The Australian releases startling new information:
Indonesian terrorists planned to attack Western targets by spreading hydrogen cyanide, a deadly gas used during the Holocaust, through the air-conditioning systems of large buildings.
Details of the method of the proposed attack, designed to maximise the number of victims, were revealed in a 26-page training manual produced by members of Jemaah Islamiah, the terrorist group blamed for the Bali bombings.
Hand-written in the Indonesian language Bahasa, the document expresses optimism that victims exposed to the poison gas will die within 30 seconds.
The source of this is Rohan Gunaratna, terrorism “expert” and regular commentator in the Australian media.
But who is Gunaratna? His record is less than impressive and his past statements suggest a man prone to hyperbole. Further investigations, published in August 2004, outlined numerous issues with Gunaratna’s “sources”:
Martin Bright, the home affairs editor of the Observer and long-time writer on Islamic terrorist groups has described Gunaratna as “the least reliable of the experts on bin Laden”.
Gunaratna’s current project to establish a data base of Asian terrorist groups has been said to blur the line between freedom of academic research and intelligence-gathering for governments.
Gunaratna tends to rely on what he claims are inside contacts within intelligence networks. By their very nature, however, no claims based of these sorts of sources can be independently tested.