Friday, January 23, 2009

Bad Bad Bad: 40 Al-Qaeda Members Die of Plague

The UK Telegraph is reporting that 40 members of an al-Qaeda-affiliated terror cell in Algeria have died of the plague. It is not improbable that the living conditions in a terrorist training camp in the Algerian wilds may have led to the disease (plague being endemic in North Africa), but striking 40 at once does seem a bit suspicious. A thought on the supposition that they may have been working with plague as a potential bioweapon: sending infected members to mingle with a target population as "suicide vectors" would be a pretty ineffective dispersal technique, particularly for plague, but it would be chillingly effective as a terror weapon. Remember: actually killing you is just icing on the cake; a terrorist's goal, by definition, is to frighten you into changing your behavior.


Bruce Gee said...

From the article: "It was reported last year that up to 100 potential terrorists had attempted to become postgraduate students in Britain in an attempt to use laboratories."

Lots of badbadbad going on in many different ways. This won't stop any time soon. Will ending wiretaps make us safer or more exposed to these sorts of ploys? I am hopeful the new president has been apprised of the nature of the enemy, and is up to the task of continuing the fight.

Bi-Coloured-Python-Rock-Snake said...

Yeah, the one thing I don't get about that statement was the phrase "potential terrorist". Who decides that? I mean, there's plenty of people out there who'd be happy to define me as a potential terrorist if it served their ends.

As far as wiretapping goes, I really don't know where I stand. I guess I haven't thought of a phone conversation as truly private for a long time. As to making us safer, the question is, from whom? All the posturing over Gitmo and such, little as it means in the end, actually will pay huge dividends in world public opinion, for what that's worth. I don't really know, on the other hand, how much the world (and particularly our enemies) care about the government's wiretapping program. I suspect it's very little.

Shane said...

"Potential Terrorist" is probably a label that organizations will overuse to justify their budgets.

And yes, you're absolutely right when you say that terrorists' primary aim is to terrorize (hence the nomenclature). This is why I think we should foster a culture of resilience. I admire the way Israelis and Britons have reacted to actual terror attacks; they often seem more dignified in those situations than Americans have been with panics and scares. When we can discuss terrorism coolly and rationally, we will have disincentivized the very act - kinda a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Elephantschild said...

You had the opportunity, given the subject matter, to use the word "buboes" in a post, and you passed it by.

I'm disappointed. Slacker.