Monday, January 19, 2009

Al-Qaeda Plague Maybe Self-Inflicted

The Black Death bubonic plague that reportedly has killed 40 al-Qaeda in Algeria that I posted yesterday may have been self-inflicted. Intelligence guys say that the AQ franchise shut down a base earlier this month when an unconventional weapons experiment went wrong.

The Washington Times today is reporting that intelligence officials cannot confirm the plague outbreak in the AQ training camp, but whatever happened, it was the cause of the base abandonment.

He said authorities in the first week of January intercepted an urgent communication between the leadership of al Qaeda in the Land of the Maghreb (AQIM) and al Qaeda's leadership in the tribal region of Pakistan on the border with Afghanistan. The communication suggested that an area sealed to prevent leakage of a biological or chemical substance had been breached, according to the official.

"We don't know if this is biological or chemical," the official said.

The story was first reported by the British tabloid the
Sun, which said the al Qaeda operatives died after being infected with a strain of bubonic plague, the disease that killed a third of Europe's population in the 14th century. But the intelligence official dismissed that claim.

Another report from the Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferation, released in December, warned that "terrorists are more likely to be able to obtain and use a biological weapon than a nuclear weapon."

Roger Cressey, a former senior counterterrorism official at the National Security Council under Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, told The Washington Times that al Qaeda has had an interest in acquiring a poisons capability since the late 1990s.

"This is something that al Qaeda still aspires to do, and the infrastructure to develop it does not have to be that sophisticated,"
he said.

"Al Qaeda in the Maghreb is probably the most operationally capable affiliate in the organization right now," he said.
Though bubonic plague kills quickly when antibiotics are unavailable, Black Death is not an efficient killing weapon in Western societies. The disease is not communicable human to human, it requires a vector such as rats, prairie dogs, and fleas in a very dirty environment. It's not likely for all the requirements to come together in most Western countries and cities. This would pose a greater danger for the less developed world.

The real danger of the possible disease experimentation is that AQ could be working in that direction and may be making progress. If that's the case, then this is a very serious development and should not be ignored.

From today's edition of the Sun:

Last year it was revealed 100 suspected terrorists tried to become students in Britain, giving them access to labs.

In 2006 a plot to poison London’s water was unmasked.

Ian Kearns, of the Institute for Public Policy Research, said: “The biological weapons threat is not going away. We’re not ready for it.”

The life of Indigo Red is full of adventure. Tune in next time for the Further Adventures of Indigo Red.


home of the flea said...

The Black Death has reportedly killed at least 40 al-Qaeda operatives in North Africa.

I think the author missed the point.
This not a natural even that just happen to occurred at an isolated Algerian al Q camp.
No natural focus of plague had ever been described in Algeria. (
It’s hard to see that 40 people died from random accidental exposure to a single individual who would have contracted bubonic form of plague through flea bite or directly through exposure to contaminate blood from a rat or ground squirrel.
If it were indigenous plague one would expect 3- 4 (18?) folks would also come down with it after several weeks maximum :not enough to result in sufficient people dead to require mass graves !
Bubonic plague has less that 25% mortality, more typically 8-10 % , when contracted in a wild form, its just not that deadly and actually pretty hard to catch
The article also indicated that the plague would kill in hours not true unless it was pneumonic: If so it was either from a individual that had contacted bubonic plague that had then become pneumonic. However , ” Rarely has pneumonic plague has been reported in conjunction with outbreaks of bubonic plague” or directly infected via pneumonic strain through an aerosol: not natural event in that climate even in a dank cave this is highly unlikely.
Under bubonic conditions the disease would spread slowly through flea bites, to individuals not to large numbers of people. Each of whom may have had a 10-25 % mortality expectation.
In the 2003 algerian out break only 1 of 18( ie. 5% )of the cases resulted in a single mortality and 18 cases were considered a significant out break ! To find mass graves of the plague dead from an out break of Y. pestis orientalis one would expect there to have been 100’s or even 1000’s of cases
In North Africa there has not been significant number of cases in 100 years until 2003 (see technical annex attached)

This type of infection takes days or even a week to kill with less than a 25 % mortality, even if the individual was in poor condition.
So how many would have to be infected to get 40 dead :likely more than 200
What is probability of 200 being infected @ infection rate / exposure @1/10 :2000 ~ so we are supposed to believe that there were 2,000 people in the al q camp that were all exposed to plaque in a short time frame : could be ,but not naturally

In fact the article would have us believe that there were at most 1000 “fighters’ it is group

Could it be that some security type folks didn’t know that there were 1000 al q just hanging around in a single camp in the mountains , scratching and itching waiting to die from infected fleas , and that once a few died they all didn’t scatter??

Akem (of the famous Occum or Akum’s razor ,as the case may be "when you have two competing theories that make exactly the same predictions, the simpler one is the better) would say if it walk s like a duck etc

We are forced to conclude that
If its an Al Qaeda training camp and it has plague: ergo they have weaponized or at highly infective cultures of plague! Actively released to infect the people in the camp
This scenario is actually more believable : 100 shaheed (martyrs ) get exposed to a plaque culture :40 die from a single event in few days :40% mortality as expected from weaponized culture . The purpose of the activity is likely to enhance the infectivity of the culture which may or may not turn out to be from the 2003 event .

A good pneumonic wmd preparation could provide mortality of near 100% from those infected . but untreated . However one might expect only a 3% infectivity rate

Serial passage through 40 individuals could greatly enhance the effective rate by selecting more virulent bacteria . This newly enhanced culture could then be multiplied in vitro for weaponization, or simply spreading a pneumonic form through pneumonically infected shaheed.
Naturally occurring infection would be expected to be a lot less than 3% infection rate and 0.7% to 5% mortality among those infected.

It seems clear that his event was not natural.
Either someone made a mistake and let loose a culture accidentally or this was a test third possiblit yis that western security apparatus specifically infected these people to bothtest the possibility and to spread the bacterial infection among the al Qaeda

I believe the analysis will show this was only a test performed by the Al Qaeda
I would opine that presenting this event in a light that indicates a fortuitous event that will spread to other AL Q camps does a disservice to the public as well as to decision makers.

Indigo Red said...

I tend to agree that this was not a natual event. The CDC website shows that Bubonic Plague is indiginous, but rather rare. I doubt it was a Western release and given the AQ desire for a pestelence, my guess would be an accidental release of a controlled pathogen or a test with martyrs.

The lack of news is too loud and the official denials are too quick. I'm willing to admit the possibility/probability of weaponized plague.

dcat said...

I'll have to stay away from the folks that traveled over to Africa this last holiday then right? :p

Sounds like they want to kill everyone don't it!

Gayle said...

We used to have a man working for us that traveled to Africa a lot because he had family there. I'm very grateful that was before all of this took place!

Perhaps after today we will begin to hear more about this - at least on Fox News. Of course we aren't going to get much other than the inauguration on any of the channels, so I'm going shopping. I hate crowds, so today ought to be a good day to do it. Most people will be at home drooling over their tv sets.

I'll post an update to my last post, Indigo, which will be a link to this post.

Indigo Red said...

Sorry to disappoint, dcat, but the plague is in America, too. Six to ten people are infected each year. Hawaii is a big haven.

I have a feeling, Gayle, the intel community is going to continue denying anything happened and the Obama ga-ga press simply won't cover the story.

Indigo Red said...

Sorry to disappoint, dcat, but the plague is in America, too. Six to ten people are infected each year. Hawaii is a big haven.

I have a feeling, Gayle, the intel community is going to continue denying anything happened and the Obama ga-ga press simply won't cover the story.

Gayle said...

I hope you are wrong about the press not covering this, Indigo. I think Fox News will, because I first saw it on their ticker tape at the bottom of the screen.