Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Chemicals and bomb-making literature found at two houses in Fallujah, Iraq, last week show Iraqi rebels are prepared to use chemical and biological weapons in future attacks, a U.S. military spokesman said yesterday.

Rebels in Fallujah had materials for making chemical blood agents and also a “cookbook” on how to produce a deadly form of anthrax, said Army Lt. Col. Steven A. Boylan in a telephone interview.

Col. Boylan said there are no signs to date that the terrorists actually used chemical or biological weapons in homemade bombs that the military calls improvised explosive devices (IEDs).

“But this definitely shows that they had the intent and willingness to go down that road,” he said. “The intent is there to at least make it and potentially to use it.”

A U.S. military team trained to handle chemical weapons removed the materials and equipment, and testing is under way, Col. Boylan said.

The two houses in Fallujah were used by terrorists linked to Abu Musab Zarqawi, the al Qaeda-linked leader who is behind many of the suicide bombings and attacks against Iraqi civilians and U.S. military personnel, Col. Boylan said.

Iraqi security forces and the U.S. military uncovered one chemical and bomb-making factory Wednesday, Col. Boylan said. A day later, a second residence was found with bomb-making and chemical-weapons material in another part of the city, he said.

The chemical lab was found during house-to-house searches of the city, where some 2,000 terrorists and former fighters for Saddam Hussein’s regime were killed in recent battles.

“The chemical labs had cookbooks that had formulas for making explosives,” Col. Boylan said. “One of them had directions on how to make anthrax. One of them had ingredients and directions on how to make blood agent.”

Chemicals for the blood agent hydrogen cyanide that were found included potassium cyanide and hydrochloric acid, he said.

Hydrogen cyanide, which affects the blood, is extremely poisonous and can be used as a weapon in both vapor and liquid form.

In addition to chemical-weapons materials, the troops uncovered other bomb-making materials in the residence, including ammonium nitrate and military explosives that are used in making roadside and vehicle bombs, he said.

It is believed the Fallujah rebels had planned to lace their improvised bombs with hydrogen cyanide, he said.

Soldiers also found testing kits labeled “Soman, Sarin and V-Gases,” which are used to test for the presence of chemical nerve agents.

The kits contained vials labeled in English, Russian and German that read, “For working instructions, refer to the instructions leaflet.”

Col. Boylan noted that the chemical weapons are “indiscriminate” terror weapons that were to be used against Iraqi civilians as well as against U.S., Iraqi and allied troops.

He said Fallujah has been neutralized as a center for terrorist bombing operations by the U.S. military’s ongoing operation there.

“We’re finding tons of weapons — caches with hundreds of weapons, ammunition, IEDs and factories,” he said.

“These locations were being used to do nothing but fabricate IEDs and other weapons.”

He noted that Fallujah is considered the single largest place for weapons and explosives used by rebels in Iraq.

“We’re still going house to house” in Fallujah, he said.

Troops are fighting to clear buildings of insurgents, but “we still have pockets [of resistance] and sporadic fighting as they find holdouts, and that’s to be expected,” Col. Boylan said.

“It’s not an easy process. It’s a slow, methodical process that once completed will have cleared the city” of insurgents, he said.

Iraqi Minister of State Kassim Daoud said last week that the chemical laboratory “was used to prepare deadly explosives and poisons.”

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