Report Claims al Qaeda
Has A 'Dirty' Nuke

Phil Stewart

WASHINGTON (United Press International via COMTEX) - The consensus view within the U.S. government is that the al Qaida terrorist group has acquired lower-level radioactive substances that ordinary explosives could spread as contaminants, The Washington Post reported Sunday.
Although such a so-called dirty bomb could cause a more modest number of deaths than an actual nuclear weapon, it could have a considerable impact as a "weapon of psychological terror," an unidentified senior government specialist told the newspaper.
President Bush, after a briefing by the CIA, ordered his national security team to give nuclear terrorism priority over every other threat to the United States, the newspaper reported.
As a consequence, the report said, the Bush administration has installed hundreds of sophisticated radioactivity detectors at U.S. border inspection points and around the nation's capital. National laboratories have been ordered to develop even more sensitive detectors, according to the report.
The elite commando unit, the Delta Force, has been placed on standby alert to seize any nuclear materials that are detected, the Post said.
The heightened fears of the use of nuclear materials along with reported threats of a terrorist attack bigger than Sept. 11 explain the decision to maintain a cadre of senior federal managers on standby outside of Washington, the Post said of its initial disclosure of the precautions on Friday.
The CIA told Bush at one point of not only the published arrests by Pakistan of two former nuclear scientists who visited reputed terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden, but of a third Pakistani scientist who, the newspaper said, tried to sell a nuclear bomb to Libya.
The likeliest source for terrorists of nuclear materials, the paper said, was the crumbling nuclear industry infrastructure in the former Soviet Union, despite the insistence of Russian officials that all such materials are accounted for.

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