U.S. Water News Online
CAIRO, Egypt -- An Arabic-language magazine quotes a senior
member of al-Qaida as raising the possibility that the group might
poison U.S. water supplies.
The Saudi-owned al-Majalla weekly also reports in its latest
edition that al-Qaida militants are in the ranks of Saddam Hussein
loyalists who are attacking U.S.-led forces in Iraq.
The reports are based on e-mail correspondence that Al-Majalla
conducted with Abu Mohammed al-Ablaj, whom the magazine identified as
a senior member of al-Qaida.
``It is something that would have to be viewed seriously,'' said a
U.S. counterterrorism official in Washington, speaking on the
condition of anonymity.
The London-based Al-Majalla began receiving al-Ablaj's e-mails
last month, and a U.S. counterterrorism official said previously that
al-Ablaj was believed to be an al-Qaida operative.
In the earlier exchange with the magazine, al-Ablaj said al-Qaida
was going to carry out major attacks in Saudi Arabia. Al-Majalla
published the warning on May 11 - a day before suicide bombers
detonated explosives at three housing complexes in Riyadh, killing 25
In the latest exchange of e-mails, al-Ablaj was quoted by the
magazine as saying that al-Qaida did not rule out ``the use of Sarin
gas and the poisoning of drinking water in American and Western
cities.'' He was quoted as saying al-Qaida ``will present the
Americans with their capabilities.''
Sarin gas, a nerve agent, was used in a 1995 attack that killed 12
people on Tokyo's subways. That attack was carried out by a group
then known as Aum Shinrikyo and now called Aleph which has no known
ties to al-Qaida. The gas can penetrate the lungs or the skin and
invade the nervous system. It is fatal and also can cause symptoms
such as blurred vision, difficult breathing, excessive sweating,
weakened muscles, paralysis and seizures.
Even if terrorists managed to introduce Sarin into water supplies,
dilution, purification systems and natural breakdown of the agent in
the environment would make it very difficult, if not impossible, to
deliver a lethal dose through a metropolitan water supply system. But
the discovery of even trace contamination in a water system could
have major psychological and social impacts, a 2002 National Academy
of Sciences study concluded.
Al-Ablaj also was quoted by the magazine as threatening to launch
``smashing strikes against Israelis abroad.''
Al-Ablaj, who told the magazine he directs training of al-Qaida
fighters, said ``elements of al-Qaida are fighting alongside the
Iraqis'' against coalition forces. He added they were fighting for
ousted President Saddam Hussein because he had declared holy war on
The magazine's editors have written that al-Ablaj first e-mailed
one of their reporters three months ago. They said they could not
confirm al-Ablaj's identity and did not know his whereabouts.
Return to the
U.S. Water News Archives page
Return to the U.S. Water
Use a comma to separate e-mail addresses:
Hi, I thought you might like to read this article.