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Al Qaeda documents, manuals found in Kabul

Papers reveal plans to construct nuclear weapons

Papers found in homes vacated by al Qaeda in Kabul reveal detailed nuclear weapons research.  

KABUL, Afghanistan (CNN) -- As the Taliban fled Kabul after opposition forces moved into the city, discarded documents from the al Qaeda terrorist network were discovered in their wake, revealing terrorism plots and plans to construct nuclear weapons.

CNN found several documents in the diplomatic quarter of Kabul, including one bound together by a note with the words "the biggest bombs" in Arabic script. The following pages indicated research into nuclear weapons material, including uranium-235, and one heading read "how to make a nuclear bomb."

CNN found piles of papers, exercise books, documents and instruction manuals in the Kabul quarters for the Taliban's Arab guest fighters, tossed out as the Northern Alliance moved into Kabul.

CNN's Christiane Amanpour reports on documents found in Kabul that detail nuclear weapon assembly instructions (November 16)

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CNN's people in Kabul say 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.

The documents CNN found included a letter to Abu Habbab, one of Osama bin Laden's top lieutenants, in which the author wrote: "I am sending you companions who are eager to be trained in explosives and whatever else they may want." The letter was signed and dated January 2001.

In an apparent reference to the September 11 terror attacks, another letter sent from Kandahar to Kabul said that since the last operation against America, the author was unable to travel and that he had changed his name.

Many of the documents and manuals included instructions on how to hijack and blow up airplanes, and how to explode trains, ships and other modes of transportation. One 82-page manual included a notation that said it was published by al Qaeda's committee for recruitment and training.

Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge confirmed Thursday that nuclear-related documents were found in an al Qaeda safe house in Afghanistan. At the same time, Ridge downplayed the significance of the material on CNN's "Larry King Live," saying much of it could have been taken off the Internet years ago.

"To my knowledge there wasn't anything there that isn't in some public library or that you couldn't pull off the Internet," he said. "I think the concern that we have is this individual, he's talking about acquiring the broadest possible range of weapons; so we have to prepare against all of them."

CNN Chief International Correspondent Christiane Amanpour contributed to this report.


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