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CHEMICAL KILLER; Bin Laden men video dog's poison gas death.

Byline: RICHARD WALLACE, US Editor, in New York

A CACHE of al-Qaeda video nasties found in Afghanistan shows Osama bin Laden is ready to use chemical weapons.

The 64 tapes include footage of the agonising deaths of three dogs in poison gas experiments.

In one a man in Afghan clothes drops a white liquid on to the concrete floor of a sleeping dog's enclosure and hurriedly leaves.

The dog sits up and begins to lick its mouth, salivate and sneeze as a vapour - believed to be sarin nerve gas - fills the room.

It tries to stand, head shaking, and starts to pant, fighting for breath.

The whimpering animal falters, losing control of its front legs and vomiting, and gives out a high pitched whine before collapsing and lying still.

Aaron Brown, anchorman on news channel CNN, which obtained the tapes from "a longstanding source", said: "None of it, we can tell you, will be easy to watch. Some of it sickened us."

CNN said its correspondent Nic Robertson drove 17 hours from Kabul to a remote area to view 250 tapes. The channel showed them to several experts to verify their authenticity.

One expert said they suggest Western intelligence agencies may be underestimating al-Qaeda.

Marcus Ranstorp, head of the Centre for the Study of Terrorism and Political Violence at St Andrews University in Scotland, said: "The tapes show meticulous planning, preparation and attention to the tradecraft of terror."

John Gilbert, a chemical weapons specialist who advises the US government said: "The fact that they were able to repeat tests or demonstrations on this tape indicates they have a way to produce a predictably lethal chemical."

Before September 11 there were reports that al-Qaeda was conducting chemical weapon experiments after animal bones and contaminated soil were found in eastern Afghanistan.

The videos are believed to be part of a terror library used to train al-Qaeda members.

They were disguised by taping on to US movies, including Lion of the Desert, and Indian soap operas.

The archive includes instructions on bomb making, kidnapping, how to fire surface to air missiles and gruesome film of groups sympathetic to al-Qaeda fighting in Chechnya, Somalia and the Sudan.

One three-hour film shows in detail how to make TNT from easily accessible everyday materials.

Most of the videos predate September 11 and span more than 10 years and include bin Laden's first meeting with foreign journalists in May 1998.

But one shows bin Laden with his security men firing shots into the air as they announce their new jihad against America in 1998. Another includes news broadcasts about the September 11 attacks.

White House spokesman Scott Stanzel declined to comment on the tapes last night.

-TWO US special forces soldiers were shot and wounded on an intelligence gathering mission in Afghanistan. They were hit in the legs in an operation in southern Uruzgan province in which four people were detained, said a spokesman. They were being flown to Germany for treatment.

CAPTION(S):

FEAR: Dog sits up as nerve gas fills room; STRUCK: Animal salivates and sneezes; FRANTIC: Dog pants and fights for breath; DOOMED: It collapses writhing in agony; END: Whimpering animal's last moments; BODY: Camera gets close-up; TEST: Expert makes gas; MASTERMIND: Bin Laden on film
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Aug 20, 2002
Words:542
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