Al Qaeda-connected terror chief Abu Musab al-Zarqawi (search) and other terrorists are apparently trying to recruit Iraqi weapons of mass destruction experts and resources for possible future attacks against the U.S.-led coalition, the head of the Iraq Survey Group (search) told FOX News Thursday.
In an exclusive interview with FOX News’ Brit Hume, Charles Duelfer (search) — whose ISG is leading the hunt for weapons of mass destruction — said terrorists in Iraq are “trying to tap into the Iraqi WMD intellectual capital.”
“When we have investigated certain labs and contacted certain former experts in the WMD program, we have found that they are being recruited by anti-coalition groups,” Duelfer told FOX News. “They are being paid by anti-coalition groups. We’re seeing interest in developing chemical munitions.”
The same process seems to be happening in Afghanistan, he said.
He also told Fox News that about 10 or 12 sarin and mustard gas shells have been found in various locations in Iraq.
The shells are all from the first Gulf War era and thus weakened, though intelligence sources say they’re still dangerous.
Duelfer said the ISG is closely monitoring the terrorists’ solicitation of chemical weapons gurus.
“We are tracking that very carefully,” he told FOX News. “What we are finding is that there are some networks that are seeking to tap into this expertise and try to use it against the United States. And we are very concerned about that. That is a problem.”
He sidestepped a question about whether or not terrorist cells have been successful in obtaining the information they’re after.
“I'm just going to say that we're keeping a very close eye on some anti-regime people, and we know of course that Zarqawi has expressed an interest in chemical weapons in the past,” Duelfer said. “So we want to follow that very closely. This is one bad apple. And if he gets his hands on it, he'll use it.”
Fox News' Brit Hume and Catherine Donaldson-Evans contributed to this report.