- A NEW WORLD ORDER INTELLIGENCE UPDATE ADVISORY
- This sobering insight into the Soviet Union's deadly
biowar research program - conducted, you'll notice in passing, under the
overall supervision of Mikhail Gorbachev - comes from the Soviet expert
directly responsible for it.
- Note his chilling warning that: "Bioweapons are
no longer contained within the bipolar world of the Cold War. They are
cheap, easy to make, and easy to use. In the coming years, they will become
very much a part of our lives."
- Now, why were we reminded, upon reading that, of the
ominous statement in the elite's 1994 Report, OUR GLOBAL NEIGHBOURHOOD:
THE REPORT OF THE COMMISSION ON GLOBAL GOVERNANCE", that global citizens
of the future would be "granted limited rights in exchange for guaranteed
- Granted "limited rights" BY who, in exchange
for "guaranteed security" FROM who? If you checked the box alongside
the answer "The same people", and had globalist groups like the
Bilderbergers in mind, we rather suspect that you'll soon be considered
too independently well-informed to be permitted to stay on the planet!
- John Whitley, Editor NEW WORLD ORDER INTELLIGENCE UPDATE
- [To join the NWO/Y2K low-volume mailing list, send your
e-mail address to email@example.com]
- Toronto Star, June 26th, 1999
- A LARGE DOSE OF TERROR
- An inside look at how the Soviet Union developed lethal
germ weapons, and why the end of the Cold War has made the threat of biological
warfare even worse
- By Ken Alibek
- An edited excerpt from the chilling new book, Biohazard,
by Ken Alibek, a former biological weapons expert in the Soviet Union,
with The Star's Stephen Handelman.
- ON A BLEAK island in the Aral Sea, 100 monkeys are tethered
to posts set in parallel rows stretching out toward the horizon. A muffled
thud breaks the stillness. Far in the distance, a small metal sphere lifts
into the sky then hurtles downward, rotating, until it shatters in a second
- Some 25 metres above the ground, a cloud the colour of
dark mustard begins to unfurl, gently dissolving as it glides down toward
the monkeys. They pull at their chains and begin to cry. Some bury their
heads between their legs. A few cover their mouths or noses, but it is
too late: They have already begun to die.
- At the other end of the island, a handful of men in biological
protective suits observe the scene through binoculars, taking notes. In
a few hours, they will retrieve the still-breathing monkeys and return
them to cages where the animals will be under continuous examination for
the next several days until, one by one, they die of anthrax or tularemia,
Q fever, brucellosis, glanders, or plague. These are the tests I supervised
throughout the 1980s and early 1990s. They formed the foundation of the
Soviet Union's spectacular breakthroughs in biological warfare.
- Between 1988 and 1992, I was first deputy chief of Biopreparat,
the Soviet state pharmaceutical agency whose primary function was to develop
and produce weapons made from the most dangerous viruses, toxins and bacteria
known to man. Biopreparat was the hub of a clandestine empire of research,
testing, and manufacturing facilities spread out over more than 40 sites
in Russia and Kazakhstan. Nearly every important government institution
played a role in the Soviet biological weapons program. The System, as
Biopreparat was often called, was more successful than the Kremlin had
ever dared to hope.
- Over a 20-year period that began, ironically, with Moscow's
endorsement of the Biological Weapons Convention in 1972, the Soviet Union
built the largest and most advanced biological warfare establishment in
the world. Through our covert program, we stockpiled hundreds of tons of
anthrax and dozens of tons of plague and smallpox near Moscow and other
Russian cities for use against the United States and its Western allies.
- What went on in Biopreparat's labs was one of the most
closely guarded secrets of the Cold War. Before I became an expert in biological
warfare I was trained as a physician. The government I served perceived
no contradiction between the oath every doctor takes to preserve life and
our preparations for mass murder. For a long time, neither did I. Less
than a decade ago, I was a much-decorated army colonel, marked out for
further promotion in one of the Soviet Union's most elite military programs.
If I had stayed in Russia, I would have been a major general by now, and
you would never have heard my name. But in 1992, after 17 years inside
Biopreparat, I resigned from my position and fled with my family to the
United States. In numerous debriefing sessions, I provided U.S. officials
with their first comprehensive picture of our activities. Most of what
I told them has never been revealed in public.
- With the collapse of the Soviet Union, the danger once
posed by our weapons work has sharply diminished. Biopreparat claims that
it no longer conducts offensive research, and Russia's stockpile of germs
and viruses has been destroyed. But the threat of a biological attack has
increased as the knowledge developed in our labs - of lethal formulations
that took our scientists years to discover - has spread to rogue regimes
and terrorist groups. Bioweapons are no longer contained within the bipolar
world of the Cold War. They are cheap, easy to make, and easy to use. In
the coming years, they will become very much a part of our lives.
- Since leaving Moscow I have encountered an alarming level
of ignorance about biological weapons. Some of the best scientists I've
met in the West say it isn't possible to alter viruses genetically to make
reliable weapons, or to store enough of a given pathogen for strategic
purposes, or to deliver it in a way that assures maximum killing power.
My knowledge and experience tell me that they are wrong. I have written
this book to explain why.
- There are some who maintain that discussing the subject
will cause needless alarm. But existing defences against these weapons
are dangerously inadequate, and when biological terror strikes, as I'm
convinced it will, public ignorance will only heighten the disaster. The
first step we must take to protect ourselves is to understand what biological
weapons are and how they work. The alternative is to remain as helpless
as the monkeys in the Aral Sea.
- The windows in the administrative offices at Vector were
covered with thick sheets of ice. It was midway through the Siberian winter,
and the temperature outside had plunged to minus 40 degrees Celsius. The
scientists crowding into the tiny room were bundled in sweaters and thick
jackets. They grumbled about the cold and the peculiarities of the Soviet
- I smiled good-naturedly. It was February, 1988, and I
was on one of my frequent commuting trips to the Vector Institute. By then
I knew the scientists well enough to enjoy their bleak sense of humour.
- The man whose joke provoked so much laughter was a hardy
example of our Siberian species of scientists. His name was Nikolai Ustinov.
A gregarious, well-built man with an easy smile and a sharp wit, Ustinov
led a research team working on Marburg, a hemorrhagic fever virus we had
obtained in the 1970s. Marburg was set to become one of the most effective
weapons in our biological arsenal. The project had become as important
as our work with smallpox.
- Ustinov loved his job. He had been at Vector for many
years and was one of the most well liked members of the community. His
wife, Yevgenia, worked as a lab scientist in another part of the institute,
and the couple had two teenage sons. He was 44 when I met him.
- Two months later, in mid-April, I was sitting in my Moscow
office one morning when a call came in from Lev Sandakchiev, Ustinov's
boss and the head of Vector.
- ``Something terrible has happened,'' he said.
- ``An accident?''
- ``Yes. It's Ustinov. He injected Marburg into his thumb.''
Sadness and frustration were palpable in his voice.
- ``Right into his thumb,'' he repeated. ``He was in the
lab working with guinea pigs when it happened.''
- ``Wait,'' I interrupted him. ``You know the regulations.
Send me a cryptogram. Don't say any more.''
- I felt heartless ordering Sandakchiev to stop talking,
but the mere mention of Marburg was too sensitive for an open line.
- Marburg was the most dangerous virus we were working
with at that time - dangerous because we knew so little about it as well
as because of its terrible impact on humans.
- The first recorded outbreak of the virus occurred in
1967 at the Behring pharmaceutical works in Marburg, an old university
town 110 kilometres north of Frankfurt. An animal keeper died two weeks
after he contracted a mysterious illness from green monkeys sent to the
Behring lab from central Africa. The lab was culturing vaccines in kidney
cells extracted from the monkeys. Other workers soon fell sick, and similar
cases were reported at laboratories in Frankfurt and Belgrade, both of
which had received shiploads of green monkeys from central Africa at the
- The filoviruses were already multiplying by the billions
inside Ustinov's tissues, sucking out their nutrients in order to clone
copies of themselves
- Twenty-four lab technicians came down with the unknown
disease, along with six of the nurses caring for them. Of the 31 people
infected, seven died. This kind of undiagnosed outbreak would be alarming
enough, but it was the horror of their deaths that caught the attention
of biologists and tropical disease specialists around the world.
- The mysterious virus appeared to liquefy body organs.
One of the survivors went mad after the organism chewed away his brain
cells. Before the victims died, every inch of their bodies was wet with
- Following tradition, the virus was named after the place
where it was first identified. It would alter forever the image of a city
that has been a centre of European philosophy, science and religion for
- A similar virus surfaced nine years later on the banks
of the Ebola River in Zaire, now the Democratic Republic of Congo. By the
time that epidemic died out, 430 people were dead in Zaire and nearby Sudan.
The virus responsible for that outbreak was called Ebola, after the site
where it was isolated. Ebola struck again in the same area in 1995.
- The viruses isolated in Africa differed slightly in genetic
composition from the strain found in Germany, but they were closely related.
Under an electron microscope, both organisms seemed to proliferate by shooting
out tiny filament-like threads, like the lines cast by fishermen, from
the cells they had already scoured for the food they needed to grow. The
threads were often bent at the top, like fishing hooks, and as they prepared
to invade a new cell they curled into rings, like microscopic Cheerios.
Marburg and Ebola were deemed to belong to a new family of viral organisms.
They were called filoviruses.
- We still know very little about where filoviruses come
from and how they are transmitted to humans. In some cases an animal or
insect bite has delivered the organism into the bloodstream. In others,
sexual contact has been a source of infection, and some scientists believe
the virus may even be located in plants. Both Ebola and Marburg can spread
from one person to another with no direct physical contact.
- The natural reservoirs of filoviruses are unknown. Although
recent research suggests that they have been lurking on the fringes of
human activity for centuries, Marburg and Ebola joined a new category of
``emerging viruses'' threatening to eclipse more familiar infectious diseases.
- A strain of Marburg arrived in the Soviet Union a decade
after it was first isolated, during one of our periodic global searches
for promising material. It wasn't clear from the records whether we obtained
it from the United States or directly from Germany, but it was immediately
added to our growing collection of viral warfare agents. We were already
investigating a number of micro -organisms that weaken blood vessels and
cause hemorrhagic fevers, such as Junin from Argentina and Machupo from
Bolivia. Marburg quickly proved to have great potential.
- Ustinov had been conducting a series of experiments with
guinea pigs and rabbits to monitor the effects of increasingly higher concentrations
of Marburg. The injection of such a highly concentrated dose directly into
his thumb meant that he now had hundreds, perhaps thousands of times more
particles of the virus coursing through his body than any of the victims
in Germany. I thought his chances of survival were near zero.
- I called our biosafety department and asked them to send
technicians at once to the viral centre of the Ministry of Defence in Zagorsk,
where scientists had isolated a Marburg antiserum. Then I instructed the
Ministry of Health to send a team of physicians to Siberia with the antiserum.
- It was a shot in the dark. The team was four hours away
by plane and the next flight from Moscow wasn't until later that night.
Even if they made the flight, they would arrived nearly two days after
the initial infection - an eternity for Marburg.
- Zagorsk had only a few hundred millilitres of antiserum
- Yury Kalinin, the head of Biopreparat, was in a meeting
when I asked to see him. His secretary, Tatyana, took one look at me and
hurried me into his office. He dismissed his visitors, and I gave him the
scanty details I had of what had happened.
- Kalinin turned pale.
- ``You don't think he can be saved?'' he asked.
- ``I can't be too optimistic.''
- ``We'll have to tell the higher levels,'' he said with
- I couldn't blame him for being as preoccupied with our
superiors' reaction as with Ustinov's well-being. We both knew that any
major accident would put Biopreparat at risk.
- Yet the state shared the blame for Ustinov's accident.
My visits to Vector had shown me under what pressure we were placing our
best scientists. Sandakchiev had never ceased to complain about the inhuman
pace at which his workers were being driven. It was dangerous, as well
as scientifically unsound. No technician should have worked long hours
with such a contagious organism. People tired easily in the heavy protective
suits required for Zone Three. Their reflexes slowed down, and it was easy
to become careless.
- Ustinov's illness lasted nearly three weeks. Throughout
that time, none of his colleagues was allowed to stop working.
- Ustinov had been injecting Marburg into guinea pigs with
the help of a lab technician, working through a glove box. He was not in
a full space suit and was wearing two thin layers of rubber gloves instead
of the thick mitts normally required for such work in Zone Three. The gloves
provided the flexibility to control the animals, who otherwise squirm and
try to wriggle out of a technician's grip.
- Our rules required that animals targeted for injection
be strapped to a wooden board to hold them securely in place. That day,
Ustinov wasn't following procedure. He decided to steady the guinea pigs
with his gloved hand. Perhaps he thought it would help calm them. Or perhaps
he was in too much of a hurry.
- The technician became distracted and nudged him accidentally.
Ustinov's hand slipped just as he was pressing down on the syringe. The
needle went through the guinea pig and punctured his thumb, drawing blood.
- The needle went in no farther than half a centimetre,
but the faint spot of blood indicated that liquid Marburg had entered his
bloodstream. As soon as he realized what had happened, Ustinov called the
duty supervisor from the telephone inside the lab
- From then on, the procedures established for such emergencies
were followed to the letter. Doctors and nurses dressed in protective suits
were waiting for him as he emerged from the disinfectant shower. They rushed
him to the small hospital in the Vector compound, a 20-bed isolation facility
sealed off from the outside with thick walls and pressure-locked doors.
- Physicians did what they could to make Ustinov feel comfortable
while waiting for the antiserum to arrive from Moscow. He was in no doubt
of the danger he faced, but there were periods when he believed he could
escape alive. He was lucid enough to describe what had happened in precise
scientific detail and to calculate the exact amount of Marburg coursing
through his veins. His wife hurried over from her lab, but neither she
nor their children were permitted inside the hospital. She was later allowed
a few private visits, until the sight of her suffering husband became too
much to bear.
- Ustinov at first maintained his sense of humour, joking
with nurses a nd occasionally planning his next experiments aloud. Within
a couple of days he was complaining of a severe headache and nausea.
- Gradually, he became passive and uncommunicative, as
his features froze in toxic shock. On the fourth day his eyes turned red
and tiny bruises appeared all over his body: capillaries close to his skin
had begun to hemorrhage.
- Ustinov twitched silently in his bed while the virus
multiplied in his system. Too tired to speak, or to turn over, or to eat,
he would drift in and out of consciousness, staring for long periods of
time at nothing. Occasionally, lucidity would return. He called for paper
during those brief moments to record the progress of the virus as it foraged
through his body. Sometimes he burst into tears.
- On the tenth day, his fever subsided and he stopped retching.
As brilliant a scientist as he was, Ustinov began to entertain the delusion
that he was improving. He started smiling again and asked about his family.
- But by the 15th day, the tiny bruises on Ustinov's body
had turned dark blue, and his skin was as thin as parchment. The blood
pooling underneath began oozing through. It streamed from his nose, mouth,
and genitals. Through a mechanism that is still poorly understood, the
virus prevents normal coagulation: The platelets responsible for clotting
blood are destroyed. As the virus spreads, the body's internal organs literally
begin to melt away.
- Shuddering bouts of diarrhea left rivers of black liquid
on his sheets. The scraps of paper on which he had been scribbling his
symptoms and which the nurses had gingerly carried out to transcribe each
day no longer littered the floor. There was nothing more to write. Everything
was unfolding before his doctors' eyes.
- The filoviruses were already multiplying by the billions
inside Ustinov's tissues, sucking out their nutrients in order to clone
copies of themselves. Each viral particle, or virion, forms a brick that
pushes against the cell walls until they burst. The cells then sprout wavering
hair-like antennae that home in on their next target, where the process
of foraging and destruction blindly repeats itself.
- Ustinov lapsed into long periods of unconsciousness.
- The doctors from the Ministry of Health arrived early
in the first week with the antiserum. To no one's surprise, it proved useless.
Antiviral drugs such as ribavirin and interferon were also tried.
- A long cryptogram arrived in my office on April 30, describing
Ustinov's condition that day. I noticed that the symptoms appeared worse
than usual. I sat up in my chair when I reached the final line: ``The patient
died. Request permission to conduct an autopsy.''
- Though I had been expecting it, the news came as a shock.
I walked into Kalinin's office and told him the ordeal was over.
- ``They want to conduct an autopsy,'' I added.
- Kalinin was expressionless.
- ``I'll inform everyone,'' he said, and turned back to
the file he was reading. He didn't ask after Ustinov's widow or his colleagues
at Vector. It was time to move on.
- I don't know how the senior levels of our bureaucracy
reacted to Ustinov's death, but no condolence letter was ever sent to his
widow. Sandakchiev asked us for 10,000 rubles as special compensation for
his family in addition to the normal pension survivors were entitled to.
It was a princely sum in those days, and Kalinin balked at first, but he
finally approved the request.
- Even after death, Ustinov was imprisoned by the virus
that had killed him. The risk of contagion made normal interment impossible,
so his corpse was covered with chloramine disinfectant and wrapped in plastic
sheeting. The remains were placed inside a metal box, welded shut, and
fitted into a wooden coffin. Only then was it safe to lay him in the ground.
- The funeral was over quickly. Sandakchiev delivered a
brief eulogy beside a marble gravestone, which, in the Russian tradition,
bore an engraved image of Ustinov and the dates of his birth and death.
The small group of mourners included Ustinov's immediate family, his closest
colleagues, and a cordon of KGB agents who had worked frantically to keep
the circumstances of his illness secret. No one came from Moscow.
- Regulations prohibited the circulation of any reports
about accidents, fatal or otherwise, but news of the tragedy spread quickly
through The System. An investigation by the Ministry of Health and the
KGB concluded that the principal person at fault was the victim himself,
who had not followed proper safety rules. _________________________________________________
A virus grown in laboratory conditions is liable to become more virulent
when it passes through the live incubator of a human or an animal body.
Orders went out immediately to replace the old strain with the new __________________________________________________
- A virus grown in laboratory conditions is liable to become
more virulent when it passes through the live incubator of a human or an
animal body. Few were surprised, therefore, when samples of Marburg taken
from Ustinov's organs after his autopsy differed slightly from the original
strain. Further testing showed that the new variation was much more powerful
- No one needed to debate the next step. Orders went out
immediately to replace the old strain with the new, which was called, in
a move that the wry Ustinov might have appreciated, ``Variant U.''
- At the end of 1989, a cryptogram from Sandakchiev arrived
in my office with the terse announcement that Marburg Variant U had been
successfully weaponized. He was asking for permission to test it.
- Construction at Vector was running far behind the schedule
set out in Gorbachev's last decree, and test chambers were still not ready.
There were only three other spots where Marburg could be tested: Omutninsk,
Stepnogorsk, and a special bacteriological facility at Obolensk, in the
Moscow region. Obolensk had to be ruled out because it was too close to
the capital, and Omutninsk was just embarking on tests for a new plague
weapon. That left Stepnogorsk
- The facility had never been used to test viral agents
before. Colonel Gennady Lepyoshkin, who had replaced me as the director
of Stepnogorsk, reminded me of that heatedly when I ordered him to prepare
the facilities for a Marburg test run.
- ``It's just too dangerous,'' he insisted.
- I respected his views, but orders were orders. ``Don't
argue with me,'' I said. ``It has to be done, so do it.''
- A brace of bomblets filled with Marburg and secured in
metal containers was sent on the long journey by train and truck from Siberia
to Kazakhstan, accompanied by scientists and armed guards. It took nearly
27 hours.Another caravan with 12 monkeys followed shortly afterward.
- I went to Stepnogorsk twice to supervise the test preparations.
It was less than two years since I'd left there for Moscow, but the facility
had expanded so much that it was almost unrecognizable. After testing the
weapon in explosive chambers, we applied it to the monkeys. Every one of
the 12 contracted the virus. They were all dead within three weeks.
- In early 1990, Marburg Variant U was ready for approval
by the Ministry of Defence.
- [From ``Biohazard'' by Ken Alibek, with Stephen Handelman,
The Star's former Moscow bureau chief. Copyright. Published by Random House.]
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