War on Terrorism

Monday, November 17, 2008

CBR Weapons and WMD Terrorism News- November 17, 2008

Judge orders [exonerated anthrax suspect Stephen] Hatfill search warrant made public
“A federal judge on Monday ordered the Justice Department to release the information it used to persuade the courts to let it search the home of a former
Army scientist who was exonerated in the 2001 anthrax attacks. U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth said the government's search warrants and supporting documents relating to former Army scientist Stephen Hatfill and his then-girlfriend Peck Chegne should be made public. […] ‘The anthrax investigation was one of the most complex, time-consuming and expensive investigations in recent history,’ Lamberth said. ‘As a result, the American citizens have a legitimate interest in observing and understanding how and why the investigation progressed in the way that it did.’” (Associated Press; 18Nov08; Jesse J. Holland) http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5ggnSVGuQvX23iSN9fCYgtmUMsaBAD94GR0IG0

Death comes in small packages
“From beehives to maggot bombs, bugs have provided some of our deadliest weapons. […] And long before either swords or explosives existed, scholars believe, Paleolithic warriors were hurling ‘bee bombs’—nests of stinging insects—into enemy caves. That was 100,000 years ago, notes Jeffrey Lockwood, entomologist and author of Six-Legged Soldiers (Oxford UP), and it marked, of course, only the beginning. By the end of the Second World War, the Nazis had 30 million Colorado potato beetles ready to unleash on British crops, and Japan’s Unit 731 had killed more people in China with infected fleas and flies than atomic bombs had killed in Japan. Less well known than bacteriological warfare, with which it is intimately linked—nothing delivers epidemic disease like an insect host—war by bug has left its mark on the historical record. […] In all, Japanese biological warfare killed 580,000 Chinese, most by insect.” (Macleans; 17Nov08; Brian Bethune) http://blog.macleans.ca/2008/11/17/death-comes-in-small-packages/

Lab sought to counter bioterrorism in
“State Health Department officials said they want to build a $40 million lab separate from the department’s headquarters to better protect the public from bioterrorism testing. […] The lab recently tested letters for possible anthrax and also tested E. coli samples […]. The lab has been approved to test other agents like smallpox or plague that could be used as weapons, but it lacks the needed biocontainment level. ‘We don’t want to take specimens that could be agents of bioterrorism and walk through our public areas,’said Julie Cox-Kain, department deputy commissioner of disease prevention services. She said the lab was built in the early 1970s and has outgrown its current space.” (
Oklahoma News; 14Nov08; Susan Simpson)

Hospital flooded in storm to cut its staff by a third [TX]
“Still struggling to recover from Hurricane Ike, the battered economy of Galveston Island has suffered another severe blow with the decision by the University of Texas to lay off 3,800 people next week from the medical center, the largest employer on the island. […] The goal is to staunch losses of almost $40 million a month since the hurricane flooded the school’s buildings […]. The complex is centered on Texas’s oldest medical school and a new national laboratory devoted to finding defenses against biological weapons. […] Only the maternity ward is open; the rest of the hospital remains eerily empty.” (New York Times; 14Nov08; James C. McKinley Jr.) http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/15/us/15hospital.html?ref=health

Sentencing set for man [Bergendorff] in
Las Vegas ricin scare
“Sentencing is set for Monday for a man who pleaded guilty to possessing the lethal biological agent ricin at a
Las Vegas motel. Roger Bergendorff is expected to get 3 years and 1 month in federal prison. Bergendorff has said he distilled deadly ricin powder from the beans of a backyard castor plant while he lived in San Diego in 1998, and carried it with him for a decade while living in Reno, near Salt Lake City, and in Las Vegas.
Authorities have characterized the 57-year-old as a troubled man, but no terrorist.” (
Las Vegas Now; 17Nov08; Source: Associated Press)

Russia finishes VX ammo destruction at Maradykovsky
“Russia has finished destroying ammunition loaded with VX nerve agent at its Maradykovsky facility, Interfax reported Friday. ‘A total of 23,473 ammunition items, which contain 4,546.741 [metric tons] of VX-type gases, have been disposed of,’ a Kirov Region spokesman said Friday, adding that work has begun on the disposal site's second branch. ‘The second sector -- a unit that will dispose of sarin and soman [nerve agents] -- is being repaired. We plan to begin installing equipment and to start experimental operations. We plan to launch disposal efforts in the first quarter of 2009,’ he said. The Maradykovsky facility is slated to complete its chemical-weapon destruction work in 2012.” (Global Security Newswire; 17Nov08; Source: Interfax) http://www.globalsecuritynewswire.org/gsn/nw_20081117_3574.php

Gulf war illness is real, new federal report says
“An extensive federal report released Monday concludes that roughly one in four of the 697,000 U.S. veterans of the 1990-91
Gulf war suffer from Gulf war illness. That illness is a condition now identified as the likely consequence of exposure to toxic chemicals, including pesticides and a drug administered to protect troops against nerve gas. […] The report, titled ‘Gulf War Illness and the Health of Gulf war Veterans,’ was officially presented Monday to Secretary of Veterans Affairs James Peak. […] The report identifies two Gulf War ‘neurotoxic’ exposures that ‘are causally associated with Gulf war illness.’ The first is the ingestion of pyridostigmine bromide (PB) pills, given to protect troops from effects of nerve agents. The second is exposure to dangerous pesticides used during the conflict.” (CNN; 17Nov08; Alan Silverlieb) http://edition.cnn.com/2008/HEALTH/11/17/gulf.war.illness.study/

South Korea to conduct ‘dirty bomb’ drill
“South Korean emergency personnel are expected to respond to a simulated radiological attack on the island of Jeju tomorrow, Asia Pulse reported. The scenario for South Korea's first ‘dirty bomb’ response drill would involve retaking a boat seized by terrorists. The terrorists would detonate a mock dirty bomb, forcing crews to cordon off the area, evacuate bystanders and begin to decontaminate the site, according to the South Korean Education, Science and
Technology Ministry. The exercise is expected to involve more than 200 local and national government officials, the South Korean coast guard, the Korea Institute of Nuclear Safety, fire crews and nearby schools and hospitals.” (Global Security Newswire; 17Nov08; Source: Asia Pulse) http://www.globalsecuritynewswire.org/gsn/nw_20081117_2718.php

India worried by unstable nuclear-armed states
“‘Fragile and unstable governments’ in nuclear-armed nations create a potential opening for extremist groups to acquire a devastating weapon, an Indian official said Wednesday. M. M. Pallam Raju, a junior defense minister, did not single out Pakistan, India's troubled nuclear rival, in his remarks to the National Defense College in New Delhi, the Press Trust of India reported […] ‘The concern is real and consequential given the enormous destructive potential; if these weapons were to fall in the hands of rogue elements and nonstate armed groups,’ he added. It is reasonable to worry about the potential spread of nuclear weapons and
Technology, along with biological and chemical weapons, according to Raju. ‘Experts fear the growth and proliferation of technologies, particularly information Technology, biotechnology, nanotechnology and genetic engineering may create a permissive environment for nuclear proliferation,’ he said. India must maintain a sufficient nuclear deterrent and a capability to respond to attacks, Raju said.” (Global Security Newswire; 14Nov08; Source: Press Trust of India) http://www.globalsecuritynewswire.org/gsn/nw_20081114_8237.php

Fake anthrax warning mailer [Keyser] indicted in
Sacramento [CA]
“A federal grand jury indicted Thursday a 66-year-old retired teacher from
Sacramento who sent 120 letters with fake anthrax nationwide last month to alert the public on the threat of bioterrorism. Marc M. Keyser faces 10 counts of hoax mailings and three counts of mailing threatening communications. Both crimes are punishable by up to 70 years imprisonment. Keyser, who is out on a $25,000 bail, has said he was not sorry for sending the letters with compact discs and packets of sugar labeled as anthrax to media and government offices as well as restaurants because he was just trying to prompt the government to be vigilant in preventing a repeat of the anthrax mail attack in 2001 that killed five people and sickened 17 others.” (Gant Daily, 13Nov08; Source: AHN) http://www.gantdaily.com/news/35/ARTICLE/36511/2008-11-13.html

Kiwi [New Zealand] scanner promises to end anthrax hoax chaos
“A Christchurch [New Zealand] company’s invention of a hand-held scanner [that] quickly and accurately identifies the presence of potentially lethal spores in powder samples promises to end the chaos of anthrax scares. The Scout, developed by Veritide and based on optical detection
Technology developed at the University of Canterbury, accurately identifies the presence of potentially lethal spores in powder samples within minutes. Existing technologies and products take between 30 minutes and three days to do the same job. The testing is non-invasive using ultraviolet light and detection algorithms to identify bacterial spores and does not consume or destroy the sample being tested.” (Electronics News; 18Nov08; Source: Reed Business Information) http://www.electronicsnews.com.au/Article/Kiwi-scanner-promises-to-end-anthrax-hoax-chaos/430405.aspx

Mormons under [anthrax hoax] siege in Salt Lake City
“A suspicious package containing white powder had been opened by a clerk in the Church Administration Office, prompting FBI agents wearing chemical warfare suits to swiftly evacuate the building. […] In addition to the ‘anthrax’ scares that saw Temple Square, together with a Mormon temple in
Los Angeles, evacuated on Thursday (tests later showed that the white powder was not toxic), attacks on other Mormon properties have raised a chilling spectre of religious hatred.” (New Zealand Herald; 17Nov08; Guy

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:

watchdog on science said...

Excellent Posts! Keep up the good reporting.