bin Laden may soon have his hands on three Agosta
90B next-generation stealth submarines capable of carrying sixteen
sea-to-land cruise missiles each. Those missiles can deliver atomic warheads.
And Osama, I suspect, will have access to the forty nuclear warheads constructed
Washington and New York, two primary targets for Al Qaeda, are
near bodies of water from which these nuclear-tipped missiles can be launched.
So are many other major American cities.
Here are the skeletal details:
In 1994, DCN, the government-owned company that builds France's naval vessels,
agreed to help the Pakistanis build and learn to operate a rather amazing shipyard.
It was a next-generation facility building next-tech, Agosta 90B stealth submarines.
As of today two of these subs have been built and a third is scheduled for launch
Each Agosta 90B is able to carry sixteen Harpoon Stand-Off Land
Attack cruise missiles. According to the Pakistani Navy Captain Iftikhar Riaz
Qureshi, who commanded both of these subs in their test phases, Pakistan purchased
its Agosta 90Bs to provide itself with "second strike nuclear capability."
Qureshi's words imply that from day one, Pakistan's intention has been to tip
these missiles with atomic warheads. And guess what? Since Pakistan tested its
first nuclear bomb in 1998, every nuclear device it's made has been a missile
to Defence Journal, Pakistan's subs have a range of close to twelve thousand miles
can travel to the Hudson River or the Chesapeake Bay, unleash their missiles on
New York and Washington, then still be able to take refuge in mid-ocean, lay low
and threaten other world capitals with a similar fate.
The United States
operates a network of hydrophones scattered all over the Atlantic and Pacific
seabed. We are listening for subs like these. But we may not be able to hear them.
The Pakistani subs use a methanol-and-liquid-oxygen engine bedded on a suspension
system that quiets its purr to a whisper. We may not be able to detect their silent
running beneath the sounds of zebrafish fanning their tails.
Many a Pakistani
would love to see the nuclear destruction of America's key cities. Pakistan has
one of the most violently fundamentalist and anti-American populations of any
of the world's 57 Islamic states. And that's saying something.
to 1995, Pakistan was the headquarters for a group of "Afghan freedom fighters"
who were not Afghans at all. They were an international army paid for by the US,
Saudi Arabia, and China, armed by the CIA, and trained, in part, by China's Peoples
Liberation Army. We trained an army of 50,000 men from 30 nations to bring down
the Soviet Union's most advanced tanks, jets, and helicopters. Why? Our mutual
goal was to embarrass a common enemy--the Russians. Chief among the recruits to
our proxy Jihad were Osama bin Laden and the founding members of Al Qaeda.
Pakistan is the nation whose citizens rioted in the streets in 1989 over
the title of a novel they didn't like--The Satanic Verses. It was Pakistan's street
activists who forced the Ayatollah Khomeini to issue a Fatwa offering five million
dollars to the Moslem who killed Salman Rushdie. The Pakistanis were more extreme
than the most extremist Islamic leader of his day. And that was fifteen years
ago! Since then anti-Americanism and anti-Westernism has grown.
is also the nation that educated a generation of Afghan refugees who later went
home to take over their country in the name of Islamic purity and justice. We
know those refugees as the Taleban.
Today Osama bin Laden is one of
Pakistan's two biggest pop-culture heroes. The other is "The Father of the
Islamic Bomb", Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan. Khan and Osama have reportedly met in
Afghanistan. Khan is the weapons expert. Osama is the weapons user.
Many a Pakistani militant fundamentalist cell identifies itself as an Osama ally.
One of the strongest among these Osama-loyalists is arguably Pakistan's most popular
leader, Fazlur Rahman Khalil, the man who told 60 Minutes that: "God has
ordered us to build nuclear weapons."
On the other hand, the base
of Pakistan's military dictator, Pervez Musharraf, is a slender reed. According
to Syed Adeeb, head of Information Times, a militant Pakistani press outlet based
in the National Press Building in Washington DC, "an Urdu-language letter
written by Pakistan Army officers on a Pakistan Army letterhead and sent to many
members of the Pakistan Parliament" calls, "'Pervez Musharraf and his
a band of thieves and looters
imposed on this nation'" by
the United States.
himself calls Musharraf, "a self-appointed 'President,' military dictator,
army tyrant, human rights abuser, traitor and highly paid mercenary of war criminal
George W. Bush".
Musharraf has been the target of at least five
assassination attempts. The latest took place the very day Saddam Hussein was
captured in December 2003. Yet only he stands between Osama and the Islamic submarines.
Only Musharraf stands between Osama and the cruise missiles Pakistan's subs can
carry. And only Musharraf stands between Osama and the 40 or more nuclear warheads
Pakistan has built since it exploded the first Islamic atomic bomb.
means that only Pervez Musharraf stands between Osama and what bin Laden, in a
January 2004 speech broadcast on Al Jazeera, called, "a surprising blow
due to its magnitude
will change the international balances of
what I strongly suspect is Osama's dream endgame: Nuke a few key cities in the
United States. Blind and devastate the Great Satan. Then watch while France, Germany,
Italy, and England capitulate. Capitulate to what? To Osama's dream, his passion,
his vision of truth and freedom--to a global Islamic caliphate.
a world of peace. So do you. But until our understanding of ourselves goes a good
deal farther, we have to face the fact that we live in a world of violence. If
we pledge to remain non-violent, those who've declared themselves our enemies
and who love "death more than you love life" will chuckle at our weakness
use it to cheer their comrades on to new atrocities. They will fight the battle
of the faithful and the good--the fight for what Osama calls "justice, manners,
and purity"-the battle for the truth of God's messenger. They will assert
the truth expressed by an al-Qaeda-allied author, Seif Al-Din Al-Ansari, that
we live on an expendable "speck of dust called Planet Earth." They will
use our reticence to make the mother of all wars. And it will not be environmentally
The agosta 90b submarine
(click pics to return to top)
The agosta 90b launching a cruise missile with 165 kg shaped charge warhead
"The Agosta 90B submarines are being equipped with a SUBTICS fully integrated
combat system. This is supplied by UDS International, a joint subsidiary of DCN
International and Thales (formerly Thomson-CSF). SUBTICS processes signals from
the submarine's sensors, determines the tactical situation by track
fusion, synthesis, trajectory plotting and management and handles all weapon command
and control functions."
The agosta 90b--coming soon to a shoreline near you?