According to the Times, "attempts had been made to burn the evidence, but many documents still remained. They included studies into the development of a kinetic energy supergun capable of firing chemical or nuclear warheads, external propulsion missiles, preliminary research on the creation of a thermonuclear device, as well as a multitude of instructions for making smaller bombs."
A little more than a week ago, President Bush told a group of Central and Eastern European leaders that bin Laden's attempts to get nuclear arms represented a "threat to every nation; and, eventually, to civilization itself."
Bin Laden's men made their first move in their quest for nuclear weapons in Khartoum, Sudan, in the mid-1990s. But the man allegedly sent on the mission, key bin Laden lieutenant Mamdouh Mahmud Salim (who is now being held in New York awaiting trial in the 1998 bombings of two U.S. embassies in East Africa), was apparently cheated by Russian mobsters.
Charles Adler, the American lawyer who once represented Salim, said "there was an effort to buy enriched uranium" but the Russian Mafia tried to fool Salim.
"I think it just wasn't what it was purported to be," Adler said. "But there was nothing that would indicate that they wouldn't continue to try."
Bin Laden has boasted he has nuclear weapons, but U.S. surveillance flights over Afghanistan training camps have not detected any evidence of such arms.
Manhunt Seeks Suspected Surviving Hijacker
W A S H I N G T O N, Nov. 15 — Authorities are searching the globe for a Yemen native who U.S. officials believe was slated to be the 20th hijacker in the Sept. 11 attacks.
Law enforcement sources confirm FBI Director Robert Mueller has told prosecutors that Ramzi Binalshibh, 29, would have been in on the attacks had he not been refused entry to the United States on three separate occasions.
Suspected hijacking ringleader Mohamed Atta, who is believed to have perished while piloting American Airlines Flight 11 into the North Tower of the World Trade Center, tried unsuccessfully to get Binalshibh into the country to join in the plot, sources tell ABCNEWS.
Sept. 22: Arrest Warrants Issued in Germany
Ramzi Binalshibh • Yemeni citizen • Age, 29 • Left Germany on Sept. 5 • A hijacker tried to enroll him in a Venice, Fla., flight school
The sources also say Binalshibh, who is believed to have trained in Osama bin Laden's terrorist camps in Afghanistan, was denied entry visas because he was unable to demonstrate any legitimate reason to be in the United States.
The Los Angeles Times reports federal officials say Binalshibh was blocked from entering the country for unspecified involvement "with the bombing of the USS Cole" in 2000.
Each of the four jets that crashed on Sept. 11 was overtaken by five hijackers — except United Airlines Flight 93, which only had four. Mueller said Binalshibh was meant to be the fifth man on Flight 93, which crashed into a Pennsylvania field on Sept. 11 as hijackers steered it toward Washington. Some have speculated it was to have struck the Capitol or the White House, but the plan apparently was foiled by passengers who struggled with the terrorists.
Binalshibh once shared an apartment in Hamburg, Germany, with Atta and two other hijackers. Since late September, German police have been hunting for Binalshibh and two other suspected members of the Hamburg terrorist cell: Zakariya Essabar and Said Bahaji. All three are believed to have fled Germany.