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Narrow Water massacre, 1979: The bombmaker’s story

The suspect either lives in the Austin area or is working with someone who lives in the Austin area. The explosive packages were not delivered by the US Postal Service or any other mail delivery service, so someone hand-delivered them, likely overnight, to the three Austin homes, the Stratfor report says. Authorities are likely looking at surveillance video from neighbors' yards that may have captured any vehicles or people going to and from the area, said Ryan J.

Morris, founder of Tripwire Operations Group, a company that provides explosives training to law enforcement. Sunday's explosive was concealed on the side of the road in a residential area, and it took place in a different part of the Austin than the previous three blasts. Not many details about the construction of the bombs have been made public, but Chief Manley said "these are very powerful devices.

The suspected tripwire explosive suggests that the bombmaker or makers have a "higher level of sophistication than maybe we initially thought," Manley said. The way the bombs were detonated could indicate how skilled the maker is. If the bomb maker used a remote, it would have "required the bomber to have had visual contact with his victim -- potentially exposing him to detection," the Stratfor report said.

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After Sunday's explosion, a Stratfor report said that the bombmaker's versatility means future bombings could use other methods, such as infrared beams, pressure plates or remote control. The victims in the three parcel bombings were Hispanic or African-American, a fact that left people of color in the community feeling threatened.

But the victims on Sunday's explosion were two white men, leaving open the question of whether the victims' identities matter to the bombmaker. The tripwire device used in Sunday's explosion targeted random victims who just happened to be walking past, police said.

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Morris, of Tripwire Operations Group, said tripwire type devices are not targeted to any specific type of person. That's nondiscriminatory," he said. But what is that point? Police have not discovered a motive in the bombings and have not been willing to classify the explosions as hate-related. Because when you do, you limit your focus," Manley said.

At the time, he did not rate very highly the prospects of a bomb actually being built; and, he reasoned, even if that should somehow come to pass, surely the weapon would be used as a negotiating chip vis--vis Israel and nothing more.


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Hamza soon began a long march through the bureaucracy, manifesting, in addition to his talents as a scientist and scholar, a finely tuned aptitude for staying out of trouble. Of Iraq's three original nuclear scientists, he alone in those early years managed to escape the capricious wrath of Saddam Hussein, who was still making his way toward the absolute power he would gain in By , Hamza was working directly for Saddam; by , he had reached the position of director general of Iraq's nuclear-weapons program. His new status inevitably brought head-turning benefits: a high salary, fancy cars, travel to the West, even a residence within the presidential compound.

Even as he rose through the ranks, however, Hamza worried about surviving his contact with Saddam.

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The Bombmaker by Stephen Leather

With time, indeed, his absorbing intellectual venture turned into a descent into a kind of Stalinist hell. Not only did colleagues begin to turn up murdered, but it was becoming increasingly clear that Saddam Hussein actually intended to use the bombs Hamza was working on developing. Though himself untouched by torture or other barbarities, and still benefiting from occasional trips abroad "just walking down Broadway [in New York] and breathing free air was invigorating" , Saddam's chief nuclear scientist saw enough to want out.

In , he began trying to extricate himself not just from building the bomb but from Iraq. He achieved the first goal three years later, leaving active administration and returning to the classroom.


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In , although feeling "too old, too comfortable, [and] too scared," he managed to accomplish the second. After a particularly stressful year in limbo, mostly in Libya, he was finally joined by his wife and three sons. The family settled quietly in the United States, and Hamza underwent a comprehensive debriefing. Today, rightly fearful that Saddam wants him dead, Hamza lives in a semi-underground manner, partly by means of tactics taught him many years earlier for evading Israeli agents.

Although he has been well-known in the circles of Iraq-watchers, Saddam's Bombmaker represents his most sustained effort to go public. A memoir, and a compellingly written one thanks in large part to his co-writer Jeff Stein , it also contains important and reliable information, from a credible author, on two quite distinct topics of current interest: the inner workings of the Iraqi nuclear-weapons project, and life at the highest levels of the Iraqi regime. It is hard to say which is scarier.

The initial one, lasting from until , involved a relatively small investment of money and depended heavily on imported mostly French technology. The second one began with the Israeli destruction of Iraq's Osirak reactor in June , an event that spurred the regime to rethink and radically expand its whole program. Hamza thus agrees with Shimon Peres's controversial assessment that, from Israel's point of view, the attack on Osirak was a mistake. After , in any event, and proceeding more or less indigenously, the Iraqis devoted 25 times more resources than previously to the bomb.

Their headlong effort culminated in with in Hamza's words "a crude, one-and-a-half ton nuclear device"-not quite yet a bomb, and far too large to be carried on a missile, but an important step along the way.

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As Hamza documents, the outside world was slow to recognize the change from stage one to stage two, and this had important consequences in the aftermath of the Gulf war. Not realizing how much the Iraqis themselves had accomplished, those leading the disarmament efforts after focused not on Iraq's capabilities-both material and intellectual-but on actual weapons.

Destroying those weapons would have made sense had Saddam's regime depended on imported material and talent; as things stood, it was a nearly futile undertaking, for they could always be rebuilt. Only in mid, when the U. According to Hamza, it was his identification of the 25 or so key nuclear scientists in Iraq, and where they could be found, that drove Saddam to close down international inspections in mid Today, Hamza estimated at a recent presentation in New York, Iraq is "undoubtedly on the precipice of nuclear power," and will have "between three to five nuclear weapons by One thing we learn from this book is that, in common with other despots of recent times, he is a man who sees danger truly everywhere.

Thus, he has "a terrible fear, perhaps paranoia, about germs"; any visitor to a room where he is present must undergo an eye, ear, and mouth inspection before entering. Stalin, one recalls, had his regime's top figures sample his food; Mao suspected his swimming pool was poisoned, and refused medical care at the hands of doctors he was sure would do him in. Saddam also has a taste for virgins-who, among other desirable qualities, are thought to be less disease-prone.

In one anecdote related by Hamza, a young woman who pleaded with the president for aid after the death of her father ended up losing her virginity after having been given a beauty makeover and left naked on a bed to await his wordless pleasure. Although she was let go with an envelope of money, other "young, beautiful, and flirtatious" women who have serviced Saddam find themselves retained as virtual slaves to clean the apartments of his nomenklatura.

Or else not retained at all; Hamza tells of one who was discovered in a bathtub with her throat slit. Hamza likewise confirms the picture of Saddam as someone "incalculably cruel," a man whose taste for personal brutality is exercised frequently and unpredictably. Once, listening to suggestions he considered defeatist, the president pulled out a revolver and simply shot dead the military officer making them; at a meeting with his top leadership, he abruptly had a general whisked off to the torture cells; a guard who incautiously confided the president's whereabouts-to a personal friend of the president-was shot on the spot for indiscretion.

Hamza's phrase for Saddam is "an expertly tailored, well-barbered gangster"; the description fits.