[...] "...yet this is the first instance of osmium tetroxide being included among the list of possible chemical agents. This is the first incident in the open literature in which the chemical has been connected with terrorism. Although this plot did not progress beyond the planning stages, the potential use of osmium tetroxide has raised new fears about al-Qa'ida's pursuit of dual-use chemicals as terrorist weapons and has encouraged discussion about the potential lethality of such a substance when combined with a conventional explosive. " Osmium Tetroxide - a New Chemical Terrorism Weapon?
EXCLUSIVE PHOTOS: LONDON TERROR INVESTIGATION
Exclusive Photos: London Terror Investigation
Exclusive photographs obtained by ABC News show the devastation inside the London subway lines after the July 7 attacks. This is a photo of a train after it had been attacked between the Liverpool Street and Aldgate stations, killing eight people.
[...] "I wanted to share some of the images released late Wednesday (apparently to the dismay of London police) of the unexploded bombs recovered from the July 7th suicide bombers. "
"These images are groundbreaking because their likes have rarely ever (and never so prominently) been seen. I encourage you to look at the entire series (here), as every shot seems noteworthy. I think the way they happen to be presented, however, is as compelling (and also confounding) as the devices themselves. "
CNS Research Story
Osmium Tetroxide - a New Chemical Terrorism Weapon?
Osmium tetroxide structure with ampoules.
[Src: Polysciences, Inc.]
By Michelle Baker and Margaret E. Kosal
April 13, 2004
A highly toxic chemical has emerged as a key component of an alleged terrorist plot in London. Serving legitimate functions in biological research and in specialized chemical industry, osmium tetroxide's suitability as a terrorist agent - a dual use compound - is limited, despite the characterizations of it generating "chemical fallout."
Appearance in a Recent Terrorist Plot
On 30 March 2004, hundreds of British anti-terrorism police conducted raids throughout the London area after tracking a group of terrorist suspects over the course of several months. Authorities subsequently arrested eight British citizens of Pakistani origin, who were allegedly involved in the planning stages of a terrorist attack. In the following week, reports emerged that these suspects, including a Canadian and a British-Algerian, were researching the potential of detonating a chemical bomb in a crowded, civilian location within London. Authorities conducted the raids at 24 locations within London after learning from GCHQ, the British electronic eavesdropping intelligence agency, that these terrorist suspects were discussing the use of osmium tetroxide during phone calls among themselves within Britain and to Pakistan. Some sources claim that the U.S. National Security Agency collaborated with its British counterpart to help intercept the phone calls implicating the suspects in planning a chemical attack. The British Home Office would not, however, comment on the alleged scenario, as the case is still under investigation by authorities.
The suspects reportedly were not able to acquire the osmium tetroxide before authorities were able to intercept members of the group. Those involved are allegedly sympathetic to al-Qa'ida and were preparing to target Gatwick airport, the London subway, or other enclosed high-traffic areas. Al-Qa'ida has previously produced training manuals containing plans for use of choking agents as a method of attack, yet this is the first instance of osmium tetroxide being included among the list of possible chemical agents. This is the first incident in the open literature in which the chemical has been connected with terrorism. Although this plot did not progress beyond the planning stages, the potential use of osmium tetroxide has raised new fears about al-Qa'ida's pursuit of dual-use chemicals as terrorist weapons and has encouraged discussion about the potential lethality of such a substance when combined with a conventional explosive.
Characteristics of Osmium Tetroxide (OsO4)
Scientists are already familiar with the use and effects of osmium tetroxide (OsO4) even as these recent reports have introduced the general public to the compound for the first time. OsO4 is a colorless to pale yellow solid at room temperature, occasionally called osmic acid. The solid readily evaporates at room temperature (has a high vapor pressure). An open canister left in an enclosed area would be readily noticeable based on the characteristic pungent, ozone- or chlorine-like smell. For the numerically inclined: the vapor pressure of OsO4 is 7 mm Hg at 20°C/68°F, compared to a vapor pressure of 17 mm Hg for water, 2.10 mm Hg for sarin nerve agent (GB), and 0.0007 mm Hg for VX nerve agent (the latter three are liquids). The vapor pressure of a chemical is important in determining the inhalation hazard. Solids and liquids with no vapor pressure don't evaporate and therefore don't pose an inhalation hazard unless they are mechanically aerosolized. Liquids with very low vapor pressures, like VX nerve agent, don't evaporate readily and therefore are considered a much more significant threat for exposure via direct skin contact.
Physiological Effects of OsO4 Exposure
Osmium tetroxide is highly toxic and a rapid oxidizer. Severe reactions may result through all routes of exposure: inhalation, ingestion, contact with the eyes and other mucous membranes, and contact with skin. Because of its volatility, the vapor hazard is usually emphasized. Exposure to the vapor can cause severe chemical burns to the eyes, skin and respiratory tract. Very short-term contact with the vapor may generate a lachrymation (tear-causing) response, accompanied by coughing, headaches, and dizziness. Among the most insidious effects of osmium tetroxide is its capacity to cause irreversible blindness - literally turning the corneas black. Symptoms may not be noticed until several hours following exposure, which may be an attractive feature for terrorists. People may not realize the extent of the toxic effects of a compound to which they have been exposed immediately, rather the damage will be occurring while they continue on their day. Another delayed effect of substantial inhalation exposure is a build up of fluid in the lungs (edema) leading to "dryland-drowning." Exposure to osmium tetroxide dissolved in water will turn the skin black. Painful burns or dermatitis may result depending on the concentration. It is not known, however, to be cancer-causing.
OsO4 can be compared to traditional chemical warfare agents (table below). The first appearance of a physiological response, also known as a threshold effect, is observed at a lower concentration for osmium tetroxide vapor exposure than phosgene (CG), sulfur mustard (HD), or sarin nerve agent (GB). At first glance, the inhalation hazard associated with OsO4 is comparable to that of the traditional asphyxiant phosgene and blister agent sulfur mustard based on lethal inhalation concentrations (LCt50). Phosgene is a gas at ambient conditions, so all of the material will be available as an inhalation hazard. On the other hand, sulfur mustard is a liquid with a fairly low vapor pressure (0.072 mm Hg), which will result in a decreased volatility relative to OsO4 (626 mg/m3 for sulfur mustard versus 97,300 mg/m3 for OsO4 at 20°C/68°F). So there will be over 150 times more OsO4 vapor available in an enclosed area relative to sulfur mustard vapor.
While the lethal inhalation concentration of OsO4 is substantially larger than that for sarin, again the decreased volatility of the traditional warfare agent (16,090 mg/m3) should be considered in evaluating the relative threat. Under similar conditions, there will be six times more OsO4 vapor in an enclosed area compared to sarin vapor. The overall inhalation risk for osmium tetroxide is estimated to be closer to sarin nerve agent than sulfur mustard or phosgene gas.
Toxicity Comparison of Osmium Tetroxide with Three Traditional Chemical Warfare Agents
*LCt50 is the vapor concentration that will cause death by inhalation in fifty percent of a population.
(mg / m3)
(mg-min / m3)
(mg / kg)
||0.1 - 0.6
** LD50 is the liquid concentration that will cause death via exposure through the skin (percutaneous), in this comparison, in fifty percent of a population. Values are given in mg per kg of total body weight; a 150 lb human weighs approximately 68 kg.
*** n/a = not applicable. Phosgene is a gas at ambient conditions.
Legitimate Uses of OsO4
This substance is used primarily in the preparation of biological samples, a technique called "fixation" or "fixing," to help maintain cellular and sub cellular structures that would otherwise be damaged during further processing. Fixing is an important step in most biological applications of electron microscopy - looking at very small structures with electrons rather than light. OsO4 reacts with the olefins in fatty acids and other tissues. Fixing has some similarities to staining used in traditional microbiology - the osmium atomic nucleus helps make the biological structures more easily "seen" under an electron microscope.
Osmium tetroxide is also used in specialty organic chemistry reactions, such as the synthesis of the synthetic human-hormone norestradiol and industrially significant glycol compounds. These reactions using solid osmium tetroxide are most commonly done on the laboratory scale.
Osmium tetroxide is commercially available as either a solid or as an aqueous solution (less than 6% OsO4 by weight, due to limited solubility in water). Commercial quantities are typically very small and prices are high. Cost for the largest, commercially available units from a leading U.S. chemical supplier range from $118 for 1 gram of the solid compound to $195 for a 25 mL ampoules containing 2.5% OsO4 by weight, dissolved in water (0.625 grams OsO4 per vial). A terrorist attempting to use OsO4 in the creation of a chemical terrorist weapon would most likely be hindered by the high cost of the substance. There would also be a danger to the terrorist in attempting to prepare an improvised explosive device containing large quantities of the chemical compound.
In packages of five grams or more, larger quantities of material are commercially available in which osmium tetroxide is bound to a polymer backbone. The polymer backbone, or support, eliminates the vapor hazards associated with solid OsO4. If a potential terrorist were to seek to acquire large quantities of this type of immobilized OsO4, the utility as a weapon would be extremely low. Such materials were designed specifically to protect industrial workers.
A leading U.S. chemical supplier of OsO4 does not take any special precautions regarding sale of the chemical. Because of the potential dual-use nature of many chemicals with legitimate industrial and research purposes, all orders are screened prior to shipment.
If an OsO4-containing solution were to be used as a chemical terrorist weapon, it could be decontaminated with copious amounts of any "unsaturated" cooking oil or dry milk. Once a solution is black, the risk of rampant oxidation (burning) is abated.
Viability of OsO4 as a Chemical Terrorism Weapon
The feasibility of using a bomb to disburse OsO4 is highly suspect. When heated OsO4 rapidly decomposes to OsO2, which is effectively a rock. OsO2 is used as a ceramic resistor in specialty electronic applications. The inhalation hazard would be destroyed with the bomb explosion rather than generating "chemical fallout" as in a dirty bomb scenario. In addition to the difficulties and hazards faced by anyone seeking to use osmium tetroxide as a dirty bomb, the effect of the compound would be minimal in an open space, and it would not leave lasting contamination in an area in the same manner as a radioactive bomb. Because it is such a rapid oxidizer, it would most likely first enhance the combustion of the materials used for the bomb. As an oxidizer for an improvised explosive device, OsO4 would be a very expensive choice and very risky for the bomb assembler. Thus, its utility in the creation of a dirty bomb, when combined with conventional explosives, is questionable.
Chemical terrorism incidents are not limited to those events involving explosives or incendiary materials. The likelihood of OsO4 to cause harm as a chemical agent alone is substantially greater than as part of a dirty bomb. The major danger from the solid is via inhalation. An enclosed space with poor ventilation would present the greatest hazard. OsO4 would not be an effective chemical terrorism weapon for a large, open air venue. The major danger in solution form is via the skin (percutaneous) or ingestion.
As a terrorist weapon, however, the biggest problem with osmium tetroxide is its nature as a rapid, indiscriminate oxidizer. OsO4 doesn't distinguish between membranes in the human eye and lungs, plants, rubber, or cooking oil. While it has the potential to inflict horrifying damage to the body in the form of chemical burns and blindness, the chemical does not specifically target a critical physiological function as nerve agents do. A second limitation as a terrorist weapon is its volatility. The persistency of both sarin and VX substantially exceed that of OsO4.
OsO4, although unquestionably a lethal compound, is not estimated to be a viable dirty bomb hazard as it will readily decompose if utilized with explosives. In comparison to traditional chemical warfare agents, OsO4 has similarities to the choking agents in its high volatility and targeting of the respiratory system. It resembles the blister agents, like sulfur mustard in that it attacks the eyes, burns the skin (by a different molecular mechanism than sulfur mustard), and some effects may be delayed. The blindness from OsO4 vapor exposure, however, may be permanent unlike sulfur mustard. Because of its high volatility combined with high toxicity, the inhalation risk of OsO4 vapor verges on that of sarin nerve agent, but it does not target critical nerve connections that control the cardiovascular and respiratory systems as the nerve agents do. Additionally, the persistency of osmium tetroxide vapor is low in comparison with the nerve agents and sulfur mustard.
The incorporation of osmium tetroxide, a fairly obscure inorganic compound, suggests some familiarization with advanced undergraduate level chemistry. The British terrorist suspects recognized the deleterious health effects, but their plan to incorporate OsO4 into a conventional explosives bomb shows a lack of sophisticated and detailed understanding of inorganic chemistry. Such knowledge might be indicative of a graduate-level individual or technician in a research or industrial biochemistry, molecular biology, or biomedical engineering laboratory with access to OsO4. Such a plot does not point to a person with graduate-level experience in synthetic chemistry or significant experience in an industrial setting. This incident may also hint at an escalating terrorist interest in pursuing non-traditional chemicals as improvised weapons. Recent events have forced British authorities to investigate such a threat, and such a possibility has caused scientists to speculate on the utility of OsO4 for use by a terrorist group.
1 Ben Taylor and Stephen Wright, "Britain foils chemical bomb plot," The Advertiser (Adelaide, Australia), 8 April 2004, accessed 8 April 2004, <http://www.theadvertiser.news.com.au>.
 Brian Ross and Christopher Isham, "'Very nasty,' Potential bomb plot involved deadly chemical," ABCNEWS.com, 5 April 2004, accessed 7 April 2004, <http://abcnews.go.com>.
 Richard Norton-Taylor and Rosie Cowan, "Chemical bomb plot uncovered," Guardian Unlimited, 7 April 2004, accessed 7 April 2004, <http://www.guardian.co.uk>.
 Ross and Isham, "'Very nasty,' Potential bomb plot involved deadly chemical;" Sengupta, Kim, "Terror gas attack on Tube foiled by security agents," Independent.co.uk, 7 April 2004, accessed on 7 April 2004, <http://news.independent.co.uk>.
 Norton-Taylor and Cowan, "Chemical bomb plot uncovered;" Sengupta, "Terror gas attack on Tube foiled by security agencies."
 Martin Williams, "Terrorism plot chemical is for sale on the internet," The Herald, 7 April 2004, accessed 7 April 2004, <http://www.theherald.co.uk>.
 Ross and Isham, "'Very nasty,' Potential bomb plot involved in deadly chemical."
 Williams, "Terrorism plot chemical is for sale on the internet."
 Army Field Manual No 3-9, Potential Military Chemical/Biological Agents and Compounds (Washington, DC: Department of the Army), December 1990, p. 94.
 National Academy of Sciences, Prudent Practices in the Laboratory: Handling and Disposal of Chemicals (Washington, DC: National Academies Press, 1995), p. 364.
 Army Field Manual No 3-9, Potential Military Chemical/Biological Agents and Compounds (Washington, DC: Department of the Army, December 1990), p. 31.
 A. McLaughlin, R. Milton, and K. Perry (1946): "Toxic manifestations of osmium tetroxide" British Journal of Industrial Medicine, vol. 3, (1946), pp. 183-186, who report workers exposed to such levels "suffered from lacrimation and disturbances of vision and in some cases, headache, conjunctivitis, and cough." The value also reflects the current NIOSH Immediately Dangerous to Life or Health Concentration (IDLH), <http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/idlh/intridl4.html>.
 Centers for Disease Control IDLH Documentation, <http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/idlh/intridl4.html>. Value derived from laboratory results done on multiple animal species.
 Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) - Osmium tetroxide. No human toxicity data reported; values based on reported animal acute toxicity data, <http://www.proscitech.com.au/catalogue/msds/c010.pdf>.
 Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) - Phosgene, <http://www.boc.com/gases/pdf/msds/G067.pdf>, and ATSDR Medical Management Guidelines for Phosgene, <http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/MHMI/mmg176.html>.
 Frederick R. Sidell, John S. Urbanetti, William J. Smith, and Charles G. Hurst "Vesicants" in Textbook of Military Medicine: Medical Aspects of Chemical and Biological Warfare (Washington, DC: Office of the Surgeon General Department of the Army, 1997), <http://www.nbc-med.org/SiteContent/HomePage/WhatsNew/MedAspects/contents.html>. Values of 12-70 mg-min/m3 are cited as threshold for eye damage and 100-500 mg-min/m3 are noted for inhalation airway injury.
 Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) - Lethal Nerve Agent Sarin (GB), <http://www.gulfweb.org/bigdoc/report/appgb.html>.
 F.A. Cotton, and Geoffrey Wilkinson, Advanced Inorganic Chemistry (New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1998), pp. 880-881.
 Alaxander Kuhl, Heiko Karels, and Wolfgang Kreiser, "New synthesis of 18-norestradiol" Helvetica Chimica Acta, vol. 82 (1999), pp. 30-34.
 National Academy of Sciences, Prudent Practices in the Laboratory: Handling and Disposal of chemicals (Washington, DC: National Academies Press, 1995), p. 167.
Counter-terrorism police foil chemical attack in Britain |
Posted by Admin on Tuesday, April 06, 2004 (PST)
LONDON, England (CNN) – "Counter-terrorism police have foiled an apparent plot to launch a chemical attack in Britain." Of note, only HazMasterG3 can identify the suspected material without known identifiers.
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The sources said the suspects had plans to lace a bomb with a chemical called osmium tetroxide. The plot was to combine that chemical with explosives that could create a toxic cloud on detonation, the sources said.
Police suspect such a device could have been used to target a shopping center, an airport terminal, a nightclub, or a crowded city center. There is no suggestion by police sources that any osmium tetroxide was found in possession of the suspects, or that they had managed to obtain any. Tuesday afternoon, a spokesman at Scotland Yard said investigators were not prepared to discuss the alleged plot.
Chemical experts said osmium tetroxide is toxic, openly available, and used primarily in research laboratories. It can give off a vapor that would cause skin and eye irritation. In confined spaces it can be lethal. This is the first time osmium tetroxide has been associated with an alleged terrorist plot.
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Near Term Threats of Chemical Weapons Terrorism
Strategic Insights, Volume V, Issue 6 (July 2006)
by Margaret E. Kosal
The use of box cutters and small blades by terrorists during the September 11th attacks has been reported widely, whereas, the use of a chemical agent—“mace, pepper spray, or some other irritant”—in the airplane hijackings is much less well known. Rather than setting up the proposition that such agents are the “latest-greatest” threat, this work aims to consider the potential threat of improvised chemical agents for terrorist use.
Traditional state-based chemical weapons (CW) programs share three technical characteristics that differ from terrorist use of chemical agents. States invest in substantial infrastructure for CW production and storage. This may be dedicated facilities, as was the case of the former U.S. and Soviet offensive programs, or dual-use facilities as seen in the covert Iraqi and Libyan state programs. States will also invest significantly in physical protection of their own troops and medical intervention in the event of exposure. Finally, traditional CW programs invest in research and development of munitions for open-air battlefield dispersal.
In comparison, non-state actors have shown a propensity to improvise the dissemination method and the agents. The use of improvised distribution methods was observed, most notably, in the 1990s by Japan’s quasi-religious doomsday cult, the Aum Shinrikyo, who employed syringes, garbage bags, and condoms to deliver classical chemical warfare agents. But, in more recent incidents, plots, and seizures, both the distribution methods and the agents themselves have been improvised.
Improvised chemical terrorism is critically different from an improvised nuclear or mass effect bioterrorism attack that would likely result in more than one thousand fatalities or 10,000 casualties. To execute an improvised chemical terrorism attack, a group or individual does not need sophisticated knowledge, elaborate engineering or growth requirements, nor complicated dissemination methods.
Improvised explosive devices (IEDs) are currently a tremendous problem for U.S. troops in Iraq, Afghanistan and around the globe. Over half of the U.S. fatalities in Iraq have been due to IEDs, typically roadside bombs. This strongly suggests that there is a significant tacit knowledge base for constructing these types of weapons—one guy in a Mosul garage has not been making them all. Incorporating chemicals into roadside bombs would not substantially change the military casualties; the scenario would be significantly different, however, for devices used in enclosed spaces like dining tents or civilian facilities.
The path from the street chemistry of high explosives and detonators for IEDs to improvised chemical devices (ICDs) that incorporate commercial chemicals is very short. Conversely, the path from IEDs to effectively weaponized, transgenic biological agents effectively weaponized is a substantial leap for states and, even more so, for terrorists. While U.S. policy is focused on defending against a mass-effect bioterrorism attack, we may be missing a lower-tech threat of much higher probability. Rather than leaping from making bombs to producing mass quantities of aerosolized, genetically engineered, hyper-virulent Yersinia pestis (the bacteria responsible for the plague and used as part of the national terrorism preparedness exercise scenarios, TOP OFF 2 and 3), this article examines trends toward improvising both the delivery method (munitions) and the agent for chemical terrorism.
Is there substantive evidence of a shift, an “upping” of the sophistication level, to incorporate chemical agents into such devices? What policy responses can reduce the threat of improvised chemical devices? Is this shift part of a larger escalation to the use of unconventional weapons—that is, weapons of mass destruction (WMD)—by non-state actors? If such a large-scale escalation from IEDs to ICDs were to occur, the number of agents of concern would expand from approximately 50 traditional chemical warfare agents to thousands of known industrial and research chemicals. This analysis should be the basis for policy development regarding threat anticipation, threat reduction, and countermeasures to limit harm to U.S. troops deployed around the world and U.S. civilians at home.
A number of prominent authors have addressed the questions of terrorist desire and capability to pursue chemical or biological weapons. Extensive analysis of terrorist incidents involving chemical and biological agents has been done on well-known incidents, such as the Aum Shinrikyo sarin “gas” attack on the Tokyo subway in March 1995 and the Rajneeshees salad bar dispersal of Salmonellatyphimurium bacteria. A far smaller number of researchers have gone the other direction and challenged the precept that biological agents are within the technical capability of most terrorists. At least one renowned terrorism expert has asked why terrorists have not escalated to fulfill the “lurid hypotheses of worst-case scenarios, almost exclusively involving chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear (CBRN) weapons” and “America’s intense preoccupation with the threat of bioterrorism.” None of the authors have considered an escalation to chemical weapons as an outgrowth of “street chemistry,” the chemistry involved in manufacturing IEDs.
Traditional Chemical Warfare Agents with Improvised Dispersal Methods
One type of chemical terrorism—using traditional chemical warfare agents associated with state-based programs, but employing improvised distribution means —has received a great deal of attention. This type of chemical terrorism may have been most infamously utilized by the Aum Shinrikyo cult in the mid-1990’s. Transfer of chemical weapons by those states suspected of operating clandestine offensive chemical weapons programs, such as North Korea—to non-state actors is another example.
Aum Shinrikyo was a highly organized and well-financed group, having members with significant technical expertise. While the group succeeded in synthesizing sophisticated traditional nerve agents, they employed rudimentary delivery methods.
In the infamous March 1995 attack on the Tokyo subway system, sarin nerve agent was dispersed via garbage bags punctured by sharpened umbrellas. The nerve agent was manufactured from precursor chemicals the day before and diluted with acetonitrile. Approximately 600 mgs (1.3 lbs) were transferred to 11 polyethylene bags and distributed among five Aum Shinrikyo members. While there were only 12 fatalities associated with the subway attack, more than 5,000 individuals sought medical attention. More than 500 were seriously affected, including a few individuals whose corneas were so damaged that they had to be removed, resulting in permanent blindness. One small, but remarkable, lingering effect of the terrorist incident on the Tokyo population is the lack of garbage cans in public areas; even 10 years later, they are still associated with the sarin attack. This incident vividly illustrates the large-scale panic and disruption that chemical terrorism can produce in major urban areas.
The subway incident was the Aum cult’s only foray into chemical terrorism. In the five years leading up to the most renowned sarin attack, Aum Shinrikyo executed at least ten separate attacks. Four months earlier, in December 1994, Aum Shinrikyo released 20 kgs of sarin—from a truck using an industrial sprayer connected to a commercial heater—in the Matsumoto prefecture. The late night attack killed seven people and injured an additional 144 civilians. At least two deaths are associated with Aum Shinrikyo’s production of limited quantities of VX nerve agent. Synthesized for dispersal via hypodermic syringes, the attacks specifically targeted enemies of the cult. VX was dribbled on the back of one former cult member’s neck in a fatal December 1994 assault in Osaka. Aum also employed an improvised apparatus at train and subway stations in May and July 1995 to generate the classic choking agent, hydrogen cyanide, from commercial sodium cyanide.
Radical Islamists are not today’s only potential terrorists of concern, particularly with respect to chemical terrorism. Domestically, use of improvised chemical devices was part of the case against William J. Krar of Tyler, Texas. An outspoken anti-government white supremacist, Krar was a traveling arms salesman. In January 2003, he was arrested in Tennessee during a routine traffic stop for handgun and drug possession. Along with conventional weapons, such as knives, stun guns, smoke grenades, over 250 rounds of ammunition, fuses, and hand combat items, Krar’s rental car contained a “syringe of an unknown substance, one white bottle with an unknown white substance, forty wine like bottles of unknown liquid … (and) three military style packaged atropine injections.” A year later, after a package from Krar containing fake Department of Defense (DOD), Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) and United Nations (UN) badges was delivered to the wrong address, federal investigators uncovered a disturbing array of weapons in an east Texas storage space rented by Krar and his female companion, Judith Bruey . Krar had amassed a sizable weapons cache, including half a million rounds of ammunition, hundreds of explosives, illegal firearms and stockpiles of cyanide salts and strong acids.
In his weapons armory were a number of improvised devices in varying stages of construction. The most complete device combined solid sodium cyanide with a strong acid to generate 440 grams of hydrogen cyanide (HCN). This would be, hypothetically, enough to kill almost 6,500 people based on percutaneous exposure. It could also kill half the people in a 9 x 40 x 40 foot enclosure in one minute.
What did Krar’s hydrogen cyanide device look like? He had placed just under two pounds of sodium cyanide powder—that Krar indicated he obtained from an electro-plating company—in an old ammo box . It was to be combined with less than a half -liter of hydrochloric acid (HCl), or just over 0.7 liters of nitric acid (HNO 3), to produce the hydrogen cyanide vapor . One four-liter bottle of acid of a standard research size used at university and research facilities—would provide excess acid. Alternatively, excess acid could readily be obtained from eight bottles of a popular commercial toilet cleaner. This was a readily concealable and easily transportable contraption, one that could easily fit in a small suitcase or be carried in a backpack.
Al Qaeda’s exploits in Afghanistan, testing unspecified lethal vapors on dogs and rabbits, have been well-covered in the commercial media. Additional evidence of and analysis on al Qaeda’s extensive interest in chemical warfare agents was noted in a 2005 Intelligence Commission report. U.S. troops are reported to have recovered “trace amounts of two common chemicals that can be used to produce a blister agent,” most likely sulfur monochloride (S 2Cl 2) or thiodiglycol (S(C 2H 4OH) 2). It was also reported that al Qaeda “almost certainly” had obtained or produced a number of traditional choking agents, such as chlorine, hydrogen cyanide, and phosgene. Those chemical warfare agents represent products commercially available or readily synthesized with basic skills, equipment and minimal infrastructure. These are not complex reactions requiring sophisticated laboratory equipment, controlled power sources for sensitive heating or cooling, or controlled environmental conditions.
In September 2003, the Department of Homeland Security issued an “Information Bulletin” alerting law enforcement and allied professionals regarding suspicions that al Qaeda intended to utilize an improvised method to generate hydrogen cyanide or cyanogen chloride from cyanide salts. A primitive binary weapon for generating a choking agent, the device uses dual-purpose commercial chemicals, requires little or no training for assembly and operation, but does require some basic chemistry knowledge for initial design.
Improvised Chemical Agents
There is another type of potential chemical terrorism that has received almost no attention. Legitimate industrial or research chemicals, not traditionally associated with state-based chemical weapons programs, may be co-opted in order to generate improvised choking, blister, or nerve agents. In this case, both the agents themselves and the dispersal method are improvised.
Using reports available in the open-source literature, there appears to be an increasing interest among radical Islamists in exploiting fairly sophisticated chemistry for terrorist purposes. One case will be examined in detail.
March 2004 Osmium Tetroxide Plot. A March 2004 plot disrupted in Britain was intended to combine an industrial chemical with an improvised explosive device to generate a choking and blistering agent. Osmium tetroxide (OsO 4) serves legitimate functions in biological research and in specialized chemical industry, but its suitability as a terrorist agent—a dual-use compound—is limited, despite the characterizations of it generating “chemical fallout.”
GCHQ, the British electronic eavesdropping intelligence agency, learned that a group of terrorists were discussing the use of OsO 4 during phone calls among themselves, both within Britain and to Pakistan. Hundreds of British anti-terrorism police tracked the group over the course of several months. On March 30, 2004, raids were conducted at 24 locations throughout the London area. Authorities arrested eight British citizens—some of Pakistani origin, a Canadian, and a British-Algerian—who were allegedly involved in the planning stages of a terrorist attack. In the following week, reports emerged that these suspects, allegedly sympathetic to al Qaeda, were researching the potential of detonating a chemical bomb in a crowded, civilian location within London—targeting Gatwick airport, the London subway, or other enclosed high-traffic areas. Fortunately, the suspects reportedly were not able to acquire the osmium tetroxide before being intercepted by authorities.
Although al Qaeda has previously produced training manuals containing plans for use of choking agents, this is the first time osmium tetroxide has been included among the list of possible chemical agents. This is the first incident in the open literature in which the chemical has been connected with terrorism. Although this plot did not progress beyond the planning stages, the potential use of osmium tetroxide has raised new fears about al Qaeda’s pursuit of dual-use chemicals as terrorist weapons. It has also encouraged discussion about the potential lethality of such a substance when combined with a conventional explosive.
Scientists were already familiar with the use and effects of OsO 4 even though those reports introduced the general public to the compound for the first time. OsO 4, occasionally called osmic acid, is a colorless to pale yellow solid at room temperature. An open canister of OsO 4 left in an enclosed area would be readily noticeable based on the characteristic pungent, ozone- or chlorine-like smell. The solid has a high vapor pressure, meaning it readily evaporates at room temperature. The vapor pressure of a chemical is important in determining the inhalation hazard. Liquids with very low vapor pressures, like VX nerve agent, do not evaporate readily and, therefore, are considered a much more significant threat for exposure via direct skin contact. Solids and liquids with no vapor pressure do not evaporate and therefore do not pose an inhalation hazard unless they are mechanically aerosolized.
Physiological Effects of OsO 4 Exposure . Osmium tetroxide is highly toxic and a rapid oxidizer. Severe reactions may result through all routes of exposure: inhalation, ingestion, contact with the eyes and other mucous membranes, and contact with skin. Because of its volatility, the vapor hazard is usually emphasized. Very short-term contact with the vapor may generate a lachrymation (tear-causing) response, accompanied by coughing, headaches, and dizziness. Lengthier exposure can cause severe chemical burns to the eyes, skin, and respiratory tract. Symptoms may not be noticed until several hours following exposure. This delayed-effect feature may make this compound attractive to terrorists as a chemical weapon. People may not realize the extent of the toxic effects of a compound to which they have been exposed immediately; rather the damage will be occurring as they continue their day. Another delayed effect as a result of substantial inhalation exposure is an accumulation of fluid in the lungs (edema)—eventually leading to “dryland-drowning.” Exposure to osmium tetroxide dissolved in water will turn the skin black. Painful burns or dermatitis may result depending on the concentration. It is not known, however, to be cancer-causing. Among the most insidious effects of osmium tetroxide is its capacity to cause irreversible blindness—literally turning the corneas black.
OsO 4 can be compared to traditional chemical warfare agents (see Table 1). The first appearance of a physiological response, also known as a threshold effect, is observed at a lower concentration for osmium tetroxide vapor exposure than for phosgene (CG), sulfur mustard (HD), or sarin nerve agent (GB). At first glance, the inhalation hazard associated with OsO 4 is comparable to that of the traditional asphyxiant phosgene and blister agent sulfur mustard based on lethal inhalation concentrations. Phosgene is a gas at ambient conditions, so all of the material will be available as an inhalation hazard. On the other hand, sulfur mustard is a liquid with a fairly low vapor pressure, making it less volatile than OsO 4. This means that, in an enclosed area, there will be over 150 times more vapor available with OsO 4 than with sulfur mustard vapor.
While the lethal inhalation concentration of OsO 4 is substantially larger than that for sarin, again the decreased volatility of the traditional warfare agent should be considered in evaluating the relative threat. Under similar conditions, there will be six times more OsO 4 vapor in an enclosed area compared to sarin vapor. The overall inhalation risk for osmium tetroxide is estimated to be closer to sarin nerve agent than sulfur mustard or phosgene gas.
Legitimate Uses of OsO 4 . This substance is used primarily in the preparation of biological samples—a technique called fixation or fixing—to help maintain cellular and sub-cellular structures that would otherwise be damaged during further processing. Fixing is an important step in most biological applications of electron microscopy—looking at very small structures with electrons rather than light. OsO 4 reacts with the olefins in fatty acids and other tissues. Fixing has some similarities to staining used in traditional microbiology. The osmium atomic nucleus helps make the biological structures more easily seen under an electron microscope.
Osmium tetroxide is also used in specialized organic chemistry reactions—such as the synthesis of the synthetic human hormone norestradiol—and industrially significant glycol compounds. These reactions using solid osmium tetroxide are most commonly done on a laboratory scale.
Table 1: Toxicity Comparison of Osmium Tetroxide with Traditional Chemical Warfare Agents
(mg / m 3)
(mg-min / m 3)
(mg / kg)
Osmium Tetroxide (OsO 4)
0.1 - 0.6
Sulfur Mustard (HD)
*LCt 50 is the vapor concentration that will cause death by inhalation in fifty percent of a population.
** LD 50 is the liquid concentration that will cause death via exposure through the skin (percutaneous), in this comparison, in fifty percent of a population. Values are given in mg per kg of total body weight; a 150 lb human weighs approximately 68 kg.
*** n/a = not applicable. Phosgene is a gas at ambient conditions.
Commercial Availability . Osmium tetroxide is commercially available as either a solid or as an aqueous solution (less than 6% OsO 4 by weight, due to limited solubility in water). Commercial quantities are typically very small and prices are high. Cost for the largest, commercially available units from a leading U.S. chemical supplier range from $118 for 1 gram of the solid compound to $195 for a 25 mL ampoule containing 2.5% OsO 4 by weight, dissolved in water (0.625 grams OsO 4 per vial). A terrorist attempting to use OsO 4 in the creation of a chemical terrorist weapon would most likely be hindered by its high cost. There would also be a danger to the terrorist in attempting to prepare an improvised explosive device containing large quantities of the chemical compound.
In packages of five grams or more, larger quantities are commercially available in which osmium tetroxide is bound to a polymer backbone. The polymer backbone, or support, eliminates the vapor hazards associated with solid OsO 4. Since immobilized OsO 4 was designed specifically to protect industrial workers, its utility as a weapon, even in large quantities, would be extremely low.
A leading U.S. chemical supplier of OsO 4 does not take any special precautions regarding sale of the chemical. But because of the potential dual-use nature of many chemicals with legitimate industrial and research purposes, all orders are screened prior to shipment.
Decontamination. If an OsO 4-containing solution were to be used as a chemical terrorist weapon, it could be decontaminated with copious amounts of any unsaturated cooking oil or dry milk. Once a solution is black, the risk of rampant oxidation (burning) is abated.
Viability as a Chemical Terrorism Weapon. The feasibility of using a bomb to disperse OsO 4 is highly suspect. When heated, OsO 4 rapidly decomposes to OsO 2, which is effectively a rock. OsO 2 is used as a ceramic resistor in specialty electronic applications. Rather than generating chemical fallout, as in a dirty bomb scenario, the inhalation hazard would be destroyed with the bomb explosion. In addition to the difficulties and hazards faced by anyone seeking to use OsO 4 as a dirty bomb, the effect of the compound would be minimal in an open space and it would not leave lasting contamination in the same manner as a radioactive bomb. Because it is such a rapid oxidizer, it would most likely first enhance the combustion of the materials used for the bomb. As an oxidizer for an improvised explosive device, OsO 4 is very expensive choice and very risky for the bomb assembler. Thus, its utility in the creation of a dirty bomb, when combined with conventional explosives, is questionable.
Chemical terrorism incidents are not limited to those events involving explosives or incendiary materials. The danger and harm from OsO 4 as a chemical agent alone is substantially greater than as part of a dirty bomb. As a solid, the major danger comes from its inhalation. Therefore, OsO 4 presents the greatest hazard in an enclosed space with poor ventilation, whereas it would not be effective in a large, open air venue. In solution form, the major danger is via the skin (percutaneous) or ingestion.
As a terrorist weapon, however, the biggest problem with osmium tetroxide is its nature as a rapid, indiscriminate oxidizer. OsO 4 doesn’t distinguish between membranes in the human eye and lungs, plants, rubber, or cooking oil. While it has the potential to inflict horrifying damage to the body in the form of chemical burns and blindness, it does not specifically target a critical physiological function as nerve agents do. A second limitation as a terrorist weapon is its volatility. The persistency of both sarin and VX substantially exceeds that of OsO 4.
OsO 4, although unquestionably a lethal compound, is not estimated to be a viable dirty bomb hazard as it will readily decompose if utilized with explosives. In comparison to traditional chemical warfare agents, OsO 4 has similarities to the choking agents: high volatility and targeting of the respiratory system. It resembles the blister agents, like sulfur mustard, in that it attacks the eyes, burns the skin (by a different molecular mechanism than sulfur mustard), and has some delayed effects. Unlike sulfur mustard, however, the blindness from OsO 4 vapor exposure is permanent. Because of its high volatility in combination with its high toxicity, the inhalation risk of OsO 4 vapor verges that of sarin nerve agent; but it does not target critical nerve connections that control the cardiovascular and respiratory systems as the nerve agents do. Additionally, the persistency of osmium tetroxide vapor is low in comparison with the nerve agents and sulfur mustard.
The incorporation of osmium tetroxide, a fairly obscure inorganic compound, into terrorist training manuals, suggests some familiarization with advanced undergraduate level chemistry. The British terrorist suspects recognized the deleterious health effects, but their plan to incorporate OsO 4 into a conventional explosives bomb showed a lack of sophisticated and detailed understanding of inorganic chemistry. Their level of knowledge might be indicative of a member who is a graduate-level individual or a technician. Either one could be in a research lab or industrial biochemistry, molecular biology, or biomedical engineering laboratory and have access to OsO 4. The plot does not point to people with graduate-level experience in synthetic chemistry or significant experience in an industrial setting. This incident may also hint at an escalating terrorist interest in pursuing non-traditional chemicals as improvised weapons. Put concisely, in a chemical weapon incident, one cannot assume just chemists are involved; similarly in a biological weapon incident, one cannot assume just biologists are involved. One is more likely to obtain skills for dissemination of biological agents from experience and expertise in polymer science, materials engineering, or chemical engineering rather than from modern molecular biology.
Another example of an improvised chemical weapon is the reported interest in hydrazoic acid (HN 3)—a toxic gas generated when from solid sodium azide (NaN 3) is combined with an aqueous oxidizer. Large amounts of the chemical compound were recovered from two Islamist terrorist groups with ties to al Qaeda—the Jemaah Islamiah in Malaysia and Indonesia and part of the April 2004 plot discovered in Jordan linked to Mus’ab al-Zarqawi. Malaysian police confiscated an unspecified amount of sodium azide as part of a cache of explosive chemicals outside of Kuala Lumpur that they linked to Jemaah Islamiah, the terrorists responsible for the October 2002 Bali bombing. There is some dispute as to whether the cache of material seized in April was intended for a chemical bomb or a conventional explosion.
Sodium azide (NaN 3) is a thermodynamically unstable, but kinetically inert, chemical that generates nitrogen gas (N 2) when heated. It is used commercially in automotive airbags and has legitimate use as a fungicide and pesticide. The compound has also long been used to generate shock-sensitive detonators. The addition of an acid yields hydrazoic acid, a poisonous gas more lethal than the traditional blood agent, hydrogen cyanide. It is also a lethal chemical when ingested and has previously been used in criminal homicides and suicide, particularly in Japan.
Reportedly the Al-Abud network in Iraq has shown interest in chemical weapons. The Jaysh Muhammed (JM) formed the Al-Abud network in late 2003 in response to Operation Iraqi Freedom. Initial attempts to produce traditional agents were unsuccessful, so the terrorists shifted to improvised agents. They recruited an “inexperienced Baghdad chemist” to attempt to produce two traditional chemical warfare agents—the nerve agent tabun and the vesicant nitrogen mustard. Precursors were obtained from “chemical suk district” and “farmers” who looted state companies. After initial, unsuccessful attempts, the terrorist network shifted emphasis to the production of “napalm” and sodium fluoride acetate with which to fill conventional mortars obtained from JM contacts. The specific composition of the “napalm” is not provided.
Related Potential Terrorist Threats
There are two additional types of improvised chemical terrorism that have not been addressed directly in this study. The first is deliberate attack on an industrial chemical facility as a means to cause either mass effect terrorism—release of toxic vapor—or the destruction of a nation’s critical infrastructure. The Union Carbide disaster in Bhopal, India in December 1984 is illustrative of the catastrophic scale that is possible from mass-effect terrorism. There were more than 3,800 fatalities from the initial release of methyl isocyanate in that accident, and it is estimated that 200,000+ were affected during the ensuing 20 years. Attacks may also involve targeting commercial infrastructure as a means of economic terrorism or to disrupt the critical infrastructure of the nation.
According to the U.S. Army Surgeon General’s Office, the worst-case scenario for a terrorist attack on a domestic, industrial chemical facility is “up to 2.4 million people killed or injured—close to the number estimated by chemical companies themselves,” as calculated by the U.S. Army Surgeon General’s Office. More than 15,000 facilities throughout the U.S. produce, store, and transport industrial chemicals in substantial quantities. In 1996, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) determined “a worst-case release” could endanger more than one million people located near any one of its 123 identified facilities. More recent assessments assert that, “at present, about 600 facilities could potentially threaten between 100,000 and a million people … [Another] 2,000 facilities could potentially threaten between 10,000 and 100,000 people.” The numbers are staggering.
A speaker at an industry-sponsored Chemical Security Summit surmised, “You’ve heard about sarin and other chemical weapons in the news. But it’s far easier to attack a rail car full of toxic industrial chemicals than it is to compromise the security of a military base and obtain these materials.” Attacks on industrial chemical facilities may be seen as one element of the greater shift in chemical warfare from the state-based chemical weapons programs toward improvised agents, munitions, and methods for terrorism.
The second additional type of improvised chemical terrorism involves unsecured or under-secured traditional chemical warfare agents and munitions. The principal hazards of this sort are the stockpiles of former Soviet Union, although there are several others. Alleged chemical proliferator states, such as Pakistan and North Korea, are suspected of a willingness to sell to terrorists. Insurgents have reportedly threatened use of looted Iraqi chemical munitions against U.S. troops. Recovery of abandoned or sea-dumped chemical munitions may pose an extreme threat. And, even while highly secure, the destruction of the remaining U.S. chemical weapons stockpiles is being accelerated since these sites are considered potential terrorist targets following the September 2001 terrorist attacks.
Conclusions and Recommendations
The path from street chemistry IEDs to improvised chemical devices is very short. There are two divergent concerns: 1) traditional CW agents dispersed via improvised methods, and 2) improvised agents and delivery methods. Although Japan’s Aum Shinrikyo mimicked a small-scale version of state-based programs, it is not the only model—and may not be the best model—for urban chemical terrorism. Lone individuals or small groups may improvise more. Large quantities and extensive facilities are not required for urban chemical terrorism. Within the global Salafist jihad, there is evidence to suggest an increasing interest in exploiting fairly sophisticated chemistry for terrorist purposes.
Chemical terrorism is likely to be a crime of opportunity for those familiar with chemistry and having access to chemicals. Controlling the materials for use as improvised chemical agents is not a trivial issue, requiring the list of agents of concern to be expanded from the approximately 50 associated with traditional CW to thousands of known commercial chemicals. Former Secretary of the Navy, Richard Danzig, has written on what he calls the “reload” phenomenon: “Our national power to manage the consequences of repeated biological attacks could be exhausted while the terrorist ability to reload remains intact.” With ICDs, the “reload” factor—the potential to repeat an attack, multiple times—is equivalent to or higher than that for biological terrorism given the ubiquitous dispersion of chemical compounds throughout the industrialized world.
Perhaps basic knowledge and materials are too globally widespread to justify efforts to control the capability of terrorists to co-opt them for malfeasant uses. Unlike the stocks of fissile material from the Cold War that can be secured, materials for bioterrorism—with some exceptions—are widespread and unsecured
Leaping from this threat assessment directly to recommendations for governmental or individual action is not something I want to advocate. Rather this threat assessment needs to be considered as part of a broader, comprehensive assessment of terrorist weapons and terrorist targets, which should contribute to policy decisions about funding for research, countermeasures and emergency response. It is a piece of a much wider puzzle, not a ‘turf war.’ While the probability of attack employing ICDs is high, the potential consequence of an improvised nuclear or mass-effect bioterrorism event is much higher. This type of threat assessment needs to be integrated with robust technical evaluations of the risks of bioterrorism, nuclear terrorism and radiological terrorism. Threat assessments also should be integrated into the dialogue of those involved in emergency response, as well as those involved in the experimental laboratory research that may have implications for homeland defense and international security.
About the Author
Dr. Margaret Kosal is a Science Fellow at Stanford University’s Center for International Security and Cooperation (CISAC). Her research has explored a range of issues relating to biological and chemical terrorism and nonproliferation. Specific interests include the entanglement of emerging and dual-use technologies, such as nano- and biotechnology, that impact security concerns. Most recently, she has published research on proliferation and terrorist risks of nanotechnology and on an unaddressed issue of agricultural terrorism. She is currently leading a study of chemical and biological weapons detectors and the integration of policy and technical issues for civilian use, including attribution and verification. She has also investigated the unanticipated role of the public in chemical weapons destruction and their impact on an international arms control treaty.
She received her B.A. in Chemistry from the University of Southern California in Los Angeles and did her doctoral work at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Chicago, investigating the synthesis and behavior of solid-state porphyrinic nanoporous networks, resulting in the publication of seven papers and a book chapter. She continued at the University of Illinois as a post-doctoral researcher exploring thin-film molecular recognition materials that mimic human proteins. She has also held positions at Northwestern University's Feinburg School of Medicine and at the Monterey Institute of International Studies' Center for Nonproliferation Studies (CNS). In early 2001, Kosal and three colleagues founded a sensor company, ChemSensing, leading research on the detection of explosives, chemical agents, neuroactive poisons and bacterial biological warfare agents.
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1. Based on transcripts of phone calls from flight attendant Betty Ong on American Airlines Flight 11, which struck the North Tower, quoted from The 9/11 Commission Report, Final Report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, (July 2004), 5. Transcript of Ong’s call (from Mike M. Ahlers), “9/11 Commission Hears Flight Attendant’s Phone Call,” CNN Washington Bureau, January 27, 2004: “Somebody’s stabbed in business class, and, um, I think there’s Mace that we can’t breathe. I don’t know; I think we are getting hijacked;” See also William Langewiesche, American Ground: Unbuilding the World Trade Center, (New York: North Point Press, 2003), 79-80.
2. Neither an exclusive, nor exhaustive, selection of references includes the following: John F. Sopko, “The Changing Proliferation Threat,” Foreign Policy 105 (1996-1997), pp. 3-20; Richard K. Betts, “The New Threat of Mass Destruction,” Foreign Affairs 77 (1998), 26-41; Ehud Sprinzak, “The Great Superterrorism Scare,” Foreign Policy (1998), 110-125; D.A. Henderson, “The Looming Threat of Bioterrorism,” Science 283 (1999), 1279-82; Jessica Stern, The Ultimate Terrorists (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1999); Jean Pascal Zanders, “Assessing the Risk of Chemical and Biological Weapons Proliferation to Terrorists,” The Nonproliferation Review (Fall 1999), 17-34; Nadine Gurr and Benjamin Cole, The New Face of Terrorism: Threats From Weapons of Mass Destruction (New York: I.B. Tauris, 2000); Christopher F. Chyba, “Biological Terrorism and Public Health,” Survival 43 (2001), 126-50; Brian M. Jenkins, “Terrorism and Beyond: A 21st Century Perspective,” Studies in Conflict and Terrorism 24 (2001), 321-7; Jonathan Tucker, “Chemical Terrorism: Assessing Threats and Responses,” in High Impact Terrorism: Proceedings of a Russian-American Workshop, (Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press, 2002), 117-33; and Audrey Kurth Cronin, “Terrorist Motivations for Chemical and Biological Weapons Use: Placing the Threat in Context,” Defense & Security Analysis, vol. 20 (2004), 313-20.
3. T. J. Torok, et al., “A Large Community Outbreak of Salmonellosis Caused by Intentional Contamination of Restaurant Salad Bars,” JAMA 278 (1997), 389-95; see also Kyle B. Olson, “Aum Shinrikyo: Once and Future Threat?” Emerging Infectious. Diseases 5 (1999), 513-6; Jonathan B. Tucker, Toxic Terror: Assessing Terrorist Use of Chemical and Biological Weapons, (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2000); Amy E. Smithson and Leslie-Anne Levy, Ataxia: The Chemical and Biological Terrorism Threat and the US Response, Report No. 35 (Washington, D.C.: Stimson Center, October 2000); Neal A. Clinehens, “Aum Shinrikyo and Weapons of Mass Destruction: A Case Study,” Maxwell Air University, April 2000.
4. Milton Leitenberg, “Biosecurity and Bioterrorism,” in M. Martellini, ed., An Assessment of the Threat of the Use of Biological Weapons or Biological Agents (Landau Network Centro Volta, 2000); see also Jonathan B. Tucker and Amy Sands, “An Unlikely Threat,” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists 55 (1999), 46-52; Dean A. Wilkening, “BCW Attack Scenarios,” in Sidney D. Drell, Abraham D. Sofaer and George D. Wilson, eds. The New Terror: Facing the Threat of Biological and Chemical Weapons (Stanford, CA: Hoover Institution Press, 1999), 76-114; Rebecca L. Ferichs, Reynolds M. Salerno, Kathleen M. Vogel, Natalie B. Barnett, Jennifer Gaudioso, Loren T. Hickok, Daniel Estes, and Danielle F. Jung, Historical Precedence and Technical Requirements of Biological Weapons Use: A Threat Assessment, International Security Initiatives (Albuquerque, NM: Sandia National Laboratory, May 2004).
5. Bruce Hoffman, “Rethinking Terrorism and Counterterrorism Since 9/11,” Studies in Conflict & Terrorism 25 (2002), 303-16.
6. See, for example, the leaked draft of the U.S. Homeland Security National Planning Scenarios, which include the use of nerve or blister agents as 2 of 15 potential man-made and natural emergency disasters.
7. Hitoshi Tsuchihashi, Munehiro Katagi, Mayumi Nishikawa, and Michiaki Tatsuno, “Identification of Metabolites of Nerve Agent VX in Serum Collected from a Victim,” Journal of Analytical Toxicology 22 (1998), 383-8.
8. Michael Reynolds, “Homegrown Terror,” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists 60 (2004), 48-57; see also Julian Borger, “U.S. Extremists to be Sentenced Over Bomb Plot: Texas Couple Had Arsenal Capable of Killing Thousands,” The Guardian (London, UK), January 8, 2004, 13; and Tyler Thomas Korosec, “Gun Dealer Sentenced, but Motive Still Mystery; Weapons Case Called Win Over Terror,” The Houston Chronicle, May 5, 2004, A23.
9. USA v. William J. Krar, Criminal Complaint filed April 3, 2004, United States District Court Eastern Texas District, 7-8. Later in the complaint, reference is made to a “gas mask,” documents “which contained directions for exerting a covert type plans/operations to avoid law enforcement,” and a “syringe of brown liquid and the unknown white powder, all taken from his (Krar’s) rental car,” during his January 2003 arrest in Tennessee (24).
10. Michael Reynolds, private communication with the author, March 21, 2005.
11. Note: not all commercially available products contain hydrochloric acid.
12. Judith Miller, “Qaeda Videos Seem to Show Chemical Tests," The New York Times, August 19, 2002, 1A; see also Dana Priest, “Archive of Al Qaeda Videotapes Broadcast; Dogs Shown Dying from Toxic Vapor,” The Washington Post, August 21, 2002, A13; and Jack Kelley and Bill Keveney, “Tapes of al-Qaeda Supply Evidence of Terror Plans,” USA Today, August 20, 2002, 4A.
13. “Report to The President of the Commission on the Intelligence Capabilities of the United States Regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction,” (Unclassified), March 31, 2005.
14. “Terrorist Chemical Device,” DHS Information Bulletin, (Unclassified), September 16, 2003.
15. Ben Taylor and Stephen Wright, “Britain Foils Chemical Bomb Plot,” The Advertiser (Sydney), April 8, 2004, 1A.
16. Brian Ross and Chris Isham, C., “Very Nasty: Potential Bomb Plot Involved Deadly Chemical,” ABCNEWS.com, April 5, 2004.
18. Richard Norton-Taylor and Rosie Cowan, “Chemical Bomb Plot Uncovered,” The Guardian, April 7, 2004, A1.
19. National Academy of Sciences, Prudent Practices in the Laboratory: Handling and Disposal of Chemicals, (Washington, D.C.: National Academies Press, 1995), 364.
20. Unlike the painful but temporary blindness associated sulfur and nitrogen mustard vesicant agents.
21. Army Field Manual 3-9, 94.
22. F. A. Cotton and Geoffrey Wilkinson, Advanced Inorganic Chemistry (New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1998), 880-881.
23. Alexander Kuhl, Heiko Karels, and Wolfgang Kreiser, “New Synthesis of 18-norestradiol,” Helvetica Chimica Acta 82 (1999), 30-31.
24. A. McLaughlin, R. Milton, and K. Perry, “Toxic Manifestations of Osmium Tetroxide,” British Journal of Industrial Medicine 3 (1946), 183-6.
25. Army Field Manual 3-9, Op. Cit., 94.
26. Frederick R. Sidell, John S. Urbanetti, William J. Smith, and Charles G. Hurst, “Vesicants,” in Textbook of Military Medicine: Medical Aspects of Chemical and Biological Warfare (Washington, D.C.: Office of the Surgeon General, Department of the Army, 1997).
27. Frederick R. Sidell, “Nerve Agents,” in R. Zajtchuk, and B. F. Bellamy, eds., Medical Aspects of Biological and Chemical Warfare,. (Washington, D.C.: Office of the Surgeon General, Department of the Army, 1997); 129-79.
28. National Academy of Sciences, Prudent Practices, 364.
29. Simon Elegant, “Poisonous Minds,” Time (Asia) 161, June 30, 2003; see also Darren Goodsir, “Chemical Find Raises JI Strike Alarm,” The Sydney Morning Herald, July 14, 2003; see also Zachary Abuza, “Reasons Why Jakarta Should Worry Us,” The Sydney Morning Herald, August 7, 2003.
30. David Blair, “Al-Qa’eda Plot Would Have Killed 20,000,” The Daily Telegraph (London), April 19, 2004,11; see also “Chemical Attack Said Thwarted on Jordan Security HQ, US Embassy,” BBC Monitoring International Reports, April 16, 2004; “Jordan ‘Was Chemical Bomb Target,’” BBC News World Edition, April 17, 2004; FBIS documents; also Author’s private communication with ABC News correspondent, July 2004.
31. “5 Sickened by Poison at Mie University,” The Daily Yomiuri (Tokyo),October 17, 1998,1; see also “Poison Tea Fells Four in Aichi Lab,” Asahi News Service (Tokyo), October 28, 1998; “Long Jail Time Sought for Nigata Poisoner,” Mainichi Daily News (Japan), July 31, 1999,12; “Coffee Spiked With Deadly Poison, Mainichi Daily News (Japan), January 17, 2001, 12; “Doctor Faces 18 Months Jail for Poisoning Staff,” Mainichi Daily News (Japan), November14 , 2002, 1; “Chemical Researcher Held in Poisoning Case,” Asahi Shimbun (Tokyo), August30, 2002; and “High Court Returns Hospital Poisoning Case to Lower Court,” The Daily Yomiuri (Tokyo), August 6, 2004, 2.
32. Central Intelligence Agency, “Comprehensive Report by the Special Advisor to the DCI on Iraq’s WMD: Iraq’s Chemical Warfare Program,” September 30, 2004.
33. Margaret E. Kosal, “Terrorism Targeting Industrial Chemical Facilities: Strategic Motivations and International Repercussions,” manuscript submitted to International Security.
34. Office of the White House, “The National Strategy for the Physical Protection of Critical Infrastructures and Key Assets,” February 2003, xii, 6, 65-66; see also United States General Accounting Office (GAO), “Homeland Security: Voluntary Initiatives are Under Way at Chemical Facilities, but the Extent of Security Preparedness is Unknown,” GAO-03-439, March 2003.
35. U.S. Army, “Draft Medical NBC Hazard Analysis of Chemical-Biological-Radiological-Nuclear-High Explosive Threat, Possible Scenarios & Planning Requirements,” (Army Office of the Surgeon General, October 2001), cited in United States General Accounting Office (GAO), “Homeland Security: Voluntary Initiatives are Under Way at Chemical Facilities, but the Extent of Security Preparedness is Unknown,” Report to Congressional Requesters, GAO-03-439, (Washington, D.C.: United States General Accounting Office, March 2003) 11, and in Eric Pianin, “Study Assesses Risk of Attack on Chemical Plant,” Washington Post, March 12, 2002, A8.
36. R. Nicholas Palarino and Robert Briggs, Briefing Memorandum for the hearing “Combating Terrorism: Chemical Plant Security,” U.S. House of Representatives, Subcommittee on National Security, Emerging Threats and International Relations, February 19, 2004; see also Lois Ember, “Worst-Case Scenario for Chemical Plant Attack,” Chemical & Engineering News 80 (2002), 8; and “Homeland Unsecured: The Bush Administration’s Hostility to Regulation and Ties to Industry Leave America Vulnerable” (Washington, D.C.: Public Citizen, October 2004), 19-40, 63-5.
37. U.S. Senate, “Chemical Security Act of 2002: Report to Accompany S. 1602,” Report 107-342, November 15, 2002, contains internal reference to data submitted in accordance with EPA-required Risk Management Plans (40 CFR 68).
38. U.S. Department of Homeland Security, “Characteristics and Common Vulnerabilities Report for Chemical Facilities,” version 1, revision 1, (July 17, 2003).
39. FBI Special Agent Troy Morgan quoted in Carl Prine, “Chemical Industry Slowly Boosts Security,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, June 22, 2003.
40. See, for example, Joby Warrick, “An Easier, but Less Deadly, Recipe for Terror,” Washington Post, December 2004, A1.
41. Hala Jaber, “Falluja’s Defenders Says They Will Use Chemical Weapons,” Sunday Times (London), October 31, 2004; see also Charles J. Hanley, “Looters Said to Overrun Iraq Weapons Site,” The Washington Post, October 31, 2004.
42. Richard Danzig, “Catastrophic Bioterrorism—What Is To Be Done? Center for Technology and National Security Policy,” (National Defense University: Washington, D.C., August 2003), 8, 9, 15.
Bomb plot 'justifies terror alert'
The foiling of an alleged chemical bomb plot in Britain vindicates the government's continued warnings about the terror threat, David Blunkett says.
Osmium tetroxide is not known as a chemical weapon agent
Al-Qaeda sympathisers were believed to be targeting civilians in London.
The plot was thought to involve detonating a combination of explosives and a chemical called osmium tetroxide.
Britain's top policeman, Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir John Stevens, has reiterated his belief that the UK was "in a state of real danger".
Underlining his concerns about the terrorist threat, he said: "There is the chance that someone will slip through - it's my job to ensure they don't succeed."
Sir John Stevens told The Spectator magazine it would be a dereliction in his duty if he "didn't engage the main means of combating terrorism ... the population".
'Our only protection'
Mr Blunkett told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that recent events should counter claims in people's minds that "we exaggerated" the threat.
"All of us, for two-and-a-half years have been indicating that that is precisely what the network called al-Qaeda, in its loose form, are actually about," he said.
The public should be "praising and being very grateful that we have the security and counter-terrorism services we do because they are doing a first-class job", he said.
"They have got my whole-hearted backing because this is the only protection we really have."
Meanwhile, the home secretary has made some changes to the way his department deals with counter-terrorism.
Hazel Blears, who is minister for policing, crime reduction and community safety, will now be responsible for counter-terrorism which was previously the concern of Beverley Hughes before she resigned as immigration minister last week.
Ms Hughes' replacement, Des Browne, will now concentrate more on asylum and immigration following a series of controversial scandals for the government in this area.
The target of the alleged chemical and explosives plot was thought to be areas in which there would be concentrations of people, possibly within a confined space.
Alastair Hay, Professor of environmental toxicology at Leeds University, said osmium tetroxide was a rare catalyst and could potentially make an explosion occur more rapidly.
Laboratory chemical which requires precautions when handled
Used in scientific experiments, not known as a chemical weapon agent
Toxic and irritant, even in small amounts
Direct contact causes skin and eye damage
But he told the BBC it would have to be obtained from a specialist chemical supplier and it did not fit the profile of a typical chemical warfare or dirty bomb agent.
"It would not be in the same category as some radioactive substance which would continue to emit radiation and cause a problem in terms of clean up," he said.
Security expert Dr Sally Lievesly said terrorists were well aware of the psychological impact a chemical bomb would create.
"The emergency services would be faced with a terrible scene. They would have to kit out, they'd be delayed and the injuries they'd be seeing would be very bad, so their job is a very difficult one," she told BBC One's Ten O'Clock News.
"With these types of attack, if the public are not prepared, this then becomes a weapon of psychological terror."
The UK has been on a high state of alert since the bombings in Madrid on 11 March.
Sir John has in the past said a terror attack on London was inevitable, but Mr Blunkett has tried to play this down.
Tory leader Michael Howard has written to Tony Blair asking him to clarify his position on the need for a dedicated minister for homeland security.
In his letter, Mr Howard says it is not clear from recent comments who is responsible for combating terrorism.
"It is unacceptable in the current climate that there is confusion over who is in charge of counter terrorism, and I ask you to make clear your position on this vital issue as a matter of urgency," he said.
Earlier, a Whitehall official told the BBC that, had this plot succeeded, it would have been the most serious attack on Britain in many years.
All Credit to the BBC at:
Terror by Chemical Bombs
Is a chemical bomb the next weapon of choice that al-Qaeda groups will use on the United States, the United Kingdom and continental Europe? There are strong indications that it is! Specialized al-Qaeda training camps turned out multiple hundreds of terrorists capable of producing such bombs. These people in turn trained even more in the chemistry of killing.
by Cecil Maranville
Are al-Qaeda and its shadowy branch groups even now planning to use horrible chemical weapons against targets in the Middle East, Europe and the United States? The evidence that they are is mounting steadily.
While visiting the United States in mid-April, Jordanian King Abdullah rocked the world with the revelation that his country's security service foiled a terrorist plot to kill up to 80,000 people with chemical agents. The carefully orchestrated scheme was thwarted just in time to avert a colossal disaster, which, in the king's words, "would have decapitated the government."
The primary target was the nation's General Intelligence Department, an intelligence service of world renown. The conventional blast and the chemicals it dispersed would have killed for a radius of about a half mile.
Secondary targets were the prime minister's offices and the U.S. embassy, on which the terrorists were intending to use poison gas.
Authorities stopped five trucks loaded with 17.5 tons of explosives and intercepted at least one car owned by the terrorists, loaded with a chemical bomb and poison gas. The car was captured 75 miles from the Syrian border. King Abdullah said his country believes the terrorists came from Syria, although that government denies it. (The king was careful to point out that Jordan did not believe that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad had any knowledge of the plot.)
Although greatly underreported, U.S. weapons inspector David Kay said in March that his investigation showed Iraq moved many components of its weapons of mass destruction program to Syria before the coalition forces invaded Iraq last spring.
A Syrian journalist, Nizar Nayuf, wrote the same thing in the Dutch De Telegraaf a few weeks before Kay's comments. Nayuf produced a letter from an Iraqi source detailing the transfer and the storage locations for the weapons.
Abu Musab al-Zarqawi
The Jordanians' success in stopping the mass murder by terror began with the arrest of two terrorists in early April. They pointed to the militant Islamic terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi as the mastermind. The United States has a $10 million reward out on al-Zarqawi because of his terrorist activities in Iraq.
Just a few days before this writing, al-Zarqawi posted a message on an Arab Web site, encouraging Sunnis in Iraq to "burn the earth under the [foreign] occupiers' feet" (Mark Huband, "Terrorist Chemical Threat 'Worse Than Suspected,'" Financial Times, April 11, 2004).
This same al-Zarqawi is believed to be the mastermind of the Madrid bombing that led to the replacement of the pro-coalition government in Spain.
Is the man knowledgeable about chemical weaponry? Absolutely. He taught classes in chemical warfare at an al-Qaeda training camp in Herat, Afghanistan, in 2000 and 2001. And he ran the al-Qaeda training camp in northern Iraq that coalition forces took out in early 2003.
Britons prevent chemical terror attack on London
Other disturbing pieces of intelligence are slowly emerging from a sweeping raid conducted by British antiterrorism police on March 30, 2004. Ten people were arrested: eight Britons of Pakistani origin, another of Algerian origin and one Canadian. Hundreds of officers participated in the evidence search of 24 London locations, acting on telephone intercepts by GCHQ (the British electronic eavesdropping intelligence agency)—with possible help from the U.S. National Security Agency.
Those intercepts showed serious intent to acquire and use a chemical agent, osmium tetroxide (OsO4), in terrorist attacks on crowded public places, including Gatwick airport and the London subway. Attacks were not limited to the United Kingdom, for the plotters discussed U.S. targets, too, including the Sears Tower in Chicago.
(The Sears Tower had been among the sought-after targets for 9/11's bombing with hijacked commercial aircraft. Some terrorism experts note that al-Qaeda's persistence with the World Trade Center, after initially failing to destroy it in a 1993 bombing, indicates that the group will return to a missed target.)
Because of obvious problems in using OsO4 as a weapon, it's been generally discounted as an unlikely possibility. The largest deterrents to using OsO4 are: (1) it is expensive to purchase; (2) even though it has legitimate commercial uses, its sale is closely monitored; (3) it is dangerous for the bomb maker to work with; (4) the damage it causes doesn't compare to what could be done through a radiological device—in other words, it wouldn't be terrorizing enough to make it worth the trouble.
Osmium tetroxide—an insidious killer
That's not to say it wouldn't terrorize the public. It can indeed terrorize, and antiterrorism authorities have long been aware of its potential as a weapon. The effects of OsO4 are similar to the old blister agents, producing chemical burns to the skin, irritating the eyes and throat, causing dizziness and headaches.
But the real evil of OsO4 is that it works undetected for hours after exposure, causing effects that the victims are unaware of until too late. OsO4 will turn the cornea of the eye to brown or black, causing permanent blindness. Even more seriously, again over several hours, it slowly causes the lungs to fill with fluid and brings about the same type of death as a severe asthma attack. That is what is known as "dryland drowning."
Compared to deadly sarin gas (used to kill 12 and injure 5,000 in a terrorist attack on five Tokyo subway lines in 1995), victims have to inhale a great deal more OsO4 to suffer fatal effects. But sarin, like VX and many other chemical agents, is hard to aerosolize. OsO4 isn't. It vaporizes from its typical solid gel-like form the instant it comes in contact with the air. (A person can suffer its terrible effects just by opening a container of OsO4.) In a broad comparison with sarin, then, OsO4 is equally as deadly.
OsO4 is easy to absorb. It can be taken in by breathing, contact with the skin and through the eyes or any other mucous membrane. But these properties work against its effectiveness for a terrorist, too, because it is just as easily absorbed by other things, including rubber, plants and cooking oil.
Unlike radioactive material, there's no residual threat from OsO4, and it is easily cleaned up—further characteristics terrorists should find unattractive about the substance.
In an explosion, such as the British terrorists apparently intended to use to disperse OsO4, the chemical could actually have oxidized, rendering it useless.
Finally, as noted above, it's quite costly to buy. So why, in spite of the many downsides to it, were these terrorists planning to use osmium tetroxide?
Why use a dangerous and costly agent?
Let's look at the fact of its expense. A reality of state-sponsored terrorism and al-Qaeda's businesslike structure is that terrorists have considerable financial means to accomplish their wicked missions. They can afford costly weapons. (Al-Qaeda put out a statement recently that they had purchased two suitcase nuclear devices—if true, they paid in the millions of dollars for each one.)
Let's look at two more facts—that OsO4 is tightly controlled and dangerous to work with. In January of 2004, French antiterrorist police arrested five people on suspicion of plotting terrorism. Two of them confessed to a plan to use ricin poison and botulinum bacteria in attacks on Russian targets in France. The investigation uncovered the fact that one of the five was highly skilled in the production of chemical substances for weapons use.
So they had the means to obtain or manufacture, and the knowledge to use, chemical weapons. In a Financial Times interview, a senior French counterterrorism official warned: "We have seriously underestimated the terrorists' willingness and capacity to develop chemical weapons" (ibid., Mark Huband).
Where do they get such training, and what is the Russian connection? The terrorist with training in chemical warfare arrested by the French learned his skills in Chechnya. Hence the reason for targeting Russian interests—the terrorists sympathized with the al-Qaeda-connected terrorists in Chechnya.
But that's not the only place for training in chemical warfare. At least one other source, a Pakistani Islamist group, Lashkar-e-Toiba, is knowledgeable about chemical weaponry and has trained other groups within the al-Qaeda network.
As mentioned above, al-Qaeda had a training camp (maybe more than one) in Afghanistan to teach the chemistry that kills. Antiterrorist specialists now suspect that there is a wide network of such specialists who can aid each other in their goals—without detection through normal monitoring channels. Because their network is nearly impossible to break into, antiterrorist police know only part of the unsettling picture.
Were the London fanatics dumb?
Some suggest that the London terrorists knew only a little chemistry and did not know that they would likely destroy their osmium tetroxide by exploding a conventional bomb to disperse it. Were they ignorant? Were they on a fool's errand?
I'm not so sure. What if they intended to release the OsO4 after a conventional explosion? That is, after the first responders (police, firefighters and EMTs) came to the aid of the victims? Such timing would maximize the effect of the osmium tetroxide by redoubling the terror on the survivors of the initial explosion and targeting the first responders.
There's more intelligence from the French arrests. This group also had connections to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who is proving to be a criminal of colossal proportions. The day King Abdullah announced the foiled terrorist chemical attack, Jordan's state security court sentenced al-Zarqawi (and seven others) to death at an in-absentia trial for the 2002 murder of U.S. diplomat Laurence Foley in Amman.
Clearly, al-Zarqawi and al-Qaeda's fingerprints are all over the world—and the horrific specter of chemical weapons along with them. I am not so quick to assume that anyone associated with the evil gang was wasting time and money. They may have been crazy like a fox.
Implications from what we see and from prophecy
The implications are that terrorists will indeed use chemical bombs in future assaults. As 9/11 demonstrated, a single terrorist attack can strike a crippling blow to the strongest economies in the world. As "3/11" (the bombing of Madrid trains on March 11, 2004) demonstrated, a single terrorist attack can apparently bring down a government. Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's thugs nearly did it again in Jordan in April—only a month after their success in Spain.
They are clearly capable of planning multiple operations at the same time, in part, because terror cells are trained to operate independently of each other. At the same time, they can draw upon each other for resources, as necessary.
The U.S. security forces are gearing up to guard against possible attacks just before the presidential elections in November. Greece is bracing itself for possible attacks on Israelis, Americans and others at the Olympics in August of this year. The EU recently appointed an antiterrorist "czar" to coordinate European defenses against terror.
Yet, as Western government and security officials repeatedly warn their citizens, the defensive network must be right 100 percent of the time, whereas the terrorists have to meet their objective only once.
Terrorism has redefined the economies of the world, as untold trillions have been lost in revenues and/or spent on defensive measures. Terrorism has also redefined the political structure of many nations, for a given government's stand on antiterror efforts looms large in the minds of the electorate.
How does that dovetail with Bible prophecy?
The Bible foretells three shifts of seismic proportions in the geopolitical landscape:
(1) The modern inheritors of the wealth God promised to biblical Israel will suffer mortal defeat. Those nations are principally the United States, Great Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
(2) Much of Europe will coalesce into a sovereign entity, capable of dominating the world's economy and of marshalling armies to go to any place in the world they are needed.
(3) Another entity, identified only as the king of the South (Daniel 11:40), will provoke the European superpower to sweep into and take over the Middle East. Terrorist attacks on European targets may well be the catalyst that incites Europe to take this action.
We publish several booklets that present in easily understood language the Bible's warnings on these subjects: The United States and Britain in Bible Prophecy, You Can Understand Bible Prophecy, Are We Living in the Time of the End?, The Book of Revelation Unveiled and The Middle East in Bible Prophecy.
Consider the present evidence:
- Many hundreds, if not thousands, of terrorists are trained in the procuring, production and use of chemical bombs.
- The vicious and deadly al-Qaeda complex is capable of financing and mounting major operations in numerous countries around the world at the same or nearly the same time.
- The Bible forecasts crippling losses for some of today's leading nations.
One can only conclude that chemical bombs will indeed be used successfully, and soon... WNPhttp://www.ucgstp.org/bureau/wnp/wnp0058/chemicalbombs.htm
Improvised Chemical Agent: Osmium Tetroxide
|GLOVES, GOGGLES, AND RESPIRATORY PROTECTION MUST BE USED|
|Evacuate uphill and upwind without moving through the agent cloud.|
CNS Subjects: Terrorism
Jump to: Books | WMD Terrorism | U.S. Response | Group Profiles | Chronologies | Agroterrorism | Database
||The Four Faces of Nuclear Terrorism |
Warns that substandard security at nuclear facilities in Europe, Central Asia, Russia, and Pakistan increases the risk of terrorists seizing highly enriched uranium to make crude, but devastating, nuclear explosives.
By Charles D. Ferguson, William C. Potter, Amy Sands, Leonard S. Spector, and Fred L. Wehling.
Created: June 18, 2004
U.S. Domestic Preparedness and Response to Terrorism
- Literature Review of Existing Terrorist Behavior Modeling (PDF format, 1.7 MB)
Created: February 21, 2006
- Art or Bioterrorism? The Implications of the Kurtz Case
In the war against terrorism, neither art, science, nor democracy should be an unintended casualty.
CNS Research Story by Margaret E. Kosal.
Created: July 27
- Bioterrorism Threat Assessment and Risk Management Workshop (PDF format)
Final Report and Commentary presented to the U.S. Department of Energy on June 24, 2003 by Raymond A. Zilinskas (Rapporteur).
Created: August 15, 2003
- Biosecurity Measures for Preventing Bioterrorism
This essay and the companion research collection provide an introduction to biosecurity measures, a key element among policy efforts to address the threat of bioterrorism.
Research Story of the Week by Michael Barletta.
Created: November 25, 2002
- Legislative Response to Potential Bioterrorist Threat
On June 12, 2002, President George W. Bush signed into law the "Public Health Security and Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act of 2002." The new law seeks to significantly increase America's ability to prepare for, prevent, detect and respond to bioterrorism in an efficient and coordinated manner.
Research Story of the Week by Kristin Thompson.
Created: July 12, 2002
- Vaccinate Saddam Against Invasion?
An Op-Ed for the International Herald Tribune by Leonard S. Spector.
Created: June 10, 2002
- Anthrax And Mass-Casualty Terrorism: What is the Bioterrorist Threat After September 11?
An article by Jason Pate for the U.S. Foreign Policy Agenda, Vol. 6, No. 3, November 2001.
Created: November 29, 2001
- Future Security Threats & Capabilities
Listen to a Commonwealth Club talk with Jason Pate (Scroll down to recent forums).
- Improving Infectious Disease Surveillance to Combat Bioterrorism and Natural Emerging Infections
Testimony by Jonathan B. Tucker, Ph.D, before the Senate Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies.
Created: 8 October 2001
- Assessing the Threat of Mass-Casualty Bioterrorism
The September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks have shown that the threat of mass-casualty terrorism has reached the United States. The subsequent series of anthrax letters has demonstrated that biological terrorism is a reality. These two developments—mass-casualty attacks and the use of biological agents—have signaled a new era in terrorism in the United States. An issue brief by Jason Pate and Gary Ackerman for the Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI).
Updated: October 2001
- Special Section on the September 11, 2001, Attacks: Interview with Ambassador Robert G. Joseph
An interview for the Nonproliferation Review, CNS, Vol. 8.3.
by Leonard S. Spector
Created: Fall-Winter 2001
- U.S. Federal Funding to Combat Terrorism
Lists funding to various federal agencies in order to combat terrorism, including defense against weapons of mass destruction.
- Better Plan Needed for Curbing Epidemics
"Even though the United States has the most extensive disease surveillance and response system in the world, there are gaps in its ability to detect outbreaks early, as the 1999 West Nile virus outbreak illustrated." An Op-Ed for Newsday by Jason Pate.
Created: 7 December 2000
- America and the "New Terrorism": Reassessing the Threat
Washington D.C. Office 2000 Briefing Series, August 9, 2000.
- Combating Terrorism: Assessing Threats, Risk Management, and Establishing Priorities
Testimony by John Parachini before the House Subcommittee on National Security, Veterans Affairs, and International Relations.
Updated: 2 August 2000
Created: 27 July 2000
- Combating Terrorism: Assessing the Threat
Congressional Testimony by John V. Parachini
Created: 25 October 1999
- Assessing the Threat of Bioterrorism
Congressional Testimony by Raymond Zilinskas
Created: 24 October 1999
Terrorist Group Profiles
In light of the U.S. focus on Afghanistan and the Taliban in connection with the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, CNS has developed profiles of selected terrorist organizations operating in Afghanistan.
The Chemical and Biological Weapons Nonproliferation Program (CBWNP) at CNS systematically monitors incidents around the world involving the acquisition and/or use by sub-state actors of weapons of mass destruction (WMD), defined as chemical, biological, or nuclear materials.
If you are interested in obtaining further information about the databases, including subscription rates and terms, please contact Yavuz Atila, Database Manager at:
Phone: +1 (831) 647-3580 [Pacific time]
Fax: +1 (831) 647-3519
Center for Nonproliferation Studies
Monterey Institute of International Studies
460 Pierce Street
Monterey, CA 93940, USA
- Web: http://cns.miis.edu
Further Resources: Chemical and Biological Weapons Resource Page