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Customs identifies terrorist 'shopping list'
WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Customs Service has identified about 100 key technologies, weapons and other items that make up a "shopping list for terrorist organizations," and is asking businesses to help prevent such items from falling into the wrong hands.
The list has been shared with U.S. intelligence agencies and the Defense Department.
"A lot of this is dual-use technology so it has a legitimate use for certain purposes, but it can be used for weapons or weapons systems by terrorist organizations," Customs Commissioner Robert Bonner said.
Although he wouldn't identify the items on the list, he said some were related to producing nuclear, chemical and biological weapons. The list also includes technology that terrorists might use to evade capture.
Bonner called it "a shopping list for terrorist organizations."
"Minor technological goods could easily become the necessary components for major weapons development by terrorist groups of rogue nations," the agency said Monday as it announced its "Project Shield America."
For example, one chemical used to produce dyes and inks is also a key ingredient for making mustard gas, Customs spokesman Dean Boyd said. High-speed timing devices called "krytrons," used in photocopiers and civilian lasers, are also ideal for triggering nuclear warheads.
Under the new program, Customs field offices will contact firms that manufacture or distribute the items on the list and warn them about materials sought by terrorists.
The agency is also increasing efforts to investigate people trying to obtain or export sensitive technology. In the months before the Sept. 11 attacks, Customs agents arrested people trying to export missile guidance systems, military encryption technology, Stinger anti-aircraft missiles and spy cameras, the agency said.
Customs has also been tracking terrorist finances with a database designed to detect drug-money laundering, contraband smuggling and trade fraud. The system lets investigators examine import and export records, bank reports of suspicious activity, individuals' entries into and exits from the United States and other information to spot questionable shipments and transactions.