Thursday, November 16, 2017

Up-coming: Yemen

Dutch Technology may be Used in Weapons of Mass Destruction: A list of a scandal hit state

Very concerning report and coming on the heels of the resignation of their Minister of Defence over the apparently preventable death of two Dutch soldiers.  For nearly five years its been one scandal after another to rock their MoD and government. While my personal dealings with the Dutch military police (Marechausee) have shown their MP's to be incredibly professional, I hold them in the highest regard, sadly their top MoD leadership appears to be in somewhat of a shambles. With a scandal hit MoD and a very strong Russia on the boarders of NATO territory, it would do well to select a tough male for this position, someone who can really tow the line and get that house in order. Its simply not going to be enough to cuddle up to US and UK IC to siphon off military intel, they will eventually be caught out, if internal policy doesn't change. Its a good thing their military police are so competent as they are the only internal review.

Interesting comments by MIVD on their CW issue, but a more objective and critical view of state acquisition of WMD materials,  specifically on the biological side, actually would indicate the opposite. Advances in the life sciences mediate against state parties needing to shop in Holland for much.  I personally believe other countries are in a much better position to be the 'global shopping mall' for WMD, the Dutch are very low on that list. Thank goodness for Australia Group Export Controls.  

Although the Dutch do have somewhat of a history of providing precursors for chemical weapons to rogue states as does Germany,  I suppose that's still an unsolved issue for them. They are a very minor player. However at the end of the day, this is a military with deep issues and problems which hopefully can be resolved under a new minister of defence. As a very small country the MoD has had a number of high profile scandals and perhaps its time to rethink things. The Netherlands is a very small country with extremely limited resources and it may be best not to participate in high profile international missions, risking their soldier's safety, until their defence budget reflects the NATO standard.  In the Dutch press its been proposed that there is a tendency to deploy troops in an effort to 'look good' on the international stage without much thought to the safety of their troops. Hopefully, the new minister will take this to heart and draw down on these types of paper dragon, showy deployments. Given what happened in Screbrenica, the peacekeeping missions definitely need to be rethought. Its not their forte.  

To put things in perspective, the resignation of the current minister of defence is by far not the most serious of issues to face the Dutch MoD. Although the previous case of the Dutch selling chemical weapons to Iraq was not related in any way to the Dutch MoD, its just one more issue for such a small country, a bit out of proportion. While they seem to struggle with keeping themselves out of fairly major scandals, which have seen their government collapse on occasion, the Netherlands has avoided major terrorist attacks, probably to the credit of  their intelligence services.  The scandals in their MoD don't seem to have an effect on the actual implementation of counter measures to prevent terrorism. In fact the Dutch have some of the toughest laws in Europe on terrorism, second to France. Still for a country of only 17 million people and a very small MoD, they've had a disproportionate number of scandals rock their defence institutions.  In contrast, an even smaller country like Belgium, has not. Its one thing for countries like Russia, China or the United States to have a scandal here and there but for a country so far down on the international military agenda such serious scandals and so many in such a relatively short period point to serious internal issues. Until they resolve some of these issues, they are a liability to countries who might be engaged in joint operations. Let's hope they can stay out of trouble for a while. The resignation of their Minister of Defense could be a good starting point for them. Its never good news to have a NATO MS try to assume a position which doesn't match their capabilities or international status. Attention seeking never pays off. A list of the highlights, drawn purely from open source below. One can only imagine, if this is in the public domain, what's not. A type of timeline. 

 

Dutch Technology may be used in Weapons of Mass Destruction 

HTTPS://NLTIMES.NL/2017/10/26/DUTCH-TECHNOLOGY-MAYBE-USED-WEAPONS-MASS-DESTRUCTION



HTTPS://NLTIMES.NL/2017/09/18/NETHERLANDS-SUPERMARKET-COUNTRIES-BUILDING-WEAPONS-MASS-DESTRUCTION-INTELLIGENCE-SERVICE

Dutch Chief of Defence Resigns 

HTTPS://WWW.GOVERNMENT.NL/LATEST/NEWS/2017/10/03/CHIEF-OF-DEFENCE-RESIGNS

Dutch Minister of Defence Resigns  

https://www.defensenews.com/global/europe/2017/10/03/dutch-defense-minister-military-chief-resign-over-casualties/

http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/10/dutch-defence-minister-quits-mali-training-deaths-171004061537599.html


DUTCH SAFETY BOARD REPORT OF DUTCH SOLDIER'S DEATHS


https://nos.nl/artikel/2195152-ovv-defensie-schoot-ernstig-tekort-in-mali.html

Dutch Sergeant Suspected of Joining ISIS Placed on National Terrorist List

HTTPS://NLTIMES.NL/2017/04/03/DUTCH-SERGEANT-SUSPECTED-JOINING-ISIS-PLACED-NATIONAL-TERRORIST-LIST

Dutch Government Falls over Afghanistan Mission 


HTTPS://WWW.RNW.ORG/ARCHIVE/DUTCH-GOVERNMENT-FALLS-OVER-AFGHANISTAN-MISSION


Previous Sale of Chemical Precursors to Iraq

HTTPS://WWW.VOANEWS.COM/A/A-13-2005-03-18-VOA61/294519.HTML


HTTP://THEIRANPROJECT.COM/BLOG/2013/04/25/COURT-ORDERS-DUTCH-MAN-TO-COMPENSATE-IRAN-VICTIMS-OF-IRAQ-GAS-ATTACKS/

Sex Scandal Costs Deputy Defence Minister his Job 
HTTPS://WWW.RNW.ORG/ARCHIVE/SEX-SCANDAL-COSTS-DEPUTY-DEFENCE-MINISTER-HIS-JOB

Dutchbat, Srebrenica

HTTPS://WWW.NYTIMES.COM/2017/06/27/WORLD/EUROPE/SREBRENICA-BOSNIA-DUTCH-NETHERLANDS.HTML


HTTPS://SREBRENICAGENOCIDE.WORDPRESS.COM/2007/11/26/DUTCH-NIOD-REPORT-ON-SREBRENICA/

HTTPS://WWW.THEGUARDIAN.COM/WORLD/2017/JUN/28/DUTCH-SOLDIERS-LET-300-MUSLIMS-DIE-IN-BOSNIAN-WAR-COURT-RULES

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Dutch Technology may be Used in Weapons of Mass Destruction: A list of a scandal hit state

Very concerning report and coming on the heels of the resignation of their Minister of Defence over the apparently preventable death of two Dutch soldiers.  For nearly five years its been one scandal after another to rock their MoD and government. While my personal dealings with the Dutch military police (Marechausee) have shown their MP's to be incredibly professional, I hold them in the highest regard, sadly their top MoD leadership appears to be in somewhat of a shambles. With a scandal hit MoD and a very strong Russia on the boarders of NATO territory, it would do well to select a tough male for this position, someone who can really tow the line and get that house in order. Its simply not going to be enough to cuddle up to US and UK IC to siphon off military intel, they will eventually be caught out, if internal policy doesn't change. Its a good thing their military police are so competent as they are the only internal review.

Interesting comments by MIVD on their CW issue, but a more objective and critical view of state acquisition of WMD materials,  specifically on the biological side, actually would indicate the opposite. Advances in the life sciences mediate against state parties needing to shop in Holland for much.  I personally believe other countries are in a much better position to be the 'global shopping mall' for WMD, the Dutch are very low on that list. Thank goodness for Australia Group Export Controls.  

Although the Dutch do have somewhat of a history of providing precursors for chemical weapons to rogue states as does Germany,  I suppose that's still an unsolved issue for them. They are a very minor player. However at the end of the day, this is a military with deep issues and problems which hopefully can be resolved under a new minister of defence. As a very small country the MoD has had a number of high profile scandals and perhaps its time to rethink things. The Netherlands is a very small country with extremely limited resources and it may be best not to participate in high profile international missions, risking their soldier's safety, until their defence budget reflects the NATO standard.  In the Dutch press its been proposed that there is a tendency to deploy troops in an effort to 'look good' on the international stage without much thought to the safety of their troops. Hopefully, the new minister will take this to heart and draw down on these types of paper dragon, showy deployments. Given what happened in Screbrenica, the peacekeeping missions definitely need to be rethought. Its not their forte.  

To put things in perspective, the resignation of the current minister of defence is by far not the most serious of issues to face the Dutch MoD. Although the previous case of the Dutch selling chemical weapons to Iraq was not related in any way to the Dutch MoD, its just one more issue for such a small country, a bit out of proportion. While they seem to struggle with keeping themselves out of fairly major scandals, which have seen their government collapse on occasion, the Netherlands has avoided major terrorist attacks, probably to the credit of  their intelligence services.  The scandals in their MoD don't seem to have an effect on the actual implementation of counter measures to prevent terrorism. In fact the Dutch have some of the toughest laws in Europe on terrorism, second to France. Still for a country of only 17 million people and a very small MoD, they've had a disproportionate number of scandals rock their defence institutions.  In contrast, an even smaller country like Belgium, has not. Its one thing for countries like Russia, China or the United States to have a scandal here and there but for a country so far down on the international military agenda such serious scandals and so many in such a relatively short period point to serious internal issues. Until they resolve some of these issues, they are a liability to countries who might be engaged in joint operations. Let's hope they can stay out of trouble for a while. The resignation of their Minister of Defense could be a good starting point for them. Its never good news to have a NATO MS try to assume a position which doesn't match their capabilities or international status. Attention seeking never pays off. A list of the highlights, drawn purely from open source below. One can only imagine, if this is in the public domain, what's not. A type of timeline. 

 

Dutch Technology may be used in Weapons of Mass Destruction 

https://nltimes.nl/2017/10/26/dutch-technology-maybe-used-weapons-mass-destruction

https://nltimes.nl/2017/09/18/netherlands-supermarket-countries-building-weapons-mass-destruction-intelligence-service

Dutch Chief of Defence Resigns 

https://www.government.nl/latest/news/2017/10/03/chief-of-defence-resigns

Dutch Minister of Defence Resigns  

https://www.defensenews.com/global/europe/2017/10/03/dutch-defense-minister-military-chief-resign-over-casualties/

http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/10/dutch-defence-minister-quits-mali-training-deaths-171004061537599.html



Dutch Safety Board Report of Dutch Soldier's Deaths


https://nos.nl/artikel/2195152-ovv-defensie-schoot-ernstig-tekort-in-mali.html

Dutch Sergeant Suspected of Joining ISIS Placed on National Terrorist List

https://nltimes.nl/2017/04/03/dutch-sergeant-suspected-joining-isis-placed-national-terrorist-list


Dutch Government Falls over Afghanistan Mission 


https://www.rnw.org/archive/dutch-government-falls-over-afghanistan-mission


Previous Sale of Chemical Precursors to Iraq

https://www.voanews.com/a/a-13-2005-03-18-voa61/294519.html


http://theiranproject.com/blog/2013/04/25/court-orders-dutch-man-to-compensate-iran-victims-of-iraq-gas-attacks/

Sex Scandal Costs Deputy Defence Minister his Job 
https://www.rnw.org/archive/sex-scandal-costs-deputy-defence-minister-his-job


Dutchbat, Srebrenica

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/27/world/europe/srebrenica-bosnia-dutch-netherlands.html


https://srebrenicagenocide.wordpress.com/2007/11/26/dutch-niod-report-on-srebrenica/

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jun/28/dutch-soldiers-let-300-muslims-die-in-bosnian-war-court-rules




Sunday, October 15, 2017

A New Paradigm for Non-Proliferation

As I'm up-dating on the DPRK's biological weapon program, its time to understand how our current non-proliferation regime undermines efforts to contain the advancement of state BW programs. The DPRK is a perfect example. Generally the folks involved in non-proliferation have tended to give the benefit of the doubt to states of concern and have selectively not erred on the side of caution. While they have worked to make excuses for these states and tried to pretend their own policies are in some way curtailing these efforts, Syria, Iran, the DPRK have all significantly advanced their BW complex. Moreover there is a tendency in the non-proliferation community to be hostile toward defence and the defence establishment in general. Instead of a focus on countries of concern: Iran, Syria, Russia, China, and the DPRK, the traditional approach of this community, the non-proliferation crowd would do well to focus on its flawed paradigm. If we take the Iraqi inspections as a case study, US allies undermined the inspections and worked against US policy to insure Iraq had no WMD. A great book which describes in detail how one particular US ally accomplished this is Paul Drogin's book Curveball: Spies, Lies and the Con Man Who Caused a War. One might venture to ask if our allies conduct such unscrupulous operations against us who needs enemies?

Undoubtedly we are at the place we are at with state BW programs running in several countries, not because of Russia or China or anyone else, but the intrinsically flawed policies developed by the non-proliferation community who lack experience in defence and security. Failure is never a fun topic to embrace, but in order to take a serious approach to non-proliferation and disrupt these programs, non-proliferation, as a paradigm must be viewed as almost a total failure.

Over the past twenty years, life sciences has advanced so far that the current regime and applied paradigm are the equivalent of authorizing forces to march in formation to the front line with bayonets to counter nuclear weapons. There is no way the current regime and the mindset of the people involved, who cling too and promote obsolete concepts, could ever curtail a state BW program, roll it back or in any real sense disrupt it. Instead the academic discussions are just that--purely academic with no real world applications. The only folks who should really be allowed to host a BW regime are sitting in the Pentagon.

If we are serious about non-proliferation, its time we radically reconsider what non-proliferation means and the real-world, practical approaches that must be taken to to disrupt the expansion of state BW programs. Far from a policy approach, we need to roll these programs back at the scientific level and develop the means to do so in defence labs.We need to seriously rethink 'non-proliferation' and closely monitor the policies these academics promote. It would be useful to see actual data and evidence correlating, over the last twenty years, to how non-proliferation regimes have dissuaded states from not developing offensive biological weapons. Which specific laboratory programs and which specific weaponized agents have been successfully ended due to these policies? When, where, how and why were these programs ended and who was involved directly in overseeing their demise due to non-proliferation advocacy? In twenty years of working in non-proliferation I have not seen any data to support a direct link between non-proliferation policy and a State party ending their efforts to develop an offensive capability.

The failure of the non-proliferation community is that the continued debate over how to implement non-proliferation policies,  (i.e.  the Verification Protocol) which died long ago, has critically given State Parties time; time they've used to build and expand their programs.  Its time to end the academic debates and turn non-proliferation and those intelligence assets used in non-proliferation, over to defence. Its time we focus solely on how to implement a defence policy that will address proliferation at the scientific level. The end goal isn't just rounds and rounds of debate which give our adversaries the most important advantage--time.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Up-coming: The Evolution of North Korea's Biological Weapon Complex

Its difficult to discuss the DPRK's long standing and advanced biological weapon complex without the topic becoming politicized, but its more important to understand the actual program. The intent, which I always think is an amusing topic, as if its up for debate, is not. Any state developing biological warfare weapons intends at some point to use these weapons, as they are not generally considered weapons of deterrence, like nuclear weapons. The only real political issue that should be drawn from this in general speaks more to the failure of non-proliferation regimes which have spent the better part of thirty years, trying to prevent proliferation of BW in states like the DPRK.

I must also comment and caution that state interference with scientific commentary, far from silencing the risks, contributes to proliferation. Attempts to silence discussion even in the open source arena, I contend have in fact contributed to states like North Korea, Syria and Iran acquiring and advancing their state BW programs. Intimidating the messengers provides cover to state proliferators and promotes the very programs that lay at the heart of the failure of our weapon treaties.  So, beyond the politics and the rhetoric from both sides, remains the fascinating issue of how North Korea developed its BW program, the advanced scientific capabilities they've acquired over the past twenty years, which are actually rather impressive and the means they used for acquiring such a capability. Leaving 'politics' out of the equation, its interesting to take a brief tour of North Korea's current BW complex and what may lay ahead in the future  evolution of its acquisition and development.

The DPRK has a long established biological weapon complex spread throughout the country running in different labs. Most maps I've looked at from NTI to other sources don't quite do their program justice. I'll endeavor from open source content to take a closer look and present a more detailed outline of this program using all open source content. NTI (Nuclear Threat Iniative) has an extensive open source archive of articles on North Korea's BW programs as does CNS (Center for Non-Proliferation Studies) as well as Rand. Last week I received a report from a colleague at Boeing detailing more up-to date sections of the program. I will post the report here.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Scientific Flight from Syria to Lebanon

Recently, I met a long time scientific colleague at a defense conference who happened to mention one of his Syrian colleagues had decamped to Lebanon. While this casual observation may be nothing more than names dropped into a conversation, it does beg the question of the consequences of 'scientific flight,' not only from the SSRC in Syria, but other, what I will call, "labs of concern" scattered throughout the Middle East and Asia. Moreover, should we, as Europeans, be worried about the potential risk of scientists from countries under sanction by Europe and the US, coming to work in our most sensitive pharmaceutical sectors or perhaps the transfer of their weapon knowledge via recruitment by Daesh?

One can recall the deep concern, after the fall of the Soviet Union, of scientists with biological, nuclear and chemical weapon expertise fleeing to states which offered lucrative contracts and the threat reduction programs developed to inhibit and keep track of a handful of these folks e.g. ISTC. As US threat reduction programs, over the past few years, have disintegrated are we safer now? Has the threat diminished? Common sense would seem to dictate that not only has the threat not diminished, it likely has increased as scientific communities are displaced throughout unstable regions wracked by war. One benefit of a strong Russia is the reduction of scientific flight from former Soviet military laboratories, however without restoration of the status quo in the Middle East in site, offensive weapon programs and the proliferation threat this poses, could well replace the former Soviet threat tenfold.

As my colleagues' colleague takes up residence in Lebanon any potential knowledge of offensive programs, run out of the SSRC which is currently sanctioned by the US Treasury Dept., could well pose a risk of knowledge transfer to forces hostile to the US, Europe and certainly Israel. According to a report by IHS Jane's Military and Security Intelligence Centre:

"Despite the existing range of sanctions against the organisation (see Box 4), the SSRC remains largely intact. Even if the current international effort to dismantle Syria's chemical agent development and storage activities are completed effectively, the SSRC has accrued and established a sizeable knowledge base and technical expertise. Aided by its enduring external support network, this capability could easily be resurrected some time in the future. The most recent co-operative international opportunity to curtail the SSRC's activities were measures adopted by the EU on 29 November 2012 (Designation 1117/2012). However, these focus not on the SSRC's proliferation activities or breach of international, US, and European law in pursuit Jane’s Page 5 of 6 of materiel or technologies to support its proliferation ambitions, but on human rights violations, namely providing "support to the Syrian army for the acquisition of equipment used directly for the surveillance and repression of demonstrators". Undeterred by the existing international sanctions and aided by concerted procurement activities, the SSRC's missile and rocket development has been secured and consolidated, and its proliferation momentum continues unabated.
The SSRC and entities operating on its behalf have appeared on the US list of Specially Designated Nationals (SDNs) since 2005 under Presidential Executive Order 13382, 'Blocking Property of Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferators and their Supporters', which prohibited US citizens and residents from doing business with the SSRC. In 2007 the US Treasury banned trade with three subsidiaries of the SSRC: the Higher Institute of Applied Science and Technology (HIAST), the Electronics Institute, and the National Standards and Calibration Laboratory (NSCL)."

For a detailed description of proliferation issues with the SSRC see Jane's: http://www.janes360.com/images/assets/839/32839/syrian_chem_weapons.pdf

NATO Member States would surely benefit from a more defined common approach to this threat and a clear policy on countering proliferation of scientific flight from Syria to other states. As the perception of Russia as a Cold War enemy recedes, perhaps its time to assess the more realistic and long term threats posed by proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. In order to secure Europe we will need to develop a more rigorous shift in our perception and resources to define a non-proliferation approach which emphasizes non-state parties; one which considers a new paradigm for dealing with Daesh recruitment of scientific experts. Maintaining command and control of scientific institutions within states of concern should be our raison d'etre.


Sanctions on the SSRC in Damascus https://www.treasury.gov/press-center/press-releases/Pages/jl2558.aspx

Monday, December 21, 2015

My Latest Interview: Da'esh Biological Weapon Acquisition and US National Security



The European Parliament Research Service Summary on 'ISIL/Da'esh and Non-Conventional Weapons of Terror' Report can be found here:http://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/BRIE/2015/572806/EPRS_BRI(2015)572806_EN.pdf

PPT on Orange Flame Bio-defence Scenarios run by Israeli Defence Forces can be found here: http://www.climvib.eu/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/2014_oren.pdf

Sunday, November 22, 2015

France and Belgium Prepare for CBW Attacks While Europe Sleeps

The rod shaped Anthrax bacteria: Bacillus anthracis bacteria, the cause of anthrax. Magnification: x18,300
b.anthracis
While France and Belgium prepare their populations for continued terrorist attacks and the possible use of chemical or biological weapons, other EU states avoid the obvious conclusion that a prepared public is better than an unprepared one. Several smaller states, excluding Spain and Germany, continue the drum beat that there is no significant threat to them or their civilian populations. In study after study this has not been proven to be the case and public preparedness has been shown to reduce casualties (see:https://fas.org/irp/agency/dod/dtra/resilience.pdf; http://www.redcross.org/prepare/disaster/terrorism. 

PM Valls statement on the bio-chem threat was in part motivated by the apparent loss of several bio-chem suits from a Paris hospital. While its possible these suits were misplaced or that inventory lists were incorrect, and warnings are not based singularly on bio-chem suits being unaccounted for, the French have taken appropriate measures.  Belgium has increased security at its nuclear facilities and France has increased protection for water supply facilities taking note of analysis by French intelligence that IS is capable of manufacturing crude chemical warfare agents.


Bacteria
CDC
"Eau de Paris, the capital's state-run water company, has banned access to six sensitive sites to all but key personnel following the Government's decision to declare a state of emergency for three months. "Our eight security agents are the only ones to be accredited by the defence ministry and are in permanent contact with the terrorism cell of Paris police headquarters," a spokesman told Le Parisien." "The storage and treatment sites have protective fencing and special sensors to detect intrusion. To limit the risk of contamination, Eau de Paris has increase the amount of chlorine added to water at five supply sites." "The dose injected has been raised," said Celia Blauel, president of Eau de Paris. Chlorine is a key indicator of any anomaly in the water. "When the chlorine level drops, it means there is a biological contamination." she said." 

"It emerged last week that hospitals and emergency services across France have been supplied with the most powerful antidote to sarin and other nerve gas chemicals for the first time. Under a November 14 decree, the army's medical service was ordered to distribute stocks of the drug atropine. Manuel Valls, the French prime minister, said that the country could rule nothing out when it came to terrorists bent on mass murder, including "chemical and biological weapons".


"Iraqi and American intelligence have warned that IS is aggressively pursuing development of chemical weapons, setting up a branch dedicated to research and experiments with the help of scientists from Iraq, Syria and elsewhere in the region. French intelligence agents are convinced that IS is producing mustard gas, after obtaining samples from in Syria. However, US intelligence officials do not believe that IS has the capability to develop sophisticated weapons such as nerve gas.
See: http://www.stuff.co.nz/world/paris-attacks/74282446/paris-attacks-fears-of-a-biological-attack-on-water-supplies

While the US intelligence community may split hairs over the capability of IS (ISIL in the US) to manufacture military grade nerve agents, this is largely irrelivant. IS has the capability to manufacture crude chem weapons and they have proven to be quite effective in Syria. 


The security services of both France and Belgium are to be commended. Both countries share similar population demographics and have extensive experience with terrorism. Additionally, they have both worked, since 911, to prepare their populations for such bio-chem attacks, some of these scenarios I developed and ran myself with their government officials in attendance. Far from being the weakest link, as some media outlets have portrayed the situation, they are in fact the best prepared within the EU to counter such threats.  The weakest link are those countries who have not prepared their public, are currently bombing IS and have announced it on the nightly news without one moment of thought to the risk they have placed their population in and no counter-terrorism or counter intelligence experience to fall back on. 


In 2005, French Interior Minister Dominique de Villepin called for international cooperation against bioterrorism at an Interpol meeting in Lyon. He promoted the idea of creating a joint database and a rapid alert network for theft, diversion and illegal transfer of biological agents, as well as a list of designated groups and individuals of concern. De Villepin also proposed the creation of an international center for monitoring bio terrorist threats. Mr. de Villepin went on to plead for a better coordination of Biotox style (the French government response to the deliberate introduction of the smallpox virus) plans at European level. "Why not to imagine for example a European reaction plan against a biological attack?"he asked. Furthermore, he added, the EU should initiate an update on reserves of vaccines so that each country knows the nearest country to turn to in case of emergency." See: http://cordis.europa.eu/news/rcn/23453_en.html


For over a decade the French government has established itself as the gold standard when it comes to bio-security, bio-safety and certainly countering, on the ground threats from would be bio-terrorists. In 2003, French authorities discovered ricin like substances in Gare du Lyon train station. Subsequently nine suspects of North African descent, who had trained in the Pankisi Gorge and were associated with AQ were arrested. While this is just one high profile example of a possible bio-threat, the French have developed outstanding and what I would describe as comprehensive capabilities to counter the threat of bio-terrorism. This depth of expertise offers a lot from which Member States within the EU could well benefit. France's Biotox-Piratox under their Vigipirate model is and has been a clear forerunner in bio-security and bio-safety for the analysis of attacks with deliberate disease. The French model, according to a report by European Hospital, published in 2013 includes the following structure: See: http://www.european-hospital.com/en/article/11331-French_bio-terrorism_network_of_labs.html


"Born in the USA out of the anthrax scare that followed the 9/11 attacks, the formation of a network of laboratories kept on 24/7 alert against potential bio-terrorism was introduced in France at the end of 2001.



Initially interested only in the search for Bacillus anthracis, (the causative agent of anthrax), the structure was enlarged in 2004 with the mission to carry out the analysis of all chemical and biological agents that could present a terrorist threat.
Under the jurisdiction of the Interior Minister for National Defence and Safety, a network of laboratories known as Biotox-Piratox has evolved, within the context of the national security plan ‘Vigipirate’.
Since 2011, the network has extended its missions to include the discovery of all substances of suspect nature in the environment, in drinking water, and/or the food chain, that could have been placed by a deliberate malevolent act, or by negligence. The aim of the network is to act efficiently and promptly in collaboration with the health services, police and army to eliminate the threat and protect the general public."
Structure of Biotox-Piratox
According to the European Hospital report, "Dr. Binder, President of the Network's Scientific Board and Security Defence Advisor for INSERM, will present the work of the network at the Journées Internationales de Internationales de Biologie (JIB) in Paris at the beginning of November.The network has been set up to work in a way that is optimal when confronted with a potential biological or chemical risk to public health. The network is organised over three levels. Level one is known as our ‘sentinel laboratories’. These countrywide laboratories must be able to recognize a suspicious situation, package or sample, alert the authorities, and recognize which of the 100 or so, level 2 laboratories is best adapted to deal with the situation.

‘Each geographical defence-zone in France has at least one reference laboratory for 'human health' and another reference laboratory for chemo-toxicological analysis of the environment. These include 10 water board and 10 military labs. All the level two laboratories were selected from the results of an inquiry carried out by the scientific board in 2005. In addition to their scientific excellence, their specialty, geographical localisation, equipment and ability to maintain a permanent 24-hour cover, were all taken into consideration.
‘For the most part the human-health labs are connected to a public hospital in each zone. While the toxicology environmental labs belong to different bodies including among others the police, gendarmerie and the national agency for food safety. A full list of level two laboratories is available from the Biotox-Piratox council.
‘The level three laboratories are not necessarily mobilized as soon as the level two labs, as they are the highly specialized members of the network. Their role is to confirm the nature of a suspected pathogen and therefore have to be able to carry out rapid identification techniques such as rt-PCR under security conditions of at least category three. They also must have trained personnel for dealing with the treatment and containment of a potential infection of the pathogen.Responsibility for communication with the public for allaying fears and ad hoc communication rests with the governmental services.‘Looking at the archives, since its existence in 2003 the network has dealt with 1,300 alerts. In 2003, 207 separate incidences were recorded, but since 2010 this has reduced to a steady 150 a year. Due in part to better understanding of what we are looking at and the organisation of the network, the number of analyses for suspected agents for bio-terrorism has fallen from 77.8% to fewer than 2% in 2011." 
For an in depth report on French bio-preparedness planning I highly recommend a look at Eurosurveillance, Volume 17, Issue 45, 08 November 2012 "Assessment of the Bio-Preparedness and of the Training of the French Hospital Laboratories in the Even of Biological Threat (http://www.eurosurveillance.org/ViewArticle.aspx?ArticleId=20312) An additional reference by Dr. Binder is also recommended, see: https://pro.anses.fr/euroreference/numero7/index.htm

While France and Belgium have spent years preparing for Islamic terrorism and prepared their public to face bio-chem threats, while they have real and extensive experience in Africa and the Middle East and their security services are within the top three in the world, other countries exempt themselves, continuously engage in 'peacekeeping' operations, to look good, lack counter terrorism experience and stand on the side lines criticizing their neighbours. I'm horrified that this particular country has openly criticized Belgium and France on national television while there are on-going operations.  They surely are the weakest link. A couple years ago when I sat with one of their so called 'bio-chem' experts, his total lack of knowledge was stunning. His concept of bio-defence was 'decon.' That was it. It was basically what to do post attack and in my view he struggled with the post attack plan as well. There was no concept of prevention, preparedness or response. In question after question I posed to this individual on board a warship, the only responses he could come up with were so simplistic I fear what will happen when this country is hit with any kind of bio-chem attack. The sad truth is that countries who have deliberately chosen not to prepare their public, who pretend they have no internal jihadi issues, who can't seem to meet their NATO obligations, and avoid the uncomfortable truth that they do not possess the resources, knowledge, expertise or experience in counter terrorism or counter intelligence to protect their public, are in fact the weakest links in Europe.  

Bracing for ISIS Brussels & CBW attack with Dr. Jill Bellamy, Nidra Poller and Morten Storm





The Lisa Benson Show will air Sunday, November 22, 2015 at 3PM EST2PM CST,1PM MSTNoon PST and 10PM in Israel. Listen live to the Lisa Benson Radio Show for National Security on KKNT 960The Patriot or use SMARTPHONE iHEART App: 960 the Patriot. Lisa Benson and New English Review Senior Editor Jerry Gordon will co-host this show.
Our guests will be:

Dr. S.Jill. Bellamy is a recognized international expert on biological warfare and is a member of the United Nations Counter Terrorism Task Force. She has previously developed and run NATO sponsored policy programs on biological terrorism and has published extensively in related fields. Her papers have appeared in the National Review, The Washington Post, The Washington Times, Le Monde, Le Temps, New English Review and the Jerusalem Post. Over the past twenty five years she has worked in non-proliferation and counter terrorism. She has developed and run nuclear and biological war games and scenarios supported by European Ministries of Defense. Currently she advises governments on national strategic stockpiling and force protection. She is the founding Director of Warfare Technology Analytics.

Nidra Poller will be returning to provide an update on events in Paris, heightened security alert in Belgium and Bamako, Mali attack. Poller is a Lisa Benson Show Advisory Board Member, American writer and translator, resident of Paris, France, since 1972, contributor to The Wall Street Journal, National Review, FrontPage Magazine, The New York Sun and New English Review, author of the forthcoming, The Black Flag of Jihad stalks la Republique.

Morten Storm will be returning to discuss ISIS terrorism threats and countermeasures in Denmark, France and Belgium and ISIS vaulting Al Qaeda. Storm is a former Danish Islamist and double agent for Danish Security and Intelligence Service and CIA who penetrated Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, author of Agent Storm: My Life Inside al Qaeda and the CIA, interviewed on Fox News and CNN. 

Thursday, November 19, 2015

French PM Manuel Valls Warns France may face Chemical and Biological Weapon Attacks


Black Six: The BioWarfare Blog: BW Infrastructure Analysis in a Stand Off Environment: Dispelling Political Myths First:
Amid the announcement that bio-chem suits were missing from a Paris hospital, French Prime Minister Valls has warned France may face a chemical and or biological threat from Islamic State. France has also ordered the protection of water facilities under Eau de Paris, which has increased chlorine to five water supply sites. 

IS has used crude chemical weapons, against civilians in Syria and the real concern is that they did not steal or divert these munitions, but appear to have acquired a manufacturing capability. On the biological side, some agents do not need to be weaponized to be effectively deployed in terrorist attacks. France has previous experience with terrorists trying to use a ricin like substance, a crudely made toxin they tried to manufacture to commit acts of terrorism. Islamic State's capabilities appear to be more advanced than other non-state supported terrorist organizations in the past. Like Al Qaeda's Yazid Sufaat, IS seems to have recruited scientists and be in the process of attempting to acquire a CBRN capability.  Sufaat was recruited by AQ to develop mainly anthrax. 

ISIS has used mustard gas on several occasions and according to a Fox report which can be found here: http://www.foxnews.com/world/2015/11/20/islamic-state-group-making-determined-effort-for-chemical-weapons-iraqi-us/

"Iraqi officials expressed concern that the large safe haven the extremists control since overrunning parts of Iraq and Syria last year has left Iraqi authorities largely in the dark over the IS program. They now have complete freedom to select locations for their labs and production sites and have a wide range of experts, both civilian and military, to aid them," a senior Iraqi intelligence official told The Associated Press." As further noted in the report, "IS has set up a branch tasked with pursuing chemical weapons, according to a senior Iraqi military intelligence officer and two officials from another Iraqi intelligence agency. They wouldn't give details of the program, including how many personnel it is believed to have or its budget. But al Zamili, citing intelligence reports he has access to, told the AP that the group has managed to attract chemical experts from abroad as well as Iraqi experts, including ones who once worked for Saddam Hussein's now dissolved Military Industrialization Authority. The foreigners include experts from Chechnya and Southeast Asia, the Iraqi intelligence officials said." "IS recently moved its research labs, experts and materials from Iraq to 'secured locations' inside Syria, al Zamili added--apparently out of concern of an eventual assault on Mosul, Iraq's second largest city, captured by IS in the summer of 2014."  

Indeed IS manufacturing of chemical weapons is a huge concern and the potential smuggling of these weapons into France would be a worrying development. However, chemical weapons will not go global. Biological weapons have this capacity and in terms of public health security and the risk of epidemics and pandemics the risk IS poses should they develop BW agents would be a very serious situation not only for France but the international community. 

While France has a comprehensive preparedness plan in place for several years, other EU countries do not have such resources allocated to prepare their populations to counter a CBW attack. Several smaller nations in fact have created a false sense of security in their populations and simply do not prepare them at all. This approach to public preparedness  is obviously very concerning. The French plan can be found here: https://pro.anses.fr/euroreference/numero7/index.htm  The announcement by Valls also touches upon national investment in stockpiling for medical counter measures against a range of highly communicable and infectious disease agents. It is unlikely if we consider the traject of AQ that IS will stop at only manufacturing and using chemical weapons against civilians in Syria. It is highly likely they will attempt to smuggle these agents into the EU via Turkey. All efforts must be made to increase support for front line states processing large numbers of refugees and to increase support for refugee camps running along the boarder of Turkey. Refugees represent a very vulnerable population and the exploitation of routes into Europe by IS, possibly to deploy chemical or biological weapons can only be stopped if we intervene at a much earlier stage and go after production sites in country and target would be IS scientists. Classic threat reduction which we would employ against a state actor needs serious review. If IS continues to emerge as a terrorist state we will have to consider threat reduction using a completely different set of principles. 




http://www.standaard.be/cnt/dmf20151119_01978708

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Islamic State and Catastrophic Terrorism: De-skilling in WMD

When we consider 'catastrophic terrorism'  for example, 911, when terrorists used conventional methods of hijacking commercial airlines for use as WMD (weapons of mass destruction), essentially the use of commercial airlines as bombs, its possible to consider this one of the major mass destruction instances of 'de-skilling.' In contrast to the recent, suspected bombing on board the Russian commercial airline Metrojet 9268 over the Sinai which, although causing loss of life is not mass casualty in the sense of 911 and the use of a plane to kill thousands of civilians. The Madrid train bombings, the use again of transportation systems to deliver bombs and cause mass casualties is conventional, catastrophic and mass casualty. In the field of WMD terrorism, the acquisition of biological warfare agents has not occurred in any significant or coordinated undertaking, unlike nuclear materials which have witnessed statistically significant diversion, theft and sale on black markets mainly running through the Balkins. Conventional terrorist weapons continue to dominate acts of mass casualty as the materials required are relatively easy to acquire, manufacture, divert, steal and use. Islamic State has the capacity to build and deploy bombs and have also used chemical agents against civilians on a number of occasions. See: http://www.wsj.com/articles/islamic-state-suspected-of-using-chemical-weapon-u-s-says-1439499549

If we talk about a 'history' of biological weapon development outside military and state labs, attempts to develop and use it have failed to result in mass casualty events. Aum Shinrikyo, the Japanese cult who made several attempts to use BW, according to Monterey Institute of International Studies who published a detailed chronology of Aum's attempts which can be found here: http://cns.miis.edu/reports/pdfs/aum_chrn.pdf 

"Aum's interest in chemical and biological weapons (CBW) terrorism can be traced back to 1990. between 1990 and 1995, Aum launched 17 known CBW attacks with motivations ranging from assassination to murder.  Of these attacks, 10 were carried out with chemical weapons (four with Sarin, four with VX, one with phosgene and one with hydrogen cyanide) and seven attempted attacks were carried out with biological agents (four with anthrax and three with botulinum toxin, although in both cases the microbial strains were apparently non-virulent). In addition to these cases Aum is alleged to have killed 20 of its members with VX and has been linked more tenuously to more than 19 other CBW attacks and attempted attacks (13 attacks where Aum involvement is suspected and six possible copycats)."  

Aum is considered by most CBW experts to have been one of the best funded and staffed terrorist organizations at the time involved in research into CBW. Their laboratories were state of the art and they had a number of doctoral and post doc level scientist working with them. Aum invested millions in their CBW efforts and still did not achieve anything close to mass casualty or catastrophic terrorism. During the release of Sarin on the Tokyo subway according to Monterey Institute only 12 people died. When we consider the cost of using a BW agents its generally considered one of the cheapest WMD to use. This was not the case for Aum who worked on their BW program for years and invested millions only to achieve a handful of deaths. In comparison to the 2004, Madrid train bombings which killed 191 people and injured 1,800, conventional weapons used in catastrophic terrorist acts is a far more efficient way to create mass casualties, than the history of BW would seem to suggest. 

However, when we consider the future of BW and its use in catestrophic terrorism, given advances in the life sciences, the concept of 'de-skilling' which begins to emerge is more concerning. As I have previously written on, de-skilling and refer to my colleague Johnathan B. Tucker's work on this topic, see:http://www.thenewatlantis.com/publications/could-terrorists-exploit-synthetic-biology

"[ ] the evolution of many emerging technologies involves a process of de-skilling that, over time, reduces the amount of tacit knowledge required for their use. Chris Chyba of Princeton, for example contends that as whole-genome synthesis is automated, commercialized, and "black-boxed," it will become more accessible to individuals with only basic scientific skills, including terrorists and other malicious actors." See http://www.thenewatlantis.com/publications/could-terrorists-exploit-synthetic-biology

Tucker contends: 

"Gerald Epstein, of the Center for Science, Technology, and Security Policy, writes that whole-genome synthesis “appears to be following a trajectory familiar to other useful techniques: Originally accessible only to a handful of top research groups working at state-of-the-art facilities, synthesis techniques are becoming more widely available as they are refined, simplified, and improved by skilled technicians and craftsmen. Indeed, they are increasingly becoming ‘commoditized,’ as kits, processes, reagents, and services become available for individuals with basic lab training.”[17] In 2007 Epstein and three co-authors predicted that “ten years from now, it may be easier to synthesize almost any pathogenic virus than to obtain it through other means,” although they did not imply that individuals with only basic scientific training will be among the first to acquire this capability.[18]
To date, the de-skilling of synthetic genomics has affected only a few elements of what is actually a complex, multi-step process. Practitioners of de novo viral synthesis note that the most challenging steps do not involve the synthesis of DNA fragments, which can be ordered from commercial suppliers, but the assembly of these fragments into a functional genome and the expression of the viral proteins. According to a report by the U.S. National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity, a federal advisory committee, “The technology for synthesizing DNA is readily accessible, straightforward and a fundamental tool used in current biological research. In contrast, the science of constructing and expressing viruses in the laboratory is more complex and somewhat of an art. It is the laboratory procedures downstream from the actual synthesis of DNA that are the limiting steps in recovering viruses from genetic material.”[19] 
When we consider Islamic State and the potential that they can and will use BW, de-skilling becomes a major factor in their ability to develop this capability. They clearly have the resources to finance such operations and it is likely they could attract former scientists from Syria and the Levant to work with them on BW agents for use against other states and or refugee populations. Without having to capture a weapon lab or divert materials, it is possible IS will be able, over the next few years to research and manufacture BW agents. As IS consolidates into a state actor, their acquisition of this capability is concerning. Catastrophic acts of terrorism using BW, particularly against perceived enemy states of IS (Europe, the US, Russia etc.) could well result in mass casualties and pandemics. Again, it is transportation infrastructures which are highly vulnerable and refugee camps which lend themselves to large populations in poor living conditions. These populations are accessible to IS and to terrorist who may infect water supplies, or a general population. The movement of refugees into Europe and the potential to infect these individuals when they are located in central facilities is concerning as well, as it would be the use of people as weapons. While many in the IC consider these concepts to be on the margin of their concerns, given that bombs have always achieved high kill ratios and the use of BW thus far has been extremely limited, governments have still invested billions to protect their citizens from this very scenario. Its time we begin to seriously consider our counter-measures against the increasing and determined intention of IS to create a terrorist state and their increasing potential to use humans as mass casualty weapons. 

In terms of both public health and counter-terrorism, we must increase protection of refugee populations, specifically those who are based in camps along the Turkish boarder and those refugees who may be at an increased risk from IS and other terrorist groups. We must provide increased health checks and far better living conditions for these people, if we want any chance of deterring IS use of BW against our own populations. Refugee populations are by far the most vulnerable and IS exploits any vulnerability they encounter. In terms of immigration into Europe, refugees must be provided a much higher standard of medical checks and treatment compared to current practices. They must also be provided consistent medical treatment, particularly when we consider childhood vaccination schedules and general health checks to make sure they are not unwittingly spreading disease. I believe it is a moral duty to provide this so that people fleeing war torn states do not become the victims of terrorism.