NBC Weapons: October 24, 2001


Creating the powdered form of "military grade" anthrax spores requires expensive equipment (centrifuges and special dryers) and could probably be done only by a government. It is unlikely that al Qaeda has such equipment hidden in Afghan caves. However, just because it is made by a government doesn't mean a government used it. Iraq, Iran, and Russia (among others) could make such material. Iraq might have sold a few vials to al Qaeda, or a desperately broke (and dishonest) Russian officer might have sold it, or fundamentalist factions in Iran might have shared it. Iraq (and many other nations) obtained samples of the "Ames Strain" of anthrax decades ago. Egyptian police say that arrested members of al Qaeda bought anthrax vials in Prague, and Mohamed Atta, tactical leader of the hijackers, is known to have met Iraqi intelligence agent Ahmed Samir al-Ahani in Prague last Autumn.--Stephen V Cole


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