Friday, September 18, 2009

CBR Weapons and WMD Terrorism News, September 18, 2009

Town tests out its emergency volunteers – just in case [Needham, MA]
"Needham joined six other communities on Saturday, Sept. 12 for a dry run of what they'll do in case of an emergency. Health Departments from Canton, Dedham, Milton, Needham, Norwood, Wellesley and Westwood partnered with the Harvard School of Public Health Center for Public Health Preparedness to conduct a next generation test of the public health emergency preparedness system. Volunteers […] were trained based on what their roles and responsibilities would be if disaster struck. Objectives included: testing and assessing the ability of a health department to act as a lead agency, in the organization and implementation of an emergency dispensing site in their community; demonstrating the use of the Incident Command System during a public health emergency; delivering just-in-time training for volunteers, and overseeing delivery of screening, mass vaccinations and care to patients." (Needham Times; 18Sep09)

Australia enacts tougher biological controls
"The Australian Parliament has endorsed legislation that would grant the nation's health minister broader authority in responding to a biological-weapon attack or other disease outbreak, the Daily Telegraph reported. The bill mandates that government offices report stolen or misplaced biological materials such as anthrax [spores], smallpox [virus] and plague [bacteria] to law enforcement and government officials. In addition, the legislation would permit the use of reasonable force in searching private properties and confiscating material possibly linked to illegal activities." (Global Security Newswire; 18Sep09)

Meeting held on former weapons sites: environmental contamination was focus of hearing's discussions [Lewiston and Porter, NY]
"About 60 people gathered in the Lewiston Senior Center on Wednesday night for a public meeting about the ongoing investigation of environmental contamination on former federal weapons sites in Lewiston and Porter. […] The meeting included several presentations by staff and contractors for the Army Corps of Engineers. […] It was the third quarterly meeting held this year on the inquiry into chemical and radiological contamination at the site. […] The meetings are meant to fulfill the requirements of federal law for public participation in environmental cleanups. This format, however, has been criticized by a volunteer panel of area residents with technical expertise for failing to allow for real dialogue with community members. […] Corps officials said the next meeting has tentatively been scheduled for early December. Many of the questions asked of the agency Wednesday night involved schedules for future work. The corps provided details about its plan to group 550 parcels into 33 subsections based on type of activity that occurred on them. […] There was also discussion about plans to demolish a structure known as Building 401 […] in order to access contaminated pipelines beneath it, said Michelle Rhodes, acting project manager for the corps. The Corps of Engineers has received federal stimulus dollars for the project, and may award a contract as early as January." (Buffalo News; 18Sep09; Aaron Besecker: News Niagara)

Court affirms use of chemical terrorism law against Lansdale woman [Carol-Anne Bond] [PA]
"[Carol-Anne] Bond, 38, of Lansdale, was […] charged under a 1998 chemical-weapons law for applying highly toxic chemicals on the mailbox, car door, and front house door of a close friend and romantic rival, Myrlinda Haynes. […] Bond's attorney, Robert E. Goldman, had argued that Bond's messy personal situation did not justify federal charges under the Chemical Weapons Convention Implementation Act of 1998. […] A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit ruled unanimously that Bond had used her expertise as a microbiologist to obtain chemicals not available to the lay person from her job at Rohm & Haas' Spring House Technical Center. Judge Thomas L. Ambro wrote that 'it is unquestionable that Bond's special skill influenced her decision to use toxic chemicals as her weapon of revenge.' Bond […] is serving a six-year term at the federal prison at Hazleton, W.Va. The appellate court rejected Bond's argument that her prosecution violated the Constitution's 10th Amendment separation of federal and state government authorities. Goldman, who could not be reached for comment about a further appeal, argued that Bond's arrest 'signals a massive and unjustifiable expansion of federal law enforcement into [the] state-regulated domain' and pulls citizens into a federal criminal area 'not properly the subject of federal prosecutors.' […] The court held that […] considering Bond's expertise, Ambro added, the federal prosecutor's use of the law was not a stretch: 'Over a period of eight months, Bond researched, stole, and deployed highly toxic chemicals with the intent of harming Haynes. Any one of her attacks could have delivered a lethal chemical dose to Haynes or her then-infant child. Bond's actions thus clearly constituted unlawful possession and use of a chemical weapon.'" (Philadelphia Inquirer; 18Sep09; Joseph A. Slobodzian)

Theft thwarted of radioactive scrap metal from Chernobyl
"Ukraine's State Security Service (SBU) has thwarted smugglers' efforts to remove some 25 tons of radioactive scrap metal from the Chornobyl disaster zone, RFE/RL's [Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty] Ukrainian Service reports. Four police officers [unidentified] were arrested in connection with the incident and an investigation is under way. SBU spokeswoman Maryna Ostapenko said the impounded material's level of radioactivity is 13 times the allowable level." (Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty; 17Sep09)

Securing dirty bomb materials
"In [his] testimony before a House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Emerging Threats field hearing held in Brooklyn, NY, this week, Kenneth Sheely, Associate Assistant Deputy Administrator for Global Threat Reduction at the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) updated the progress of voluntary security efforts to mitigate potential dirty bomb threats by enhancing the security of, and limiting unauthorized access to, radiological sources used in vital civilian applications. In particular Sheely noted that the Global Threat Reduction Initiative (GTRI) had made progress in eliminating unwanted sources, hardening kits for specific irradiators, facility wide voluntary security enhancements, specialized training courses for security and law enforcement personnel, and table top exercises for first responders. A fundamental component of GTRI's voluntary security enhancements, Sheely said, is increasing (the amount of time needed by the adversary to gain access to the radioactive sources) to give law enforcement more time to interrupt the adversary before they can steal the radioactive source. Newly developed In-Device Delay (IDD) hardening kits, Sheely said, 'make it orders of magnitude more difficult for an adversary to illicitly access and steal the radiological source.' […] The most important feature of GTRI's detection enhancements, according to Sheely, is the remote monitoring system, which directly mitigates the two greatest vulnerabilities in securing an open civilian facility like a hospital or university: which are (1) reliable transmission of alarms to the responders and (2) the insider threat. […] GTRI has partnered with NNSA's Office of the Undersecretary for Counterterrorism and the FBI's Weapons of Mass Destruction Directorate to provide table top exercises at select nuclear and radiological sites. The purpose of these is to provide a no-fault, site-specific scenario where senior managers from various Federal, State and Municipal organizations can exercise their crisis management and consequence management skills in response to a terrorist incident." (Homeland Security Today; 18Sep09; Phil Leggiere)

Jihadis speculate on al-Qaeda's nuclear strategy
"Jihadi forums occasionally discuss whether al-Qaeda possesses nuclear bombs and the strategies involved in their deployment. […] Forum members insist the videotaped speeches of al-Qaeda's Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri contain hidden messages for al-Qaeda sleeper cells, instructing them to commence planned terror[ist] attacks on pre-selected targets. […] Al-Qaeda […] claims that terror[ist] attacks with conventional weapons have resulted in harassment of Muslims living in the West. The logical sequence of al-Qaeda's actions and methods of operation, including the decentralized sleeper cells ready to carry out preplanned terror[ist] actions and the secret codes and messages in al-Qaeda video statements supposedly pertinent to unconventional attacks, suggest to jihadis […] that al-Qaeda might have bought and stored weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) during the collapse of the Soviet Union. Russian officials denied the existence of such bombs. […] Americans live in fear of a martyr crossing the ocean with a chemical, biological or nuclear bomb with the intention of detonating it on American soil. […] Circulating a false impression about al-Qaeda's possible nuclear capabilities could only help improve its ability to fundraise and recruit extremists longing to join a triumphant Islamic entity capable of restoring the Islamic caliphate. Al-Qaeda has long sought to buy or manufacture bombs of mass destruction and would have likely used them." (Jamestown Foundation; 17Sep09; Abdul Hameed Bakier)[tt_news]=35501&tx_ttnews[backPid]=7&cHash=fa059b9e97

Researchers develop new class of sensors for detecting neurotoxins
"Julius Rebek, Jr. and Trevor J. Dale at the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California have now developed a new class of sensors that detect [Soman, Tabun, and Sarin] neurotoxins up to five orders of magnitude faster than previous reagents. As the scientists report in the journal Angewandte Chemie, these substances not only selectively detect the neurotoxins, they simultaneously render them harmless. Previous detection methods for organophosphates suffer from the fact that they are not sensitive enough, are too complex to use, and cannot be used in the field. […] Rebek and Dale recently developed a new […] class of sensors consisting of an aromatic ring system and equipped with an oxime group (-C=N-OH). This type of group binds extremely fast to organophosphates. […] The aromatic ring system promotes the tendency of the sensor to undergo this splitting reaction with ring closure. Furthermore, it provides the actual signal that makes the presence of the organophosphate visible: the ring system is a fluorescent dye, and the fluorescence becomes significantly more intense as soon as the structure of the sensor molecule is changed by the ring closure reaction. This optical detection is four to five orders of magnitude faster than the original detection reagent." (AtoZ Nanotechnology; 17Sep09)

MIST [Man-In-Simulant-Test] and protection factors for turnouts
"The characterization of liquid and hazardous substance protection for turnout and related clothing is undertaken through a series of material barrier tests and overall systems tests. […] Presently, turnout clothing is not tested for vapor protection except in the case where the CBRN (chemical-biological-radiological-nuclear) protection option is selected. This option provides a higher level of testing for firefighter protective ensembles that permits firefighters to safely escape in the event they encounter hazardous substances during terrorism events. The CBRN option significantly increases fire fighter protection against exposure to vapors, since conventional turnout clothing does not readily retard the penetration of vapors. As most structural fires involve the generation of toxic gases, some of which become adsorbed onto the soot particles that in turn soil clothing, some level of vapor protection can be considered beneficial in non-CBRN terrorism events. […] A comparative evaluation of ensembles for demonstrating protection against chemical vapors and air borne biological agents is conducted using the Man-In-Simulant-Test (MIST). This technique, employed by the military for years for testing battlefield chemical warfare agent protective clothing, is now used for testing first responder ensembles in NFPA [National Fire Protections Association]." (Fire Rescue 1; 17Sep09; Jeffrey O. and Grace G. Stull)

Texas A&M researchers working on materials to convert waste energy to electricity
"Dr. Choongho Yu and Dr. Jaime Grunlan, assistant professors in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Texas A&M University, have begun a four-year, $662,897 program with the Air Force Office of Scientific Research to develop polymer composites that can convert heat into electricity. The materials Yu and Grunlan are developing will be capable of converting waste heat (such as heat from jet exhaust and body heat) into useful electricity. […] Of particular interest is the use of these devices in military operations. Small, portable thermoelectric devices could supply power to sensors for detecting chemical or biological weapons, or to cell phones used by soldiers in the field." (PhysOrg; 18Sep09)

U.S. and China strengthen partnership to prevent WMD trade
"The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) and China's General Administration of Customs (GAC), in cooperation with the China Arms Control and Disarmament Association (CACDA) and the University of Georgia Center for International Trade and Security, has announced the successful conclusion of a workshop on Weapons of Mass Destruction Commodity Identification Training (WMD-CIT) in Shanghai, China. The workshop […] focused on effective means and ways to recognize and inspect WMD-related goods. […] The WMD-CIT curriculum is developed and delivered by NNSA's International Nonproliferation Export Control Program (INECP), which has helped more than 60 countries strengthen implementation of WMD-related export controls." (Nuclear Street; 18Sep09; Mark McFadden)

Terror on the streets of West Lothian [discusses WMD preparedness exercise, Scotland]
"Bodies were stretchered off and hundreds of people had to be decontaminated after a 'terrorist attack' hit on Wednesday. The radiological explosion created up to 500 casualties and the perfect training exercise for Scotland's emergency services in the mock alert. Exercise Green Gate was created at the former Bangour Village Hospital and acted out in real time. […] The police, fire and ambulance services worked together to perfect the operational response that would be required if such an event actually happened. It involved identifying, treating and processing casualties and practicing with the specialist decontamination equipment they would use in the event of hazardous materials being released. […] Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill [said] 'The exercise is part of Scotland's National Exercise Programme, which is based around the four big risks that Scotland faces - terrorism, extreme weather, pandemic flu, and utilities failure. It is right that we prepare for every eventuality although we hope it will never affect us.'" (Linlithgow Gazette; 18Sep09; Irene MacKinnon)

Inmate [Jeffrey Phillips] indicted on charges of threatening to kill judge [Lincoln, NB]
"A Missouri prison inmate faces charges of threatening to kill a federal appeals judge in Nebraska. Jeffrey Phillips was charged Tuesday with threatening a federal judge and mailing a threatening letter to the judge. Jan Sharp of the U.S. Attorney's Office in Omaha identified the victim as Senior Circuit Judge C. Arlen Beam of the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Beam works out of the federal building in Lincoln, where Sharp said the letter was sent. […] The indictment filed in U.S. District Court in Nebraska reported that Phillips mailed a letter in July to a federal judge in Lincoln that contained a white powder. The letter claimed that the powder was anthrax [spores] and included threats against the judge and his family." (KETV, Omaha, NB; 17Sep09; Source: AP)

Mixed verdict in anthrax hoax [sic] case in Sacramento federal court [CA]
"A federal court jury after deliberating for a week, came in with a mixed verdict Thursday, finding Marc McMain Keyser guilty on five counts of mailing anthrax hoax [sic] packages to the Modesto office of a Congressman and two fast food establishments. The jury acquitted Keyser on seven counts that charged him with mailing anthrax hoax [sic] packages to six media outlets. […] He is scheduled to be sentenced Nov. 30. Keyser testified and confessed to the jury that he mailed approximately 120 of the hoax packages to a variety of recipients around the country, saying that he was motivated by his belief that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security had not prepared the American people for a real anthrax [spore] attack." (Sacramento Bee; 17Sep09; Denny Walsh)

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