For the Record: Anthrax. Biological and Chemical Weapons. Terrorists. You Bet. (American Tragedy)

By Ankomah, Baffour | New African, December 2001 | Go to article overview

For the Record: Anthrax. Biological and Chemical Weapons. Terrorists. You Bet. (American Tragedy)


Ankomah, Baffour, New African


After the tragic events in New York on 11 September, one is tempted to believe that "terrorists" invented anthrax and biological and chemical weapons. In the circumstances, two pre-September 11 articles published by the British daily, The Times, and the American daily, The New York Times, ought to be cut and put on the wall for the record.

On 27 July this year, a London court had fined the Imperial College (London), one of Britain's renowned research institutions, [pounds sterling]25,000 and ordered it to pay more than [pounds sterling]21,000 costs for "exposing its staff to a lethal new virus for which there is no cure". The story was carried by The Times.

On 4 September -- seven days to the tragic events in New York -- The New York Times had reported that the Pentagon had "secretly built a germ factory capable of producing enough deadly bacteria to kill millions of people".

The project, according to the NYT, "is one of a number of covert biological initiatives pursued by the US over recent years. One proposal awaiting final approval is to manufacture a more potent version of anthrax using generically engineered biological agents. Last night, Donald Rumsfeld, the US defence secretary, confirmed that the [Bush] Administration planned to proceed with the tests".

Imperial College

This is not the first time the Imperial College has been in trouble over the creation of hybrid viruses. In March this year, the College and its safety advisers had been fined [pounds sterling]20,000 each for exposing the public to an "unacceptable risk" from the HIV virus. The College had also been fined [pounds sterling]4,500 in 1998 for exposing a worker to an "animal allergen".

In the latest case in July, it was revealed in court that "the College's 'seriously flawed' approach to health and safety matters raised a distinct possibility that both hepatitis C and dengue fever could be released into the open while [the College] was attempting to create a hybrid from the two.

This immediately drew attention to the oft-repeated claim that the world's newest deadly viruses such as HIV, Ebola, etc, said to have originated in Africa did nor come from there at all.

According to The Times, the Blackfriars Crown Court was told that scientists from Imperial College "failed to use sealed cabinets while studying the [new] virus and made no emergency plan for dealing with a spillage."

Keith Morton, for the prosecution, said: "They were creating a hybrid virus for which no vaccine or treatment exists. Safety measures should have been of a very high standard to protect staff and the general public. They have shown a disregard for basic measures to ensure safety.

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