War on Terrorism

Friday, September 12, 2008

CBR Weapons and WMD Terrorism News- September 12, 2008

Cross-Contamination of Clinical Specimens with Bacillus anthracis During a Laboratory Proficiency Test -- Idaho, 2006
“On July 18, 2006, the Utah Department of Health notified epidemiologists at the
Idaho Department of Health and Welfare that Bacillus anthracis, the causative agent for anthrax, had been isolated from a patient. On the same day, the Idaho epidemiologists were notified by the Idaho Bureau of Laboratories of a specimen from a second patient received for anthrax testing. The two reports resulted briefly in alerts to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and precautionary treatment of one of the patients […] Subsequent investigation revealed that, during July 2006, the Idaho Bureau of Laboratories had been conducting a sentinel laboratory proficiency testing exercise among Idaho's hospital laboratories. The exercise included specimens with the Sterne strain of B. anthracis, a nonvirulent strain. […] This report is the first to describe cross-contamination of clinical specimens with B. anthracis during laboratory proficiency sample testing. The Idaho Bureau of Laboratories regularly conducts proficiency testing surveys with participating sentinel laboratories.” (Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report; 12Sep08) http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5736a3.htm

[Governor Sonny] Perdue [R-GA], lawmakers press Georgia's case for biolab
“Gov. Sonny Perdue joined with most of Georgia's congressional delegation to present a united front in the state's bid to win a national biodefense lab near the University of Georgia. […] In a press conference on Capitol Hill, the leaders said Athens [Georgia] will win the project if the competition is judged on merits. The $450 million
Homeland Security project would house at least 300 lab-related jobs, with research focused on some of the most lethal biological threats, including deadly animal diseases and bioterrorism threats through the nation's food supply.”
(Ledger-Enquirer; 11Sep08; Source: AP)

Senator [Pat] Roberts [D-KS] secures $268,305 in funds to improve food security
“Senator Pat Roberts [Kansas] today announced the Ford County [Kansas]
Sheriff's Office will receive $268,305 in funding he secured in the Departments of Commerce, Justice, State Appropriations bill for Fiscal Year 2008, to improve food security. The funding will allow the Ford County Sheriff's Office to assess and strengthen terrorism prevention activities and response capabilities. Additional attention will be given to criminal activity in agriculture, especially those incidents that could represent potential indicators of terrorist activity.” (Cattle Network; 11Sep08)

[Lone Star] College to offer free flu shots at drive-through event [Montgomery, Texas]
“Free flu shots will be available to adults who push up their sleeves and roll down their car windows on Saturday, October 11, at a drive-through flu shot clinic at Lone Star College-Montgomery [Texas]. […] The department’s public health preparedness division plans and coordinates the response to adverse events like disease outbreaks and bioterrorism attacks. ‘Events like the drive-through flu shot clinic are great opportunities to see how well we’re prepared to respond to health emergency in our county,’ said Emily Llinás, assistant director at the health department. In addition to helping the public, the drive-through event will serve as an exercise for health department staff and volunteers. Volunteers are a major component of public health preparedness plans, Llinás said.” (Woodlands Online; 11Sep08; Steve Scheffler)

Suspicious Powder Found on Eve of 9/11: Coleman A. Young Municipal Building Quarantined [Detroit, Michigan]
“A suspicious package made its way to the executive suite on the 11th floor of the Coleman A. Young Municipal Building – The Office of the Mayor. Could it be Anthrax? City staffers were quarantined for just under 3 hours after the envelope was found in the executive suite of outgoing Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick. […] The general manager of the Coleman A. Young Municipal Center, Greg McDuffee said that the Detroit
Fire Department was called on Wednesday evening following the discovery of the dubious package. McDuffee said that fewer than a dozen staffers were quarantined inside the 11th floor suite. He also said that Mayor Kilpatrick wasn’t inside the building […].” (My TV 20; 11Sep08) http://www.tv20detroit.com/news/local/28255504.html

White powder found in letter to Star-Banner [Ocala, Florida]
“A Star-Banner receptionist opened an envelope addressed to the newspaper Thursday morning to find a line of white powder in the bottom but no letter inside. The envelope - reminiscent of anthrax attacks and scares from 2001 and 2002 - could be a ‘copycat’ item, said Ocala
police Lt. Dan Wilson. […] Ocala Fire Rescue paramedics responded and were treating the receptionist, Eliud Rodriguez, at his desk in the Star-Banner foyer. The police Department Intelligence Unit was on scene. Wilson said the small orange envelope - which lay for a time outside the building in a plastic bag - would not be handled by evidence technicians until the Health Department had taken it for testing. Fire Rescue officials soon packaged the envelope in larger bags and a white bucket for the Health Department.”
(Gainesville Sun; 11Sep08; Joe Byrnes, Star-Banner) http://www.gainesville.com/article/20080911/NEWS/809110241/1014/entertainment02&title=Envelope_with_white_powder_delivered_to_Star_Banner

Center for Health and
Homeland Security Hosts Forum to Discuss Anthrax Case [at University of Maryland] “A forum held Sept. 10 at the University of Maryland School of Law shed light on the case from the perspectives of science and journalism. The event, ‘Did the Researcher Do It? The FBI's Anthrax Case Against Dr. Ivins,’ was the eighth annual Sept. 11 commemoration presented by the Center for Health and Homeland Security (CHHS). Scott Shane, a reporter from The New York Times, and Claire Fraser-Liggett, PhD, a professor at the University of Maryland School of Medicine (SOM) and the director of the Institute of Genome Sciences at the SOM, served as panelists.”
(University of Maryland News; 11Sep08; Nick Alexopulos)

At UCF [University of Central Florida], genetically modified plants show promise as vaccine
“The University of Central Florida researcher [Henry Daniell] is working on a new kind of vaccine grown inside plant cells, crushed into powder and swallowed as a capsule. He recently had success in animal tests of his vaccine for bubonic plague. […] ‘What we have developed is a totally new platform; it's a revolutionary approach,’ said Daniell, who receives funding from the National Institutes of Health and others for his research. […] most [vaccines] are expensive and hard to manufacture. In rare cases, the vaccines themselves cause the disease or severe reactions. That's why Daniell and others are working on new types that reduce the risks and expense. The need has become more urgent in recent years amid fear of bioterrorism and natural outbreaks such as bird flu. Daniell's approach relies on selected genes from the bacteria or viruses -- not the whole pathogens. At a basic level, genes are the recipes for proteins. Researchers have found that the immune system can be provoked by just a few proteins from the invader.” (Orlando Sentinel; 10Sep08; Robyn Shelton) http://www.orlandosentinel.com/features/health/orl-vaccines1008sep10,0,1419005.story

State checking powder in letter [Peabody, Massachusetts]
“A powder found in an envelope received by a resident of 17 Page St. has been sent to a state laboratory for analysis. Fire Chief Steve Pasdon called in the regional hazardous-materials team to handle the contents of the letter after
police and fire officials responded to the Page Street home around 6:30 p.m. on Monday. Jennifer Mieth, spokeswoman for Fire Marshal Stephen Coan, yesterday did not know how long it would take for the lab to identify the material. police Lt. Dennis Bonaiuto said yesterday that the hazmat team tested the air inside the home and no hazardous material was detected.” (Salem News; 10Sep08; Matthew K. Roy) http://www.salemnews.com/punews/local_story_253231822.html

Germ attack worries [U.S. Secretary of the Department of
Homeland Security Michael] Chertoff
“Michael Chertoff, secretary of the Department of
Homeland Security, said he doesn’t think an attack with a weapon of mass destruction is imminent, ‘but is one I think remains out there, particularly a biological threat.’ He said a biological attack would be especially problematic because ‘it can’t be necessarily detected. It can be carried in a very small vial. You could theoretically infect somebody and send an infected person to a country and create a biological weapon that way.’” (Journal Gazette; 11Sep08; Sylvia A. Smith) http://www.journalgazette.net/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080911/NEWS03/809110328/1002/LOCAL

Diluted nerve agent to be destroyed at Blue Grass depot [Davenport, Kentucky]
“The government next month hopes to begin destroying diluted nerve agent at Kentucky's Blue Grass
Army Depot. The 157 gallons of agent, known as GB, was involved in the depot's largest leak of chemical weapons material last year. The chemical neutralization of the GB, called ‘Operation Swift Solution,’ will mark the first destruction of chemical weapons material at the facility near Richmond.” (Courier-Journal; 11Sep08; James R. Carroll)

[Veterans’] illness 'due to stress, not Gulf War syndrome'
“Many of the nearly 2000 Australian veterans of the first Gulf War came home complaining of myriad strange illnesses: chronic fatigue, headaches and dizziness, memory problems and muscle and joint pain. The troops have consistently argued that their health problems were caused by a chemical cocktail of pesticides used to kill sand flies and pills they were given to protect them against nerve gas. But according to research from Monash University's Centre for Occupational and Environmental Health, the evidence from several countries, including Australia, does not back up veterans' claims. Adelaide psychiatrist and trauma expert Sandy McFarlane, who was part of the original study team, said there was no evidence of a unique syndrome in those veterans compared with troops from other campaigns. […] Professor McFarlane said Gulf War veterans had suffered significantly more physical and psychological symptoms than other veterans. This indicated the soldiers […] had a condition known as somatic distress -- where their psychological illness brought on by extreme stress made them physically sick -- not Gulf War syndrome.” (The Australian; 12Sep08; Julie Ann-Davies) http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,24332917-31477,00.html

Berlin protests comments by US ambassador to Sweden
“According to the Friday issue of the daily Handelsblatt, a senior German Foreign Ministry official presented an official protest to the US embassy in Berlin about an op-ed piece written by US ambassador to Sweden, Michael M Wood, that was published in a Stockholm newspaper. Citing the example of Russian-energy consumer Ukraine, the article suggested that the pipeline posed a security threat to the region in that it would allow Moscow to use energy as a means to gain political leverage. The German Foreign Ministry declined to comment on the Handelsblatt report. In Sweden, the project has also been criticized by some lawmakers over environmental concerns, including potential hazards posed by chemical weapons dumped in the sea after
World War Two.” (Earth Times; 11Sep08; Source: Handelsblatt) http://www.earthtimes.org/articles/show/231214,report-berlin-protests-comments-by-us-ambassador-to-sweden--summary.html

U.S. to scan incoming air cargo
Homeland Security Department will put all incoming air cargo through radiation detectors at the nation's airports to try to prevent terrorists from smuggling radioactive bombs into the U.S. […] The new initiative aims to close what the 9/11 Commission's final report called a major security vulnerability -- cargo on airplanes as a potential avenue for terrorism. Any cargo shipped on passenger planes will also be scanned. Detectors will begin checking packages this week at Dulles International Airport outside Washington, D.C. Arriving cargo -- whether from Pakistan or Peoria -- will be driven through giant detectors called Radiation Portal Monitors. […] There is no specific threat information indicating terrorists are trying to smuggle radiological material into the country on commercial or cargo planes. But Secretary Michael Chertoff says he is concerned about weapons of mass destruction getting into the country by air or by boat.” (Daily Record; 11Sep08; Mimi Hall)

terrorism: What the next President will face
“On the seventh anniversary of the September 11th attacks, what is the nature of the terrorist threat against the United States and other nations of the world and how should the next President address that threat upon taking office in January 2009? These questions are at the center of a special volume of The Annals edited by Richard A. Clarke, as well as in a series of interviews with terrorism experts featured in the volume conducted by Philadelphia Inquirer foreign policy columnist Trudy Rubin […] On September 11, 2008, the Philadelphia Inquirer will post the series of in-depth podcasts of columnist Trudy Rubin interviewing several of the volume's authors.” (Red Orbit; 11Sep08) http://www.redorbit.com/news/politics/1551954/terrorism_what_the_next_president_will_face/

Book by Brian Michael Jenkins explores nuclear
“In a new book, Will Terrorists Go Nuclear?, leading
terrorism expert Brian Michael Jenkins explores both the risks and history of nuclear terrorism, and warns that terrorist may not even need to acquire such weapons to order to perpetrate ‘nuclear terror. Upon close examination, nuclear terrorism turns out to be a world of truly worrisome pieces of truth,’ Jenkins says. ‘It also is a world of fantasies, nightmares, hoaxes, scams and stings where it is hard to separate truth from myth. I wrote the book to help the public identify where the myths end and the reality begins.’ […] A nuclear attack by terrorists is not inevitable and the nation must do all that is rationally possible to prevent such an event by improving intelligence, international cooperation and teaching the public how to react should such a dreadful event occur. But, Jenkins argues, the fear of nuclear terrorism should not cause the nation to become intolerant and frightened.” (Eureka Alert; 10Sep08; Warren Robak) http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2008-09/rc-bbb091008.php

Nuclear threat from terrorists rising, ex-senator [Sam Nunn, D-GA] says
“The likelihood that terrorists will be able to target the United States with a nuclear weapon is increasing, a former senator testified before a congressional committee Wednesday. Former Sen. Sam Nunn says he's concerned about nuclear materials in Pakistan, citing political instability. ‘The risk of a nuclear weapon being used today, in my view, is growing and not receding,’ former U.S. Sen. Sam Nunn told the Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferation and Terror, a bipartisan panel that aims to prevent terrorist attacks. The commission met in New York, just a few blocks from the site of the World Trade Center […] ‘Terrorists are clearly seeking nuclear weapons,’ said Nunn, who heads the Nuclear Threat Initiative. ‘There can be little doubt that if they acquire weapons, they will use them.’ […] ‘Russia has the greatest quantity of nuclear weapons and material, but Pakistan, in my view, is the greatest danger because of the great instability in that country,’ Nunn said. Nunn said Pakistan keeps its nuclear arms under heavy guard, but political instability in the country and beliefs that al Qaeda has reconstituted itself in the Pakistani mountains raise concerns.” (CNN;

Orem [Utah,] man's [Castor] bean plant investigated
“A startled homeowner [Lincoln Fuqua] got a visit from Orem
police Tuesday afternoon. They were interested in a plant that he was growing by his mailbox in the front yard. They were so interested that they put a call into Homeland Security. No, it wasn’t marijuana. It was a castor bean plant. […] And when he saw the castor bean seeds this spring at his favorite nursery in Orem, he remembers snapping some up and thinking, ‘Hey, I’m going to grow some this year because they’re beautiful.’ Fuqua has a background in chemistry and is well aware that terrorists have used them to make Ricin. But he never dreamed that someone would think that he might be a terrorist. […] Orem police have not given us their verdict on the castor bean plant, but it is not illegal. In fact, only the District of Columbia ‘strongly discourages’ the sale of castor bean seeds.” (ABC 4; 10Sep08; Brent Hunsaker) http://www.abc4.com/news/local/story.aspx?content_id=f2396fa3-c730-457d-825c-257c263a831c

Bulgaria keeping 'umbrella killing' probe open: Chief [Investigator Boiko Naydenov]
“Bulgaria is to keep open its probe of the ‘umbrella killing’ in London of dissident Georgy Markov in 1978, the head of the country's investigation service, Boiko Naydenov, told AFP Wednesday. Initially, the investigation was to have been closed this week when a 30-year statute of limitations expired. But Naydenov said that, because the probe concerned both Markov's death and an attempt the same year to kill another Bulgarian dissident in Paris, Vladimir Kostov, a lengthier timeframe could be applied, allowing the case to remain open. He said that where there is a killing or attempted killing of two or more people, ‘then there is a 35-year statute of limitations, which can be prolonged further if the case has been interrupted.’” (Agence Presse France; 11Sep08) http://afp.google.com/article/ALeqM5jbwyP6kEgBpglz7FmckQPdf_DCzg

Fresh intrigue surrounds a Cold War murder [of Georgy Markov]
“A Bulgarian journalist, Hristo Hristov, is releasing a book - ‘The Double Life of Agent Piccadilly’ - that he says demonstrates how the communist regime eliminated one of its most eloquent opponents. […] Based on the first outside look at previously classified state security documents, Hristov concludes that Markov was killed by one Francesco Gullino, a sometime smuggler arrested twice in Bulgaria and given the choice of jail or becoming an agent. Based in Copenhagen with cover as an art dealer, Gullino was active until 1990 and received two Bulgarian state medals ‘for services to security and public order,’ Hristov says. In 1993, Gullino was briefly detained and questioned by the British and Danish
police in Copenhagen, and has not been seen or heard of since. […] the Bulgarian authorities have officially broadened the inquiry to include a suspected assassination attempt on Vladimir Kostov, a Bulgarian defector in Paris who suffered a poison pellet attack two weeks before Markov - and survived. The murder investigation by Scotland Yard also remains active, with British police officers traveling abroad to make several known inquiries this year.” (International Herald Tribune; 10Sep08; Matthew Brunwasser)

Pakistan accuses US
military over cross-border terror campaign
“In an unusually tough statement, General Ashfaq Kayani, Chief of
Army Staff, said that there was ‘no agreement or understanding with the coalition forces whereby they are allowed to conduct operations on our side of the border’. Pakistan would defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity ‘at all costs’, he said. […] Seven years on from 9/11 the failure to find bin Laden — combined with increasing awareness that the terrorist group is spreading its influence into North and East Africa and is pressing ahead with trying to develop chemical, biological and radiological devices — is forcing a rethink of how to confront the threat. […] Al-Qaeda remains obsessed with using commercial airliners for attacks, but of greatest concern are the signs of its interest in developing chemical, biological and radiological devices. The terrorists have already used lorries packed with explosives and chemicals in attacks in Iraq, and are known to be experimenting with anthrax.” (Times Online; 12Sep08; Michael Evans & Zahid Hussain) http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/asia/article4735471.ece

Fox Valley [Wisconsin]
Fire Department evolve following events of 9-11
“At Neenah-Menasha Fire Rescue's main station on Columbia Avenue in downtown Neenah,
firefighters were checking apparatus, doing maintenance and replenishing supplies as officers set the weekly training schedules that can consume up to 15 percent or more of the firefighters' work each year. […] Since 9-11, there are more perceived threats than ever before. Training has changed markedly since the terrorist attacks. Hansen said the basic firefighting class now includes sections on a wide and ominous range of hazardous materials. Training used to focus on chlorine gas, ammonia leaks and gas spills. Now, nerve gas, blister agents and biological weapons also are included. All department members, including the 43 paid on-call firefighters at Grand Chute, must have a minimum 150 hours of training a year. [Michael] Sipin [Neenah-Menasha Fire Rescue] said the 68 firefighters on that department average 330 hours of training a year.”
(Post-Crescent; 11Sep08; John Lee)

Universal Detection
Technology to Present at the 3rd Annual Gulf Coast terrorism Conference [Sarasota, Florida]
“[…] [T]he 3rd annual Gulf Coast Terrorism Conference [is] scheduled to be held in Sarasota, Florida. The presentation will cover the latest detection technologies for the detection of CBRN threats. The attendees of the conference include local, state and federal first responder and law enforcement officials. […] Security Solutions International (SSI), the host of the conference, is committed to bringing the know-how of the world's leading experts in counter-
terrorism and security to practical application in a wide variety of custom seminars and courses. The event is attended by participants from the US Department of Homeland Security, Transportation Security Administration, Federal Aviation Administration, New Orleans Police Department, Orlando Police Department, Lebanon Police Department, Florida Department of Health, and the US Supreme Court.” (Earth Times; 10Sep08)

Progress seen in Maine plan to fight terror
“Seven years after terrorists embarked from the Portland airport on their mission to fly into the World Trade Center, top federal and state officials say Maine is better prepared for a terrorist attack, but no one thinks it is fully ready. […] [Governor John] Baldacci [D-ME] kicked off National Preparedness Month in Maine at a training session held in the Emergency Operations Center at the Maine Emergency Management Agency. He urged Mainers to plan for any sort of disaster, man-made or natural, by creating their own individualized emergency supply kit and developing a plan of what they would do to cope with a disaster. […] Baldacci said MEMA [Maine Emergency Management Agency] has developed a Web site, www.maineprepares.com, that has information on what a disaster plan should include and a checklist for developing a disaster preparedness kit.” (
Bangor Daily News; 10Sep08; Mal Leary)

[Mayor Michael] Bloomberg [R-New York City]: New York short-changed on
terrorism prevention funds
“‘The federal government needs to do more to help us protect our city,’ New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg told the first public hearing of the nine-member Congressional Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferation and
terrorism Wednesday in New York. […] The mayor said New York City is still the number one target of terrorists from around the world, yet for bioterrorism prevention funding it ranks 21st out of 54 eligible states and cities in the amount of funding provided in 2008. […] ‘Because of the anthrax episodes in 2001, New York is one of only a handful of places in the nation that's ever experienced a bio-terror attack. Yet in Fiscal Year 2008, we received $2.72 per capita, putting us an incredible 21st out of 54 eligible states and cities.’ [said Mayor Bloomberg].” (Environment News Service; 10Sep08) http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/sep2008/2008-09-11-01.asp

Terrorism: Intelligence the weak point in defeating Al-Qaeda, says expert [Abdel Bari Atwan]
“Penetrating Al-Qaeda is the key challenge for American and other western intelligence services, according to author and commentator Abdel Bari Atwan. […] ‘The United States is well prepared against an Al-Qaeda attack in terms of security at airports and other sensitive sites,’ Atwan told Adnkronos International (AKI). ‘But intelligence remains a real problem - penetrating Al-Qaeda is extremely difficult, because of geography, loyalty and ideology,’ Atwan stated. […] ‘Al-Qaeda's field commanders are under the direct supervision of its leadership. So it could go back to outside attacks,’ said Atwan. ‘It is now more capable of carrying out similar attacks (to the 9/11 attacks on US cities), but with different means. ’ Dirty bombs, chemical or biological weapons - these are easier than hijacking aeroplanes,’ he said. […] Pakistan's new President, Asif Ali Zardari, is ‘too weak’ to have a major role in the US-led fight against militants believed to be hiding out in the region bordering Afghanistan.” (Adn Kronos International; 11Sep08)

U.S. scrambles for N. Korean clues
“Following his failure to show up at a parade Tuesday marking North Korea's founding 60 years ago, U.S. officials said Tuesday that they believe Kim has suffered a stroke. While his condition is unclear—as so many things in that closed society are—they are scrambling to figure out what is actually going on there and make contingency plans. […] ‘The bottom line is, if Kim dies, we potentially have a serious problem,’ said Joel Wit, a former U.S. diplomat and one of the authors of the 1994 nuclear agreement with Pyongyang. ‘There could be the collapse of the central government, civil war between different factions, large-scale refugee flows, increasing instability of the security of weapons of mass destruction and pressures on all surrounding countries to intervene.’ […] The biggest worry for the U.S. if the North Korean government were to collapse: What would happen to the regime's cache of weapons of mass destruction? Pyongyang, which test-fired a nuclear weapon in October 2006, is believed by U.S. intelligence agencies to have enough fuel for several nuclear weapons and is also thought to have an arsenal of chemical weapons.” (Chicago Tribune; 10Sep08; Bay Fang) http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/chi-korea-kim_nu_10sep10,0,5223701.story

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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