Video: Experts warn of rogue terrorists

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updated 5/23/2005 8:35:53 PM ET 2005-05-24T00:35:53

Israeli forces foiled a nighttime Hezbollah operation two years ago, seizing a small fishing boat in the Mediterranean. Onboard were rocket fuses, detonators and other ingredients for a terror attack.

The boat's captain is now behind bars in an Israeli prison.

"I did not know what we were carrying, I was only steering," says Mohammed Darwish.

Israeli intelligence officials say the most dangerous items found on the boat were not the explosives, but dozens of CD-ROMs that amounted to a virtual cookbook for terrorists.

Israeli officials provided NBC News with what they say is an edited copy of the Hezbollah disc. It includes detailed instructions on how to build a suicide bomb vest, which recently appeared on a militant Islamic Web site.

But experts say other, more lethal, sections of the disc have never been made public. 

"I have not seen anything like this before," says Lt. Col. Rick Francona, a retired military intelligence officer and an NBC News analyst.

Francona says he's struck by the sophistication and level of detail.

NBC News will not provide most of the details, but the disc spells out how to make anti-personnel mines, anti-tank grenades and armor-piercing mines, along with the exact chemical formula to create RDX — a high-powered explosive which could increase the lethality of major attacks.

"In the past they have had to use large amounts of low explosive," says Francona. "Now they can use a small amount of high explosive. This stuff is much harder to detect."

Already, there is evidence that terrorist videos can have deadly consequences. Francona says a suicide bomb vest similar to that posted on the Internet a few months ago was detonated in the crowded mess tent in Mosul in December 2004, killing 14 American soldiers.   

In March 2005, 13 more of these suicide vests were found in Baghdad.

"You no longer have to be part of a terrorist group or a dedicated part of a cell somewhere," says Francona. "You alone can formulate or fabricate these kinds of weapons and use them effectively."

Now, for aspiring terrorists around the world, the tools of the trade are just a mouse click away.

Senior investigative correspondent Lisa Myers reported this story from Haifa, Israel.

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