SECURITY INFORMATION UPDATE
Al QA'IDA CHEMICAL, BIOLOGICAL, RADIOLOGICAL, AND
THREAT AND BASIC COUNTERMEASURES
Information Bulletin 03-003
February 12, 2003
National Threat Warning System-Homeland
Security Information Update-HSAS Threat Level Orange
(High); joint guidance from the Department of Homeland
Security and the FBI.
As recipients were advised, the Homeland
Security Advisory System (HSAS) was raised to High
(Orange) from Elevated (Yellow) on 2/7/03. This communication
provides critical infrastructure owners/operators
suggested guidance on potential indicators of threats
involving weapons of mass destruction and protective
measures based on this heightened threat condition.
Al Qa'ida and affiliated groups continue
to enhance their capabilities to conduct effective
mass-casualty chemical, biological, radiological,
and nuclear (CBRN) attacks. Presently, al Qa'ida and
associated groups possess at least a crude capability
to use chemical, biological, and radiological agents
and devices in their attacks. Several al Qa'ida-affiliated
cells have attempted to carry out attacks in Europe
with easily produced chemicals and biological toxins.
While these attacks are best suited for assassinations
and small-scale dispersal, they can potentially cause
hundreds of casualties and widespread panic if used
in multiple, simultaneous attacks.
Al Qa'ida also is interested in radiological
dispersal devices (RDDs) or "dirty bombs."
Construction of an RDD is well within the group's
capabilities, as radiological materials are widely
available and acquisition relatively easy. Al Qa'ida
operatives also may attempt to launch conventional
attacks against the U.S. nuclear/chemical-industrial
infrastructure to cause contamination, disruption,
and terror. Based on information, nuclear power plants
and industrial chemical plants remain viable targets.
Spray devices disbursing biological
or chemical agents could potentially contaminate a
wide area. Before the September 11, 2001 attacks,
al Qa'ida operatives expressed interest in crop dusters,
raising concerns that al Qa'ida has considered using
aircraft to disseminate biological and chemical agents.
Information indicates the group has
experimented with procedures for making blister (mustard)
and nerve (sarin and VX) chemical agents.
Most CBRN threats represent an inhalation
or contact hazard. To minimize further contamination,
individuals who come in contact with an unusual substance
should cover their mouths with a cloth while leaving
the area, avoid touching surfaces, and wash their
The Chemical, Biological, Radiological
(CBR) Incident Handbook is intended to supply information
to first responders for use in making a preliminary
assessment of a situation when a possible chemical,
biological agent or radiological material is suspected.
The CBR Incident Handbook can be downloaded from the
Central Intelligence Agency Public Interest Site at
The NIPC encourages individuals to report
information concerning suspicious activity to their
local FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) office,
the NIPC, or to other appropriate authorities. Individuals
can reach the NIPC WATCH AND WARNING UNIT at (202)
323-3205, toll free at 1-888-585-9078, or by email