War on Terrorism

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

CBR Weapons and WMD Terrorism News- August 11, 2008

For anthrax victim, suicide opens questions
“In October 2001, O'Donnell was working at the big distribution center in Hamilton Township when tainted letters, whipping through sorting machines, released anthrax spores. O'Donnell, who had a nick on his neck from shaving, became infected and was quarantined at a Bucks County hospital. Eleven days ago, O'Donnell got a call from an FBI agent, telling him of the suicide of Bruce E. Ivins, a 62-year-old government scientist at Fort Detrick in Frederick, [Maryland]” (Philadelphia Inquirer; 11Aug08; Jennifer Lin) http://www.philly.com/inquirer/local/20080811_For_anthrax_victim__suicide_opens_questions.html

Four years after FBI raid, Dr. [Kenneth] Berry moving on with life
“Federal investigators have declared the 2001 anthrax attacks a closed matter, but four years ago this week they swarmed the Southern Tier after a supposed suspect in the case. FBI agents searched Dr. Kenneth Berry’s East Pearl Street home, his former apartment and his parents’ summer home on the
New Jersey shore. […] He had been training medical professionals to respond to chemical and biological attacks since 1997. He later developed a system to respond to an anthrax attack after letters laced with the deadly substance were circulated to government officials. […] the FBI never issued any charges. Indeed, the agency never commented on any aspect of the investigation of Dr. Berry.” (Olean Times Herald; 08Aug08; Daniel LeBlanc)

[Bruce] Ivins remembered for intelligence, compassion
Army scientist suspected in the anthrax attacks was remembered for his humor, intelligence and compassion at a memorial service Saturday. Bruce Ivins, 62, died of an apparent suicide late last month after being informed by the FBI that charges likely were being brought against him in connection with the 2001 attacks. Some mourners wept when speakers at the service talked about Ivins' many hobbies, including juggling, target shooting, practical jokes, cartoons and the weather. Colleagues recalled a talented scientist with a probing mind who loved to debate a wide variety of subjects.” (Associated Press; 09Aug08; Brian Witte) http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5jLj3VPY35ZCT9svDoUxs92njFYSQD92ES9J00

FBI believes anthrax scientist killed [others] with manipulated spores from Dugway lab
Utah's Dugway Proving Ground produced one of two strains of anthrax that FBI investigators say was used in the September 2001 poison-letter campaign that killed five and injured 17. The federal investigation once again focuses attention on Utah's chemical and biological testing facility in Tooele County's west desert. […] The Utah anthrax strain, referred to in the documents as ‘Dugway Ames spores Ð 1997’ or ‘RMR Ð1029,’ was one of two that Ivins is said to have used to produce a third strain that he mailed to public officials and media outlets. The FBI documents suggest that Ivins used specialized techniques to cover his tracks once he had obtained the anthrax from Dugway while he worked at Fort Detrick. But there is no evidence in the documents showing anything untoward or illegal took place at the Utah facility.” (The Salt Lake Tribune; 08Aug08; Christopher Smart)

Anthrax case spurred field of germ-gene sleuthing
“The anthrax killer spurred a whole new branch of science that could give the nation a head start in the next emergency - whether it's investigating more bioterrorism or even a food poisoning outbreak. It's called microbial
forensic, a way of using a germ's genetics to help exonerate or incriminate much as human DNA can today. Microbes - whether bacteria like salmonella and E. coli, or viruses like HIV - have unique genetic signatures that can allow scientists to tell even the most closely related strains apart. The forensic side comes from adding crime-investigation techniques to this advanced microbiology used by disease detectives. […] If tracing a single vial of germs sounds impressive, consider: Research under way now might one day allow tracing where someone has recently traveled by the DNA of bacteria in the dirt on their shoes.” (Buffalo News; 08Aug08; Lauran Neergaard – AP) http://www.buffalonews.com/260/story/410345.html

When dinner makes you sick [Editorial]
“Growers lost $250 million this spring and summer when an outbreak of salmonella was originally linked to certain tomatoes. […] In 2006, spinach growers said an outbreak of E. coli poisoning cost them $350 million. The losses in such cases would be less if regulators required growers, processors, and retailers to maintain a traceback system with computerized records. […] Food poisoning takes a huge toll in the United States - about 5,000 deaths a year and 76 million illnesses, with 325,000 victims requiring hospitalization.” (The
Boston Globe; 10Aug08) http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/editorial_opinion/editorials/articles/2008/08/10/when_dinner_makes_you_sick/

Bush pushes $1.2 billion in 2009 budget amendments

“President Bush used the congressional recess to make an unusual request for $1.2 billion in amendments to his 2009 budget proposal, including millions for investments in new technology and controversial cuts to environmental and social programs. The proposal’s biggest change is at the Health and Human Services Department, which would receive an extra $905 million for bioterrorism preparedness. The money would help develop an infrastructure for moving medical supplies and protective gear in the event of a bioterrorist attack or pandemic. Another $35 million in preparedness money would go to the Environmental Protection Agency.”
(Federal Times; 08Aug08; Gregg Carlstrom)

[Steven J.] Hatfill cleared of role in anthrax mailings
“Federal prosecutors on Friday officially ‘excluded’ scientist Steven J. Hatfill from involvement in the deadly 2001 anthrax mailings, formally closing the door on a costly episode that sidetracked the FBI's search for nearly five years. U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Taylor sent a letter Friday to a lawyer for Hatfill, a onetime Fort Detrick, Md., bioweapons researcher, that essentially cleared Hatfill of a crime in which he was declared ‘a person of interest’ six years ago.” (The Washington Post; 09Aug08) http://www2.tbo.com/content/2008/aug/09/na-hatfill-cleared-of-role-in-anthrax-mailings/

'Sovereignty' that risks global health
“Here's a concept you've probably never heard of: ‘viral sovereignty.’ This extremely dangerous idea comes to us courtesy of Indonesia's minister of health, Siti Fadilah Supari, who asserts that deadly viruses are the sovereign property of individual nations […] the notion has morphed into a global movement […] The Non-Aligned Movement -- a 112-nation organization that is a survivor of the Cold War era -- has agreed to consider formally endorsing the concept of ‘viral sovereignty’ at its November meeting.
Indonesia argues that a nation's right to control all information on locally discovered viruses should be protected through the same mechanisms that the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization uses to guarantee poor countries' rights of ownership and patents on the seeds of its indigenous plants.” (Washington Post; 10Aug08; Richard Holbrooke and Laurie Garrett) http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/08/08/AR2008080802919.html

GTCbio announces its inaugural Bugs & Drugs Conference on September 22-23 in
San Diego
“The Bugs & Drugs conference brings together leading experts to discuss current options available in combating these problematic pathogens and the current drugs in development that may resolve these issues. Included are discussions on various gram positive & negative drugs, contingency plans for biological weapons & disease outbreaks, novel delivery methods, regulatory aspects & clinical trial design, and novel drug developments for diseases of developing economies.” (Newswire;

Oregon] Chemical Depot burns last of VX 8-inch shells
“Umatilla Chemical Agent Depot disposed of the last of the 8-inch artillery shells containing VX nerve agent and now will begin destroying VX land mines, hoping to finish those by the end of 2009. The 8-inch shells were the last of their kind in the nation's chemical weapons stockpile. The depot began processing the artillery shells July 15 and finished ahead of schedule.” (
Oregon Live; 8August08) http://www.oregonlive.com/newsflash/index.ssf?/base/news-26/1218233946231900.xml&storylist=orlocal

Army completes chemical stockpile neutralization at Newport [Indiana] Chemical Depot
“The United States
Army Chemical Materials Agency (CMA) completed neutralization Aug. 11 of the chemical weapons stockpile of nerve agent VX at the Newport Chemical Agent Disposal Facility (NECDF), located at Newport Chemical Depot, Ind. This achievement brings the United States one step closer to safely destroying the national stockpile of chemical weapons. […] NECDF began chemical agent destruction operations on May 5, 2005, with a stockpile of 1,269 tons of VX -- four percent of the original United States total chemical weapons stockpile. Workers destroyed the agent using a neutralization technology that mixes it with sodium hydroxide and hot water. The resulting byproduct of this process is a caustic wastewater made up of water, sodium hydroxide, and organic salts.”
Army; 11Aug08)

Pakistan diplomats visit US-held terror suspect
“Pakistani diplomats have met with a woman described as a possible ‘fixer’ for al-Qaida who is being detained in
New York, the Foreign Ministry said Sunday. Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani citizen educated in the United States, was captured in Afghanistan last month and taken to the United States after she allegedly tried to kill her interrogators. Two diplomats visited Siddiqui over the weekend at a detention facility in New York, ministry spokesman Mohammed Sadiq said. […] According to a U.S. criminal complaint, she was carrying documents containing recipes for explosives and chemical weapons and describing ‘various landmarks in the United States, including New York City.’ The complaint also alleges Siddiqui carried ‘chemical substances in gel and liquid form that were sealed in bottles and glass jars.’ It did not elaborate.” (Associated Press; 10Aug08; Sadaqat Jan) http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5hYUwTvvA05WY5EBzvT3wYgBRPnMwD92FF5EO0

Hands-on detection
“Smiths Detection announced recently that Amtrak has purchased additional Sabre 4000 advanced explosives detection systems to expand its capability for screening passengers, trains and stations. Using Ion Mobility Spectrometry, the hand-held system quickly detects and identifies explosives, narcotics, chemical warfare agents and toxic industrial chemicals.” (The Engineer Online; 11Aug08) http://www.theengineer.co.uk/Articles/307492/Hands-on+detection.htm

VIASPACE Subsidiary Wins $750,000
Army contract for robotic detection of chemical warfare agents and explosives
“VIASPACE Inc. […] subsidiary Ionfinity has been awarded a $750,000 Phase II contract for its proposal entitled ‘Advanced Robotic Detection of Chemical Agents, Toxic Industrial Gases, and Improvised Explosive Devices (IED)s for Force Health Protection’ submitted to the
Army Small Business technology Transfer (STTR) Program. This competitively selected two year contract will result in a field demonstration of high sensitivity detection and analysis capability for chemical agents and explosives that threaten US forces.” (PR Newswire; 11Aug08) http://www.prnewswire.com/cgi-bin/stories.pl?ACCT=104&STORY=/www/story/08-11-2008/0004865205&EDATE=

Detecting the activity of a biological toxin
“Current methods of detecting ribosomal-inactivating proteins, such as antibodies employed in enzyme-linked immunoadsorbent assays, are complicated and difficult to use in the field. […] Researchers from the University of California
San Diego discovered a new strategy for sensing the activities of these proteins. […] Based on the results of their work, the next step is to take this probe outside of the controlled environments of the lab and see if it's possible to extend its utility to real life applications.” (ARS Technica; 11Aug08; Yun Xie) http://arstechnica.com/journals/science.ars/2008/08/11/detecting-the-activity-of-a-biological-toxin

Ricin suspect [Roger Bergendorff] had powder for decade
“An unemployed graphic designer who pleaded guilty to possessing toxic ricin said he distilled the lethal powder from the beans of a backyard castor plant in 1998 while living in
San Diego and carried it with him for a decade while living in Reno, Las Vegas and near Salt Lake City. Roger Bergendorff spoke to The Associated Press Friday in an exclusive interview from a Las Vegas-area jail where he is being held pending sentencing.” (Fox 5 News; 11August08)

Beijing cites numerous Olympic threats
“Just over a week before the Beijing Olympics, a militant Islamic group's claims of responsibility for bombings in China have fueled unease about security. The government has assured its people and the Olympic community that heavy security will ensure a secure games. […] Stirring the latest concerns were videotaped threats purporting to be from an Islamic militant group. They surfaced last week in the name of the Turkistan Islamic Party - a group Chinese and Western
terrorism experts say is an offshoot of a secessionist group from China's Central Asian frontier with ties to al-Qaida. […] One militant, identified by the Washington-based monitoring group IntelCenter as commander Seyfullah [said] ‘Our aim is to target the most critical points related to the Olympics. We will try to attack Chinese central cities severely using the tactics that have never been employed,’” (BND; 10Aug08; Charles Hutzler -AP) http://www.bnd.com/306/story/412864.html

Al-Qaida said to lose key WMD operative
“The killing of an al-Qaida chemical weapons expert in a missile strike two weeks ago on a Pakistani border village has dealt a heavy blow to the terrorist group's ambitions to build weapons of mass destruction, a former CIA case officer says. Abu Khabab al-Masri was dubbed by
terrorism analysts as al-Qaida's ‘mad scientist.’ His most notorious work, recorded on videotape, showed dogs being killed in poison gas experiments in Afghanistan when the Taliban ruled. […] l-Qaida confirmed his death days after the July 28 attack by unmanned drones on a tribesman's compound in the village of Azam Warsak in South Waziristan. Al-Masri, whose real name is Midhat Mursi al-Sayid Umar, got his chemical weapons training in the Egyptian army before defecting to the militant Islamic Jihad group […]” (Associated Press; 10Aug08; Kathy Gannon)

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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