He said that he learnt about al Qaeda's plans while carrying anti-Taliban operations in Afghanistan during the past few years. He also claimed that the international terror outfit will use only a handful number of operatives to carry out the attack, just as they did during the 9/11 strikes. According to Charles Allen, the Under Secretary for Intelligence and Analysis: "Our post-9/11 successes against the Taliban in Afghanistan yielded volumes of information that completely changed our view of al Qaeda's nuclear programme. We learned that al Qaeda wants a weapon to use, not a weapon to sustain and build a stockpile," told lawmakers yesterday.
He said that like the 9/11 air-attacks on twin towers, the possible nuclear attack on the US would also be carried out by a handful of persons. "The 9/11 plot was operationally very straightforward. It had a very small footprint, was highly compartmented. al Qaeda's nuclear effort would be just as compartmented and probably would not require the involvement of more than a small number of operatives," Allen said.
He added: "We do not know what a terrorist plot might look like. There is, however, a choke point in a terrorist effort to develop a nuclear capability. It is impossible to build a nuclear weapon without fissile material. A state has the time and resources to build a large infrastructure required to make nuclear material. A terrorist group needs only to steal or buy it. A terrorist group does not need this kind of surety and consistency that a state desires. A terrorist group needs only to produce a nuclear yield once to change history."
"The nuclear threats that surfaced in June 2002 and continued through the fall of 2003 demonstrated that Al Qaeda's desire for a nuclear capability may have survived their removal from their Afghanistan safe haven," Allen added.
Allen was at the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, headed by Senator Joseph Lieberman, when he said that some experts may have joined al Qaeda years ago, long before the world began paying adequate attention to the proliferation of the kinds of technologies that could yield a nuclear weapon.