Saturday, February 14, 2009

WHO, Algeria Deny al-Qaeda Black Death

Al-Qaeda in the Maghreb was reported to have been stricken with bubonic plague in January. Forty terrorists were said to have died. I reported the story here and here.

Early February, Algeria and WHO denied any plague outbreak in the area known to be used by AQIM.

Algeria and the World Health Organization have separately rejected reports that a bubonic plague mishap killed dozens of al-Qaeda operatives at a base in the African state, Agence France-Presse reported today (see GSN, Jan. 21).

"No case of plague of any type has been recorded in any region of Algeria since 2003 in Oran," Algerian Health Ministry spokesman Slim Belkessam said yesterday.

The World Health Organization verified that the 2003 incident was the most recent Algerian case to be reported.

U.S. and British newspapers reported that a failed attempt to weaponize plague bacteria killed roughly 40 members of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb at a site about 60 miles east of Algiers.

Al-Qaeda dismissed the report in a statement on an extremist Web site.

A high-level U.S. intelligence official last month also rejected the plague report, but told the Washington Times that the extremists had apparently suffered exposure to some sort of biological or chemical agent (
Agence France-Presse/Google News, Feb. 4).
The denial text from AQIM is available as PDF at NEFA Foundation. Of course, denial by al-Qaeda is totally expected so it doesn't carry much weight.

As noted by Infidel Bloggers Alliance,

Anis Rahmani, an Algerian security expert, noted that AQIM had trouble making explosives from fertilizer - the complicated and expensive process of weaponizing plague bacteria was far beyond the capability of the cave-dwelling insurgents.

the very fact that no legitimate case has been reported suggests that this reported outbreak is unlikely... What can certainly be discounted is the possibility of AQIM conducting experiments in weaponizing the plague or other infectious diseases in their remote mountain hideouts.
This was most probably a false report based in a fact of some dead AQIM bad guys, but that does not mean we should let our guard down. Ineptitude at making fertilizer bombs doesn't translate to absolute incompetence in all things. Who knows, some of the terrorists could be fabulous chefs.

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


Anonymous said...

I'm not much on bombs, but I have manufactured a considerable amount of fertilizer. Don

Indigo Red said...

Yeah! And some of it, Don, you leave here!! :)

BB-Idaho said...

I attempted to follow up on the plague report a couple weeks back and found the local Med University in Algeria denying any endemic plague in that area. I would be possible these desperados were living in such primitive conditions that they fell prey to
more common flu/pneumonia. It is hard to draw conclusions with only a few 'reports' from here and there. Making bombs has got to be one of the easier 'chef' things to do: in the late fifties, my rocket club had several nice rockets that functioned as bombs! Spinoff technology, huh?

Indigo Red said...

BB, I am very suspicious of the denials. The denials are of one mind and one wording.

The event was not just some rumor that someone cooked up. There was, in fact, one dead bad guy who had sought help found by the side of a rode. There were three or four others who were alive enough to tell authorities that men were dying of a horrible disease in the camp. That the disease was bubonic plague can be argued. That dead people were found is no longer an arguable point. Neither is the fact that AQIM abandoned a training base that had served them well for years and was still safe from authorities.

Something did happen in the AQ training camp. Exactly what happened will probably remain unknown to the public. However, the authorities know what happened and have determined we should not know.