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US suspects al Qaida creating bio weapons

WASHINGTON, Nov. 11 (UPI) — The U.S. military has identified three sites in Afghanistan suspected of producing biological or chemical weapons, the New York Times reported Sunday.

U.S.-led strikes have thus far avoided hitting the suspected sites even though American intelligence believes suspected terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden’s extremist group, al Qaida, might have produced cyanide gas at one of them. The crude laboratory is a located in Derunta, a small village near the eastern Afghan city of Jalalabad.

Al Qaida’s alleged attempt to produced cyanide bolsters U.Nate Sudfeld JerseyS. intelligence beliefs that the group is eager to obtain weapons of mass destruction, though have only developed limited capabilities.

Other suspected sites are a fertilizer plant in Mazar-i-Sharif, captured by the Northern Alliance on Friday, and an anthrax vaccine site in the capital, Kabul, according to the Times.

U.S. officials said the fertilizer plant was near a compound used by bin Laden and al Qaida, and intelligence analysts suspected the extremist group was interested in the plant because its equipment was capable of producing chemical and biological weapons.

The anthrax vaccine site, believed to be controlled by the International Committee of the Red Cross,Brandon Scherff Jersey was established to produce anthrax vaccine for Afghanistan’s livestock.

American officials said the Red Cross does not control the site. Red Cross officials admitted that while it provided funds for the plant, the Taliban Ministry of Agriculture was operating it.

A senior State Department official said U.S. experts told him it would be difficult for al Qaida to use the anthrax-vaccine plant to produce anthrax weapons and the Red Cross said the material produced at the plant was harmless.

However, U.S. officials maintain it is important to deny al Qaida access to such a laboratory and its equipment, the Times reported.

Senior officials at the White House, Pentagon and Central Intelligence Agency have refused to say why suspected sites have not been bombed.Preston Smith Jersey The strategy appears to be at odds with President George Bush’s recent warnings that al Qaida was seeking chemical, biological and nuclear weapons, saying if the groups acquired those weapons it s would be „a threat to every nation and, eventually, to civilization itself.”

In October, United Press International reported that the United States had in fact devised a comprehensive plan to destroy a variety of threats to U.S. forces in Afghanistan, including any crude chemical or biological weapons that may be held by the Taliban militia or the al Qaida network.

„We know that bin Laden has, over time, purchased some basic chemical and biological weapons, mainly through Russian intermediaries,Jordan Reed Jersey” an administration official said in October.

He did not indicate where or when the purchases had been made, but a former senior CIA official told UPI that evidence indicated that some of the weapons were obtained from the former Soviet Union, especially its Central Asian republics.

But an administration official said: „We have devised a comprehensive plan to take down anything in that area we perceive to be a threat,” acknowledging he was aware of reports of weapons of mass destruction.]

Kandahar is reportedly a „significant site” for any weapons of mass destruction bin Laden may have, a U.S. intelligence source told UPI.

The southern Afghan city’s airport is said to have one a large, heavily fortified defensive complex near the airport, 20 miles from the city, which has been hit repeatedly by U.Spencer Long JerseyS. airstrikes since Oct. 7. This is one of the suspected sites for any chemical weapons bin Laden has obtained, he said.