Skip to main content /US /US

First 'dirty bomb' tip came in late April

Abu Zubaydah
Abu Zubaydah  

From David Ensor
CNN Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The first tip about "dirty bomb" suspect Jose Padilla came about two weeks before his May 8 arrest, U.S. officials said.

Officials said the information came from senior al Qaeda operative Abu Zubaydah, who is being held in U.S. custody. Zubaydah provided a physical description of Padilla -- who also goes by the name Abdullah Al Muhajir -- but did not name him, officials said.

A U.S. official said that Zubaydah appeared to be giving out minimal information, apparently assuming that authorities would not be able to figure out whom he was describing.

Rumsfeld: 'Dirty bomb' suspect may never be tried 
Official: Zubaydah claims al Qaeda has 'dirty bomb' know-how 

But U.S. intelligence and law enforcement officials then questioned other captured al Qaeda prisoners and used an FBI database to find the names of the suspect and another man -- believed to be Pakistani -- who is being held in Pakistan in connection with the same alleged plot to attack targets in the United States.

Once they had the names, U.S. officials then obtained photographs of the two suspects and showed them to Zubaydah. He confirmed they were the two men involved, officials said.

Zubaydah and others, according to sources, said that Padilla and the other suspect were trained in bomb-making techniques in Lahore, Pakistan. They held two meetings with al Qaeda operatives in Karachi, Pakistan, where the possibility of using a radiological weapon in the United States was discussed.

The CIA is interrogating Zubaydah in an undisclosed country. U.S. officials said a report in Tuesday's Washington Post that he is being held in Pakistan is "not correct."




Back to the top