Court Documents: Al-Qaeda’s Somalia Branch Al-Shabaab Developing Chemical Weapons, Working With AQAP In Yemen…
Never mind the fact that Syria is crawling with al-Qaeda and the country is awash in chemical weapons, all it will take is for one of Assad’s stockpiles to be overrun and al-Qaeda will have its choice of which agents to attack us with.
(CBS News) — A new document filed in a still-developing terrorism case in New York seems to confirm the long-held fear that al Qaeda is working to develop chemical weapons.
On Wednesday, CBS News obtained a document filed by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York indicating that three men charged with being members of the al-Shabab terrorist group in Somalia had “substantial knowledge regarding an al-Shabaab research and development department that was developing chemical weapons.”
CBS News senior correspondent John Miller told “CBS This Morning” the lead defendant in the case, Mahdi Hashi, and two others were arrested in August, 2012, by African authorities while allegedly on their way to Yemen. They are charged with participating in a weapons and training program with al-Shabab over a four-year period beginning in 2008.
Hashi, who left his home in the U.K. to join the Somali group, had been part of an elite suicide bomber unit with al-Shabab.
The new document says the defendants’ planned to join al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, or AQAP, the terror network’s branch in Yemen which has orchestrated numerous recent, high-profile a terrorist attacks, including plots targeting the U.S. mainland.
Miller, who is a former assistant director at the FBI, notes that developing chemical weapons is a goal al Qaeda, “seems to be striving for.”
But Miller notes that neither the new court document, nor, to his knowledge, current U.S. intelligence, reveal a clear timeline regarding when al Qaeda might actually be able to produce a finished chemical weapons agent or gain the capacity to use such a weapon against the United States.
Miller adds, however, that the mere “idea that they have a department and that they have capable, knowledgeable people in that department who are striving towards it is … very concerning” to U.S. intelligence organizations.