Al Qaeda in Iraq: Calling all Weapons Experts

| Thu Sep. 28, 2006 2:44 PM EDT

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AP reports:

In a new audio message Thursday, the leader of al-Qaida in Iraq called for explosives experts and nuclear scientists to join his group's holy war against the West. "We are in dire need of you," said the man, who identified himself as Abu Hamza al-Muhajir — also known as Abu Ayyub al-Masri — the leader of al-Qaida in Iraq.

"The field of jihad (holy war) can satisfy your scientific ambitions, and the large American bases (in Iraq) are good places to test your unconventional weapons, whether biological or dirty, as they call them."

Very much apropos, check out this piece by Kurt Pitzer in Mother Jones about how the U.S. refused to secure Iraq's only real WMDs, its nuclear and bioweapons scientists, with the result that they're now dispersed and more dangerous than ever.

Nobody knows how many Iraqi scientists may have been lured over the borders into Iran, Syria, or beyond. Nobody knows because no one is keeping tabs. But several observers agree that so little attention is being paid to Iraq's scientists, the war may actually have increased the chances of nuclear capabilities proliferating beyond the country's borders. Between its unemployed scientists and the disappearance of large amounts of WMD-related materials from former weapons sites, Iraq now poses a nightmare scenario, according to Ray McGovern, who spent 27 years analyzing intelligence for the CIA and afterward cofounded Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity. "The danger is much more acute, both from the proliferation side and the terrorism side," McGovern says. "Before we invaded, there was no evidence that Iraq had any plan or incentive to proliferate. They didn't even have a current plan to develop WMDs. They just hadn't been doing it. Now, my God, we have a magnet attracting all manner of foreign jihadists to a place where the WMD expertise is suddenly unprotected. It just boggles the mind."