War on Terrorism

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

CBR Weapons and WMD Terrorism News- January 7, 2009

Terrorists could use 'insect-based' biological weapon
“Terrorists would find it ‘relatively easy’ to launch a devastating attack using swarms of insects to spread a deadly disease, an academic has warned. Jeffrey Lockwood, professor of entomology at Wyoming University and author of Six-legged Soldiers: Using Insects as Weapons of War, said such Rift Valley Fever or other diseases could be transported into a country by a terrorist with a suitcase. He told BBC Radio 4's Today program: ‘I think a small terrorist cell could very easily develop an insect-based weapon.’ He said it would ‘probably be much easier’ than developing a nuclear or chemical weapon […].” (The Telegraph; 05Jan09; Stephen Adams) http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/wildlife/4123782/Terrorists-could-use-insect-based-biological-weapon.html

Emergent BioSolutions [MD] ends pursuit of Protein Sciences [CT]
“Emergent BioSolutions Inc., maker of the only anthrax vaccine approved by the Food and Drug Administration, has given up trying to acquire the maker of a flu vaccine candidate. Rockville-based Emergent announced Tuesday that it has ended all activities related to its planned acquisition of Protein Sciences Corp. of Meriden, Conn. In May of last year the two companies agreed to merge, but in July Protein Sciences called the deal off, claiming that Emergent had breached the agreement and launched an effort to disrupt the approval process for Protein Sciences’ flu vaccine candidate, FluBlok.” (Washington Business Journal; 07Jan09; Tucker Echols) http://washington.bizjournals.com/washington/stories/2009/01/05/daily40.html

Israelis deny using phosphorous [in Gaza]
“Israeli military spokesmen deny that their forces have used phosphorus in Gaza, despite photographs and film of munitions showing similar characteristics to the potentially lethal shells. The Israelis have not said what kind of munitions they have been using, other than saying that their use is permitted under international law. Phosphorous shells are not illegal if they are used to create a smokescreen or to illuminate targets, rather than as a weapon against people, military experts and human rights campaigners said yesterday. […] White phosphorus produces layers of thick white smoke when exposed to oxygen, but phosporous from an explosion will cause serious burns that can melt flesh to the bone and kill. Its use as an offensive munition is banned by the chemical weapons convention.” (The Guardian; 06Jan09; Richard Norton-Taylor) http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/jan/06/gaza-israel-palestine-munitions

Last VX nerve agent eliminated from Army stockpile
“Headquarters for the Army Chemical Materials Agency here marked the destruction of all VX nerve agent munitions at its destruction sites on Dec. 24. This milestone occurred with the destruction of the last land mine containing VX at the Anniston Chemical Agent Disposal Facility in Anniston, Ala.” (Army News Service; 06Jan09; CMA Public Affairs Office) http://www.army.mil/-news/2009/01/06/15572-last-vx-nerve-agent-eliminated-from-army-stockpile/

U.S. vows 'huge' marine protection [of former chemical weapons stockpile sites]
“The US is to establish what it calls ‘the largest area of protected sea in the world’ around its Pacific islands. Commercial fishing and mining will be banned in the protected zones which include the Marianas Trench, the deepest area of ocean on the planet. The area totals 500,000 sq km (190,000 sq miles) of sea and sea floor. […] The Marianas group includes islands such as Saipan and Tinian which played significant roles in World War II, and Guam which is still a major US base. One of the other places now receiving protection, Johnston Atoll, was formerly used to stockpile chemical weapons.” (BBC News; 06Jan09; Richard Black)

[Bahrain says] 'no' to religious land law [and takes steps to comply with the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons convention]
“[…] Councilors [in Bahrain’s Shura Council] meanwhile agreed in principle to back a government-proposed law on the production, storage and use of chemical weapons and ways of destroying them. Foreign Ministry legal affairs director Yousif Abdulkarim said the law was in line with Bahrain joining the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. ‘Under the organisation's convention, we are obliged to come up with laws in regard to chemical weapons and this law is the first in a series of laws that we are currently preparing,’ said Mr Abdulkarim.” (Gulf Daily News;06Jan09)

A glimmer of hope from the dark world of MI5
“In the first interview granted by a serving head of MI5, Jonathan Evans has an encouraging story to tell. […] [T]here appear to be fewer ‘late stage’ al-Qaeda plots than there were. This does not mean the networks have gone away or that vigilance should not be maintained at the highest level. It does, though, remind us of how successful MI5 has been […]. In the past two years, there have been 86 successful prosecutions, most of British-born Islamists who have sought to carry out the most appalling atrocities with little thought for the consequences or the intended victims. They include plotters who targeted shopping centres and nightclubs, a group that flirted with the idea of making a ‘dirty’ bomb and another cell that planned to kidnap and murder a soldier. In addition, there are myriad plots that have been disrupted.” (The Telegraph; 07Jan09) http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/telegraph-view/4143720/A-glimmer-of-hope-from-the-dark-world-of-MI5.html

[AZ governor Janet] Napolitano heads to swift confirmation [as Homeland Security chief] but faces issues
“Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano, tapped by President-elect Barack Obama to lead the Homeland Security Department, is expected to move quickly and smoothly through the Senate confirmation process beginning next week. But if she’s confirmed, the two-term governor and former federal prosecutor faces politically charged issues, from how to handle controversial raids conducted by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency to new intelligence that concludes terrorists probably will acquire weapons of mass destruction.” (Federal Times; 07Jan09; Source: Gannett News Service; John Yaukey) http://www.federaltimes.com/index.php?S=3890280

Highpoint for [al Qaeda] terrorists
“[W]hat event in 2008 might Osama bin Laden choose as the most significant for him and his ambitions? […] The simple answer rests in bin Laden's understanding that ‘MD’ means far more than the last two words in the phrase weapons of mass destruction.
To bin Laden and al Qaeda, the greatest strategic and political leverage now comes from massive disruption that is far more easily achieved than the mass destruction of difficult to get nuclear or biological weapons. And, despite major competition from other big events […], only one in 2008 captured this broader meaning. […] The critical event of 2008 for al Qaeda was the Mumbai terrorist attacks in late November […]. Mass disruption is now the most formidable weapon in the inventories of our principal enemies and particularly for bin Laden and al Qaeda.” (The Washington Times; 07Jan09; Harlan Ullman) http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2009/jan/07/highpoint-for-terrorists/

Letter to OSHA [Occupational Safety and Health Administration] marked 'anthrax' not harmful
“The FBI has determined that a suspicious letter sent to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration building in North Aurora [Chicago, IL] on Monday afternoon contained no harmful chemicals. The envelope was found in the building at about 2 p.m. Police and fire agencies were called, along with the Kane County Bomb Squad, which isolated the envelope. […] According to FBI spokesman Ross Rice, it was addressed to NASA at the OSHA office's address […] and had ‘anthrax’ written on the outside of the envelope. The envelope contained no powders, Rice said. It was not empty, but Ross declined to specify what was in the envelope. No one was injured in the incident and no one required medical attention.” (Suburban Chicago News; 07Jan09; Matt Hanley) http://www.suburbanchicagonews.com/beaconnews/news/1365348,2_1_AU07_ANTHRAX_S1.article

CNS ChemBio-WMD 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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