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Fears grow over al-Qaida
gassing American subways
Posted By Paul Sperry On 07/03/2004 @ 1:00 am In Front Page | Comments Disabled
WASHINGTON – As the FBI warns police across the country that al-Qaida
continues to show interest in attacking U.S. subways, new intelligence has
emerged that al-Qaida has trained operatives to dispense poisonous gases
such as cyanide in ventilation systems.
Buried in one of the recently released staff reports by the 9-11 Commission
is a chilling account of some of the experimentation in methods of mass murder
conducted at al-Qaida camps.
“The camps created a climate in which trainees and other personnel were free
to think creatively about ways to commit mass murder,” according to Staff
Statement No. 15, titled “Overview of the Enemy.”
“According to a senior al-Qaida associate, various ideas were floated by
mujahidin in Afghanistan,” the report added, including “mounting mustard gas
or cyanide attacks against Jewish areas in Iran” and “dispensing poison gas
into the air conditioning system of a targeted building.”
The disclosure by the al-Qaida agent may explain why the FBI has warned law
enforcement authorities to be on alert for signs of a biological or chemical
attack against the homeland by al-Qaida terrorists.
Unexplained or unusual odors, such as the smell of “bitter almonds,” are
among “potential indicators of threats involving” chemical weapons such as
cyanide gas, according to a
security advisory issued in late December by the FBI counterterrorism
division here. WorldNetDaily obtained a copy of the report labeled “law
An earlier U.S. homeland security report, dated Nov. 21, said the terrorists
have designed a “crude chemical dispersal device” fabricated from commonly
available materials, which is designed to asphyxiate its victims, as WorldNetDaily also first
reported. The device can produce both cyanogen chloride gas and hydrogen
cyanide gas, which gives off a bitter almond smell, the report said.
“These gases are most effective when released in confined spaces such as
subways, buildings or other crowded indoor facilities,” the closely held
report said, adding that al-Qaida has shown a continued interest in
“Al-Qaida remains intent on using chemical or biological agents in attacks
on the homeland,” it said.
Washington and New York operate the largest rail transit systems in the
country. The FBI fears al-Qaida plans to attack before the November
election, and a likely target may be the GOP convention in New York City,
which begins in late August.
To guard against such attacks, the agency is advising law enforcement and
security personnel to be on the lookout for suspicious packages or
containers, as well as “unusual powders or liquids” near air-intake systems
or enclosed spaces, the December advisory said. Discovery of unusual spray
devices or bottles is also a priority.
In addition, it lists several odors that are telltale signs of a chemical
“Smells may range from fruity/flowery to sharp/pungent,
garlic/horseradish-like, bitter almonds, peach kernels and new-mown
grass/hay,” according to the FBI advisory.
The bitter almonds smell is associated with cyanide gas. An antidote for
cyanide poisoning is hydroxocobalamin, which is administered in very high
doses, a U.S. official told WND.
The new-mown hay smell is a signature of phosgene gas, also known as
carbonyl chloride, according to the official. The odor is mild and there are
no immediate symptoms to exposure. Later on, however, the lungs fill with
fluid as the material breaks down into chlorine and hydrochloric acid.
The fruity smell, almost like green apples, is associated with CN, or riot
gas, the official said.
Though there is no specific threat timed to the Independence Day holiday,
homeland security officials urged Americans to increase their vigilance
during the extended weekend.
“We know the U.S. homeland remains a top al-Qaida target,” warns the new
security advisory, which was sent this week to 18,000 state and local law
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