Events in the recent past have focused the world on the al Qaeda terrorist organization and its efforts to develop weapons of mass destruction (WMD). WMD can be defined as nuclear, chemical, biological, and radiological weapons. The U.S. Code, Title 5, defines WMD as "any weapon or device that is intended, or has the capability, to cause death or serious bodily injury to a significant number of people through the release, dissemination, or impact of (A) toxic or poisonous chemicals or their precursors; (B) a disease organism; or (C) radiation or radioactivity." According to Deputy Defense Secretary Wolfowitz, "Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden said in the past that the acquisition of weapons of mass destruction by his terrorist gang is a religious duty. U.S. and coalition troops in Afghanistan found evidence that al Qaeda was aggressively pursuing chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear information and material." Now CNN has obtained tapes recording al Qaeda's chemical experiments. As more evidence is found we can begin to understand the details about al Qaeda's WMD objectives. This analysis examines al Qaeda's WMD undertakings as we know them, and describes U.S. efforts to counter, preempt, and otherwise prevent al Qaeda from obtaining a robust WMD arsenal.
Naval Postgraduate School, Center for Contemporary Conflict: http://www.ccc.nps.navy.mil
Strategic Insights (September 2002), v.1 no.7