Special to WORLD TRIBUNE.COM - Monday, August 9, 1999


WASHINGTON -- Saudi fugitive Osama Bin Laden is believed to have up to 20 nuclear bombs and is seeking to launch a massive terrorist strike against the United States, a congressional investigator and author says.

Yosef Bodansky, a researcher of the House Task Force for Counterterrorism and author of a new book on Bin Laden, told a news conference on Friday that Bin Laden has been seeking to follow up on his bombings of two U.S. embassies in east Africa one year ago. Echoing U.S. officials, Bodansky said Bin Laden was thwarted in plans to blow up the U.S. embassy and two consulates in India in last December and January.

Bin Laden has biological, chemical and nuclear weapons, Bodansky said. The nuclear weapons include suitcase bombs acquired through Chechniyan rebels and received technical help from Iraq.

"The Russians believe that he has a handful [of nuclear weapons], the Saudi intelligence services are very conservative, perhaps they are friendly to the United States, believe that he has in the neighborhood of 20," Bodansky said. "As far as the acquisition and obtaining, there's the multiple sources of that, dealing with the actual purchase of suitcase bombs. His collection of individuals knowledgeable in activating the bombs and he is looking for and recruiting former Soviet special forces in learning how to operate the bombs behind enemy lines."

"As far as decision-making in Washington is concerned, we should assume that he has them," he added. "Most of them have been transferred through Pakistan."

"Let me stress here: We don't have any indication that they are going to use it tomorrow or any other day," added Bodansky, whose analyses are considered controversial in Washington. "But they have the capability, they have the legitimate authorization, they have the logic for using it. So, one does not go into the tremendous amount of expenditures, effort, investment in human beings, in human resources, to have something that will be just kept somewhere in storage for a rainy day."

Bodansky said Bin Laden has strong ties with Islamic fundamentalists throughout the Middle East, the Balkans, Britain in the Untied States. He refused to name any specific organization in the United States.

"There's a distinct minority within the Moslem community in the United States that is very sympathetic to his cause, to his analysis and interpretation of the relationship between the hub of Islam and the penetration of Westernization, Western culture and the like," he said. "And a minority among this minority are known to have crossed the threshold of willingness to commit terrorist acts or commit violence. Many have been trained in Afghanistan, Bosnia and elsewhere throughout the Moslem world, so that they are capable. They have the skills and capabilities to carry out an operation as required."

Bodansky said Bin Laden remains in Afghanistan. He said the Saudi is located in Islam Darva, about 80 kilometers northwest of Kandahar. When he wants to communicate with the outside world, he travels to Jalalabad.

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