Saturday, March 29, 2014

Protecting our Laboratories: How the West Educated some of the World's most Dangerous Biological Weapon Scientists

Rihab Rashid Taha was UK trained microbiologist who earned her doctorate from the University of East Anglia. She was in charge of Saddam Hussein's Biological Weapon (BW) programs and conducted research at Iraq's clandestine al-Hakim biological research laboratory during the 1980's. Taha is by far alone in her acquisition of a western university degree. Taha ran a 150 person biological weapon program at the infamous Salman Pak facility which UN inspectors once dubbed 'germ-warfare central.'

Rahib was not alone, a number of her colleagues, one named 'Mrs. Anthrax,' by inspectors, Huda Salih Mahdi Ammash, was educated in the United States gaining her doctorate in Microbiology from the University of Missouri, and was number 53 on the Pentagon's list of 55 most wanted deck of cards and the only woman featured.  

Today, a number of biological weapon scientists, far from being educated in Russia, have been educated in the West and have worked in a number of BSL2 and 3 facilities. I've written extensively on Malaysian scientist and AQ biological weapon expert Dr. Yazid Sufaat. A rather accurate account by Wikipedia states: "In 1987 Sufaat graduated from the California State University, Sacramento with a degree in biochemistry.(2) He then served in the Malaysian army as a medical technician, reaching the rank of Captain.(1) Suffaat is now believed to be one of al Qaeda's main anthrax researchers. (2,3,4,5) In 1993 Sufaat set up a pathology laboratory called Green Laboratory Medicine, at which he subsequently tried to weaponize anthrax on behalf of al Qaeda. (1) From 5 o 8 January 2000, a major meeting of AQ and JI personnel was held in Kuala Lumpur. (6)(See: 2000 Kuala Lumpur al Qaeda Summit); four of those who attended stayed with Sufaat at his home (7) He is also suspected of providing employment documents to Zacarias Moussaaoui, and providing lodging for two of the 11 September hijackers, namely Khalid al Midhar and Nawaf al Hazmi. (7) See: Sufaat served 7 years in detention was released and very recently re-arrested for planning terrorism offenses related to Syria. 

While we in the West have worried that Russian biological weapon scientists from the reduced Biopreparat program, might sell their know how to states of concern, we in the West were training many of the very scientists who now pose a significant proliferation risk. In November of 2008, The UK Guardian's paper published an article entitled: "Terrorists try to Infiltrate UK's Top Labs." The article noted that security services had intercepted up to 100 suspects posing as post graduate students who aim to acquire weapons material and expertise. (See: Guardian states:"In addition, a number of well-educated iraqi scientists funded by Baghdad infiltrated several British microbiology laboratories in the run up to the Gulf War of 1990-91. Britain has about 800 laboratories in hospitals, universities and private firms where staff have access to lethal viruses such as Ebola, polio and avian flu or could acquire the technology and expertise to develop deadly weapons. Whitehall sources remain concerned about the number of countries intent on acquiring the materials and knowledge to develop a nuclear or biological warfare capability. John Wood of the National Institute for Biological Standards and Control said: 'Any scientist would say it's important that we know who is working in our laboratories, and also why they are working there." ( to be continued.... 

Jill Bellamy is an internationally recognized expert on biological warfare and defence. She has formerly advised NATO and for the past seventeen years has represented a number of bio-pharmaceutical and government clients working on procurement strategy between NATO MS and Washington DC. Her articles have appeared in the National Review, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The Sunday Times of London, Le Temps, Le Monde and the Jerusalem Post among other publications. She is a CBRN SME with the U.S. Department of Defence, Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Defence Information Analysis Center and CEO of Warfare Technology Analytics, a private consultancy based in the Netherlands. She serves as an Associate Fellow with the Henry Jackson Society, UK.

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