November 28, 2001
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'Sketches of anthrax bomb found in
Pakistani scientist's office'

Sketches and calculations to make a helium-powered balloon bomb filled with anthrax have been found from the Kabul office of an NGO headed by Bashiruddin Mehmood, one of the two Pakistani nuclear scientists detained in Islamabad for questioning on their alleged links with Osama bin Laden, a leading American journal has said.

Such a balloon bomb was capable of showering the deadly anthrax over areas as vast as New York or Washington DC.

The "most chilling" items found included small bags of white powder and the "mass of calculations and drawings" of weather balloons with arrows indicating the suggested height of 10 km or 33,000 feet, The Economist said.

The premises, located in the "wealthiest district" of Kabul, belonged to the Ummah Tameer-e-Nau, whose president was Mehmood. Mehmood, along with Abdul Majid (another scientist) were detained again on Tuesday in Islamabad for questioning, The Economist said.

The two men, who are alleged to have made frequent trips to Afghanistan and met Laden on two occasions, have denied the charges.

"Since UTN was run by one of Pakistan's top scientists, a man with close links to the Taleban and, it is said, close ideological affinities with Laden, the circumstantial evidence points to only one conclusion," the paper said.

"Whoever fled this house when the Taleban fell was working on a plan to build a helium-powered balloon bomb carrying anthrax," the journal said.

It said, "Whether it (the balloon) was detonated with a timer or shot down by a fighter (plane), the result would have been the same: the showering of deadly airborne anthrax over an area as wide as half of New York City or Washington DC."

Stating that US officials were "increasingly believing" that the anthrax attacks were not carried out by people connected to the Al Qaeda, the author of the article asked them to "look harder to avert future attacks".

From the ruins of this Kabul building, large number of documents and equipment were found.

These included "what appeared to be a Russian rocket, which had been disassembled", a canister labelled "helium", multiple copies of documents on anthrax downloaded from the Internet, details about the US Army's vaccination plan for its troops and a cassette box labelled jihad, The Economist said.

The sketches on paper and those on a white board had several designs for a long thin balloon. "There was also a sketch of a jet fighter flying towards the balloon alongside the words: 'Your days are limited! Bang.'"


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