War on Terrorism

Monday, August 18, 2008

CBR Weapons and WMD Terrorism News- August 18, 2008

F.B.I. will present scientific evidence in anthrax case to counter doubts
“Growing doubts from scientists about the strength of the government’s case against the late Bruce E. Ivins, the
military researcher named as the anthrax killer, are forcing the Justice Department to begin disclosing more fully the scientific evidence it used to implicate him. […] ‘That is going to be critically important, because right now there is really no data to make a scientific judgment one way or the other,’ Brad Smith, a molecular biologist at the Center for Biosecurity at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. ‘The information that has been put out, there is really very little scientific information in there.’ F.B.I officials say they are confident that their scientific evidence against Dr. Ivins, who killed himself last month as the Justice Department was preparing an indictment against him, will withstand scrutiny, and they plan to present their findings for review by leading scientists. But the scrutiny may only raise fresh questions.” (New York Times; 15Aug08; Eric Lichtblau & David Johnston)

U.S. Sen. Grassley: More than $4.1 Million to
Iowa from Health and Human Services
“Senator Chuck Grassley today announced that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has awarded the
Iowa Department of Public Health a $4,113,883 grant through the Hospital Preparedness Program. […] The Iowa Department of Public Health must use the funds to help pay for the following capabilities: an interoperable communication system, bed tracking system, emergency system for the advance registration of volunteer health professionals, fatality management plans and hospital evacuation plans. The funds may be optionally used to pay for the following capabilities: alternate care sites, mobile medical assets, pharmaceutical caches, personal protective equipment and decontamination. The funds must incorporate the National Incident Management System, education and preparedness training and exercises, evaluations and corrective actions into the development and maintenance of all capabilities.” (Iowa Politics; 15Aug08)

Labs that perform bioterrorism research proliferating
“There are 326 laboratories authorized by the CDC to work with biological agents, an increase from 194 in 2003. Another 73 are authorized by the USDA.. […] The criteria include that the individual have no convictions of a
crime punishable by imprisonment exceeding one year, not be a fugitive from Justice or an illegal alien, and that the individual not have been dishonorably discharged from the Army. […] Of the 399 institutions registered to work with biological agents, 234 are working with anthrax, the records show. Many of them are working with, or at least storing, the ‘Ames strain,’ which was used in the anthrax mailings. Martin Hugh-Jones, a professor at Louisiana State University, said obtaining permission to work with that strain has become almost like a status symbol for labs. LSU was one of 16 laboratories identified by the FBI as working with the Ames strain of anthrax before the letters were mailed.” (Courant; 16Aug08; Dave Altimari)

Rensselaer researcher wins AIChE Young Investigator Award
“Ravi S. Kane, professor of chemical and biological engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, has won the 2008 Young Investigator Award from the American Institute of Chemical Engineers’ Nanoscale Science and Engineering Forum. […] In a recent publication in Nature Nanotechnology, Kane’s team demonstrated for the first time that upon exposure to invisible and near-infrared light, carbon nanotubes mediate the selective deactivation of attached proteins. Kane’s group used this phenomenon to design nanotube-peptide conjugates that selectively destroy anthrax toxin from a mixture of proteins. The group also used these findings to develop and create transparent ‘self-cleaning’ nanotube coatings.” (Rensselaer; 18Aug08)

Nanocoating preventing corrosion and reducing ice formation on aircrafts
“The development of a transparent coating that causes water to bead up into drops and roll or bounce off a surface will help protect and sustain
Air Force systems by preventing corrosion and reducing ice formation on optical elements and aircraft. […] Their recent work has opened the door to new applications that exploit the way the coated surface interacts with liquid droplets. When water droplets roll along the coated surface, they pick up debris as they go. Doctor Brinker explained that this property might make the collection, concentration and identification of aerosol borne particles like anthrax possible.” (Nanotechnology; 17Aug08)

Siting a national biolab [Plum Island, Mississippi]
“The lab, called the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility, would eventually replace a 24-acre research complex on Plum Island, just off the northeastern tip of Long Island in the Sound. Although a spokeswoman for
homeland security has said that an expansion and upgrade of the facility at Plum Island is still on the table, that proposal is costly and apparently not ranked highly among the agency's preferred plans. Overruling their own advisers, homeland security officials selected Flora, Miss. That site was ranked 14th out of 17 locations around the country on grounds that it was too remote from existing biodefense programs and researchers with expertise in contagious diseases.” (Courant; 18Aug08)

Reliable biosafety essential to prevent bioterrorism: Ambassador Masood Khan

“A reliable biosafety and biosecurity regime is essential to prevent and counter bioterrorism and biological warfare, Ambassador Masood Khan said. Speaking at the 2008 meeting of experts of Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BTWC) […] While emphasising the importance of a code of conduct for an oversight of the scientific research, he said that it was not possible to have one universal code of conduct. He suggested that each state party needed to intensify its efforts to involve life scientists, policy makers and relevant international organizations to develop flexible but effective codes of conduct containing elements of ethics, education and training programmes [sic].” (Associated Press of Pakistan; 18Aug08)

Firms in defence export breaches
“Australian companies have repeatedly breached export control regulations designed to prevent sensitive defence
technology falling into the hands of North Korea, Iran, China and Russia. Previously undisclosed information issued by the Minister for Defence, Joel Fitzgibbon, reveals that in the past three years there have been 41 known breaches of Australia's defence export regulations. […] Mr Fitzgibbon did not reveal the names of the
firms involved or the specific equipment or materials involved in each case. But he did confirm the rules were broken in relation to both
military equipment and so-called ''dual use'' technology that has both civilian and military applications. The breaches involved military equipment, chemicals, telecommunications and electronic equipment, information security technology, avionics, material processing technology and other controlled goods. Seventeen breaches involved the export of chemicals which are regulated because they could be used in the manufacture of chemical weapons, explosives or missile propellants.” (The Canberra Times; 16Aug08; Phillip Dorling)

Chemical weapon depots look to weapon-less future [Pine Bluff,
“During the Cold War, the Pine Bluff Arsenal held the secrets of the nation's stockpile chemical and biological weapons against prying Soviet eyes. Now, arsenal commander Col. Bill Barnett worries about disclosing how many gas masks and mortar rounds workers can produce in a day. The fear comes not from the threat of foreign spies, but rather the possibility of being undercut by competing private manufacturers. […] As the arsenal prepares to eliminate its remaining mustard gas, the base about 35 miles southeast of Little Rock finds its mission changing as the United States destroys the weapons it and other eight other arsenal sites once housed. While some only housed the biological and chemical agents, other bases now manufacture weapons or other items needed as the nation fights two other wars abroad. The Pine Bluff Arsenal, conceived a month before the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor, had the task of building grenades and bombs for the growing U.S.
military. Over time, the arsenal began manufacturing chemical and biological weapons, storing them in earthen igloos that also housed German rockets studied after World War II.” (Chicago Tribune; 17Aug08; Jon Gambrell)

Preparing for an urban WMD attack [
San Francisco, California]
“The scenario was this: a terrorist with a backpack full of sodium cyanide--a chemical used in gold mining operations that quickly attacks and shuts down the human respiratory system--unleashed it inside 555 California. […] The attack instantly kills a number of people and injures others. Because of the victims, the fire department is the first to arrive
on the scene, and when the
firefighter discover what's happened, they isolate the building's lobby and deny entry into the building by anyone else, and then quickly set up a mass decontamination system nearby. And then they call in the specialists. […] the whole point: to bring in the many different types of specialists […] the scenario had more to it: emergency personnel also discover an improvised explosive device inside 555 California, and just when they're dealing with everything going on there, there's also a shooting in another office building nearby. […] the exercise, which cost about a quarter million dollars, was paid for with federal grant money. One of the elements of the scenario was that no one actually knows at first what the terrorist has attacked with. […] Finding out and then disseminating that information is one of the goals of the exercise.” (CNet News; 16Aug08; Daniel Terdiman)

Site of former [Fernald Preserve near Cincinnati] Ohio uranium plant turns to nature
“A site once home to a Cold War-era uranium processing plant and the focus of a contentious struggle to clean up toxic waste has re-emerged as a haven for wildlife and a memorial to those who worked to make the area safe. The Fernald Preserve and its visitors center make their public debut Wednesday at the former site of the government facility that processed uranium metal for nuclear weapons from 1952 to 1989. […] The $4.4 billion site cleanup was officially completed in January 2007. The visitor's center and preserve, which cost $7 million, are the first developed under Legacy Management, which is responsible for more than 60 other waste sites around the country […]” (San José Examiner; 16Aug08; Lisa Cornwell, AP)

Terror drill finds culprit with dirty bomb [New York, New York]
“More than 17 boats from a variety of agencies, including the
Coast Guard, FDNY and New Jersey State Police, set up a checkpoint underneath the Verrazano Bridge at the mouth of the harbor to scan all incoming vessels. Scores of boats were boarded and searched during the drill, which officials said was the largest counterterrorism exercise in the city's history and allowed the NYPD to test two new $750,000 radiation-tracking boats. The Tracs boats successfully stopped a speedboat named The Last Dollar and found a device that simulated the same radiation as a dirty bomb.” (Daily News; 15Aug08; Jonathan Lemire)

Iran Rejects Nuclear,
Terrorism Charges Against Banks
“Iran has rejected accusations by France, Britain and the United States that its banks are financing illegal nuclear activities and
Terrorism. Iran sent a letter to the United Nations Security Council Friday, calling the allegations baseless. It also accused France, Britain and the U.S. of trying to disrupt the financial affairs of millions of Iranian bank customers. Earlier this month, the three countries warned the Security Council of attempts by Iran to use the country's banks to help expand its nuclear capabilities.” (Voice of America; 16Aug08)

Yorkshire schoolboy locked up on terror charge
“Britain's youngest terrorist - a teenager from Wesat Yorkshire – was behind bars today after a guide to death and explosives was found in the schoolboy's home. Hammaad Munshi, just 16 and taking GCSEs when arrested, was part of a cell of cyber groomers that set out to brainwash the vulnerable to kill ‘non-believers’ […] Two bags of ball-bearings – the shrapnel of choice for suicide bombers - were found in one of his pockets. On his PC were al Qaida propaganda videos and recordings promoting ‘murder and destruction.’ […] Also found were US and Canadian
military training manuals, a Terrorist's Handbook, a Mujahideen Explosives Handbook, and a Mujahideen Poisons Handbook containing a recipe for ricin and encouragement for ‘brothers’ to experiment on ‘kuffar’ (non-believers).” (Yorkshire Post; 18Aug08)

Nuke [CBRN] trainer says he taught Uganda only ‘defense’
“More information continues to emerge about Uganda’s chemical and biological weapons operation--the U.K. expert who provided the training to top Ugandans insists in an exclusive interview with The Black Star News that the East Africans were trained only on ‘defensive’ and not ‘offensive’ capabilities. ‘There is a big difference between defense and attack—huge difference,’ says Ian Day, Operations Director at U.K.-based The CBRN Team Ltd (an acronym referring to Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear), who provided the training to the Ugandans. […] There have been widespread speculation that biological agents or toxins have been used to kill prominent Ugandans. Last year, when a top Uganda
military official, Brigadier Noble Mayombo, permanent secretary at the Ministry of Defense died suddenly, there was speculation that some type of toxins could have caused his demise.” (Black Star News; 15Aug08; Milton Allimadi)

Police personnel to study Terrorism, conflict resolution
“With an aim to prepare them for upcoming challenges,
Police personnel will now be given formal training in subjects like Terrorism, biological warfare, forensic science and conflict resolution at the first National Police University to be established here. […] The courses to be offered by the university would include subjects like Terrorism, organised crime, cyber crime, VIP security, forensic science, biological warfare, criminal psychology, human rights, public relation, communal tension, conflict resolution, peace and harmony and man management, he said.” (Zee News; 17Aug08)

The war on terror is shrinking
“As science races to confront
Terrorism with new technology, researchers are unveiling a new generation of devices featuring ever-more sophisticated sensors to quickly detect explosives, radiation, chemicals and biological agents. Most share the promise of doing more with far less bulk, suggesting a future in which radiation from a dirty bomb is detected by a commuter’s iPhone, a laptop warns of explosives more than a football field’s length away, a hand-held unit spots airborne anthrax spores within seconds and a device no bigger than a matchbox sniffs out a tiny release of hazardous chemicals. […] The method […] has its origins in […] how certain frequencies of light can produce sound waves when pulsed onto a surface. Importantly, the version devised by Oak Ridge researchers lets them identify materials out in the open instead of within a pressurized chamber that would have undermined the technique’s usefulness. Essentially, the instrument illuminates a target with pulses of laser light. The light reflected off the target’s surface generates a signature sound when it becomes a vibration through an interaction with a tiny quartz crystal tuning fork.” (MSNBC; 18Aug08; Bryn Nelson)

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.

1 comment:

StormWarning said...

There has been no decision made about the siting of the NBAF. The Courant article is premature and wrong. Won't be a decision until end of year.