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Germany

Intelligence Agency: Dirty Bomb Threat Growing

The head of Germany's foreign intelligence agency, or BND, has told German media that terrorist groups are increasing their efforts to make chemical and biological weapons.

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Terrorists are learning dirty-bomb making techniques in Afghanistan

In an interview broadcast Wednesday night on German public television, BND head August Hanning called a dirty bomb attack "a very concrete threat."

"We observe experiments, training efforts and production instructions being passed on via the Internet," he said, adding that "it was no real problem" to produce weapons such as dirty bombs.

A dirty bomb refers to a weapon in which radioactive material would be packed with conventional explosives and scattered over a wide area upon detonation.

In 2003, the BND registered 308 cases worldwide of illegal trade in nuclear material.

Weapons schooling

The BND estimates that some 3,000 al Qaeda members have been schooled in Afghanistan in the production of biological and chemical weapons. According to the agency's intelligence, al Qaeda has tried to acquire radioactive material several times and established contact with Pakistani nuclear scientists.

August Hanning BNS Symposium Nahost

BND President August Hanning

"It has become clear from questioning al Qaeda members that al Qaeda has tried to recruit scientists," he said.

The fact that a Malaysian biologist had been hired to build a facility in Afghanistan to manufacture anthrax was worrying. Hanning, who made his comments in Berlin where a BND conference on proliferation is taking place on Thursday, did say that the Pakistani and Malaysian cases dated from 2001, but added that they were part of a chain of evidence that showed that "the danger is constantly growing."

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