War on Terrorism

Friday, December 12, 2008

CBR Weapons and WMD Terrorism News- December 12, 2008

[President of Zimbabwe Robert] Mugabe claims cholera was released by the British
“Robert Mugabe's government has blamed ‘biological warfare’ waged by Britain for the cholera outbreak that has killed at least 800 people in Zimbabwe. His ministers said the disease had been introduced to the country by the UK as part of a campaign of 'genocidal onslaught.’ Mr. Mugabe has long sought to portray the suffering of his country's people as the result of a dispute between London and his own government, blaming the former colonial power for a range of ills. But the cholera claim is further and more bizarre than his Zanu-PF party has ever gone before.”(The Telegraph; 12Dec08; Sebastian Berger) http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/africaandindianocean/zimbabwe/3725130/Mugabe-claims-cholera-was-released-by-the-British.html

U.S. Senators vow to tighten controls to prevent the release of biological pathogens
Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Joe Lieberman, ID-Conn., and Ranking Member Susan Collins R-Me., said Thursday they would draft legislation to tighten oversight of high containment laboratories around the country that could handle deadly biological pathogens. The announcement came at the close of a HSGAC hearing called to discuss the findings of the Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferation and Terrorism [which] predicted a terror attack somewhere in the world by 2013 using weapons of mass destruction, most likely biological agents, because they are more readily available than nuclear materials and are subject to fewer controls.” (U.S. Senate press release; 11Dec08) http://hsgac.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=PressReleases.Print&PressRelease_id=14ddd32c-93e2-4963-9474-d0031e231fa3&suppresslayouts=true

AVI BioPharma files IND [Investigational New Drug] for clinical trial of Ebola virus treatment
“AVI BioPharma, Inc., a developer of RNA-based drugs, today announced the filing of an Investigational New Drug application with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for a clinical trial evaluating the Company's antisense drug AVI-6002 for the treatment of Ebola virus. AVI plans to conduct the trial as part of its continued collaboration with the US
Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID). Preclinical results of AVI-6002 demonstrated a reproducible and high rate of survival in non-human primates challenged with a lethal infection of Ebola.”
(Medical News Today; 12Dec08

Al Qaeda's anthrax scientist [released]
“The government of Malaysia made a curious announcement this week: Yazid Sufaat, a known al Qaeda operative, and four other alleged terrorists have been released from jail. […] Sufaat's newfound freedom is troubling. […] In 1987, he graduated from California State University at
Sacramento with a bachelor's degree in biological sciences and a minor in chemistry. In 2001, Sufaat put his degree to work for al Qaeda. The 9/11 Commission found that he spent ‘several months attempting to cultivate anthrax for al Qaeda in a laboratory he helped set up near the Kandahar airport,’ which was then a stronghold for Osama bin Laden. […] We must now rely upon the Malaysian government to make sure the freed Sufaat does not find his way back into al Qaeda's ranks.” (The Weekly Standard; 12Dec08; Thomas Joscelyn)

Bahamas is trying to fulfill its obligation against WMDs [chemical weapons]
“Mr. [John] Freeman [Deputy Director-General of the United Nations Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons] made a joint courtesy call on [Bahamas] Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs the Hon. Brent Symonette […] Wednesday, December 10. […] Mr. Symonette said the Bahamas would ratify the WMD convention, depending on the outcome of the meetings and a decision by the Cabinet. One hundred and eighty-five countries have ratified the convention, which came into effect in 1997. It is designed to eliminate the scourge of chemical weapons and also to make sure that all peaceful chemical activities can proceed well.” (The Bahamas Weekly; 12Dec08; Lindsay Thompson) http://www.thebahamasweekly.com/publish/bis-news-updates/Bahamas_Trying_to_Fulfil_its_Obligation_against_WMDs-005032.shtml

[U.S.] Intelligence community could suffer major brain drain
“One of the big challenges facing the next administration will be […] the large number of baby boomers set to retire in the coming years […].With regard to the intelligence community, the [Weapons of Mass Destruction] Commission recommends that the Director of National Intelligence […] strengthen expertise in the nuclear and biological fields; prioritize training and retention of people with critical scientific, language, and foreign area skills […]. ‘While the federal government employs a number of highly educated, high-performing employees committed to our biodefense, it is commonly the case that the current state of our
civil service frustrates attempts to field an effective corps of biodefense experts.’ The report also suggests that ‘We say that we are fighting a war against Terrorism, but the contrast between our military and our civilian systems could hardly be starker.’” (Washington Post; 12Dec08) http://voices.washingtonpost.com/federaleye/2008/12/wmd_commission_raises_concerns.html?hpid=topnews

U.S. and Djibouti sign agreement to prevent smuggling of nuclear and radioactive material
“The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) and the Republic of Djibouti’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (MAECI) and Ministry of Equipment and Transportation (MET) announced today the signing of an agreement that will allow the two governments to work together to prevent the smuggling of nuclear and other radioactive material. Under the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed in Djibouti, NNSA will work with the MAECI and the MET to help secure cargo containers passing through the Port of Djibouti.” (National Nuclear Security Administration; 11Dec08) http://nnsa.energy.gov/2240.htm

Bio-terror scare quarantines dozens [NM]
“Emergency crews evacuated the state capitol and a nearby building and decontaminated dozens of people during bioterrorism scare Thursday afternoon. Santa Fe
police and fire, New Mexico State police and the National Guard responded soon after a receptionist in the governor's office opened an envelope about 2:15 p.m. and discovered a white powder.
[…] Hazmat teams brought out the envelope and surrounding materials under strict safety protocols. Scientists will attempt to identify the powder at a state lab. A preliminary test determined the substance was not anthrax.” (KRQE.com; 11Dec08; Michael Herzenberg)

Letters containing suspicious powder renew concerns over bioterror attacks
“Letters postmarked from Dallas were received at governors' offices in Alabama, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana and Rhode Island on Monday, in Alaska on Tuesday and in Maine on Wednesday. On Thursday, letters arrived in South Carolina, Georgia, Kansas, Tennessee, Utah, New Mexico, Florida and North Dakota, as well as the Virgin Islands. Early reports suggest the powder in all cases was harmless but samples have been sent to local laboratories for more extensive testing. The letters arrived just days after the Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction and
Terrorism, a bipartisan congressional committee, announced the findings of their six-month study concluding that the United States is vulnerable to a bioterrorism attack.” (Finding Dulcinea; 11Dec08; Christopher Coats) http://www.findingdulcinea.com/news/science/2008/December/Letters-Containing-Suspicious-Powder-Renew-Concerns-Over-Bioterror-Attacks.html

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.

No comments: