The easy-to-make device, called "the mubtakkar," meaning "invention" in Arabic or "initiative" in Farsi, represented a breakthrough in weapons technology that "was the equivalent of splitting the atom," Suskind writes in his book. All previous attempts to use the deadly gas, similar to that used in Holocaust-era gas chambers, in mass attacks had failed.
The FBI declined to confirm the details of Suskind's account. Spokesman Bill Carter in Washington said Saturday the bureau would have no comment on the excerpted material.
A New York Police Department spokesman said authorities had known of the planned attack. "We were aware of the plot and took appropriate precaution," Paul Browne said.
New York City
Metropolitan Transportation Authority spokesman Tom Kelly declined comment.
According to the report,
President Bush was shown a model of the weapon in March 2003 and ordered alerts sent through the U.S. government. When intelligence arrived that al-Zawahri had called off the attack, Bush worried that something worse was in the works, Suskind writes.
At least two of Suskind's sources remembered Bush saying, "This is bad enough. What does calling this off say about what else they're planning? ... What could be the bigger operation Zawahri didn't want to mess up?" the author said.
This report details a story coming out soon detailing a close call for NYC. I wonder if the uncercover asset is still alive? I have to admit I am more than a little conflicted about stories like this being put out there. So much for covert.