Amorphous terror plot detected.
So speaketh CBS news, on material apparently leaking out of the Department of Homeland Security.
The terrorists want to use ricin and cyanide to poison.
Yes, we’ve known this for years. They really really want to do it. And, so far, such wishes have never amounted to anything.
The primary reason: It’s easier to shoot someone, or perhaps, run them over with a car, if one is going do attempt killings of this nature.
In this exclusive story, CBS News chief investigative correspondent Armen Keteyian reports the latest terror attack to America involves the possible use of poisons – simultaneous attacks targeting hotels and restaurants at many locations over a single weekend.
A key Intelligence source has confirmed the threat as “credible.” Department of Homeland Security officials, along with members of the Department of Agriculture and the FDA, have briefed a small group of corporate security officers from the hotel and restaurant industries about it.
“We operate under the premise that individuals prepared to carry out terrorist acts are in this country,” said Dec. of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano on Dec. 6, 2010.
The plot uncovered earlier this year is said to involve the use of two poisons – ricin and cyanide – slipped into salad bars and buffets.
Of particular concern: The plotters are believed to be tied to the same terror group that attempted to blow up cargo planes over the east coast in October, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.
At the beginning of December, DD and others discussed DHS’s resurrection of the mubtakar of death, an al Qaeda contraption designed to generate cyanide gas.
Memos on it were in circulation again. And that post is here.
And in November, the al Qaeda pdf mag, Inspire, wishfully recommended the use of, you guessed it, ricin and cyanide.
The news report conveys no information to indicate the plot was anything more than aspirational talk. Which it may have been. But most likely not, concerning al Qaeda’s history with such things.
There has always been a steady stream of jihadi documents circulating plans and recipes for poisoning.
Was CBS’s news ‘exclusive,’ then? Not really.
CBS also trots out a run-of-the-mill scientist to show how easy it would be to poison someone with cyanide.
And DD just happens to have covered attacks on food for sometime.
Which affords an oppotunity to look at this post – from three years ago — on a survey by a university in Singapore, on the history of food poisoning:
Happily, the monograph devotes no time to one of our favorite national security hobbies, predicting what would be easy for terrorists.
“In the United States, food borne illnesses resulting from food safety breakdowns are estimated to kill 5,000 and hospitalize 300,000 every year,” it reads near the end. “The World Health Organization estimates that food and waterborne diarrhoeal diseases … kill approximately 1.8 million people annually … This is in contrast to the 391 fatalities 4,355 injuries since 1950 from malicious food contamination …
“Certainly an historical absence of evidence does not preclude suppositions that terrorists may intentionally contaminate the food supply … What it does tell us is ‘that undertaking a major attack on the food chain is much more difficult than at first it may be believed.‘”
Which is not the same as impossible.
And there has been a huge national effort made to counter what is always said to be an “easy” to attack food supply and/or hospitality industry — to absolutely no visible benefit for the middle class.
Appearances of people in the news, or reporters just going on extemporaneously about what they have been told, on alleged attacks on the food supply have never been in short supply, either.
However, the largest historical number of food poisonings have been brought on by US agribusiness, all in the past three years.
These outbreaks of foodborne illness have all been perpetrated by people who ran their companies knowing their way of doing things was likely to be seriously hazardous but still willing to deal with regulation and control as just an annoying part part of doing business, with poisonings as part of the overhead.
In slightly related matters, the Senate passed the Food Safety Modernization legislation.
It’s arguably more relevant to national public safety and security than CBS’s alleged scoop.