War on Terrorism

Friday, March 07, 2008

CBR Weapons and WMD Terrorism News- March 5, 2008

[Sioux City, Iowa] Agencies practice biohazard response plan
“A number of local
law enforcement and emergency agencies and volunteers joined forces Tuesday morning to practice a planned response in the event that a biohazard, such as anthrax, is detected at the city's Mail Processing Center. […] Mary Berardi, a postal service spokeswoman, said there hasn't been a threat to the processing center or any intelligence that indicates a threat exists. The drill is so the various agencies can have a coordinated response plan in place.” (Sioux City Journal, 05Mar08, Dolly A. Butz) http://www.siouxcityjournal.com/articles/2008/03/05/news/local/74f7ba5ddc251249862574020082e350.txt

Pathogen Detector
“Researchers at MIT [Massachusetts Institute of
Technology] Lincoln Laboratory have developed a sensor that can detect airborne pathogens such as [those that cause] anthrax and smallpox. The new device, called PANTHER (for PAthogen Notification for THreatening Environmental Releases), represents a 'significant advance' over any other sensor, according to James Harper of Lincoln Lab's Biosensor and Molecular Technologies Group. Current sensors take at least 20 minutes to detect harmful bacteria or viruses in the air, but the PANTHER sensors can perform detection and identification in less than three minutes.” (The Engineer Online, 05Mar08) http://www.theengineer.co.uk/Articles/304874/Pathogen+detector.htm

Los Angeles Officials Say Community Groups Can Help in Pandemics, Other Disasters
“Officials in Los Angeles say they cannot tell when, but some type of a major disaster is bound to come to the area. Mike O'Sullivan reports, the officials urged
leaders of religious and community groups in the city to be prepared for catastrophes, including pandemics, terrorist attacks, and earthquakes. More than 50 community organizations took part in a recent forum that focused on a possible flu pandemic. But Dr. Jonathan Fielding, public health director for Los Angeles County, says preparations are much the same for natural disasters and terrorism.” (Los Angeles Times, 04Mar08, Mike O’Sullivan) http://www.voanews.com/english/2008-03-04-voa77.cfm

Detectives examine evidence in anthrax hoax
“Linn County [Oregon]
detectives worked late into the evening Monday examining evidence from the Linn County Courthouse to try to discover who left two envelopes there purported to contain anthrax bacteria. The envelopes, which were found by a custodian about 6:20 a.m. Monday, did not contain anthrax as suggested by a message written on a courthouse window, Lt. Col. Steven Ferrell of the Oregon Army National Guard said at a press conference at the courthouse Monday afternoon. The Guard had been called in to help with a search of the courthouse.” (Albany Democrat-Herald, 04Mar08, Cathy Ingalls) http://www.gazettetimes.com/articles/2008/03/04/news/community/5aaa05_courthouse.txt

US Cities At High Risk For
Terrorist Attacks Identified
“A University of Arizona researcher has created a new system to dramatically show American cities their relative level of vulnerability to bioterrorism. Walter W. Piegorsch, an expert on environmental risk, has placed 132 major cities -- from Albany, N.Y., to Youngstown, Ohio -- on a color-coded map that identifies their level of risk based on factors including critical industries, ports, railroads, population, natural environment and other factors. […] Piegorsch says
terrorism vulnerability involves three dimensions of risk -- social aspects, natural hazards and construction of the city and its infrastructure. He concludes that the allocation of funds for preparedness and response to terrorism should take into account these factors of vulnerability.” (CCNews, 05Mar08)

Richmond has last stockpile of M55 rockets
“The Blue Grass
Army Depot [in Kentucky] is now home to the nation’s last remaining stockpile of nerve-agent-filled M55 rockets. Pine Bluff Chemical Agent Disposal Facility at Pine Bluff Arsenal, Ark., destroyed its last M55 rocket Friday, Feb. 29, and Blue Grass has a destruction deadline of 2017.” (Richmond Register, 04Mar08, Ronica Shannon) http://www.richmondregister.com/localnews/local_story_064082857.html

U.S. awaits Iraqi request to turn over 'Chemical Ali' for execution
“U.S. authorities haven't received a request from Iraq for the release of Ali Hassan al-Majeed, the one-time Saddam Hussein henchman awaiting execution, an American
military spokesman said Wednesday. ‘We will fulfill our responsibility once that request has been submitted to us,’ said Brig. Gen. Kevin Bergner, spokesman for the U.S. military. Al-Majeed, a cousin of Hussein's, is known by the nickname ‘Chemical Ali’ for his role in a chemical weapons attack on Iraqi Kurds in the 1980s. A court convicted al-Majeed for his part in the crackdown that killed at least 100,000 Kurds, including a 1988 attack with poisonous gas and chemical agents that left 5,000 people dead in the village of Halabja.” (CNN, 05Mar08) http://www.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/meast/03/05/iraq.main/

Colombia Is Flashpoint in Chávez’s Feud With U.S.
“In the four days since Colombian forces crossed into Ecuador and killed a guerrilla leader taking refuge there, tensions between Colombia — Washington’s top regional ally — and its leftist neighbors have erupted, highlighting the fact that Colombia and its policies are increasingly viewed here [in Venezuela] as American proxies. […] Adding to the tensions on Tuesday, Colombia’s vice president, Francisco Santos, said Colombian forces had found evidence that the FARC [Revolutionary Armed Forced of Colombia] had been seeking the ingredients to make a radioactive
dirty bomb. Material found on a laptop computer recovered in the raid into Ecuador provided the basis for Mr. Santos’s accusations about a dirty bomb, a weapon that combines highly radioactive material with conventional explosives to disperse deadly dust that people would inhale. ‘This shows that these terrorist groups, supported by the economic power provided by drug trafficking, constitute a grave threat not just to our country but to the entire Andean region and Latin America,’ Mr. Santos said at a United Nations disarmament meeting in Geneva, in a statement that was posted in Spanish on the conference’s Web site. The rebels were ‘negotiating to get radioactive material, the primary base for making dirty weapons of destruction and terrorism,’ he said.” (New York Times, 05Mar08, Simon

DHS [U.S. Department of
Homeland Security] Tests of Radiation Detectors Were Inconclusive, Report Says
“Department of
Homeland Security tests of new radiation detection machines last year did not show whether the costly devices performed well enough to be used as planned at ports and borders to protect the country against nuclear attacks or dirty bombs, according to a new report about the process. The performance tests were organized by the department's Domestic Nuclear Detection Office, which has been trying to deploy the machines along the borders and at ports in a $1.2 billion project, despite allegations from government auditors that the office misled Congress about their effectiveness and later conducted flawed tests to show they worked well.” (Washington Post, 05Mar08, Robert O’Harrow Jr.) http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/03/04/AR2008030402834.html

CDC [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] officials confirm ricin in Nevada case
“Federal health officials have confirmed that vials found in a Nevada motel room have tested positive for the deadly toxin ricin. A sample from the vials found in Roger Von Bergendorff's motel room in Las Vegas was analyzed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. ‘That result came back confirming that it is ricin,’ CDC spokesman Von Roebuck told the Deseret Morning News on Wednesday.” (Deseret Morning News, 05Mar08, Ben Winslow)

Firefighters set for toxic threats
firefighters who assisted federal agents in searching a Riverton home for ricin last week say they will be ready if the deadly toxin is ever discovered in Utah. ‘We are extremely prepared,’ said Unified Fire Authority Capt. Bart Vawdrey. Tuesday, firefighters put thousands of dollars' worth of detection and decontamination equipment on display in Kearns. The presentation came on the same day Las Vegas officials investigated a report of an unidentified white powder in a hotel room, less than a week after ricin was discovered in a motel room there. Authorities say a substance found Tuesday in a room at the Excalibur hotel-casino is not hazardous but have not disclosed what the substance is.” (Deseret Morning News, 05Mar08, Aaron Falk) http://deseretnews.com/article/1,5143,695258797,00.html

Money needed to develop a ricin vaccine could be better spent,
security experts say
“The deadliest attack by international
terrorists in U.S. history was carried out by men whose weapons of choice were simple box cutters. The worst domestic attack was brought on by a man driving a truck full of fertilizer. Over the past decade, the United States has spent billions of dollars to guard against terrorist attacks. But a frantic search of several Salt Lake County neighborhoods for a deadly but easy-to-make poison is evidence that many of the most likely threats to American lives are small in measure, cheap in cost and nearly impossible to inhibit. An ounce of prevention may be worth a pound of cure, but several terrorism experts say there simply is no way of averting every potential threat. They say the government's ‘any threat at any cost’ strategy is misguided at best - and dangerous at worst.” (The Salt Lake Tribune, 04Mar08, Matthew D. LaPlante)

CDC [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] Issues Health Advisory For Nevada Due to Ricin Incident
“It was not a harmless substance found last Thursday in an Extended Stay room.
Detectives are looking into the discovery of ricin that apparently left a man in a coma. The Centers for Disease Control has issued a health advisory for our state, putting health workers on notice for symptoms of the deadly toxin. The health advisory puts hospitals and clinics in this area on alert.” (LasVegasNow.com, 04Mar08)

Analysis: Experts: Ricin terror overblown
“Ricin has been a byword for
terrorism in the mass media since Colin Powell used it to link Iraq-based terrorists to groups plotting attacks in Europe as part of the U.S. case for invasion in 2003. But the ricin in that incident turned out to be no more real than Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction, and experts say that the toxin is so difficult to purify it is unlikely to ever be used successfully in a terror attack.” (UPI, 04Mar08, Shaun Waterman)

Bush Requests Less for Threat Reduction Program
“After Congress bumped up the budgets for a number of nonproliferation programs for countries in the former Soviet Union in its 2008 appropriations bills, the Bush administration has requested less money in a number of cases for fiscal year 2009. The reduced requests reflect in part a continuing trend of winding down nonproliferation programs in the former Soviet Union, while in some cases expanding their scope to new countries. Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.), who authored legislation with then-Sen. Sam Nunn (D-Ga.) establishing the Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR) program in the early 1990s, recently suggested that Congress should augment this shift by granting the executive branch greater flexibility to allocate money quickly to address short-term needs, such as the planned dismantlement of North Korea’s nuclear facilities.” (Arms Control Today, March 2008, Daniel Arnaudo) http://www.armscontrol.org/act/2008_03/ThreatReduction.asp

Terrorism News is prepared by the Chemical and Biological Weapons Nonproliferation Program of the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Monterey Institute of International Studies in order to bring timely and focused information to researchers and policymakers interested in the fields of chemical, biological, and radiological weapons nonproliferation and WMD terrorism.

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