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Christiane Amanpour: Mysterious, ominous documents

CNN's Christiane Amanpour  

(CNN) -- Nuclear weapons-related documents were found in an al Qaeda safe house in Afghanistan -- a discovery made even more significant in light of Taliban threats to bring about the "destruction of America" -- Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge had announced on Thursday.

CNN Correspondent Christiane Amanpour reports from Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan, about CNN's discoveries of some documents found in houses in Kabul that were abandoned when the Northern Alliance took the city and Taliban retreated. CNN's team members say that at least one of the al Qaeda houses they and other news organizations visited was "cleaned out" overnight. While the houses are still full of trash, all the interesting documents have been removed. CNN's Jamie McIntyre has confirmed U.S. forces have been on site.

AMANPOUR: "We've been going through houses in what used to be a diplomatic quarter of Kabul. When the Taliban took over, this became the quarter for their privileged Arab guests, we're told by the residents. These Arabs left within hours after it was evident that Kabul was going to fall.

"They left behind documents in many of the houses that journalists have visited. We went today to a house that in fact had been locked. We did scale the wall and we went in and found these documents, including this one in my hands that was found in a bag and looked like it was being tossed out.

"This, in Arabic, says 'The Biggest Bomb.' When we turn over the carefully photocopied and handwritten pages we see all sorts of references to uranium 235 and to the words nuclear --atomic bomb. We see references to TNT. There was even a heading which said 'How to make a nuclear bomb.'

"We saw other pages and other documents as well. One was specifically written to an Abu Habbab. Abu Habbab also happens to be the name of one of Osama bin Laden's top lieutenants. And it says to the recipient, 'I am sending you companions who are eager to be trained in explosives and whatever else they may want.' It was signed January of 2001.

"We also saw a letter that purported to have come from somebody in Khandahar sent here to Kabul that said, 'Since the last operation against America, I cannot travel anymore.' And he went on to say that he had changed his name. That appeared to be, although it didn't mention a date, a reference to September 11.

"We saw many other things as well -- tables, manuals, and an 82-page manual that said it was published by al Qaeda worldwide network, the committee for recruitment and training. And we found all sorts of these kinds of documents today.

"I must say, it's very hard to understand why these documents, which appear to be at least evidence of intent, were left around. We saw that many of the houses that we had gone into appeared to have been cleaned out. We don't know by whom. It appears that journalists, some of our colleagues who went in there yesterday, including CNN, and then went back today, found some of these houses now cleaned out except for some of these documents. So this pretty troubling trail and still a great deal of mystery attached to what we found.

"We also found chemicals in one outdoor shed at one of these houses. We found several different chemicals in what looked to be like a metal crucible where they could have been heated. Some of these chemicals, experts say, are used to make explosives and a lot of manuals were about making explosives. We also found something that was handwritten and showed how to hijack and blow up a plane. It showed how to blow up a bridge, how to blow up a tower, a ship, railways and all sorts of things. A lot of this could have been obviously from the public domain, but clearly it had been handwritten, photocopied and kept in these houses."


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