There is a troubling briefing by the UK-based Henry Jackson Society (HJS), co-authored by Dr. Jill Bellamy van Allst, NATO Bio-warfare Expert and Oliver Guitta , Director of Research , reported by Adam Kredo in the Washington Free Beacon , “Al Qaeda-Aligned Groups in Syria May Have Access to Biological Pathogens”. Our New English Review interview with Dr. Bellamy Van Aalst on Syria’s Bio-warfare program in 2007 was reprised to heightened interest in 2013, “The Dangers of Syria’s Bio-Warfare Complex Should Assad Fall”. More recent concerns have emerged about the possible use of drones by terrorist group Hezbollah as a delivery platform for possible BW attacks against Israel.
The Washington Free Beacon cited this warning by HJS authors Dr. Bellamy Van Aaalst and Guitta:
The problem with bio-weapons, unlike chemical or nuclear, is the quality and weaponization for dispersal that counts, not the quantity. You do not need a stockpile and you do not need sophisticated delivery methods, in fact, that is no longer optimal. Bio-weapons are silent, and determining that an attack has occurred can be challenging.
The HJS authors found:
- Al Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria, Al Nusrah, may have acquired access to biological pathogens or weaponized agents, either of which would pose a threat to the international community.
- The Syrian civil war has left sections of the bio-pharmaceutical infrastructure destroyed, and looting of labs has been observed, which could indicate that Assad is losing command and control over one of the most dangerous classes of weapons remaining in his weapons of mass destruction (WMD) arsenal.
- Should al Qaeda acquire sections of Assad’s BW program, it has the competence and expertise to weaponize and deploy agents.
- Documents found in Afghanistan, in 2001, ostensibly revealed that al-Qaeda was doing research on using botulinum toxin to kill 2,000 people.
- On January 6, 2009 a number of terrorists died of plague in an al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) training camps in Tizi Ouzou. Reportedly, 50 terrorists had been diagnosed with the plague, 40 of whom died.
- Intelligence sources suggest that in several countries, notably Morocco, Algeria, Sudan and Mauritania, AQ is training operatives in biological and chemical weapons and has successfully inserted terrorists into Europe through application processes for refugee status.
The Washington Free Beacon noted:
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is believed to have ample biological weapons stores in addition to the chemical weapons currently being confiscated by Western nations. These caches likely include various neurotoxins and deadly viruses, according to U.S. intelligence estimates and other experts.
“A very credible source has confirmed he saw, near Aleppo, a looted pharmaceutical laboratory, which was probably a cover for a biological weapons production site,” Guitta and van Aalst revealed in a research brief published by the Henry Jackson Society.
“Syria’s biological warfare programs are latent, highly compartmentalized, and dual use, run under both legitimate and clandestine programs, laboratories, institutes, and facilities,” the report states. “The fact that this looting took place in the Aleppo area where the rebellion—and in particular Al Nusrah—is very strong tends to confirm that AQ may potentially be in possession of biological agents.”
Al Qaeda’s interest in acquiring biological weapons is cited by the HJS authors:
Recent reports from Syria suggest that al Qaeda’s top leaders have taken an interest in Assad’s bio-weapons research facilities.
Al Qaeda’s primary biological weapon expert, Yazid Sufaat, was arrested in Malaysia. “His arrest is all the more concerning given that the [United Nations] has allowed the Assad regime to maintain its [bio-weapons] program,” according to the report.
Suffaat is a graduate of California State University, Sacramento, where he received a degree in biology, according to Guitta and van Aalst.
“In 1993, Sufaat established Green Laboratory Medicine, a pathology lab where he tried to weaponize anthrax on behalf of al Qaeda,” according to the report. “Sufaat had direct ties to Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Al Mihdhar, both of whom were on Flight AA 77, which crashed into the Pentagon on 9/11.”
Note these comments from Texas Senator John Cornyn and National Intelligence Director Clapper:
Sen. John Cornyn (R., Texas) warned last month that Syria’s unsecured bio-weapons pose a great threat to the region.
U.S. intelligence agencies have reported that Assad possesses various biological weapons and has an active research program underway.
“Based on the duration of Syria’s longstanding biological warfare (BW) program, we judge that some elements of the program may have advanced beyond the research and development stage and may be capable of limited agent production,” Director of National Intelligence James Clapper wrote in an unclassified April 2013 report.
“Syria is not known to have successfully weaponized biological agents in an effective delivery system, but it possesses conventional and chemical weapon systems that could be modified for biological agent delivery,” Clapper concluded.
Question is will the Obama National Security Council brief the President on this compelling threat? Given the array of problems in Eastern Europe and the Middle East would this credible threat get the attention it deserves? Perhaps, it is the Israelis who have been keeping a watch on Syrian terror weapons. They may already be on the case regarding bio-weapons filtering into the hands of Terrorist groups, whether al Qaeda, Hezbollah or the Palestinian Islamic Jihad in Gaza.
EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared on The New English Review.