War on Terrorism

Friday, January 22, 2010

CBR Weapons and WMD Terrorism News, January 22, 2010

S.C. [South Carolina] has test run for bioterror[ism] vaccination program
"A temporary hospital was erected on the Lexington County, South Carolina ball fields to vaccinate citizens against swine flu while simultaneously acting as a test run for public safety workers, health care workers and volunteers to prepare for a bioterror[ism] event. [...] The makeshift hospital's tent, the county's EMS director Brian Hood told TheState.com, could be erected in under 90 minutes, facilitating the administration of treatment for flu, anthrax or other medical emergencies. [...] Portable generators were used to power the test vaccination project, allowing workers to determine how long fuel supplies would last in the event of an emergency and if an on-site fuel truck would be needed for a longer-term emergency. [...] State, county, town and hospital professionals were utilized by organizers for the vaccination study as well as volunteers from the S.C. Baptist Disaster Relief Group and the Community Emergency Response team. The groups were working together for the first time during the event." (Bio Prep Watch; 18Jan10; Tina Redlup)

Llama proteins could play a vital role in the war on terror by detecting world's most poisonous poisons
"Scientists at the Southwest Foundation for Biomedical Research (SFBR) in San Antonio [TX] have for the first time developed a highly sensitive means of detecting the seven types of botulinum neurotoxins (BoNTs) simultaneously. The finding may lead to improved techniques for testing water and food supplies should BoNTs be used as a bioterrorism weapon. The BoNT-detecting substances are antibodies [...] found in llamas. BoNT are about 100 billion times more toxic than cyanide, and collectively, they are the only toxins in the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) category A list of potential bioterror[ism] threats alongside anthrax [bacteria], Ebolavirus and other infectious agents. The llama antibodies [...] are molecularly flexible, unlike conventional antibodies. 'As such, sdAb may allow biosensors to be regenerable and used over and over without loss of activity. Also, for some types of BoNT, conventional antibodies are not generally available and we are filling this biosecurity gap,' said Andrew Hayhurst, Ph.D., an SFBR virologist." (Newswise; 15Jan10; Source: Southwest Foundation for Biomedical Research) http://www.newswise.com/articles/llama-proteins-could-play-a-vital-role-in-the-war-on-terror-by-detecting-world-s-most-poisonous-poisons-sfbr-scientists-say

New Maryland public health lab in East Baltimore gets ok [MD]
"The Maryland Board of Public Works has approved $6.45 million in design work for a planned state public health laboratory at East Baltimore Development Inc's massive biotechnology research park. [...] Such labs are used to respond to disease epidemics, foodborne outbreaks and incidents of bioterrorism. The 200,000-square-foot lab will bolster the Science and Technology Park at Johns Hopkins. [...] The new lab is expected to cost $180 million, paid for with bonds backed by future lease payments from the state Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. 'The new public health lab will advance our goal of providing Maryland families the best public health service and protection that modern science and technology can offer,' Gov. Martin O'Malley said in a statement." (Baltimore Business Journal; 20Jan10; Scott Dance) http://baltimore.bizjournals.com/baltimore/stories/2010/01/18/daily25.html

Chemical Ali [Hassan al-Majid] sentenced to death again
"The former Iraqi official known as Chemical Ali was sentenced Sunday to death for the fourth time, in this instance for ordering the use of chemical warfare materials that killed more than 5,000 in the Kurdish village of Halabja, the Associated Press reported. [...] Ali Hassan al-Majid, cousin to former dictator Saddam Hussein, has previously been sentenced to death for the 1980s Anfal campaign against Iraqi Kurds and for brutal acts of suppression against Shiites in the nation in the 1990s. Also convicted today of involvement in the Halabja attack were former Hussein regime Defense Minister Sultan Hashim al-Tai and one-time military intelligence chief Sabir Azizi al-Douri. Each could spend 15 years in prison in this case, while former high-level military official Farhan Mutlaq al-Jubouri received a 10-year sentence. The use of nerve agent and mustard blister agent caused long-term health problems for surviving residents of Halabja, some of whom were frustrated that Hussein was never tried for the crime before being executed three years ago in another case." (Global Security Newswire; 19Jan10) http://www.globalsecuritynewswire.org/gsn/nw_20100119_6240.php

Doomsday cult member [Tomomitsu Niimi] faces execution
"The ruling means Tomomitsu Niimi, 45, will be the 10th member of the Aum Supreme Truth cult to face execution after exhausting all legal appeals. Three other cult members are awaiting verdicts on appeals against their death sentences. The supreme court upheld the death sentence handed down by two lower courts against Niimi, who was convicted on 11 charges, including the subway attack that killed 12 people. [...] Niimi, who was involved in the deaths of a total of 26 people, and his lawyers had contended that he simply followed the orders of Aum leader Shoko Asahara in the series of crimes. [...] Asahara too is on death row for the gas attack and other crimes." (ABC News, Australia; 19Jan10) http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010/01/19/2796252.htm

Army grants contract for chemical agent cleanup
"The U.S. Army has issued a contract calling for seven companies to conduct cleanup of chemical weapons agents and disposal of conventional armaments at military sites around the world. [...] The contract would be worth $945 million if extended for a full five-year period, according to San Francisco-based engineering firm URS [United Research Services]. [...] 'Potential services include the elimination of conventional munitions and chemical warfare material; environmental compliance and remediation services; and other munitions-related services,' the company said in a press release." (Global Security Newswire; 19Jan10) http://www.globalsecuritynewswire.org/gsn/nw_20100115_4136.php

UMCDF [Umatilla Chemical Agent Disposal Facility] surpasses 6 million safe hours [Hermiston, OR]
"The Umatilla Chemical Agent Disposal Facility (UMCDF) has surpassed 6 million work hours without a lost-time accident. The Safety Department reported the milestone was reached January 15; 1, 288 days or nearly three and half years since a UMCDF employee missed work because of an injury. This is the first time UMCDF has reached 6 million safe hours. [...] The management at UMCDF points to the project's employee-led teams that focus on safety and environmental compliance as a key to reaching this milestone." (U.S. Army Chemical Materials Agency; 19Jan10) http://www.cma.army.mil/fndocumentviewer.aspx?docid=003682220

Government approves draft law banning use and production of chemical weapons
"The Cabinet approve[d] [...] a draft law banning the development, production, stockpiling and use of chemical weapons, submitted by Ministry of Foreign Affairs. [...] The draft law consists of 32 articles divided into six chapters, including the name, definitions, establishment of the national committee and defining its functions, activity licenses, inspection of facilities producing or using chemicals, prohibitions, penalties, and final provisions. The law will keep Yemen away from any risks arising from the use of chemicals for the non-prohibited purposes by providing the preventive measures in accordance with the International Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on Their Destruction, ratified by our country in 2000. Moreover, it will allow Yemen to avail from the modern global achievements in the chemical activities field for the non-prohibited purposes in the convention, so as to boost the economic development in Yemen in this field." (Yemen News Agency; 19Jan10) http://www.sabanews.net/en/news203560.htm

Lawmaker [Assembly-woman Linda Stender (D-Union)] wants stricter standards for disposal of unused radioactive material [NJ]
"A state lawmaker is pushing for stricter standards for the disposal of unused medical equipment after the National Nuclear Security Administration announced the recovery of two obsolete medical irradiators from a warehouse in Rahway [NJ] last week. [...] The devices, which were used for medical research during their useful lives, contained more than 3,000 curies of Cesium-137 at the time of their recovery, federal officials said. Due to their high activity and portability, radioactive sealed sources such as these irradiators could be used in radiological dispersal devices, commonly referred to as dirty bombs, according to federal officials. 'Properly disposing of more than 3,000 curies of Cesium eliminates the threat this material poses if lost or stolen and used in a dirty bomb,' said National Nuclear Security Administration Administrator Thomas P. D'Agostino. 'This recovery is part of NNSA's comprehensive strategy to keep dangerous nuclear and radiological material safe and secure and protect the American people by further enhancing our nation's nuclear security.'" (New Jersey Today; 18Jan10) http://njtoday.net/2010/01/18/lawmaker-wants-stricter-standards-for-disposal-of-unused-radioactive-material/

Asian countries agree to cooperate on addressing nuclear terrorism
"Officials of 16 Asian countries agreed Friday to cooperate on addressing nuclear terrorism ahead of a U.S.-initiated Nuclear Security Summit in April, while noting that the risk of nuclear material being used for malicious purposes is a serious threat to international peace." (Kyodo News; 22Jan10)

U.S. and Morocco work to minimize threats and expand cooperation on nuclear incident response
"The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) today completed cooperative training exercises in Morocco at the National Center for Nuclear Energy, Science and Technologies (CNESTEN) in Rabat. The four-day effort included training in plume modeling, emergency operations center development and infrastructure, training and demonstration on specific radiation detection equipment, and exercise development. This training is part of the preparation for an exercise to be conducted under the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism. More than 80 representatives from Moroccan agencies participated." (National Nuclear Security Administration; 15Jan10) http://nnsa.energy.gov/news/2793.htm

UAE [United Arab Emirates] to host annual conference on Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism
"UAE Permanent Representative at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Hamad Ali al-Kaabi has announced that UAE will host the upcoming annual conference of the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism in Abu Dhabi in June 2010. The announcement was made by Al Kaabi during his participation in the meeting of the Global Initiative in Budapest. He said in his speech before the meeting that UAE had exerted great efforts in combating nuclear terrorism and is now fully prepared to counter any expected terrorist actions and that was obviously shown in the governmental policies. He added that [the] UAE was supporting the international efforts in facing the menace through presenting an innovative model to develop nuclear energy for peaceful purposes." (Emirates News Agency; 20Jan10)

Duke [University] awarded up to $43 million to develop test for dirty bomb/radiation exposure [Durham, NC]
"Duke University has received a $3.7 million contract from the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) to develop a rapid and accurate genomic-based diagnostic test that can determine if a person has been exposed to radiation from a dirty bomb or nuclear attack. [...] 'Since 9/11, there has been national concern about the possibility of a terrorist attack in the U.S. involving radiological or nuclear materials,' [...] says John Chute, MD, associate professor of medicine at Duke and principal investigator of the project. 'The problem is that right now, we don't have any way to rapidly screen thousands of people to determine their level of radiation exposure.' [...] BARDA is part of the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It manages Project BioShield and the Public Health Emergency Medical Countermeasures Enterprise, two organizations charged with the development of medical response to pandemic disease and countermeasures for chemical, biological and nuclear attacks." (Duke Medicine News and Communications; 20Jan10) http://www.dukehealth.org/health_library/news/duke_awarded_up_to_43_million_to_

Yodaville hosts post-blast training [AZ]
"The FBI held its annual Large Vehicle Post-Blast Investigation Course - with a few additions this year - in the Marine Corps Air Station Yuma explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) building and at the Barry M. Goldwater Range's Yodaville complex. The December course familiarized local, state, federal and military bomb technicians and investigators with processing large-vehicle improvised explosive device (IED) blasts. Featured were a blast in an urban setting and a simulated chemical attack, each for the first time in the course's history. [...] To accomplish the training, members of the station EOD team, the FBI and Riverside County Sheriff's Department constructed two large IEDs in vehicles parked in Yodaville. The devices were detonated, devastating the center of Yodaville and creating a debris field full of evidence for the students to locate and collect. The students set up a command post outside the 'city' and began to plan how to accomplish the investigation as a simulated report of a biological weapon attack was received. The simulated chemical agent attack was another first for the course. [...] When the scene was deemed safe from the chemical attack, the students went through a decontamination process with the help of Marine chemical, biological, radiation and nuclear safety technicians and hazardous materials experts from the Yuma Fire Department. [...] The training not only taught the students many valuable methods to investigate a blast, but also gave them confidence to do so." (Yuma Sun; 17Jan10; LCpl Aaron Diamant) http://www.yumasun.com/news/students-55550-course-station.html

Web site offers emergency information for deaf, blind
In an effort to better inform the public during disasters the Northeast Texas Public Health District has created a Web site for emergency preparedness. The Web site, known as Accessible Emergency Information, covers 18 emergency preparedness topics and puts the material in a friendly format for deaf, blind and limited sight people. [Topics include: general emergency preparedness, first aid, chemical emergencies, terrorism, flooding, hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, winter storms, insect/animal hazards, infectious diseases, food safety, heat related safety, nuclear events, explosions, radiological events and more.] A main feature of the site is videos that contain American Sign Language translators, an audio voice and the written material of the emergency topic. 'None of this information has been put in a format for the deaf and blind,' said Stephanie Walker, public health preparedness coordinator. According to Walker about 5 percent of the population is deaf and prior to launching the Web site, emergency information was not readily available to them. [...] For people who do not speak English or understand ASL [American Sign Language] there is a resource page available on the Web site where they can find the emergency information in other languages." (Palestine Herald, TX; 21Jan10; Christina Stewart) http://www.palestineherald.com/local/local_story_022005512.html

US State Dept: drug trade enabling WMD acquisitions
"The explosion in the narcotics trade has provided drug cartels with the capability of acquiring radioactive material, chemical weapons and other WMD technologies, a top US State Department official warned Tuesday. 'The sums of money involved are growing in extraordinary amounts, and that raises the possibility, because of the sums and the areas in which these groups have begun to operate, for that opportunity to be exploited,' said David Johnson, assistant secretary of state for the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs. 'Some of these criminal syndicates have the organizational and financial wherewithal that could potentially allow them to acquire and sell radioactive material, biological and chemical weapons, and technologies used for weapons of mass destruction.' Johnson, who was speaking at the Washington Institute of Near East Affairs, attributed the massive growth in drug profits to increasing demand and supply in the worldwide market. 'The supply particularly of heroin is growing in ways that are hard to fathom,' he said. When it comes to the Middle East, however, Johnson said that most of the major terror[ist] organizations get their funding from state sponsors rather than drugs and other criminal activities." (Jerusalem Post; 19Jan10; Hilary Leila Krieger) http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1263147931633&pagename=

NNSA [National Nuclear Security Administration] scientists develop scanner to image nuclear weapon components
"The Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) has announced that it recently completed the installation and successful startup of a new surveillance diagnostic tool that is capable of detecting aging defects on critical components in the nation's nuclear weapons stockpile. In response to NNSA's need to implement cost effective, optimized inspection of nuclear components, [...] scientists at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) teamed with NNSA's Pantex Plant near Amarillo, Texas, to develop a new X-ray computed tomography (CT) system to image nuclear weapon components. The new CT scan will enhance NNSA's surveillance program by providing a precise non-destructive means for the detection of aging phenomena on nuclear weapon components for evaluation of potential impact, and to provide a basis for assuring a high level of confidence in their continued performance." (Nuclear Street; 19Jan10; Stephen Heiser) http://nuclearstreet.com/blogs/nuclear_power_news/archive/2010/01/19

Eagle Eyes program meant to fight potential bioattacks
"Top leaders at West Coast Marine Corps installations have instituted a program to encourage all military and civilian personnel to keep a watchful eye for potential attacks - from biological to chemical to nuclear. The program, dubbed Eagle Eyes, involves the safety and security programs of Marine Corps Installations [MCI] West and the I Marine Expeditionary Force to enable all military and civilian personnel to aid base law enforcement and security authorities in preventing terrorist acts. 'The motivation behind (Eagle Eyes) inception is the necessity to maintain a constant and increased vigilance because of terrorist threats to the United States,' Chief Warrant Officer 3 Jeffrey Frenchlujan, chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear defense officer, Mission Assurance, MCI-West, told Scout North County News. 'With the recent terrorist incidents, we are reminded these threats still exist and this program is needed.' All bases and air stations in California and Arizona will take part in the Eagle Eyes program as well as several East Coast Marine Corps installations. The goal of the program is to allow individuals to take an active role in deterring, detecting and defeating terrorist crimes." (Bio Prep Watch; 21Jan10; Nick Rees)

U.S. trial begins for Pakistani terrorist [Aafia Siddiqui]
"The trial in a federal courtroom in New York began Tuesday for the Pakistani woman accused of shooting into a crowd of U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan. U.S. prosecutors said Aafia Siddiqui, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Brandeis University-trained neuroscientist, fled to Pakistan in 2003 to join a militant group, while her attorneys say she was kidnapped by either the United States or al-Qaida and suffers from post-traumatic stress, the Boston Globe reported. Siddiqui, 37, is facing attempted murder charges for allegedly shooting at a group of U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan in July 2008. Authorities also allege Siddiqui was carrying documents on how to build biological and chemical weapons at the time of her arrest, as well as a list of potential targets, such as the Statue of Liberty and the Empire State Building." (United Press International; 19Jan10) http://www.upi.com/Top_News/US/2010/01/19/US-trial-begins-for-Pakistani-

France creates new unit to deal with terror[ist] attacks
"France yesterday created a specialised unit to deal with the threat of nuclear, biological or chemical (NBC) terror attacks. The unit 'specialised in the fight against terrorist threats of a nuclear, radiological, biological or chemical nature,' according to a prime ministerial decree, will come under the authority of the interior ministry. Coordinating the work of other similar units within the French police forces, it will intervene 'whenever a device might release nuclear energy or contain NBC material or agents dangerous to people, goods or the environment.' The new unit's chief will be named shortly, the decree said." (Jamaica Observer; 17Jan10; Source: AFP)

Tokyo to host nuke security meeting
"Japan and the U.N. nuclear watchdog will host a meeting of Asian countries Thursday and Friday to discuss ways to address nuclear terrorism, State Secretary for Foreign Affairs Tetsuro Fukuyama said. The Tokyo meeting, to be attended by government officials from 17 Asian countries as well as nuclear security experts from the United States and Australia, comes ahead of the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington in April. Countries to participate in the Tokyo meeting are the 10 member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, Japan, China and South Korea, as well as Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, according to Fukuyama. Under the heading of nuclear security are protecting nuclear and other radioactive materials from theft and diversion, protecting nuclear installations and transport against sabotage and other malicious acts, and combating illicit trafficking in such materials, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency." (Japan Times; 20Jan10) http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn201

South Africa steps up Somali surveillance before World Cup
"Surveillance of possible terrorist attacks - including bombings and biological and chemical attacks - has been stepped up by South Africa's intelligence agencies in the run up to June's World Cup, with specific attention paid to [...] an al-Qaeda-linked Somali militant group. [...] 'In view of the 31 other countries participating in the games there is the potential for the threat of a terror attack,' national police World Cup spokesman Senior Superintendent Vishnu Naidoo told the Independent group newspapers in late December. 'To counter this we have launched proactive and reactive plans which include the intervention and the assistance of Interpol in the creation of databases of dangerous and disruptive persons. These databases will include all persons involved in all forms of organised crime, ranging from terrorism to gun smuggling and hooliganism. No one whose name is on the database will be allowed into the country.' South Africa, to prepare for the cup, has conducted numerous terrorist-simulation exercises - including chemical, biological and radioactive attacks - and secured over 50,000 security fore personnel for the games." (Bio Prep Watch; 19Jan10; Nick Rees)

Conference set to shed light on [United Nations] Security Council resolution 1540
"National and regional implementation of Security Council resolution 1540 (2004) will be promoted at a regional workshop that will be held in Nairobi, Kenya, from February 2 to 4. [...] The resolution obliges all state to refrain from providing any form of support to non-state actors that are attempting to develop, acquire, manufacture, possess, transport, transfer or use nuclear, chemical or biological weapons and the means for their delivery. States are also required by the resolution to establish domestic controls meant to prevent the proliferation of these weapons of mass destruction as well as delivery systems for the weapons. [...] The Kenya conference [...] aims to encourage the sharing of experience on relevant issues, especially in the biological area." (Bio Prep Watch; 19Jan10; Nick Rees)

England reveals increased monitoring for dirty bombs, bioweapons
"Major British ports have had high-tech machines installed to detect any materials that could potentially be used to build dirty bombs. [...] Lord Alan West, speaking to The Sun, revealed the covert operation, telling them, 'There is no doubt that terrorists still want to go for the big spectaculars - things like aircraft and dirty bombs. We have put in a whole range of measures to stop them but cannot be complacent.' [...] The covert Project Cyclamen set up security portals that monitored substances coming into the United Kingdom. The project paid special attention to biological, chemical, radiological and nuclear materials that could effectively be used to make dirty bombs with an emphasis on stopping them from being brought into the country. 'The portals enable us to see when a lorry or a container comes through whether it is has any of this kind of material on board. When the portals detect radiological and nuclear materials we can take whatever action is necessary,' West told The Sun. 'They are already in a number of ports and other places and will be going into more.'" (Bio Prep Watch; 19Jan10; Pat Dulnier)

S 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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