War on Terrorism

Friday, February 26, 2010

CBR Weapons and WMD Terrorism News, February 26, 2010

INTERPOL trains Asian and South Pacific officials in bioterror[ism] threat prevention
"A recent 'Train-the-Trainer' session for the prevention of bioterrorism presented by INTERPOL was attended by law enforcement, customs and public health officials from Asia and the South Pacific. The course, which carried a goal of enhancing the capacity of regional INTERPOL member countries to prevent and prepare for bioterror threats, was attended by 38 participants from 16 countries. [...] Trainers from INTERPOL, the World Health Organization, the Australian Federal Police, the United States Sandia Laboratories, the New South Wales Police in Australia, the FBI, the U.K. Metropolitan Police and the United States Center for Disease Control led the course, which was sponsored by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation." (Bio Prep Watch; 25Feb10; Tina Redlup)

Anthrax [spore attack response] drill to prepare agencies for real threats
"A powdery substance was found in one of the packages at the Berakas Mail Processing and Packaging building in Jln Airport Lama, yesterday morning. Suspected to be anthrax [spores], the postal services personnel contacted relevant authorities while the building was evacuated and cordoned off. This was the scenario of a drill conducted by the Postal Services Department yesterday to prepare the relevant agencies for any eventualities. Awang Haji Mahmud bin Hj Daud, Deputy Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Communications oversaw the exercise. [..] The [HazMat] team removed the package and the situation was brought under control within half an hour during the drill." (Brunei FM; 25Feb10; James Kon) http://news.brunei.fm/2010/02/25/anthrax-drill-to-prepare-agencies-for-real-threats/

Procedures under review [after Brunei anthrax drill]
"An emergency drill staged in response to a simulated anthrax scare at the Old Airport's Mail Processing Centre, yesterday has sparked a review of the standard operating procedures (SOP) of the government agencies involved. Speaking to the media after the exercise, Ministry of Communications Deputy Permanent Secretary Hj Mahmud Hj Mohd Daud said that there was room for improvement. [...] At the suggestion of an early detection system, the deputy permanent secretary said that at this point in time 'it is something which needs to be discussed further.'" (Brunei FM; 25Feb10; Bandar Seri Begawan) http://news.brunei.fm/2010/02/25/procedures-under-review/

Springfield, MO scientists developing sensors for biological detection
"A group of scientists in Springfield are on the forefront in the fight against terrorism. Researchers at the Jordan Valley Innovation Center are trying to prevent biological warfare. It's a project five years in the making and is costing the Army about half a million dollars. Scientists in Springfield are contracted by the Army to help develop sensors which can detect materials like anthrax, ricin and E. coli to prevent a mass casualty event. 'There are over 100,000 sensors,' says [Jordan Valley Innovation Center scientist Rishi] Patel. The goal is to send the sensors to the Army. They will then be put into roving robots the size of a kitchen table." (Ozarks First; 26Feb10; Jennifer Denman)

Bill for more investigation of '01 anthrax case passes [U.S.] House [of Representatives]
"A measure requiring further federal investigation into the 2001 anthrax [spore] attack that killed five people was approved Thursday by the House of Representatives. It was proposed by two skeptics of a recently closed FBI probe that blamed the deadly attacks on Bruce Ivins, a microbiologist at the Army biodefense lab at Fort Detrick in Frederick. Maryland Republican Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, who represents Frederick, and Democratic Rep. Rush Holt, from the New Jersey district where the anthrax [spore containing] letters were mailed, want the director of National Intelligence to investigate potential foreign connections to the attacks. Ivins committed suicide in 2008 after coming under FBI scrutiny." (Baltimore Sun; 26Feb10; Paul West) http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/bal-md.briefs261feb26,0,2361710.story

Md. firm to get up to $78.4m for anthrax vaccine
"A Maryland biodefense company says it will receive up to $78.4 million from the federal government to continue its development of an anthrax vaccine. Officials with Annapolis, Md.-based PharmAthene Inc., which works on the development of medical countermeasures against chemical and biological threats, announced Tuesday morning that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will provide the additional funding to support the company's work on SparVax. SparVax is a vaccine being developed for protection against anthrax infection before and after exposure." (National Broadcasting Company; 25Feb10; Source: AP)

Microbe managing [Former advisor calls for distribution of home medkits as part of countermeasure to biological attacks]
"Onetime adviser to George W. Bush and Weekly Standard contributor Tevi Troy suggests that the federal government is indecisive over the best way to distribute its stockpile of countermeasures to anthrax and smallpox to the population. Maybe the post office could deliver these potential life-savers, or they could be distributed from designated centers. How about handy 'home medkits'? The Food and Drug Administration has yet to even approve the labeling of the kits. 'As the Obama administration looks at options for improving its recent failing grade on rapid response to biological attacks, they should make sure to consider home medkits as part of their countermeasure distribution tool kit,' Mr. Troy tells the Beltway. 'Medkits let individuals prepare themselves and their families for possible biological incidents - be they naturally occurring or man-made - and they reduce the burden on federal officials who have to distribute desperately needed medications to thousands if not millions of people in a very short time frame,' he continues." (Washington Times; 25Feb10; Jennifer Harper)

Poll: hypothetical anthrax [spore] attack and antibiotics
"In a national poll aimed at helping with planning efforts for a public health response to a possible bioterrorism attack, researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) have found that, in response to a fictional scenario describing a significant anthrax [spore] attack in their city or town, most Americans (89%) will likely follow public health recommendations to obtain prophylactic antibiotics. However, a significant minority of those likely to pick up antibiotics (39%) will hold on to them rather than take them right away, which public health experts believe may put them at greater risk of serious illness. Further, 21% of Americans are 'not at all familiar' with the term 'inhalation anthrax,' and an additional 25% hold the mistaken belief that inhalation anthrax is contagious - two factors that could compromise their following emergency instructions meant to protect them against this biological agent." (Science Centric; 22Feb10) http://www.sciencecentric.com/news/article.php?q=10022272-poll-hypothetical-anthrax-attack-antibiotics

OPCW director-general visits chemical weapons destruction facility in Anniston, USA
"At the invitation of the U.S. Government the OPCW Director-General, Ambassador Rogelio Pfirter, paid a visit to the chemical weapons destruction facility (CWDF) at the Anniston Army Depot in Alabama on 17 February 2010. He was accompanied on this visit by Ambassador Ahmet Uzumcu, who will succeed Ambassador Pfirter as Director-General in July. The Director-General and Ambassador Uzumcu were briefed by U.S. authorities on the U.S. chemical weapons destruction programme in general, and on the activities at the Anniston CWDF in particular, and were given a tour of the destruction facility." (OPCW News; 25Feb10) http://www.opcw.org/news/news/article/opcw-director-general-visits-chemical-weapons-destruction-facility-in-anniston-usa/

Annual drill helps keep units sharp [Pine Bluff, AR]
"Wednesday morning's training exercise involving the Pine Bluff Arsenal, Pine Bluff Chemical Activity, the state Department of Emergency Management and Jefferson and Grant counties, was rated a success by Karen Quarles, coordinator of the Jefferson County Office of Emergency Management. Arsenal and community sirens were sounded, giving emergency officials an opportunity to test their response plans. However, a number of residents took the warnings seriously, calling the OEM numerous times despite the advance notice of the exercise. [...] The exercise involved JRMC treating almost two dozen patients and the Red Cross demonstrating the ability to quickly establish a shelter at the Reynolds center following an imaginary 'incident' involving mustard agent in one-ton containers." (Pine Bluff Commercial; 26Feb10) http://www.pbcommercial.com/articles/2010/02/25/news/news1.txt

Statement to the executive council Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons fifty-eighth session
"I am pleased to report that as of February 14, the United States has completed the destruction of 70.8 percent of its chemical weapons stockpile which is a significant achievement. We are proud of our exemplary safety record in achieving this milestone. The United States is fully committed to its obligation under the Convention to destroy 100 percent of its chemical weapons stockpile as rapidly as possible and in a manner that is safe and environmentally sound. [...] Mr. Chairman, the United States welcomed resolution of the long-outstanding issue of declaration thresholds for low concentrations of Schedule 2A/2A* chemicals at our last session. While this was an important achievement, we remain concerned about the lack of progress on other issues within the industry cluster. In particular, the site selection methodology for Other Chemical Production Facilities and the frequency of inspections are too important to be allowed to continue to remain stagnant." (U.s. Department Of State; 26Feb10; Robert P. Mikulak) http://www.state.gov/t/isn/rls/rm/137332.htm

OPCW team to carry out routine industrial inspection of Pak-Arab Fertilizers [Ltd.] in Multan
"An inspection team of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) will visit Pakistan to carry out routine industrial inspection of Pak-Arab Fertilizers Private Ltd, Multan from February 24 to 28.The visit is in accordance with the relevant provisions of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC). This is the 9th inspection of an Other Chemical Producing Facility (OCPF) in Pakistan, Foreign Office Spokesman Abdul Basit said in a statement issued here on Monday." (Associated Press Of Pakistan; 22Feb10) http://www.app.com.pk/en_/index.php?option=com_content

Novel antitoxin strategy developed using 'tagged binding agents'
"Strategy proven for botulism; may lead to improved therapies for many toxins and some chronic diseases A study involving the world's deadliest substance has yielded a new strategy to clear toxins from the body--which may lead to more efficient strategies against toxins that may be used in a bioterrorist event, as well as snake bites, scorpion stings, and even some important chronic diseases. A Tufts-led team developed the new strategy to deliver small binding agents that seek out Botulinum toxin molecules and bind to them at several points. The binding agents each contain a common 'tag' that is recognized by a single, co-administered anti-tag antibody. Once the toxin molecule is surrounded by bound antibodies, it is flushed out of the system through the liver before it can poison the body." (Redorbit; 25Feb10) http://www.redorbit.com/news/health/1828349/novel_antitoxin_strategy_developed_usinnding_agents/

Two more men charged in plot to bomb [NY] subways
"Two men already in custody were indicted on Thursday on new charges of participating in a Qaeda plot to detonate explosives in the crowded New York subway system, and federal prosecutors suggested that more people would be charged in the case. The men, Adis Medunjanin and Zarein Ahmedzay, were accused of working with Najibullah Zazi to launch three coordinated bombings on Manhattan subways during rush hour. Standing side by side in loose-fitting prison garb and thick black beards, Mr. Medunjanin, 25, and Mr. Ahmedzay, 25, pleaded not guilty to new charges of conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction, conspiracy to commit murder in a foreign country, and providing material support for a terrorist organization. The arraignment occurred during a previously scheduled hearing at United States District Court in Brooklyn on Thursday. The men face life in prison if convicted of the new charges. [...] The charges come three days after Mr. Zazi pleaded guilty to those same charges. Mr. Zazi attended Flushing High School with Mr. Medunjanin and Mr. Ahmedzay, and traveled with the men to Pakistan -- where they were recruited and trained by Al Qaeda, prosecutors charged." (New York Times; 25Feb10; A.G. Sulzberger) http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/26/nyregion/26terror.html?sq=Two%20Men%20Face%20New%20Charges%20in%20Terror%20Plot

Nunn-Lugar [Cooperative Threat Reduction program] January 2010 update
"U.S. Sen. Dick Lugar announced the following progress in the Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction program in January. 3 Strategic nuclear warheads deactivated; 2 Intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) destroyed; 3 ICBM mobile launchers destroyed; and, 1 Biological monitoring station built and equipped. On January 28, Lugar outlined important issues in arms control targets, treaty negotiations and the ability of the Nunn-Lugar program to achieve results in a speech to the Conference on Strategic Weapons in the 21st Century." (American Chronicle; 26Feb10)

Aum tip preceded attack: Kunimatsu
"A tip that Aum Shinrikyo might try to disrupt plans by police to probe its activities was received shortly before the cult attacked the Tokyo subway system with sarin in 1995, the national police chief at the time revealed in an interview. The account by former National Police Agency chief Takaji Kunimatsu, 72, during a recent interview with a woman who was widowed in the nerve gas attack raises new questions about whether the attack that killed 12 people and injured more than 5,000 could have been prevented." (Japan Times; 22Feb10) http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20100222a3.html

Australian report calls WMD attack 'feasible'
"Terrorists have the potential to use a weapon of mass destruction in an attack on Australia, the government in Canberra said in a report released yesterday. The Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in the United States 'highlighted how creative and ruthless terrorist attack planning can be. The potential for terrorist use of chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear (CBRN) weapons is of particular concern,' according to the report, Securing Australia: Protecting Our Community. 'We know that a small number of terrorists seek CBRN weapon capabilities and would use them if they could. While the risk is small, the consequences of any such attack would be devastating.'" (Global Security Newswire; 25Feb10) http://www.globalsecuritynewswire.org/gsn/nw_20100223_7520.php

Azerbaijan to host ad hoc meeting and training of Interpol
"Interpol's ad hoc meeting on nuclear terrorism will be held in Azerbaijan in April of this year, Chief of National Central Bureau of Interpol in Azerbaijan Major-General Sahib Mirzayev told APA. Ways of struggle against nuclear terrorism will be discussed at the event from April 26 till 30. 'Along with the Interpol's meeting, there will be held special trainings in Baku at that time', said Mirzayev." (Azeri Press Agency; 26Feb10)

Minrav to build emergency underground hospital
"The facility at Haifa's Rambam Hospital will provide protection from nuclear weapons. Minrav Holdings Ltd. has won the tender from Rambam Hospital in Haifa to build a three-floor underground car park, which can be used at short notice as an emergency hospital. The cost of the work will be [New Israeli Shekels] NIS 250 million." (Globes; 25Feb10; Michal Margalit)

[U.S.] Army food inspection team in Japan trains for ‘rapid testing’
"People shouldn't be too fearful of food products grown and manufactured in Japan and sold on U.S. military bases, say Army Veterinary Service personnel. They are being protected by teams of technicians charged with ensuring foods supplied to bases are free of harmful contaminants. And the inspections in Japan will soon be more immediate. The Army is setting up two laboratories -- on Camp Kinser and on Camp Zama in mainland Japan -- to perform more intensive testing of foods and beverages. [...] Part of the Army mission is to protect troops from any possible threats posed by terrorists, who might see the food supply as an easy target, said Lt. Col. Margery Hanfelt, a special projects chief with the Department of Veterinary Science." (Stars and Stripes; 22Feb10; David Allen)

Grant equips town with emergency mobile communications
"Thanks to the Department of Homeland Security, if there is ever a major emergency in the town, or a neighboring town, the Shrewsbury Fire Department is now equipped with the technical support to handle the situation. Shrewsbury Fire Department Captain Bill Cummins displayed for the Board of Selectmen at its Feb. 22 meeting a tactical communications package called the Tac-Pac. The Tac-Pac, which is also called a briefcase command center, will be used for communication and resource tracking, including manpower, at major emergencies such as an anthrax detection at the U.S. Post Office' s distribution center on Main Street, as well as in a hostage situation, or an incident where there is an active shooter at large. The Tac-Pac will also be employed to help in natural disasters such as hurricanes, blizzards and earthquakes, and at major fires." (Community Advocate; 26Feb10; Ken Powers) http://www.communityadvocate.com/news/2010-02-26/Front_Page/Grant_equips_town_with_emergency_mobile_communicat.html

PNNL [Pacific Northwest National Laboratory] installs 850 border radiation monitors
"Every car and truck that enters the U.S. through a customs station along the Canadian or Mexican borders now is screened for radioactive contraband thanks to Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. The Department of Energy national lab in Richland has completed installing 850 radiation portal monitoring systems along the northern and southern borders. The last one was installed in Trout River, N.Y. Cars and trucks drive at 5 mph or slower into the United States past a monitor that can detect neutron or gamma radiation in small amounts. The instruments have to be very sensitive to detect isotopes of concern, such as plutonium or uranium, and that means other radioactive materials also are detected." (Seattle Times; 25Feb10) http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2011183918_apwaborderradiation.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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