Al-Qaeda unconventional weapons experiment goes awry
January 21, 2009 2 Comments
By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
An anonymous senior US intelligence official has confirmed rumors in the British press that a biological or chemical weapons experiment by an al-Qaeda affiliated group in Algeria has gone wrong, forcing the group to abandon one of its camps in the country. The official said that an urgent message from the Algerian group to the al-Qaeda leadership in the Pakistan-Afghan border, which referred to the base closure, was intercepted by Western intelligence agencies in early January. However, he dismissed as unfounded earlier reports in the British press that 40 militants had died after being infected when the experiment went awry. The group, the al-Qaeda Organization in Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), is known to maintain around a dozen training bases in Algeria, including the one in Tizi Ouzou province, 100 miles east of the capital Algiers. One expert, who spoke anonymously to intelNews, speculated that the unconventional weapon is probably bacteria-based, most likely transmitted through the air. Al-Qaeda affiliated groups are known to have shown interest in biological-based unconventional weapons since at least the early 1990s. If al-Qaeda militants are currently pursuing this path, it would make sense that AQIM, which one expert describes as the organization’s “most operationally capable affiliate”, would be in the forefront of this effort.