War on Terrorism

Friday, May 01, 2009

CBR Weapons and WMD Terrorism News- May 1, 2009

Albany [NY] man [Manik Gupta] fabricated terror plots about C.U. [Cornell University]
"According to prosecutors, Gupta sent a series of e-mails to the FBI in February 2008 in which he pretended to be a Cornell student and claimed that a fellow student was 'dangerous' and a 'threat to the nation.' 'Gupta falsely claimed in his e-mail messages that this other Cornell student was looking at websites that provided instructions as to how to make bombs, and that the student was making statements threatening violence against teachers,' the United States Attorney's office said in a statement. [...] Gupta informed the FBI that the Cornell student 'repeatedly joked about acts of terrorism and talked about sending anthrax [sic] to the White House.' Gupta targeted the Cornell student in his accusations of terrorism because the student was a romantic rival who had begun dating Gupta's estranged girlfriend [...]." (Cornell Daily Sun; 30Apr09; Michael Stratford)

Company pumps out masks amid flu scare
"Concerns over swine flu are keeping Adex Medical in Riverside busy 24 hours a day, producing the surgical-style masks now in high demand by agencies in the U.S. and Mexico. Adex CEO Michael Ghafouri said Thursday his company has churned out between 30 million and 40 million of the masks during the past week [...] he's only seen similar demand twice in the 25 years his company has been in business. The last was the SARS avian-flu outbreak of 2006 and, before that, the anthrax scare that followed the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11." (Press Enterprise; 30Apr09; Lou Hirsh) http://www.pe.com/localnews/inland/stories/PE_News_Local_S_swinemask01.442b508.html

How to make better vaccines, quickly
"The ability to make a vaccine quickly isn't easy, but we're better able to do it today than just five years ago. This is because we've taken steps to improve our ability to thwart biological threats: both the naturally occurring kind, like swine flu, and even the ones that could be used deliberately as weapons. It's especially true in the vaccine industry, which has undergone a renaissance in recent years partly as a result of government incentives and improvements in how vaccines are regulated. These policy steps have improved our medical footing and are worth bearing in mind as we deal with swine flu." (Forbes; 30Apr09; Scott Gotlieb) http://www.forbes.com/2009/04/30/swine-flu-vaccine-fda-opinions-contributors-swine-flu.html

Experts want scientists to monitor their colleagues
"University researchers who work with dangerous pathogens should keep an eye on each other and report any signs of suspicious behavior to lab managers, says a panel of life scientists that was asked by the U.S. government to think of ways to tackle the threat of lab insiders carrying out a bioterrorist attack. However, in recommendations released yesterday, the panel rejected psychological screenings, drug tests, and medical monitoring as useful methods for enhancing personnel reliability in the academic setting. The National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity (NSABB) began looking into personnel reliability last fall after officials from the Federal Bureau of Investigation said that the 2001 anthrax [sic] letter attacks had been perpetrated by U.S. Army researcher Bruce Ivins." (Science Insider; 30Apr09; Yudhijit Bhattacharjee) http://blogs.sciencemag.org/scienceinsider/2009/04/experts-want-sc.html

GS1 [Global Standards One, supply chain monitoring system] compliant fresh produce product bar code and RFID [radio frequency identification] labeling solution hardware recommendations
"Premier produce business process management food tracking software, eProduce, recently helped fresh produce supply chain firms adhere to the product labeling standards required for GS1 compliance through the recommendation of superior hardware and software labeling solutions. [...] GS1 compliance [...] [will] reduce or possibly eliminate fresh produce product category recalls [...] eProduce [...] in response to the US Bioterrorism Act 2002 [...]." (Data Collection Online; 30Apr09) http://www.datacollectiononline.com/article.mvc/GS1-Compliance-Barcode-RFID-Labeling-Solution-0001?VNETCOOKIE=NO

Texas biolab bill would keep too many secrets, opponents say
"Deadly agents in Texas research labs would get top-secret treatment under a bill lawmakers are considering. Sen. Joan Huffman's bill, which passed through a Senate committee this week with no debate, would make most information on so-called 'select agents' in Texas labs confidential. Lawmakers say it's a necessary step to keep dangerous pathogens such as ebola [sic] and anthrax [sic] out of the hands of bioterrorists - and to protect the privacy of those working with it. But opponents say the effort has nothing to do with security and everything to do with avoiding transparency." (Denton Record-Chronicle; 29Apr09; Emily Ramshaw) http://www.dentonrc.com/sharedcontent/dws/dn/latestnews/stories/043009dntexbiolab.3b7674f.html

Ex-DHS head [Michael] Chertoff points to possibilities of biological attack
"Former Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff says the biggest threat from terrorists may come in the form of biological weapons. In an interview segment aired Thursday on the FederalNewsRadio program Homeland Security: Inside and Out, the ex-DHS head said concerns about the possibility of a biological attack should outweigh fears of an attack using a nuclear weapon, chemical agents or conventional explosives. [...] the chief priority, in Chertoff's opinion, is ensuring rapid and effective distribution of the antidote [sic] in case of a biological attack. He advocates a program to pre-distribute many of the counter-measures, 'if not to individual families, then - at a minimum - to schools and police stations and first responders.' Currently, he explained, antidotes are kept in regional storage houses, which might make it difficult to get it to the recipient 'in a matter of hours.'" (Federal News Radio; 30Apr09; Michael Chertoff & Andrew Mitchell)

Parliament square hunger striker taken to hospital [Parameswarn Subramaniyan]
"Twenty four days into his hunger strike for a ceasefire in Sri Lanka between the government and the Tamil Tigers, 28 year old student Parameswarn Subramaniyan from London has decided to start taking liquids and food again. He started his hunger strike and has not eaten solid food since Tuesday 7 April. This change came as the Foreign Secretary David Miliband agreed to one of the five conditions put to him by the Tamil protesters who have been occupying Parliament Square since Monday 6 April.
Their protest started in response to claims that the Sri Lankan government has used chemical weapons against civilians in Tamil areas of the country." (Indy Media; 30Apr09) http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2009/04/429000.html

[Blue Grass Army] Depot holds nation's last nerve agent stockpile [KY]
"The Blue Grass Army Depot is now the home of America's remaining stockpile of nerve agent (VX and GB) after the Army's Chemical Materials Agency (CMA) officials announced Tuesday the destruction of 60 percent of the nation's declared stockpile under the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC). 'All of the sites that are currently operating still have agent left, but it's a blister agent,' said Dick Sloan, spokesperson for the chemical activity operations at the depot. [...] There is 523 tons of nerve and blister agents combined that remain at the depot." (Richmond Register; 30Apr09; Ronica Shannon) http://www.richmondregister.com/localnews/local_story_120083447.html

[Juwhan Yun] Man in Fort Lauderdale [FL] court over possible rocket export
"A New Jersey man once imprisoned for trying to sell deadly nerve gas to Iran pleaded not guilty Thursday in Fort Lauderdale federal court to new military hardware violations: attempting to broker the sale of Russian rocket boosters to South Korea. Juwhan Yun, a 68-year-old Korean American, was arrested earlier this month at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport after meeting with a former arms-trafficker-turned-federal-informant with Russian contacts. [...] In 1989, Yun was charged with attempting to supply Iran with 500 quarter-ton bombs of deadly sarin nerve gas. Convicted of conspiracy, he was sentenced to 30 months and released in 1991. None of the gas was ever acquired by Yun or shipped to Iran." (Miami Herald; 30Apr09; Jay Weaver) http://www.miamiherald.com/news/breaking-news/story/1024795.html

Al Qaeda 'enemy combatant' pleads guilty [Ali al-Marri, Peoria, IL]
"Ali al-Marri pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to provide material support to al Qaeda under an agreement with prosecutors that calls for a maximum prison sentence of 15 years. A sentencing hearing in U.S. District Court in Peoria, Ill., is scheduled for July 30 [2009]. Al-Marri had been held in isolation for nearly six years without charges at a Navy brig in South Carolina before the Obama administration brought criminal charges against him in February. [...] 'Ali al-Marri was an al-Qaeda 'sleeper' operative working on U.S. soil and directed by the chief planner of the 9-11 attacks. Al-Marri researched the use of chemical weapons, potential targets and maximum casualties,' said Arthur M. Cummings II, executive assistant director of the FBI's national security branch." (Washington Times; 01May09; Ben Conery) http://washingtontimes.com/news/2009/may/01/al-qaeda-enemy-combatant-detained-in-us-pleads-gui/

Company pumps out masks amid flu scare
"Concerns over swine flu are keeping Adex Medical in Riverside busy 24 hours a day, producing the surgical-style masks now in high demand by agencies in the U.S. and Mexico. Adex CEO Michael Ghafouri said Thursday his company has churned out between 30 million and 40 million of the masks during the past week [...] he's only seen similar demand twice in the 25 years his company has been in business. The last was the SARS avian-flu outbreak of 2006 and, before that, the anthrax scare that followed the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11." (Press Enterprise; 30Apr09; Lou Hirsh) http://www.pe.com/localnews/inland/stories/PE_News_Local_S_swinemask01.442b508.html

Pakistan eases fears by sharing nuclear secrets
"Senior civil and military officials are sharing tightly-held information about the country's nuclear arms programme with Western countries in an effort to allay fears about the security of weapons in the face of a Taliban advance, a Financial Times (FT) report said on Thursday. [...] A senior Western envoy in Islamabad said diplomats had been assured about the security in place for the weapons systems and also their distance from Taliban-held territory. The FT report said the Pakistani officials presented this as an action to satisfy the West that its weapons would not fall into Taliban hands. 'We have renewed our pledge to keep our nuclear weapons safe,' said an official. [...] The Pakistan Army said this week it had halted the latest Taliban incursion in Buner district of Malakand division, 100km north-west of Islamabad, after two days of fighting."
(Daily Times; 01May09; Source: Financial Times)

Preventing nuclear terrorism: a global intelligence imperative "
As Mohamed El Baradei's term as head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) draws to a close, the organization is struggling to choose a new leader. After deadlocking on an initial vote in March, a new round of nominations closed on April 27, with the next vote scheduled in the coming months. While the IAEA sorts out changes at the top, the United States should try to expand the agency's mandate and responsibilities. One such change would be the establishment of a full-fledged intelligence office [...] The biggest obstacle to multilateral intelligence cooperation is leadership and finding the courage to work together. Groupthink and risk aversion must be overcome in the name of urgency. The IAEA must garner the support of member states, their resources, methodologies, and most of all, their information." (Washington Institute for Near East Policy; 30Apr09; Rolf Mowatt-Larssen)

Attorney tries to throw out puffer fish toxin indictment [of Edward Bachner, Lake in the Hills, Illinois]
"The Lake in the Hills man charged with possessing the deadly puffer fish poison is asking a federal court to dismiss the indictment against him, claiming the toxin cannot be weaponized and he had the right to have it. The claims are among a flurry of motions filed Tuesday by the defense for Edward F. Bachner, who faces up to life in prison if found guilty of a 10-count indictment alleging he intended to use the lethal tetrodotoxin (TTX) as a weapon. [...] Federal authorities arrested Bachner after the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force raided his home and said they found 45 full or partially full vials of tetrodotoxin, along with evidence Bachner had obtained at least 19 more vials that were missing." (Daily Herald; 29Apr09; Charles Keeshan)

Training gets team ready for ricin [Las Vegas, Nevada]
"When a biochemist intent on suicide injected himself with the deadly poison ricin in 2003, Las Vegas authorities were unprepared and ill-equipped to handle it. Police officers at the scene handled the liquid toxin and its main ingredient, castor beans, without any protective equipment as they packaged them to send to the hospital for testing. Some officers went home without any decontamination. The victim, Tomoo Okada, was taken to Valley Hospital with the ricin, and the ambulance that took him dropped him off and went back to answering calls without being decontaminated. [...] But five years later when a second ricin incident grabbed headlines in Las Vegas, the team responded and identified the poison within 23 minutes thanks to an array of sophisticated testing equipment. The team's handling of that incident at an Extended Stay America hotel in February 2008 made it a model for future training courses." (Las Vegas Review-Journal; 28Apr09; Brian Haynes) http://www.lvrj.com/news/43867622.html

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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