On Monday, the Sun ran a story reporting that 40 terrorists from AQIM had died of plague in a terrorist training camp in Tizi Ouzou. Yesterday, Eli Lake from the Washington Times confirmed through one of his source in the U.S. intelligence community that an incident had taken place at a training camp that had to be shut down as a result. The deaths were not confirmed though.
A few observations at this point that give credence to this story, which has not received the coverage it deserves:
1- There has been a total black out from the Algerian media that has not even mentioned one line about this story.
2- Algerian authorities have been totally silent at this time: I suspect that they have not been too happy about the story leaking through British and American sources.
3- Coincidence or not: 60 terrorists from AQIM from Tizi Ouzou (the same region where the incident allegedly occurred) miraculously just decided they wanted to surrender to the authorities; this is very rare that such a large number of AQIM operatives defect at the same time. That tells me that possibly they got really scared of what had taken place in the training camp and do not want to get involved with any biological weapon experimentation that could possibly result in their deaths.
4- Over a year ago, Pakistani terrorists came to train in AQIM training camps and may have one way or another contributed to the production of that biological agent. Interestingly, the Washington Times mentions that AQIM leaders had contacted AQ Central in Pakistan to tell them about the mishap.
5- AQ operatives in Europe had tried to develop biological weapons in the recent past. In France, Menad Benchelalli, a terrorist specialized in poisons had produced small amounts of ricin and Botulinum toxin that he intended to release in France. He was arrested in 2002.
Then in 2003, British authorities arrested seven individuals accused of also producing ricin.
6- AQIM was “hired” by AQ central mostly because of his extensive network in Europe that could allow them to strike Europe at some point. AQIM’s leadership has been under intense pressure to attack European targets in order to maintain its credibility.
I suspect that possibly this biological weapon was destined for delivery in Europe. In fact, by not using a “conventional” weapon, AQIM would prove its value to AQ Central.
Final scary implication: if this story is true, then with such a virulent disease like plague having infected individuals, these persons need to be quarantined as soon as possible and the authorities need to track down whomever they have been in contact with.
Also even more worrisome, imagine if one of the infected individuals board a flight to Paris, London or New York, this person could be the means of “delivering” the weapon.
The damage could be enormous.
By Olivier Guitta on January 21, 2009 8:52 AM