WASHINGTON – Terrorists could assemble a small group of fewer than 20 to construct a Hiroshima-size nuclear bomb, purchase the fissionable uranium needed and transport it to the U.S. city of their choice for less than $10 million, says a new report published in the November-December issue of Foreign Policy.
“The Bomb in the Backyard” was the result of the investigative work of Peter D. Zimmerman and Jeffrey G. Lewis. Zimmerman is professor of science and security in the Department of War Studies at King’s College in London and previously served as chief scientist of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee and chief scientist of the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency. Lewis is executive director of the Managing the Atom Project at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard.
“To put it in strictly commercial terms, terrorists would likely find a nuclear attack cost effective,” they write in the article. “The simple appeal of nuclear terrorism can be illustrated with a hypothetical situation. A failed nuclear detonation, one that produced only a few tens of tons in yield, could kill 10,000 people in just a few hours if the device exploded in a crowded financial center. Not only would 10,000 persons represent the upward limit of a conventional terrorist attack, but that figure would exceed the combined casualties in all of al-Qaida’s attacks over the entire history of the organization.”
And that’s the “worst-case” scenario for the terrorists, the authors point out. If “successful,” the nuclear detonation would kill 10 times more people – 100,000.
Without giving away any information about the assembling of such a device that cannot already be found easily on the Internet, Zimmerman and Lewis construct a scenario for building a nuclear bomb within the U.S. for a budget of less than $10 million – finding it can done with a small team of about 19, the same number of people involved in the Sept. 11 attacks.
“It is certainly possible that a terrorist group might not want to risk detection within U.S. borders and would prefer to make the bomb overseas,” they write. “But, for purposes of this hypothetical situation, we chose a scenario that would be far less uncertain for the terrorists by eliminating the risks of moving the bomb across a border.”
In fact, the backyard bomb project came in under budget – at $5.433 million. The authors said the project – from start to finish – would take no more than a few months.
“Once complete, the nuclear device itself is likely to be less than 9 feet long,” said the report. “Although it would not fit easily in a sedan, it could be transported in a van or small panel truck with, say, a couple drivers and a couple more people to keep an eye on the device. The plotters could target any number of metropolitan areas and would be free to choose based entirely on their desire to travel unobtrusively and undetected, presumably across a large fraction of the United States.”
The authors warn that nuclear terrorism is still very much on the minds of al-Qaida, which began plans more than a decade ago for what it dubbed “American Hiroshima,” a nuclear attack on the U.S. As recently as September, they say, al-Qaida put out a call urging nuclear scientists to join its war against the West.
Also in September, the new al-Qaida field commander in Afghanistan called for Muslims to leave the U.S. – particularly Washington and New York – in anticipation of a major terror attack to rival Sept. 11, according to an interview by another Pakistani journalist.
Abu Dawood told Hamid Mir, a reporter who has covered al-Qaida and met with Osama bin Laden, the attack is being coordinated by Adnan el-Shukrijumah and suggests it may involve some form of weapon of mass destruction smuggled across the Mexican border.
“Our brothers are ready to attack inside America. We will breach their security again,” he is quoted as saying. “There is no timeframe for our attack inside America; we can do it any time.”
As WND has previously reported, el-Shukrijumah is a trained nuclear technician and accomplished pilot who has been singled out by bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri to serve as the field commander for the next terrorist attack on U.S. soil.
The terrorist was last seen in Mexico, where, on Nov. 1, 2004, he allegedly hijacked a Piper PA Pawnee cropduster from Ejido Queretaro near Mexicali to transport a nuclear weapon and nuclear equipment into the U.S., according to Paul Williams, a former FBI consultant and author of “The Dunces of Doomsday.”
“He is an American and a friend of Muhammad Atta, who led 9/11 attacks five years ago,” said Dawood. “We call him ‘Jaffer al Tayyar’ (Jafer the Pilot); he is very brave and intelligent. (President) Bush is aware that brother Adnan has smuggled deadly materials inside America from the Mexican border. Bush is silent about him, because he doesn’t want to panic his people. Sheikh Osama bin Laden has completed his cycle of warnings. You know, he is man of his words, he is not a politician; he always does what he says. If he said it many times that Americans will see new attacks, they will definitely see new attacks. He is a real mujahid. Americans will not win this war, which they have started against Muslims. Americans are the biggest supporters of the biggest terrorist in the world, which is Israel.”
Mir reportedly interviewed Dawood Sept. 12 at the tomb of Sultan Mehmud Ghaznawi on the outskirts of Kabul. Dawood and the al-Qaida leaders who accompanied him were clean-shaven and dressed as Western reporters. The al-Qaida commander had contacted Mir by cell phone to arrange the meeting.
El-Shukrijumah was born in Guyana Aug. 4, 1975 – the firstborn of Gulshair el-Shukrijumah, a 44-year-old radical Muslim cleric, and his 16-year-old wife. In 1985, Gulshair migrated to the United States, where he assumed duties as the imam of the Farouq Mosque in Brooklyn.
The mosque, located at 554 Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn, has served as a hive for terrorist activities. It has raised millions for the jihad and has served as a recruiting station for al-Qaida. Many of the planners of the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center, including blind Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman, were prominent members of this notorious “house of worship.”
In 1995, the Shukrijumah family relocated to Miramar, Fla., where Gulshair became the spiritual leader of the radical Masjid al-Hijah Mosque, and where Adnan became friends with Jose Padilla, who planned to detonate a radiological bomb in midtown Manhattan; Mandhai Jokhan, who was convicted of attempting to blow up nuclear power plants in southern Florida; and a group of other homegrown terrorists.
Adnan Shukrijumah attended flight schools in Florida and Norman, Oklahoma, along with Mohammad Atta and the other 9/11 operatives, and he became a highly skilled commercial jet pilot, although he, like Atta and the other terrorists, never applied for a license with the Federal Aviation Commission.
In April 2001, Shukrijumah spent 10 days in Panama, where he reportedly met with al-Qaida officials to assist in the planning of 9/11. He also traveled to Trinidad and Guyana, where virulent al-Qaida cells have been established. The following month, he obtained an associate’s degree in computer engineering from Broward Community College.
During this time, he managed to get passports from Guyana, Trinidad, Saudi Arabia, Canada and the United States, according to Williams. He also began to adopt a number of aliases, including Abu Arifi, Jafar al-Tayyar, Jaafar At Yayyar, Ja’far al-Tayar, and Mohammed Sher Mohammed Khan (the name that appeared on his official FBI file). He traveled to Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, where he met with Ramzi Binalshibh, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, and other members of the al-Qaida high command. He also spent considerable time within al-Qaida camps in Afghanistan, where he received training in explosives and special operations.
Following 9/11, el-Shukrijumah was reportedly singled out by bin Laden and al-Zawahiri to spearhead the next great attack on America. One plan was for a nuclear attack that would take place simultaneously in seven U.S. cities, leaving millions dead and the richest and most powerful nation on earth in ashes.
“Muslims should leave America,” said Dawood. “We cannot stop our attack just because of the American Muslims; they must realize that American forces are killing innocent Muslims in Afghanistan and Iraq; we have the right to respond back, in the same manner, in the enemy’s homeland. The American Muslims are like a human shield for our enemy; they must leave New York and Washington.”
“I am saying that Muslims must leave America, but we can attack America anytime,” he said. “Our cycle of warnings has been completed, now we have fresh edicts from some prominent Muslim scholars to destroy our enemy, this is our defending of Jihad; the enemy has entered in our homes and we have the right to enter in their homes, they are killing us, we will kill them.”