Sunday, November 01, 2009

Some al-Qaeda News I Missed

News from 19 Jan 2009. It seems al-Queda may have been fooling around with the Plague.

The Black Death has reportedly killed at least 40 al-Qaeda operatives in North Africa.

The disease, which struck Europe in the Middle Ages killing more than 25 million people, has swept through a training camp for insurgents in Algeria.

The arrival of the plague was discovered when security forces found the body of a dead terrorist by a roadside, the Sun reports.

The victim belonged to the large al-Qaeda network AQLIM (al-Qaeda in the Land of the Islamic Maghreb).

A security source told the paper: "This is the deadliest weapon yet in the war against terror. Most of the terrorists do not have the basic medical supplies needed to treat the disease.

"It spreads It spreads quickly and kills within hours. This will be really worrying al-Qaeda."

Black Death comes in various forms and was one of the deadliest pandemics in human history when it struck in the 1340s killing 75 million people across North Africa, Asia and Europe.

Bubonic Plague is spread by bites from infected rat fleas. Symptoms include painful boils in the groin, neck and armpits. In Pneumonic Plague, airborn bacteria spread like flu. Without medication it can be deadly.

The new epidemic began in the cave hideouts of AQLIM in Tizi Ouzou province, 150km east of the capital Algiers, the Sun reports.
The question is: was this an attack on al-Queda or preparation for an attack by al-Qaeda that misfired? Or was it just bad luck for the terrorists?


snakeoilbaron said...

Bacteria and viruses are really hard to use as weapons effectively. The better they are at killing (without being so good they kill one or two victims before it can spread) the harder they are to work with. I could see AQ having to learn this the hard way but most governments would have better consultants than AQ. And while there is a psychological benefit to terrorism via biological agents, It's really not a cost effective use of resources even for them - far less for intelligence agencies or the like. So a failed attempt by AQ is plausible but it would not be as great a threat as it sounds. When the news of this event became public some pundits claimed that AQ was terrified that people trying to escape the outbreak would show up at other AQ camps across the region. No such luck unfortunately.

It is probably of equal or greater likelihood that this was a natural outbreak as the AQ camps in Algeria tend to be remote, in caves and have weak health and saftey regulations. ;-) Plague is endemic there in the mammal population but fortunately the conditions needed for wide spread outbreaks are not. Unless you sleep in caves and tents next to your food supplies and the mice and rats need to scurry over you on their way to their midnight snack. Spending money on ammo rather than antibiotics probably doesn't help much either.

snakeoilbaron said...

Oh, and a bit OT, since it spread so quicky throughout the camp it means the bacteria had most likely gone pneumonic which is why AQ would have been right to be nervous about survivors showing up since they could spread it as an air borne pathogen. Even the cleanest camp would not have been safe. We are all very fortunate that they did not get a small outbreak going. If pneumonic plague had circulated until the Hajj it could have spread anywhere.