War on Terrorism

Friday, February 05, 2010

ChemBio Weapons & WMD Terrorism News, February 5, 2010

Philippines allege use of bioweapons by communist rebels
"A landmine that exploded at the boundary of Libug and Cabcaban villages in Sumisip town, the Philippines, reportedly contained biological weapons, authorities have said. Ten soldiers were wounded in the explosion and subsequent ambush in the southern Philippines region last Tuesday. Those soldiers then developed high fevers and were airlifted to a nearby hospital, the Philippine Star reported. [...] The biological component of the IED has yet to be identified, but local papers have called for the communist rebels who placed them to be censured for the use of biological weapons and landmines." (Bio Prep Watch; 05Feb10; Nick Rees)

Companies [in Denmark] urged to heed biosecurity
"From the start of May, all companies who deal with substances that could be used to make biological weapons will be required to have an authorisation, as those in charge of controlling the sector say that security has been too lax up until now. The Centre for Biosecurity and Biopreparedness (CBB) is the agency that issues licences to institutions, hospital and companies to allow them work with what are called 'biological dual use components'. If a company doesn't have the licence from 1 May, then the responsible management person faces up to 2 years in jail. John-Erik Stig Hansen, head of CBB, told Business.dk that apart from health and safety workplace rules, there has been very little regulation for registering biological material. 'You could say that domestic safety has been extremely, extremely lax, [...] Companies should take it seriously – not just because the penalty for not having a licence can result in a 2 year jail term, but because no Danish companies or research institutions want to be involved in delivering components that can be used in a biological weapon attack,' [Hansen said]." (Copenhagen Post; 02Feb10) http://www.cphpost.dk/business/119-business/48113

Breakthrough could lead to cure for AIDS and other deadly viruses
"Researchers at UCLA, the University of Texas Medical Branch, Harvard University, Cornell University and the United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases have developed an antiviral compound that attacks a wide variety of viruses through a common feature: their outer coating. [...] Similarly, the exact mechanism of LJ001's viral membrane inactivation is unknown, and the researchers are seeking an explanation. What knowledge is available is for the most part reassuring, including that the drug does not appear to be toxic in vitro or in animals at normal dosages." (Tech News World; 04Feb10; Pam Baker)

Ethics of medicalized weapons [biological incapacitants] questioned
"The latest issue of the Hastings Center Report takes aim at these new battlefield weapons, which could make fighting insurgents an easier proposition. [...] Michael L. Gross, a professor of political science and chair of the Division of International Relations at the University of Haifa, Israel, writes. 'Rather than disabling or killing enemy forces by causing traumatic injury, nonlethal weapons temporarily incapacitate their targets by causing physical distress, disorientation, or unconsciousness.' Gross argues that even though the principles of medical ethics require that practitioners do no harm, these new types of biological weapons, in the long run, will reduce casualties and protect civilians while causing only temporary harm." (Bio Prep Watch; 30Jan10; Nick Rees) ttp://www.bioprepwatch.com/news/211828

National Health Security Strategy
[Excerpt taken from foreword] Our Nation, like all countries, faces many threats with the potential for large-scale health consequences, including disease outbreaks, natural disasters, and terrorist attacks. Preparing for and responding to these and other threats requires the commitment of, and cooperation among, all segments of society: government, the private sector, local communities, and international partners. [...] Securing our Nation's health is a formidable task and must be a responsibility that is broadly shared among virtually all segments of society. The NHSS reflects current approaches and priorities for improving our Nation's ability to prevent, prepare for, respond to, and recover from a major health incident. However, the NHSS also acknowledges that achieving national health security is a long-term proposition [...]." (U.S. Department of Health & Human Services; 31Dec10; Kathleen Sebelius) http://www.hhs.gov/aspr/opsp/nhss/strategy.html

CDC [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] Disaster Funding Set at $1.5B
"The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's efforts to prepare for and respond to man-made and naturally occurring calamities would receive $1.53 billion under the fiscal 2011 budget of its parent agency, the Health and Human Services Department [...] The request is $16 million less than the agency received in this fiscal year for terrorism response and emergency preparedness. [...Related to this] Health and Human Services Department has requested a total of $911 billion for fiscal 2011, which begins Oct. 1." (Global Security Newswire; 05Feb10) http://www.globalsecuritynewswire.org/gsn/nw_20100202_1009.php

Health [U.S. Health and Human Services] agency plans summit on U.S. biological threat preparations
"The U.S. Health and Human Services Department next week plans to conduct a summit with other government entities as it works to reassess the nation's strategy for producing treatments for biological weapons materials and other public health threats [...] The two-day conference will examine federal policies and activities from initial research all the way through government approval of the sale of vaccines and other agents and suggest what improvements, if any, should be made to the system. [...] There are a half-dozen objectives for the Feb. 11-12 session at the National Academy of Sciences building, according to an Institute of Medicine announcement."  (Global Security Newswire; 05Feb10; Martin Matishak) http://www.globalsecuritynewswire.org/gsn/nw_20100205_3588.php

NIH [National Institutes of Health] Seeks Volunteers for Smallpox, Bioterrorism Study
"Saint Louis University is seeking volunteers for a study on a vaccine against smallpox as a bioterrorist agent. The university's Center for Vaccine Development is leading the National Institutes of Health-funded study at five U.S. centers. [...] The study will compare two smallpox vaccines and the body's immune response when the vaccine is administered two different ways." (Fox News; 02Feb10; Source: AP)

New virtual community to connect bioterrorism experts
"The Delaney Center at Mount St. Mary's University has launched a new virtual community that allows intelligence officers, students and even Capitol Hill executives to network with bioterrorism experts, bodyguards and academics. [...] This new, invitation-only network, which takes place on the Yakabox knowledge sharing systems certified for use in classified environments by the U.S. Government [and it uses] the same security standards as those deployed in the U.S. intelligence community." (Bio Prep Watch; 02Feb10; Tina Redlup)

$40 million in funds cleared for NBAF [National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility]
"A Senate committee Tuesday recommended approval of a resolution urging Congress and the Obama administration to move quickly in funding a biosecurity lab [The National Bio and Agro- Defense Facility] at Kansas State University. The Ways and Means Committee action occurred one day after the U.S. Department of Homeland Security vowed to dedicate $40 million in unobligated funds toward construction of the facility." (Lawrence Journal-world; 02Feb10; Scott Rothschild)

Science triumphs in Obama's 2011 budget request
"President Barack Obama wants to spend next year on science shows across-the-board increases for research and training. Those gains come despite the president's plan to freeze domestic discretionary programs in hopes of reducing a $1.4 trillion deficit. [...] The Administration proposes eliminating CDC's anthrax vaccine activities, which began in 1999. According to the budget, 'The program has achieved its goals of reducing the number of vaccine doses, simplifying the administration route, and conducting long-term safety surveillance.' Cutting the program would trim $3 million from CDC's 2011 budget." (Science Insider ; 01Feb10; Jeffrey Mervis) http://blogs.sciencemag.org/scienceinsider/2010/02/science-triumph.html

Grading the report card: assessing the WMD Commission chairs' biological scores
"In 2008, former senators Bob Graham (D-FL) and Jim Talent (R-MO) chaired the bipartisan Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferation and Terrorism. [...] The [resulting] report recommended that the U.S. government 'enhance the nation's capabilities for rapid response to prevent biological attacks from inflicting mass casualties.' The Graham- Talent report card gave the U.S. government an 'F' for its efforts in this area. [...] Graham and Talent [...] appear to overlook President Obama's Executive Order assigning the U.S. Postal Service responsibility for dispensing medical countermeasures [...and] the first ever National Health Security Strategy developed by [the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services] HHS. Moreover, many would argue that the 'F' grade exaggerates the utility of developing and stockpiling medical countermeasures, particularly vaccines, to defend against hypothetical bioterrorist threats." (James Martin Center For Nonproliferation Studies; 29Jan10; Kirk Bansak) http://www.cns.miis.edu/stories/100129_bw_report_card.htm

Biological threats: a matter of balance
"The Graham-Talent WMD Commission asserted again last week that a bioterrorism attack that 'will fundamentally change the character of life for the world's democracies' is highly likely to occur within the next four years. [...] Advances in the life sciences may gradually put bioweapon capabilities closer within terrorist reach, but scientific and technological progress alone doesn't warrant exaggeration of the bioterrorist threat. Rather than basing policy on worst-case scenarios, the United States should develop and conduct more plausible, sophisticated threat assessments that take into account the complex set of political, social, and technical factors that would affect bioweapons development and use." (Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists; 02Feb10; Scientists Working Group on Biological and Chemical Weapons) http://www.thebulletin.org/web-edition/op-eds/biological-threats-matter-of-balance

Malls could be targets for Al Qaida bioterror[ist] attacks
"In a report published in The Washington Post by Bruce Hoffman, author of the study at Georgetown Univeristy's Walsh School of Foreign Service that revealed the new targets, it is reported that malls could become a new target. [...] Attacks on malls are not out of the question, with Joint Terrorism Task Force information verifying that terror[ist] networks operating within the U.S. believe that they pose a legitimate terrorist target." (Bio Prep Watch; 30Jan10; Tina Redlup)

Seeking biosecurity without verification: the new U.S. strategy on biothreats
In effect, President Barack Obama has decided not to reverse the 2001 decision by the Bush administration to reject a draft BWC compliance protocol that had been developed over six years of multilateral negotiations from 1995 to 2001. The protocol would have created a legally binding inspection regime for the BWC, which still lacks formal verification measures. [...] In lieu of a decision to return to the negotiating table, the Obama administration released a 23-page 'National Strategy for Countering Biological Threats,' which was distributed to the delegations in Geneva. This strategy seeks to reinforce the objectives of the BWC through a variety of indirect measures [...]." (James Martin Center For Nonproliferation Studies; 01Feb10; Jonathan B. Tucker)

2010 marks two firsts for weapons disposal plant [Blue Grass Chemical Depot, KY]
Blue Grass Chemical Agent-Destruction Pilot Plant (BGCAPP) team reached two milestones in January with the installation of the final structural steel beam on a key support facility and the first concrete placement in the main processing building of the chemical weapons destruction pilot plant. [...] Over the next several weeks, work crews will also begin assembling the Metal Parts Treater, the first piece of processing equipment to be installed there. The chemical weapons destruction plant, under construction at a site on the Blue Grass Army Depot off of Hwy. 52, will destroy a stockpile of chemical weapons containing 523 tons of nerve and mustard agents." (Richmond Register; 03Feb10) http://www.richmondregister.com/localnews/local_story_034070741.html

Kentucky and Indiana would get billions in new budget proposal
"Kentucky and Indiana would receive billions of dollars for public works, schools, college loans and emergency management agencies under the budget that President Barack Obama proposed Monday. [...] The president proposed $511million for disposing of chemical and biological weapons stored at the Blue Grass Army Depot in Madison County and another site in Colorado. Construction is well under way on a disposal site in Kentucky. Craig Williams, executive director of the Chemical Weapons Working Group, a citizens' watchdog organization in Berea, praised the request for the chemical weapons projects. 'The 2011 request is most welcome news as it reflects a commitment by the administration and (Defense) Secretary (Robert) Gates to follow through on their promises to fully fund the program,' Williams said in an e-mail." (Courier- Journal; 01Feb10; James R. Carroll)

Russia denies radioactive dumping off Sweden
"'This is complete nonsense and a clear provocation, propagated at an international level,' Admiral Vladimir Yegorov, who commanded the Baltic fleet from 1991 to 2000, told the Interfax news agency. [...] 'The naval forces that were pulling out of the Liepaja naval base in Latvia in the early 1990s did not have chemical weapons, radioactive materials and waste,' Yegorov insisted. He added that the Russian naval forces were monitored by Latvia as they pulled out of the port and that the naval command acted 'strictly within the framework of Russian and Latvian agreements.'" (Swedish Wire; 05Feb10; Source: AFP)

Chemical weapons dumped in Baltic Sea during 1990s
"Swedish politicians Thursday called for a probe into reports that chemical weapons and radioactive waste from a former Soviet military base were dumped in the Baltic Sea. Broadcaster SVT Wednesday screened a documentary where a Swedish military intelligence agent said the dumping took place near the Swedish island of Gotland between 1989 and 1992. [...] The waste was said to originate from a Soviet military base in Latvia, which was evacuated after the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s. Swedish military intelligence in 1999 and 2000 compiled three highly classified reports about the alleged dumping in what is now Sweden's economic zone but apparently no follow-up was made, the documentary alleged. Foreign Minister Carl Bildt said he had not seen the documentary and had no comment about its accuracy. 'We have to find out what sort of information the former government received. Obviously their assessment was that they did not need to act on this information,' Bildt told Swedish radio news." (Earth Times; 04Feb10)

Swedish PM [Fredrik Reinfeldt] wants answers on Baltic Sea dumping
"Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt on Thursday requested explanations from a previous government on Russia's release of toxic waste into Swedish waters in the Baltic Sea, his spokeswoman told AFP. Swedish public television SVT reported Wednesday that between 1991 and 1994 Russia dumped chemical weapons and radioactive waste off the shores of Gotland, a Swedish island in the Baltic Sea. The network also said the Social Democrat government that came into power in 1994 was informed of the dumping by military intelligence in the late 1990s, but failed to act on the information. [...] Current foreign minister Carl Bildt, who was Sweden's prime minister while the dumping was taking place, said Thursday he had not been informed it was happening." (Agence France Presse; 04Feb10)

New clue to Georgi Markov umbrella assassin as police see Cold War files
The murder of a Cold War dissident in London with a poisoned umbrella could finally be solved. In a major breakthrough, Scotland Yard officers examined secret files in Bulgaria about the 1978 assassination of opposition activist Georgi Markov. Counter-terrorism detectives spent two weeks in Sofia sifting through the communist-era archives. [...Markov] died in hospital [...] and a postmortem found a tiny metal pellet laced with deadly ricin in his leg. [...] The prime suspect has always been Francesco Gullino, a Dane of Italian origin codenamed Agent Piccadilly. left Denmark in 1993 but is thought to be still alive. Another key figure is former Bulgarian intelligence chief General Vladimir Todorov." (Mirror, U.K.; 02Feb10; Jon Clements)

Ex-MI6 chief likely to give evidence to Chilcot inquiry behind closed doors
"Crucial evidence to the Iraq inquiry by Sir Richard Dearlove, the head of MI6 at the time of the 2003 invasion, is likely to be heard in private. He presented to Tony Blair the intelligence, obtained from an agent known as 'Curveball', that Saddam Hussein had mobile production facilities for chemical weapons. Blair told the Chilcot inquiry on Friday: 'This did have an impact on me at the time, although this particular piece of intelligence turned out later to be wrong.' [...] Chilcot has defended the need for some evidence to be heard behind closed doors. 'If the inquiry is to succeed in getting to the heart of what happened and what lessons need to be learnt, we recognise that some evidence sessions will need to be private,' he said at its opening." (Guardian; 31Jan10; Toby Helm and Jamie Doward) http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2010/jan/31/mi6-chilcot-inquiry-iraq-war

Aafia Siddiqui guilty of shooting at Americans in Afghanistan
"A Pakistani neuroscientist was convicted on Wednesday of trying to kill American military officers while she was in custody in Afghanistan, capping a trial that drew notice for its terrorist implications as well as its theatrics. [...] The verdict puts a final mark on one of the more twisted yet fascinating trials of a terror suspect, whose back story has attracted the attention of human rights groups as well as federal prosecutors. In the course of the 14-day trial, Ms. Siddiqui was ejected numerous times for her outbursts, two jurors were removed from the case and one observer was arrested. [...] Ms. Siddiqui recited a long list of academic achievements, including a Ph.D. in neuroscience from Brandeis University. But she suggested that her studies of chemicals did not equip her to be a terrorist. 'To answer your question, I don't know how to make a dirty bomb,' she said, adding that she 'couldn't kill a rat myself.'" (New York Times; 05Feb10; C.J.

Iran details interrogation of two executed last week
"The office of the public prosecutor at Tehran's Revolutionary Court on Monday published details about two people who were executed last week on charges of being a mohareb -- an enemy of God. [...] Rahmani-Pour, who was executed on Thursday, told his interrogators that through his connections with the pro-monarchy group, he had been convinced that the Pahlavi regime should be reinstated in Iran. He then said that he had gathered more than 100 kilograms (220 lb) of chemicals to make explosives, the statement added. [...] According to the statement, the other man executed Thursday was Mohammad-Reza Ali-Zamani, who was also associated with Kingdom Assembly of Iran. 'Ali-Zamani had illegally entered Iraq's Kurdistan, where he applied for asylum. There, he met with Forood Fouladvand [the leader of the Kingdom Assembly of Iran],' read the statement. It added that Ali-Zamani had received trainings regarding 'nuclear terrorism' as well as making dirty bombs." (Press T.V., Iran; 01Feb10)

Nuclear sensors for law enforcement officers ahead of World Cup tourney
"The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has undertaken to empower the relevant security apparatuses in Botswana with the right skills and acumen to be able to detect and arrest anyone involved in the movement and transportation of harmful radioactive material during the course of the World Cup games due in June 2010. Carter Morupisi, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Infrastructure, Science and Technology, acknowledged the move thus, 'Botswana, as member of the IAEA, has signed binding agreements that oblige her to ensure accountability and safe disposition of all radioactive substances within her sovereignty.' [...] Again, Morupisi pointed out that previous effort to enhance radiation safety have resulted in the passing of the Radiation Protection Act, of 2006, the Regulations of 2008 and the establishment of the Radiation Inspectorate all of which the senior official proudly expressed delight, in the fact that they are now fully functional. [...] Speaking to the Sunday Standard on the sidelines of the meeting which was held at the Gaborone Sun Hotel grounds, a nuclear expert from the agency, Scott Purvis could not deny that they feared for the use of chemical weapons by terrorists during the World Cup games." (Sunday Standard, Botswana; 31Dec10; Gowenius Toka)

Exercise tests first responders [Bryan County, GA]
"Fort Stewart conducted exercise '2009 Stewart Guardian' last Wednesday and, according to public affairs spokesman Kevin Larson, the operation went well. 'Fort Stewart and Hunter Army Airfield conducted this exercise to validate our preparedness for emergency responders,' Larson said. [...] Dina McKain, who also works in the public affairs office, said this year's scenario had a deranged former soldier hijacking a small aircraft and forcing the pilot to land it at Fort Stewart.  The fictitious assailant then killed the pilot, exited the plane while firing a machine gun and detonated a 'dirty bomb.' [...] The exercise was conducted at Wright Army Airfield and included emergency rescue units from both Fort Stewart, Liberty County and Savannah. [...]" (Bryan County News; 04Feb10; Mike Riddle) http://www.bryancountynews.net/news/article/4956/

Counties get funds for disaster prep [OR]
"Public officials in Linn and Benton counties will begin planning how to keep their segment of government running in the event of a disaster -- called Continuity of Operations Planning -- thanks to a $291,667 grant from the Department of Homeland Security. Linn County Sheriff Tim Mueller and county emergency services director Jim Howell told the board of commissioners about the program on Tuesday. [...] Linn, Benton, Lincoln, Yamhill, Marion and Polk counties work together as an emergency management region, Howell said. They have contracted with Bold Planning Solutions out of Nashville, Tenn., to develop plans on how each of their departments can continue to provide services in the event of a major storm, fire, flood or, as occurred a couple years ago at the Linn County Courthouse, closure due to a potential health threat such as anthrax. Each county will hold day-long training sessions, and in addition to county department heads, staff from cities within each of the counties are invited to attend. [...Critical response] information will be entered into a web-based database, which incorporates an easy, walk-through data entry process." (Albany Democrat-herald; 03Feb10; Alex Paul)

Rep. Edward J.] Markey [D-MA] and others introduce government response bill
"Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), along with Reps. Jim Moran (D-Va.) and Loretta Sanchez (D-Calif.), today introduced H.R. 4580, the Metropolitan Medical Response System Act, to ensure that local emergency management plans are properly integrated and coordinated in the event of a terrorist attack using a Weapon of Mass Destruction (WMD) such as a nuclear bomb or biological weapon, natural disaster or disease outbreak. H.R. 4580 would fund the Metropolitan Medical Response System (MMRS) [...] MMRS was established in the wake of the deadly release of sarin nerve gas in a Tokyo subway and the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Building in Oklahoma City in 1995. The program provides funds to local jurisdictions in 43 states to enhance emergency planning, communication, training, equipment, and stockpile pharmaceuticals." (Lexington Minuteman; 03Feb10)
http://www.wickedlocal.com/lexington/news/x1090836912/Markey-and-others-introduce- government-response-bil

Pakistani scientist's trial hits closing arguments
"Jurors heard a U.S.-trained Pakistani scientist portrayed Monday in closing arguments at her attempted murder trial as both a would-be terrorist determined to kill Americans and a fearful woman framed by the government. Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher La Vigne cited testimony that Aafia Siddiqui had bomb-making instructions, documents referencing a 'mass casualty attack' and a list of New York City landmarks including the Statue of Liberty when she was detained in Afghanistan in 2008. [...] During the two-week trial, FBI agents and U.S. soldiers testified that when they went to interrogate Siddiqui at an Afghan police station, she snatched up an unattended assault rifle and shot at them while yelling, 'Death to Americans.' [...] Though Siddiqui was not charged with terrorism, authorities have portrayed her as a combative al-Qaida sympathizer who hated the United States." (Washington Post; 01Feb10; Tom Hays, AP) http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/02/01/AR2010020101228.html

Pentagon to Augment Anti-WMD Capabilities
"The U.S. Defense Department said today in the 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review that it intends to enhance its capabilities to prevent the spread and use of weapons of mass destruction. [...] Means of addressing those dangers include securing or eliminating potential weapons materials, tight scrutiny of potentially deadly agents and delivery systems, and countermeasures against an attack, according to the report. [...] Also on the agenda are creation of 'countermeasures, defenses and mitigation strategies' intended to persuade enemies against using biological or chemical warfare materials." (Global Security Newswire; 01Feb10) http://www.globalsecuritynewswire.org/gsn/nw_20100201_1754.php

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