Note: this post has been updated to correct information about the Fukushima plant's condition.
News reports citing intelligence sources say material found in Osama bin Laden's Pakistan compound show he was planning attacks on American trains to coincide with the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.
Now, a law enforcement Fusion Center is pointing to aging nuclear power plants in Europe and the United States as possible targets for retaliation for bin Laden's death. A briefing paper issued Thursday by the Pacific Information Regional Clearinghouse viewed by the Investigative Project on Terrorism warns al-Qaida long has desired a nuclear attack.
If it can't obtain a weapon, terrorists might try to attack a nuclear reactor, the report warns. And Japan's March 11 earthquake and resulting tsunami could provide a template. The Fukushima nuclear plant is leaking radioactive water and faced a reactor melted down after the tsunami knocked out power to the plant, and its back-up systems also failed within hours.
The lesson, the report says, is that some aging reactors can be sent into "catastrophic failure" if denied power to cool reactors for a matter of hours.
"An air strike by a small general aviation plane or truck bomb aimed specifically at the electrical power, perhaps coupled with a Mumbai style disruption, might be sufficient to interrupt power long enough for a meltdown to begin," the report says.
It mentions France and former Soviet states as targets with older reactors that could be vulnerable, sending radiation over large chunks of Europe. American targets exist, but may be more difficult for al-Qaida terrorists to reach.