Authorities are trying to find a Western-educated Saudi national,who is an al-Qaeda operative known to be at large with enough radioactive material for a “dirty bomb” strike in a North American city.
American and Canadian investigators suspect Al Shukri Jumah has the bomb assembled ready for detonation.
A warrant for his arrest in the U.S. and Canada has been signed for Adnan Al Shukrijumah, aged 27, student of nuclear engineering employed at the 5-megawatt nuclear reactor for research at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario.
Born in Saudi Arabia, Shukrijumah was brought to the United States as a young child by his father, an imam, and mother and lived inNew York and Florida for 15 years.
He was under surveillance when in early October, he stopped attending class at the university and thought to be at home. His disappearance was not remarkable until a few days later when a large quantity of radioactive material was missed from the university’s nuclear reactor. Since he gave his watchers the slip, Washington and Ottawa have called in large reinforcements for the race to catch him before it is too late.
A number of informed counter-terrorism sources told DEBKA-Net-Weekly that American authorities first heard about Al Shukrijumah’s terror mission on al Qaeda’s behalf from Khaled Sheikh Mohammed, the senior operative of the fundamentalist network captured at his home in Karachi one night in March. Sheikh Mohammed described the wanted man as a one-man cell trained to build radiological bombs capable of environmental contamination from scratch.
Explaining how Al Shukrijumah fooled his watchers, our sources say he kept himself to himself at all times, had no friends, kept strictly to his study and work schedule at the reactor and habitually left the facility at the same time as his colleagues. His “normal” behavior, the sources said, apparently gave him entry to the place where dangerous materials were stored without raising suspicion. Bit by bit, he smuggled out enough radioactive material to build the dirty bomb at home.
His disappearance raises the following questions in the minds of senior investigators, according to DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s counter-terrorism sources:
Why were there no agents observing the subject inside the reactor? These sources did not disclose which security agencies were responsible for the surveillance.
Who gave Al Shukri Jumah a Saudi Arabian under suspicion access to the reactor? And how is it that no one noticed increasing amounts of nuclear materials were disappearing over a period of months?
How was Al Shukri Jumah able to give his watchers the slip?’
Was he tipped off by an inside source in the US or Canadian security services?
Today, Debkafile’s counter-terror sources are skeptical about the wanted man’s new job description as al Qaeda’s head of global operational planning. It is far more likely, they say, that the organization would rather take advantage of his familiarity with the American scene for grooming Muslims who are US citizens for attacks inside the United States. DEBKA H/T Paul L. Williams