Terrorists aiming to use everyday substances for attacks: US

A top US official warned global intelligence agencies to expand their watch.

Updated: Jan 06, 2011, 15:27 PM IST

Washington: Terror outfits like al Qaeda and Taliban are planning to use everyday substances as a tool for major attacks, a top US official has warned and asked global intelligence and security agencies to expand their watch to those substances which can be used in weapons.

"The goal is ... to keep tools out of the hands of terrorists," US Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano told Fox News in an interview.

She said the global partners now need to expand their watch to everyday substances that can be used in weapons by al Qaeda, Taliban and other terror groups and the systems that move those substances around the world.

"It can be ... chemicals used in the manufacture of bombs, but you`re also talking chemical, biological, potentially radiological (weapons). All the things that we need to be concerned about in today`s threat environment," she said.

Napolitano, who is currently in Europe, travelled to Brussels yesterday and met European Commission (EC) Vice President and Digital Agenda Commissioner Neelie Kroes, EC Vice President and Transport Commissioner Siim Kallas and several members of the European Parliament.

Among other things, she discussed global collaboration to strengthen cyber, cargo and aviation security and ensure the security and resilience of the US global supply chain systems against terrorism, trans-national crime and natural disasters while also facilitating the flow of legitimate travel and commerce in advance of previously scheduled meetings with the World Customs Organisation.

She is also set to deliver remarks regarding the importance of increasing the security of the global supply chain to shipping and cargo stakeholders, security experts and government officials at the European Policy Centre.

Napolitano and officials from the Department of Homeland Security and White House will be meeting tomorrow behind closed doors with the World Customs Organisation, the only inter-governmental group devoted exclusively to customs matters, the news channel said.

According to Fox News, Napolitano said her department "started" its efforts by addressing precursor chemicals "because that`s such a top priority, keep the tools out of the hands of terrorists”.

"But as you know from last October when we had the attempt to get bombs hidden in toner cartridges onto cargo planes, cargo itself can become a target," she was quoted as saying.

"What we`re really talking about here is what`s called the global supply chain, how you protect it from terrorist attack.... Given the global nature of commerce, it`s very important that that supply chain itself remains free from attack," Napolitano said.