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Terror manual shows new level of sophistication

Tuesday, October 2, 2001

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan -- Poison gas. Explosives. Hand-to-hand combat. Knives. And religious exhortations.

The 11-volume "Manual of Afghan Jihad," or holy war, makes chilling reading -- a how-to guide to what it calls the "basic rules of sabotage and destruction."

Most of the information can be gleaned from Internet Web sites, experts say, and another manual, written for Muslim operatives abroad and not part of the 11-volume set, was discovered last year during an investigation of Osama bin Laden.

But intelligence analysts from two Western countries who read part of the "Manual of Afghan Jihad," and who spoke on condition of anonymity, said its highly technical detail, including diagrams, represents a new level of sophistication in the training apparatus of bin Laden's network.

Manual stolen in July

The volumes were obtained by The Associated Press from a former Afghan guerrilla who said he got them from a Libyan fighter. He said the Libyan, who had fallen out with his comrades, stole them in July from the headquarters of bin Laden's organization in Kandahar, also the home base of Afghanistan's Taliban rulers.

The preface to Mouswada al Jihad al Afghani, the Arabic name of the manual, says it was compiled by "The Services Office of the Training Camps," and that this "Services Office" was founded by bin Laden. It is meant for use in the battle against "the enemies of our movement, the enemies of Allah, for any Islamic group."

Each volume begins with dedications to, among others, bin Laden, who "took part in jihad with his life and money in Afghan-istan..."; Abdullah Azzam, a Palestinian killed during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan; Islamic leaders in Afghanistan; and the people and government of neighboring Pakistan, which has long supported the Taliban regime.

The 11 volumes, ranging from 250 to 500 pages each, are written in Arabic, with occasional indexes in English. Excerpts were translated for AP.

'What's your desire?'

Each has a specific area of expertise. "What's your desire?" the text asks -- then takes the reader step by step through the acquiring and mixing various explosive materials. Other sections tell how to blow up a plane, engage an armored vehicle, surround an airport, spy on a military base.

A volume on hand-to-hand combat has a chapter on "how to threaten with a knife, piercing with a knife." In the Sept. 11 terror attacks in the United States, in which bin Laden is the suspected mastermind, hijackers were believed to have been armed with knives or box-cutters.

In the chapter on security and intelligence, the authors say that "in preparedness for war, security and intelligence-gathering of the enemy's power and strategy have been emphasized, according to the instructions of the Quran."

Course on poisons

In a chapter on "basic sabotage and destruction," would-be assassins are offered various options, including "poison-making, poisonous gases and poisonous drugs."

They are instructed on specific plant life that can be used to make poison gas, how to make the gas, and what quantity is needed to kill a man. They are told that a room full of a particular odorless gas will kill someone in 30 seconds.

The "armaments section" leads the reader through a virtual history of 20th century weaponry, from British Lee-Enfield rifles of 1928 vintage to the U.S.-made Stinger anti-aircraft missiles supplied to the anti-Soviet rebels in the 1980s.

The first aid section offers advice on dealing with everything from bee stings and electric shocks to brain hemorrhages and typhoid.

"This research is for all mujahedeen in the world who are struggling to establish Islamic law wherever they are," says one passage in the manual. "According to the Quran, you should fully prepare yourselves to fight with your enemies. So wherever the mujahedeen are fighting, their training in explosives in necessary."


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