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Al Qaeda, terror

Dysfunctions: Bio-Roulette

by Gordon Thomas & David Dastych
Monday, October 17, 2005

It’s like in a game "Russian roulette": nobody knows where’s the bullet and when the gun will fire a shot. During the Cold War, the Soviet intelligence hid some WMDs in the West: biological, chemical and nuclear. There’s a lot of evidence that the weapons remain in place, guarded and maintained by Russian spies. Will terrorists use them?

MI5 have identified 32 spies of the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service, SVR, operating under full diplomatic cover from their London embassy in Kensington.

The spies have links to former deep-cover KGB agents who, during the Cold War, hid scores of genetically-engineered biological warfare weapons in Britain’s countryside.  They were to be used in a pre-emptive strike against London and other major cities.

After a post-Cold War purge of the KGB — described by the CIA’s former director George Tenet as "pure window dressing" — the sacked KGB agents offered their detailed knowledge of Britain to the highest bidder.

An internal MI5 document for its director, Eliza Manningham Buller, states: "There is a strong probability that some of the (KGB) agents have been recruited by al Qaeda".

MI5 have identified the license-plates of all cars used by the Russian spies. Several weeks ago,  a car bearing the telltale number plate for all Russian diplomatic vehicles — 248D (and three more digits) was spotted in the vicinity of RAF Lyenam in Wiltshire.  The car was being driven by a middle-aged man on a road leading to Marlborough.

An MI5 source confirmed that the Security Service believes part of the mission of the Russian spies includes ensuring that the hiding places for the germ vials remain undetected.

Until recently the knowledge of the lethal germs remained so secret that not even Eliza Manningham Buller and her specialists on Russian intelligence had any inkling of their existence.

Kouzminov’s revelations Then a former KGB spymaster, Alexander Kouzminov, revealed his agents had planted the vials in the Home Counties.

And he has claimed that some of the SVR spies today operating in Britain are involved in ensuring the deadly germs remain hidden.

Kouzminov was head of the KGB’s ultra-secret unit, Department 12 of Directorate S.

"Our work was biological espionage, planning and preparation of acts of biological terrorism, sabotage and biological war", he revealed.

From his home in New Zealand — close to the home of former MI5 officer Peter Wright — Kouzminov said: "Huge efforts and money was spent in our work.  It would be foolish to believe our people were stood down just because Russia took part in biological weapons talks in Geneva".

In an introduction to his own book, Biological Espionage, he hopes it "will attract the attention of the intelligence services".

His claims have stunned MI5.  Even top Cold War Russian defectors like Oleg Gordievsky and Vasiliy Mitrokhin had no hint of Department 12’s activities.  Or that it survives to this day.

The biological germs were prepared by Russian scientists of the Soviet Union’s Bioprepart programme.  Their brief had been "to produce bacteria against which Britain would have no defence".

The germs were created after the Soviet Union signed the 1972 Biological Warfare Convention.  They were engineered in secret laboratories in the Ural Mountains.

From there the vials were smuggled into Britain in diplomatic bags.

Scientists at Porton Down, Britain’s biological defence establishment, fear the vials could contain plague germs and even smallpox.

"Bioprepart was actively engaged in producing weapons of that kind", confirmed Dr Ken Alibek, the programme’s former director until he defected to the United States.

Kouzminov insists that in making his bombshell revelations about the way his department left a deadly collection of germs buried in the English countryside, "I do not intend to push a political line for or against any state and its policies".

But ten years after he left Department 12 to live with his wife in New Zealand, he still refuses to say if he knows where the deadly germs are hidden.

Osama’s suitcase bombs

On September 12, 2001,  a day after the terrorist attack against the World Trade Center, an intensive search was in progress to detect nuclear devices, allegedly hidden in the area of the NYC haven. Warnings about a possibility that former Soviet "suitcase bombs" could be used by terrorists came from American intelligence agencies. But also from other countries, including Poland and the Czech Republic. No nuclear weapons had been found then, but,  four years later, the problem surfaced again. Recent reports by American and British intelligence services pointed to errors and misinterpretation of al-Qaeda’s capability to procure and use the WDMs. These reports also suggest that some terrorists might be in touch with former Soviet and  present Russian undercover agents.

A Paul L. Williams’ book, "Osama’s Revenge: The Next 9/11 — What the Media and the Government Haven’t Told You" was published in the U.S., a year ago. Paul Williams is a seasoned investigative reporter, and a former consultant for the FBI on organized crime and international terrorism. He claims that credible intelligence sources told him that some nuclear demolition devices (so called "suitcase bombs") might be already hidden by al-Qaeda’s "sleeper agents" in several American cities: New York City, Boston, Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas, Philadelphia, Miami, Washington DC… and in Rappahannock, Virginia. Why there? Because  that tiny rural county house an underground bunker — a U.S. Government Central Command (for the time of war, or other emergency situation). [In his book] Williams describes, in detail, how al-Qaeda could have purchased some post-Soviet mini-nukes, and what threat this poses to the United States.  "In 1996, in Grozny, Chechen mafia members negotiated the sale of 20 nuclear "suitcase bombs" to representatives of Osama bin Laden. Bin Laden paid for them $30 million, and added 2 tons of heroin". According to Williams, reliable sources indicate that these bombs may already be in the possession of al-Qaeda operatives [in the United States].

Theodore Taylor,  a prominent American nuclear specialist, who had miniaturized the nuclear weapon, said that  a suitcase bomb could "emit intense thermal radiation, creating a fireball with  a diameter that would expand to 460 feet. The core of the fireball would  reach a maximum temperature of 10 million degrees Celsius…" Williams said the heat that collapsed the Twin Towers [ on 9/11] never exceeded 5,000 degrees Celsius. Nuclear suitcase bombs, much more dangerous than the radiological "dirty bombs", could instantly kill hundreds of thousand Americans, and then millions more would die because of the radioactive fallout.

An attack before the 2005 ends?

"I expect such an attack would come between now [2004] and the end of 2005," said Paul L. Williams.

The American Intelligence and Counterintelligence don’t ignore the danger. Porter J. Goss, Director of Central Intelligence, told  the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence: "It may be only a matter of time, before al-Qaeda or another group attempts to use chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear weapons.". Robert S. Mueller III, Director of the FBI, was quoted recently: "I am also very concerned with a growing body of sensitive reporting that continues to show al-Qaeda’s clear intention to obtain and ultimately use some form of chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear or high-energy explosives material in its attacks against America." Vice-Admiral Lowell Jacoby, Director of the DIA (Defense Intelligence Agency), "told the Subcommitee that al-Qaeda has said that it wants to conduct an attack ‘exceeding the destruction’ of the September 11, 2001 strikes…" (All quotes by Bill Gertz, The Washington Times, February 17, 2005). According to Fox News Channel, an  exchange of information, via the Internet,  between al-Qaeda’s cells indicates that a planned attack against the U.S., similar to 9/11, is still a serious menace. Would former Soviet (now — Russian) covert "sleepers", guarding the hideouts of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons take part in this attack? This can’t be excluded. But the trouble might get even worse:  Russian nuclear weapons of a new generation are even more miniaturized and much more difficult to detect.

A granade that can kill thousands

Sam Cohen, the inventor of the neutron bomb, passed to "Wprost" some vital information, which confirmed  his observations and experience of many years of the monitoring of the development of the Soviet, then Russian nuclear weaponry.  Historically, the Russians had been world leaders in  high-pressure technology which is very relevant to the production of "red mercury" (RM 20/20, which is a mercury antimony oxide, it’s chemical formula: Sb207Hg2), a base material for the production of cheap, miniature neutron weapons. Red mercury is a kind of gel-like chemical compound of high density. It can be used to detonate a very small quantity of tritium (a super-heavy hydrogen), which would explode and produce a massive pulse of deadly neutrons.

Already in February of 1992, the President of Russia, Boris Yeltzin, signed a Secret Directive No 75-RPS, allowing a state-owned enterprise, Promekologia, to fabricate and sell (also abroad) up to 10 metric tonns of RM 20/20. At the beginning of the 1990’s, on the black market, the price of one kilogram of RM 20/20 exceeded $ 400,000. The difficulties in the obtaining of this mysterious substance caused many criminal impostures, a "trade mark" of the Russian mafia. Following 9/11, the demand for RM 20/20 and it’s price went up rapidly. On the 24th of September, 2004, British Police arrested four persons, whom they suspected of an attempt to purchase a "radioactive material of a very high explosive power, originally made in Russia, and known as a red mercury". The four suspects were supposed to offer $ 541,000 per one kilogram [of RM 20/20], to a Saudi national (decribed as a sympathizer of the Islamist fundamentalists). Other persons, suspected of the trading in red mercury, had been also arrested in Italy.

In one of his interviews, the inventor of the neutron bomb described the technical properties of this unusual explosive material: "Most frightening is the relative ease by which neutron bombs can be created with a substance called red mercury. Red mercury is a compound containing mercury that has undergone massive irradiation. When exploded, it creates tremendous heat and pressure — the same type needed to trigger a fusion device such as a mini-neutron bomb."

Cohen said that Americans had not been successful to develop a low-yield pure fusion weapon, using RM 20/20, in spite of many efforts. Meanwhile, in the former USSR, and later on in Russia, the research to produce a workable weapon had been (and still was) continued. In 2004, Cohen confirmed to us the chemical composition and other technical parameters of RM 20/20, upon receiving a Technical Certificate, coming from one of the secret Russian laboratories. Already in 1993, a Russian general, Y. Negin, claimed in public that his country had developed a low-yield nuclear weapon "in which a doubling of yield is achieved with a hudredfold reduction of weight compared to existing weapons." Describing the weapon, an other Russian specialist, Evgeny Kerolev, added that red mercury is so potent that a "bomb the size of a grenade could blow a ship out of the sea."

Cohen remarked that the micro-neutron weapon has a dreadful potential for terrorism: it is cheap (without the use of expensive uranium or plutonium), it is almost undetectable (due to a very low level of radiation) and it is miniature (the size of a hand-granade, or a baseball). When detonated, neutron bombs generally produce a minimal blast and thermal effect, but they produce a substatial pulse of neutron radiation which penetrates hardened shelters and causes a destructive ionazing effect when it interacts with living tissue. The neutron radiation kills all living organisms in the radius of 1/3 of a mile, destroying no buildings but killing many thousands of people.

More and more evidence supports a suspicion that Putin’s Russia focuses  only on Chechen terrorists, and that the real "brain" of the world terrorist campaign, being wedged against the Free World, is the Russian Military Intelligence, the GRU.

ã AWR WPROST 1998 - 2005

Date of the publication: July 11, 2005

A note about the authors:

Gordon Thomas is a British journalist, writing about intelligence matters. He is author of over 20 books, including a best-seller "Gideon’s Spies. The Secret History of the Mossad".

David Dastych is a Polish journalist, translator and former intelligence analyst. His forthcoming book "At One’s Own Risk: 40 Years of a Journalist’s Secret Life in the East and West" is due to be published in 2006, in Polish and English.

Both authors regularly contribute to "Wprost" (read: vprost), the best-selling Polish news & opinion weekly.












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