Although nothing official has been released, on Jan. 19 The Sun (UK) posted news of a small, but possibly significant plague outbreak in Algeria. The first victim found was a member of a powerful al Qaeda group based outside of the Middle East.
From The Sun’s article…
The killer bug, also known as the plague, swept through insurgents training at a forest camp in Algeria, North Africa. It came to light when security forces found a body by a roadside.
The victim was a terrorist in AQLIM (al-Qaeda in the Land of the Islamic Maghreb), the largest and most powerful al-Qaeda group outside the Middle East. …
The al-Qaeda epidemic began in the cave hideouts of AQLIM in Tizi Ouzou province, 150km east of the capital Algiers. The group, led by wanted terror boss Abdelmalek Droudkal, was forced to turn its shelters in the Yakouren forest into mass graves and flee.
The extremists supporting madman Osama bin Laden went to Bejaia and Jijel provinces — hoping the plague did not go with them.
Reports that dozens of al Qaeda members were killed are unproven, but the rumors are filling plenty of news stories and blogs around the world. But if as many as 40 men were killed in a short period of time, AJStrata over at Strata-Sphere brings up some interesting points.
… my first and last feelings have been blaring alarm bells. I have a BS in biology and I must say I find it hard to believe the plague could knock out 40 people so quickly. At least the naturally occurring variety. The natural plaque (which still roams the Earth) is from flea bites from infected fleas.
What happens in some cases, which causes an acceleration of the spreading, is the virus transforms into an air borne version called pneumonic plague. It is this version of the plague causing bacteria which could make a lethal WMD. And it is this version I worry about …
… the reporting in the article seems to claim the deaths in the al Qaeda camp were close together in time and took out a good percentage of the people. The plague can be battled with antibiotics, but they clearly have to be administered within the first 24 hours. All this seems to point to an extremely virulent form – a weaponized form.
A report in the Washington Times has the following, read the full story.
An al Qaeda affiliate in Algeria closed a base earlier this month after an experiment with unconventional weapons went awry, a senior U.S. intelligence official said Monday.
The official, who spoke on the condition he not be named because of the sensitive nature of the issue, said he could not confirm press reports that the accident killed at least 40 al Qaeda operatives, but he said the mishap led the militant group to shut down a base in the mountains of Tizi Ouzou province in eastern Algeria.
He said authorities in the first week of January intercepted an urgent communication between the leadership of al Qaeda in the Land of the Maghreb (AQIM) and al Qaeda’s leadership in the tribal region of Pakistan on the border with Afghanistan. The communication suggested that an area sealed to prevent leakage of a biological or chemical substance had been breached, according to the official.
Update: Ed over at Hot Air notes…
Yesterday, I cautioned readers to take the report from The Sun about plague deaths among al-Qaeda terrorists with considerable skepticism, both because of the source and the rare nature of the disease. The Washington Times, with considerably more credibility, picks up the thread and posits a plausible explanation — that AQ attempted to create a biological weapon that infected its own crew by mistake.