Skip to comments.Captured al-Qaida computer gives up secrets
Posted on 01/01/2002 3:25:36 PM PST by JustPiper
WASHINGTON--A computer used by Osama bin Laden's agents in Afghanistan could be an intelligence bonanza pointing to future methods of attack and inside information about how the al-Qaida terrorist network operates, former military officials and analysts said Monday.
A U.S. intelligence official confirmed that a computer bought by the Wall Street Journal in Kabul apparently had been used by al-Qaida. It contained memos of the terrorist group's chemical and biological weapons program, justifications for killing civilians and a propaganda video made from footage of people fleeing from the World Trade Center, the Journal reported.
Increasingly, officials told the Associated Press, computers are replacing confidential memos as a prime target when looking for intelligence left behind by a routed enemy. The faster the enemy is destroyed, the juicier the information.
A looter in Kabul said he got the desktop computer after a U.S. bombing raid in November that killed several senior officials of al-Qaida, the Journal said. The Journal bought the machine from the looter for $1,100.
Dating from early 1997 through this fall, the files paint a picture of both ghoulish ambitions and quotidian frustrations within an organization that, despite its medieval zealotry, sometimes mimicked a multinational corporation. Memos refer to al-Qaida as ''the company'' and its leadership as ''the general management.''
The computer files don't appear to detail the plotting of Sept. 11 or to contain any clear plans for future attacks. But hundreds of documents, ranging from the murderous to the mundane, illuminate issues bearing on America's war on terrorism. Among them:
*Files outlining al-Qaida efforts to launch a program of chemical and biological weapons, code-named al Zabadi, Arabic for curdled milk. As part of the plan to develop a ''home-brew nerve gas,'' members were given a long reading list that included a study titled ''Current Concepts: Napalm.''
One memo laments the slow progress of the weapons development and adds that ''we only became aware of them when the enemy drew our attention to them by repeatedly expressing concern that they can be produced simply.''
*A video file in which Osama bin Laden speaks for 23 minutes, focusing on what he calls America's anti-Muslim crusade and mentioning the Sept. 11 attacks. Another video shows a top al-Qaida cleric and spokesman, Sheikh Abu Gaith, appearing to acknowledge al-Qaida responsibility for the strikes. ''God Almighty has enabled our brothers to carry out these strikes,'' he says, ''and make the enemies of God taste what they made our brothers taste.''
*A letter in which a militant using the name Abu Yaser stresses that ''hitting the Americans and Jews is a target of great value and has its rewards in this life and, God willing, the afterlife.'' The letter is addressed to top al-Qaida lieutenant Ayman al-Zawahri, and the author says he has written to bin Laden separately.
*A memo referring to a ''legal study'' on ''the killing of civilians.'' The writer, acknowledging this is ''a sensitive issue,'' says he has found ways to keep ''the enemy'' from using the killing of ''civilians, specifically women and children,'' to undermine the militants' cause.
The desktop was installed in a two-story brick building in Kabul that was used by al-Qaida as an office, according to a looter who says he grabbed it and a Compaq laptop from the office.
He says he entered the building, which is now occupied by Northern Alliance soldiers, after a November U.S. bombing raid killed several senior al-Qaida officials in a nearby property.
AP with Wall Street Journal contributing
Bump! classic hypocrisy.
U.S. Marines attend a flag raising ceremony in which the American and Afghan flags were raised at Kandahar Airport in Afghanistan on Tuesday.
(CNN) -- U.S. Marines were on the ground in southern Afghanistan on Tuesday to gather intelligence and look for members of the Taliban and al Qaeda.
The target of the mission is a large walled compound west of Kandahar in Helmand province, said Col. Andrew Frick, commanding officer of the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit. Frick said it was his understanding that the operation did not extend to Baghran, an area where Pentagon sources have said Taliban supreme leader Mullah Mohammed Omar is hiding.
Early Tuesday, CNN Correspondent Bill Hemmer noted "substantial Marine activity," involving half a dozen light armored vehicles, a dozen Humvees and an oversized truck filled with Marines leaving the Kandahar airport. The same convoy was seen a short time later by reporters moving through the city of Kandahar.
The 200 or so Marines involved in the operation are a large group compared to what has been used on the ground in Afghanistan during the U.S.-led military effort. Frick said the operation may be completed by sunrise Wednesday. (Full story at CNN.com)
Of course they are. They're just "bunching them" right now. They're going to have surveillance at the computer shows. No doubt someone with the appropriate background will be caught there trying to buy a gun, and suddenly it'll be alright to have the federal government monitoring all gun transactions actively at the point of sale. I would argue that gun sales need to regulated with background checks. Personally, I think they should be done at gunshows, too. But I don't think what is happening now is the way to lobby for that.
Besides, criminals get guns anyway, and neither of two studies managed to show any beneficial effect from the checks, in terms of reduced crime rates. "Keeping guns out of the hands of criminals" sounds good in a sound bite, but it turns out that background checks do not have this effect.
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