Who's Using Bio-Weapons
In Afghanistan?
By Ian Gurney

It is interesting to note that one story concerning biological and chemical warfare has been almost completely ignored by the American press and most of the European press during the weeks following September 11th.

As Pakistan's News Telegraph recently reported :

"The largest outbreak in history of a highly contagious disease that causes patients to bleed to death from every orifice has been confirmed on Pakistan's frontier with Afghanistan. At least 75 people have caught the disease so far and eight have died. An isolation ward surrounded by barbed wire has been established at the Fatima Jinnah hospital in the Pakistani city of Quetta."

This week, the authoritative Janes Defence Weekly announced that :

"Ali-Safar Makaanali, head of Iran's Border Quarantine Department, has confirmed that Iranian health officials are also dealing with an outbreak of the virus, with more than 100 citizens having been infected. Iranian health authorities have established 40 quarantine bases on the border in an attempt to halt the spread of the disease."

Evidence suggests the outbreak of the disease, called Crimean-Congo Haemorrhagic Fever, emanates from within Afghanistan, raising fears of an epidemic as millions of refugees flee across the frontier into Pakistan. Crimean-Congo Haemorrhagic Fever has similar effects to the ebola virus. Both viruses damage arteries, veins and other blood vessels and lead to the eventual collapse of major organs. As one doctor put it, a patient suffering from haemorrhagic fever "literally melts in front of your eyes."

The location and the rather curious timing of this outbreak, the largest in history, raises serious questions about its origin. As Dr. Taj Mohammad of the Fatima Jinnah Chest and General Hospital in Quetta told a reporter: "It's unheard of - very unusual. There's a real risk of an epidemic among Afghan refugees."

A fact sheet distributed by the World Health Organization notes that, "Although primarily a zoonosis (a disease that affects animals only), sporadic cases and outbreaks of Crimean-Congo Haemorrhagic Fever affecting humans do occur. The majority of cases of human infection have occurred in those involved with the livestock industry, such as agricultural workers, slaughterhouse workers and veterinarians."

However, there is no indication that the inordinately high number of Afghani victims were employed in such professions. How then did they contract this feared disease? Experts have opined that the most likely culprit is "a species of tick, Hyalomma marginatum, common in the afflicted areas."

Is this outbreak a natural occurrence? Not necessarily. A brief review of the use of insects as carriers of biological warfare agents is in order. According to Robert Harris and Jeremy Paxman's book "A Higher Form of Killing", that history began during World War II, when the Japanese cultivated the plague-infected flea as a biological weapon. Pingfan (a biowarfare laboratory in Japan) was said to be capable of producing 500 million fleas a year.

Following the war, that technology was warmly embraced by America's biowarfare engineers, who had their Japanese counterparts flown over to the United States to share the tricks of the trade. Fort Detrick, the long-time home of American biological warfare research, soon became the world's premier site for developing such weapons of war as the "flea bomb".

Among the potential agents studied at Camp Detrick were anthrax, glanders, brucellosis, tularaemia, meliodosis, plague, typhus, psittacosis, yellow fever, encephalitis and various forms of rickettsial disease; fowl pest and rinder-pest were among the animal viruses studied; various rice, potato and cereal blights were also investigated.

Evidence clearly suggests that such weapons were utilised by the United States in the war waged against North Korea. American pilots captured during the war confessed to dropping flea bombs on the people of North Korea, and Chinese officials published photographs of what they claimed to be "American biological bombs." The US, of course, dismissed these reports as ludicrous, claiming that the pilots had been "brainwashed" into offering the confessions. The Chinese though assembled an international committee of scientists - from the United Kingdom, Italy, France, Sweden, Brazil and the Soviet Union - which in October of 1952 released a 700-page report that concluded that "the peoples of Korea and China did actually serve as targets for bacteriological weapons." The detailed report listed the techniques that had been deployed in that war, "which ranged from fountain pens filled with infectious ink, to anthrax-laden feathers, and fleas, lice and mosquitoes carrying plague and yellow fever." The US, needless to say, continued to deny and ignore the evidence indicating the use of biowarfare agents, and continued to research and develop these blatantly illegal and indiscriminate killers.

In 1956 the army began investigating the feasibility of breeding fifty million fleas a week, presumably to spread plague. By the end of the fifties the Fort Detrick laboratories were said to contain mosquitoes infected with yellow fever, malaria and dengue (an acute viral disease also known as Breakbone Fever for which there is no cure); fleas infected with plague; ticks contaminated with tularaemia; and flies infected with cholera, anthrax and dysentery.

It would appear then that the United States has a long history of researching and developing infected insects as biological warfare agents, and hasn't been shy about deploying such weapons specifically to inflict civilian casualties. Just one week before the September 11 attacks, the New York Times reported that US biological weapons research was still very much alive-and-well, though cloaked as always as "defensive" research:

"Over the past several years, the United States has embarked on a programme of secret research on chemical and biological weapons that, some officials say, tests the limits of the global treaty banning such weapons. The projects, which have not been previously disclosed, were begun under President Clinton and have been embraced by the Bush administration, which intends to expand them."

In light of this history, is it really merely a fluke of nature that this outbreak has occurred at this particular time and in this particular place? It would seem, perhaps, that terrorists, rogue states and "the enemies of democracy" are not the only people prepared to use terrifying bio- weapons of mass destruction against innocent civilians in this "War on Terror." ___

Copyright 2001 Ian Gurney. Ian Gurney is the author of the book The Cassandra Prophecy. Further information :


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