 nuclear tests – all by sovereign states. From 1946 until 1983, there happened 16 nuclear crises, including such serious cases as the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, or the Middle East crisis of 1973. In that time, the World survived 107 months of crises, involving threats by nuclear weapons, and lasting from one day (Iran 1946) to 24 months (USA-USSR confrontation in 1983). The great majority of these crises were overcome by the nuclear showmanship of the United States, and only two times (Suez 1956, and Cuba 1962) by an agreement of the U.S. and USSR, following strong demonstrations of nuclear capability of the two super-powers.
Thank God, all these crises never produced a nuclear war, even we had been very close to it. But the present situation is much worse: it’s a chaotic world, with the United States as a lone-star super-power, and with Russia and China as the nuclear proliferators and rivals of the U.S.A. Yet, I hope that much can be done to improve our security and to prevent an uncontrolled outburst of a local or regional nuclear war. First of all, we have to fight on the media front: to remove the cowardly and completely unnecessary “political correctness” that prevents the main stream media from reporting the truth about the present nuclear danger.
People in America, and in the West as such, should be informed, timely and precisely, about real and inevitable threats, posed by terrorists and by terror-sponsoring states. But this information has to be verified and supported by specialists. It’s a big error, for example, that so few nuclear physicists and other experts display courage and speak up in the media, in stead of taking cover behind the Government’s secrecy. In fact, as the nuclear terrorism is concerned, I know only one competent and famous nuclear physicist, who dared to present his views openly: Dr. Sam Cohen, the inventor of the neutron bomb.
To conclude: I am not in favor of “scare-mongering” and of linking the present nuclear terrorist threat to Bible prophecies of “Doomsday” or “Armageddon”. This is silly and primitive. The information must be rational, well targeted and timely, if possible, it should be backed by specialists – nuclear scientists and engineers. It should also go through a number of trustworthy media channels, even if it were transferred through the Internet. Ordinary people may be of great help in the process of prevention of terrorist nuclear attacks. But they must be told what to do. A personal remark: after a series of my own articles, and the joint ones, written with Dr. Williams, I am still receiving dozens of e-mails from ordinary people in the United States, Canada and Europe, and even from Muslim countries and Japan. These people usually ask: what should we do? How could we save ourselves? It’s our primary task to reply to them, and to tell them that the nuclear threat is not the end of the World.
Mir: I am always very careful in speaking and writing about “American Hiroshima”. I am against making sweeping statements. I don’t have any evidence that Al Qaeda has access to Russian WMDs hidden in the U.S., but I have met more than two Al Qaeda operators who were involved in the purchase of suitcase nukes from Russia between 1998 and 2001. I am sure that Al Qaeda is prepared to organize new attacks inside USA not only with some suitcase nukes but also with some dirty bombs. I don’t want to repeat my mistake of 1998.
What was that mistake? OBL told me in May 1998 that he will attack the U.A. I just ignored his threat. Within three months of my second interview with him, he attacked U.S. embassies in Africa in August 1998. I thought that this was the end but then he attacked the USS Cole in Yemen in 2000. Finally he organized 9/11. Now he is saying that he will attack USA again. I will not underestimate him this time. He is definitely making claims of new attacks after some preparations.
Right now he is succeeding without attacking inside the U.S. September 11 killed around 3000 people. Most of them were innocent civilians, but after 9/11 the U.S. has lost around 3000 soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan without gaining anything. I think the U.S. has lost its war against terror.UK Generals want to come back from Iraq, French Generals are looking for some excuses to come back from Afghanistan. OBL is waiting for more hatred to spread, he will be the ultimate beneficiary of the hatred because this time he wants to become a hero after an attack bigger than 9/11. He would not like to be condemned at least by Muslim masses and that is why he wants Muslims to leave the U.S. After another attack he can say that he is not responsible for the killing of Muslims in the U.S. because he warned them but they never listened.
We have to take his threats seriously and we must try to prevent another attack bigger than 9/11 because another attack inside the U.S. may destabilize the international peace. It may be the beginning of a clash between two civilizations and that is what OBL is dreaming from many years. Would you like to play in his hands?
FP: If you are speaking to me, no I don’t think we should play into Osama’s hands, and I don’t think anyone in the Bush administration wants to do that. I hear a lot of criticism here of U.S. policy in the subtext yet no real alternatives to what needs to be done. With all due respect, I am not sure what you mean when you say that “most”? of the victims of 9/11 were “innocent civilians.”? Who amongst the victims was not innocent if you don’t mind me asking?
I think it is a bit premature to say that the U.S. has lost its war against terror. The war is on. Two ruthless tyrannies have been overthrown. My question is: do you wish for a U.S. victory in the war on terror? Moreover, what solutions do you propose for the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan? Surely you see the disaster and tragedy — and bloodbath — that will follow if the U.S. extricates itself overnight?
Mir: I think that all the civilians killed on 9/11 were innocent but there were some military people who lost their lives after an attack on Pentagon the same day. Their status was different from the civilians. Al Qaeda and US military have been fighting against each other from 1993. US military and Pakistani military was together in Somalia in 1993 where Al Qaeda killed more than 20 Pakistani soldiers. All the civilians who were killed in Iraq and Afghanistan by US bombing after 9/11 were also innocent but the status of Taliban and Al Qaeda fighters killed by US bombings have a different status.
The problem between Osama bin Laden and the U.S. started after the first Gulf war of 1990. Osama wanted to fight against Saddam Hussein but the Saudi government invited US troops into their lands. The presence of US troops on Saudi soil provided Osama an opportunity to exploit the situation and he announced a Jihad against the U.S.
Now Saddam is arrested, so what is the use of US troops on Saudi soil? Are they promoting democracy in Saudi Arabia? No sir, they are protecting a tyrannical regime of a country where women are banned to drive even vehicles. Don’t give me this lesson that US troops have liberated Iraq and Afghanistan in the last five years. They have not contained terror. They have promoted and produced more terror, more hatred and more insecurity.
US policies have provided Al Qaeda a new breeding ground in Iraq. The war against terror was started against those who masterminded the 9/11 attacks. The Taliban and Al Qaeda were on the run in 2002, but after the US invasion of Iraq in 2003,the Taliban and Al Qaeda started regrouping in Afghanistan.
Most of the Al Qaeda fighters migrated to Iraq, like Abu Masab al Zarqawi and established new training camps there. Today Al Qaeda is training hundreds of young people in Iraq and the Taliban are also back in Afghanistan. Come and visit Afghanistan with me, you will see that who is winning this war. There were no suicide attacks in Pakistan and Afghanistan before 9/11, but now we see suicide attacks every day.
If the suicide attacks are increasing, if the British and Pakistani troops are trying to make peace deals with Taliban, I am not ready to believe that anybody is winning the war against terror. The world is becoming more unsafe day by day. Several days ago, two rockets with detonators were found just few hundred meters away from my office, which is very close to the President’s house in Islamabad. I was working in my office that day, when rockets were found. I felt that I am living in the most unsafe place. The boys who were arrested in the suspicion of placing rockets close to Musharraf’s office are young medical students. Who radicalised their minds? They were not graduated from religious schools; they just developed hatred out of bad U.S. policies.
The war against terror was not started against two regimes; it was started against Osama bin Ladin and Al Qaeda. Have you arrested or killed Osama? Have you wiped out Al Qaeda? Have you got any WMD’s in Iraq? You have only increased the support of Al Qaeda in the Muslim world via the Abu Gharib jail in Iraq.
It’s not only the US which is fighting the war against terror. More than 37 countries have sent their troops in Afghanistan. All of them are fighting this war. I wish a victory for all of them but they cannot win this war by taking dictation from the US. They have to make policy against terrorism according to their own interests and according to the changing ground realities.
Today, Osama bin Ladin is the most popular person in Saudi Arabia. He is popular not because of his ideology but by default, because most of the Saudis don’t like the presence of US troops in Saudi Arabia. If US troops come back from Saudi Arabia there is no harm. Osama bin Ladin will lose a big excuse to abuse the U.S. Stop supporting tyrannical regimes and dictators in our part of the world. This is the only way of containing the growing hatred against the U.S. Promote real democracy, don’t fear that Hamas-like movements will come to power through democracy; engage them in talks. Strengthen the U.N. Use U.N. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan instead of using US and NATO forces. If the U.N. forces can take over South Lebanon from Hizbollah, then the same UN forces can be used in Iraq and Afghanistan. Use forces of Asian and African countries in Iraq and Afghanistan, instead of using western forces.
We see disaster and tragedy every day around us. It is increasing. The West and its allies have lost the so-called war on terrorism. Now they are pushing us to a clash of civilizations.
FP: The innocent civilians who have been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan by U.S. bombing have died as regrettable and unintended tragedies of war. The U.S. did not and does not seek to kill innocent civilians, and it always tries its best, as do the Israelis, to keep civilian casualties and deaths as low as possible. Jihadists kill innocents intentionally. Killing innocent life is their main purpose. There is a big difference here and no moral analogy.
Yes, the U.S. liberated Iraq and Afghanistan from two vicious and sadistic fascist regimes. Unfortunately, there are totalitarian forces who do not wish democracy to be planted in those two nations. So they perpetrate terror. If the U.S. withdraws from this conflict, a bloodbath will follow and the forces of radical Islam and jihad will be emboldened everywhere. I don’t understand what is so complicated about this and why it is difficult to understand how crucial it is that the U.S. prevails in its missions in both Iraq and Afghanistan.
The point that many Muslim terrorists’ minds are radicalized by “bad”? U.S. policies, in my view, is illegitimate. I’ll tell you what “radicalizes”? many of those who end up perpetrating terror: freedom and liberty. Those who seek comfort in totalitarian structures hate those forces that threaten to bring individual freedom and liberty into their spheres and so they seek to destroy them. The terrorists who wage their violence are not inspired by anger toward U.S. policies; they do what they do because they are terrified of the prospect that democracy, and the freedom of conscience of every individual, and the rights of women, minorities and homosexuals, might penetrate their own cultures.
Yes, there is a great complexity in our involvement with the Saudis and with some of the regimes we are allied with the Middle East. There also exists a great danger of the devil we know being better than the devil we don’t know. Some changes might be required in the near future, especially with the Saudis, but it is unwise just to alter numerous policies overnight without the realization that more dangerous threats can emerge in the vacuum we leave behind.
Mr. Mir, your argument that U.N. forces, and Asian and African countries, should be left to do the job in Iraq and Afghanistan is, I hope, your sense of humor. The terror war has not been lost. But if we leave it to the U.N. to defeat Islamism, it will be lost for sure.
Paul Williams, any observations on Mr. Mir’s diagnosis and prescriptions for the conflict we are in?
Williams: We have regressed from a discussion of nuclear terrorism to an evaluation of the purpose and mission of the United Nations (an organization which former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu aptly labelled ‘United Nothing’). This switch in discussion is tantamount to transforming a moose into a mouse. All clear thinking, as St. Thomas Aquinas taught us, comes from making distinctions between subjects. For this reason, I’ll opt to say nothing with the hope that heads become cleared and intelligent discussion can proceed within the set parameters.
FP: Well thank you sir. Unfortunately we are nearing the end of our discussion.
Yes, our topic in this symposium was nuclear terrorism and I am grateful to all of you for having provided your wisdom on it.
Even if the topic of a symposium was the cause of global warming and someone started to engage in Holocaust or Gulag Denial, unfortunately I would have to stray from the topic and counter such denial.
So the same with our symposium. If someone is going to start applying moral equivalency between our side and the terrorists, I simply can’t let it go. Just like I can’t overlook the diagnosis that Islamist rage at us has more to do with our policies than with a hatred of freedom. Moreover, I can’t let go unchecked a prescription (i.e. cut-and-run from Iraq) that will result in a nightmarish setback for us in this terror war and in a horrible bloodbath that will follow.
More importantly, these issues are not disconnected from our main topic today. Why we are in this war and the importance of us maintaining the course in Iraq and Afghanistan is directly connected to the danger of nuclear terror. If we cut and run, and if we confuse why and how our enemies hate us, we will facilitate the possibility of a nuclear horror being perpetrated against us.
In any case, David Dastych, your final comment please.
Dastych: Thank you, Jamie, for allowing me to add my final comments. Even, if we went a bit astray from the main topic – the nuclear terrorist threat – we have to consider the opinions and the feelings of our Muslim allies and friends, such as Mr. Hamid Mir, whom I trust and understand. He shows us that, in fact, the Muslim world developed a strong hatred of the United States and of the West in general. I think that some erroneous policies or practices of the United States (like Abu Ghraib or Guantanamo abuses, or unjustified bombing) are not the main cause of this hatred. Its principal cause is the radicalization of Islam in some countries, strongly supported by the Saudi Wahhabi religious centers and by Saudi financial contributions.
In the U.S. and in Europe, and also in Africa, most of the new mosques are built by Saudi money and run by radical clerics. This is the “landscape” for the radicalization of Muslim youths in the Western countries and beyond them. But the radical slogans, demonstrations, staged hatred rallies (like the recent anti-Benedict campaign) have not much in common with the proliferation of nuclear weapons, and with providing terrorists with these weapons. At this moment we have to make a clear distinction between some states, pursuing nuclear weaponization programs for their own sake (defense, protection, power ambitions) and these states, their governments or other organizations like some intelligence agencies, who deal with terrorists and do not hesitate to sell nuclear materials or weapons to them.
From my own experience and from what I can get from other sources, I conclude that some post-Soviet states, mainly Russia, were the main providers of small, tactical nuclear weapons and of nuclear materials to terrorist organizations, often through organized crime contacts. I cannot exclude from this group other states or organizations (like the already broken Dr. Khan’s network in Pakistan, like Libya or Syria, like North Korea and Iran). Therefore, I would like to repeat my previous statement that state-terrorist links are the most dangerous element of the present nuclear threat to the United States, its military forces and institutions abroad, and to Europe and other regions of the world.
And now: what should be done to push back and stop this threat? Apart from what is already done and being done by the U.S. Government agencies and similar institutions of our allies (Britain, Canada, Australia, France, Germany, Israel, Pakistan, Turkey, Poland and many other), there is a need for a multi-national, based in several countries, highly mobile and effective Special Force to intervene at any place of the globe, where a WMD (not only nuclear) threat has been identified and uncovered.
Efficient intelligence, based on technical and human means, should be used to discover and locate the WMD plots, and a mobile force should be immediately used to kill or capture the perpetrators and to seize the weapons. In addition to that, true and timely information and education should be provided to all citizens by the media, including the mainstream media. Ordinary people, living in the U.S., in Europe and other countries, can be of great help to the authorities in detecting dangerous activities. But they have to be told what to look for.
As to the wars and other operations against terrorists: the U.S., NATO and other allied military forces should stay in Iraq and in Afghanistan as long as it will be necessary to fight the terrorists and radicals. To withdraw now, without a break-through, could be a sign of weakness and an encouragement to the terrorists and radicals to continue their fight. The U.S. government should examine a possibility to withdraw its military forces from Saudi Arabia, leaving the Land of Two Holy Places to the Muslims. It could be a sign of good will.
FP: David Dastych, Harvey W. Kushner, Paul Williams, and Hamid Mir, thank you for joining Frontpage Symposium.
[Securing the United States from terrorist attack will be the focus of the upcoming America’s Truth Forum symposium, “˜Understanding the Threat of Radical Islamist Terrorism,’ taking place in Las Vegas this November 10th and 11th. Dr. Harvey Kushner, Dr. Paul Williams and Hamid Mir will be participating at this event. Go to http://www.americastruthforum.com/ for more details or contact Jeffrey Epstein at (866) 709-3474.]
FOLLOW UP READING:
Previous stories we over the past few years discussing AQ and nuclear weapons.