INCREASED CONCERNS ABOUT CHEMICAL WEAPONS
THE GROWING SCOURGE THAT THREATENS OUR FUTURE PART 1 OF 2
This is the first of a two-part series that explains some of the history of the development and deployment of chemical weapons, and it informs us about the status of current chemical warfare threats abroad and at home. The second part will appear in the November issue of American Survival Guide Magazine.
It would be unwise to ignore the reality that chemical weapons might be used in some future conflict. Post-war Egypt’s army dropped bombs filled with nerve gasses on rebel fighters in the Yemen Republic in the 1960s. Thereafter, chemical agents were deployed on a massive scale by both sides in the seven-year Iran/iraq conflict.
Many of the victims were flown to European hospitals for treatment, although it is curious that nobody protested at the time. More recently, residents of the besieged Syrian city of Aleppo have been struck down by mysterious chemical gasses sprayed on residents by Syrian air force helicopters.
It is worth recalling that in March 1988, tyrant Saddam Hussein went on to murder up to 5,000 of his own people by using chemical weapons against the civilian residents of the northern Kurdish town of Halabja.
According to reports that emerged after Gulf War 1 (Operation Desert Storm), the Iraqis repeatedly bombed the town with a variety of nerve gasses that included sarin, soban, VX and tabun, as well as the blood agent hydrogen cyanide.
Human Rights Watch subsequently reported that survivors remembered the gas smelled of “sweet apples.” They maintained that people died in a number of ways, which suggested a combination of toxic chemicals. Some victims “just dropped dead,” while others “died laughing.” Still more took a few minutes to succumb, first “burning and blistering” or coughing up green vomit. Hardly a pretty picture.
In all, it was estimated that something like 12,000 people were affected—almost all of them civilians. Thousands more have subsequently yielded to complications that included related diseases and birth defects.
MURDERERS WHO DIE WITH THEIR VICTIMS
The single biggest problem linked to modern-day terrorism is that those who commit these crimes are not afraid to die while attempting to murder innocents.
Their creed is well worn, and a lot of people are paying a price for what these jihadis believe. In the process, they take many lives—the old, the young, the healthy and the diseased.
The 9/11 World Trade Center attack is a case in point. So is the murder of 55 British commuters in London in July 2005 by a group of youthful jihadis. Moreover, suicide bomb attacks are a daily feature of life in so many countries east of Suez and increasingly in those parts of Africa where Islamic militants are active.
There have been thousands of these terror attacks during the course of the past decade. There will be more to come … .
We, in the West, have to accept that this is a problem that is going to be with us for a very long time. We also need to accept that some of the tactics employed by these lunatics often defy logic.
We are now also critically aware that the fanatic who disseminates this terror weapon—often according to their Quranic beliefs—embraces the prospect of their own death in the process.
Imagine a committed “follower of the Prophet” boarding a subway in New York with a small aerosol container holding a few ounces of sarin nerve gas. This is not fiction—for two reasons: al-qaeda has already declared its intent to kill Americans in great numbers. Secondly, the idea of using aerosols to dispense poison gas has been featured on several of its websites.
One needs to understand sarin very clearly, because it could be used against our own forces in the not-too-distant future. It is an extremely toxic, colorless, odorless gas that acts on the nervous system. It falls in the same category of substances as pesticides, also known as “organophosphates”; and even small amounts can cause death.
Because sarin acts on the nervous system, it essentially disrupts all bodily functions. The pupils shrink to pinpoints, the mouth and lungs fill with saliva and bodily fluid, and the heart begins to slow. Blood pressure, responsible for keeping a healthy person lucid and conscious, decreases, and the victim loses consciousness.
Victims might drown in their own secretions, while bowels and bladder spasm extremely painfully and empty out. Some victims might experience seizures, and death follows quickly and mercilessly.
There are numerous factors customarily involved with the dissemination of chemical weapons. As a nerve gas, sarin has a high volatility (the ease with which a liquid can be turned into gas). And, in its purest form, it is estimated to be 26 times deadlier than cyanide.
A single vaporous drop in the atmosphere, once inhaled, will kill a human within minutes. It is lethal if skin contact is made with this chemical weapon, which is sometimes referred to as “GB” (G series B). A person’s clothing
IT WOULD BE UNWISE TO IGNORE THE REALITY THAT CHEMICAL WEAPONS MIGHT BE USED IN SOME FUTURE CONFLICT.
can release sarin for about 30 minutes after it has come in contact with this poisonous killer. That can lead to exposure of other people and, if not kill them, make them critically ill.
Critically, the antidote for sarin poisoning—atropine—is a cheap and effective medication available on just about every resuscitation cart in most hospitals in North America. But with largescale attacks in active war zones, rescue efforts could be futile.
THE SYRIAN GOVERNMENT AND CHEMICAL WARFARE
At the crux of it, toward the end of 2017, we are seeing a lot about Syria’s civil war in the media every day. Yet, there is only sporadic mention of President Assad’s enormous arsenal of chemical weapons. Some news reports have emerged from Syria that maintain that these weapons have been “moved around,” presumably to more-secure locations (or, as one British television report detailed recently, “possibly for use against government enemies”).
Almost overnight, with more American forces entering the Syrian theater of military activity, it is important that the chemical weapons issue in this ongoing conflict becomes more transparent.
For a start, it is no longer a secret that President Assad has these weapons of mass destruction and that a number of his Scud-c guided missiles, many of which have been amassed on the country’s borders, have been tipped with sarin and VX nerve gasses. Sources in the Israeli capital say the numbers of these Russiansupplied missiles run into the hundreds.
While several Arab countries were attempting to acquire or develop their own weapons of mass destruction in the days after Gulf War 1, Syria was in a class of its own when it came to chemical and biological warfare. For decades, the Damascus government had the biggest chemical laboratories in the Middle East.
IT IS WORTH RECALLING THAT IN MARCH 1988, TYRANT SADDAM HUSSEIN WENT ON TO MURDER UP TO 5,000 OF HIS OWN PEOPLE BY USING CHEMICAL WEAPONS AGAINST THE CIVILIAN RESIDENTS OF THE NORTHERN KURDISH TOWN OF HALABJA.
By the late 1990s, reports were circulated in Washington and London claiming that Syrian Scud-c missiles were being armed for long-range chemical weapons use—a worrying development in an arms race in which range is as important as a weapon’s ability to do harm. (Of course, this was of significant interest to Israel, as well.)
The CIA believed Syria had even developed its own version of cluster bombs, which can release dozens, or even hundreds, of small bombs from a single large Scud-c missile. In addition to his Scud-c missiles, President Assad has accumulated missiles tipped with nerve gas that are capable of being dropped from a fighter jet, thus allowing for attacks on more-distant cities.
The Israeli newspaper, Yedioth Ahronoth, quoting independent U.S. analyst Harold Hough, reached the following conclusions after studying satellite imagery of suspected Syrian missile deployment
sites: The Scud-c missile has an estimated circular error probable (CEP) of about a mile. That made it improbable that it would be able to strike specific military targets. More likely, said Hough, the Scud-c could deliver a chemical warhead to create mass casualties and havoc.
While most systems behind contemporary Scud missiles of the kind deployed in the Middle East date from the World War II, it remains a reasonably potent closerange weapon, especially if tipped with a weapon of mass destruction. Advances made by both Iran (with South African rocket scientists’ help), as well as North Korea, have added markedly to this clumsy weapon’s efficacy.
FOR DECADES, THE DAMASCUS GOVERNMENT HAD THE BIGGEST CHEMICAL LABORATORIES IN THE MIDDLE EAST.
WAGING WAR BY POISONING WATER SYSTEMS
On a more basic level, there is another threat rarely mentioned by the authorities. British and American forces serving abroad share a common bond: Every serving man and woman needs safe, potable water. Recent U.S. intelligence reports indicate that water supplies in the Near East, Central Asia and even Africa could present terrorists with potential targets. Further, there are at least 20 documented instances of the use (or the threat) of chemical or biological agents against water supplies.
A study completed at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California, by former Lieutenant Commander William Monday, U.S. Navy, covered this aspect in a thesis titled Thinking the Unthinkable: Attacking
Fresh Water Supplies. Commander Monday’s original thesis was simple: Not only is an attack on our water supplies possible, it also has the potential to achieve mass casualties. The corollary here is that it all needs to be properly planned and executed.
The information needed to do so is available—and has been for decades— Monday declared. As he stated, it is “there for the taking” on Internet “cookbooks.” It is interesting that almost for the duration of his studies on the subject, Commander Monday’s mentors were skeptical about his objectives, and it says much that his report got an immediate classified rating after it appeared. It remains under a heavy security restriction.
Commander Monday cited several recent instances of chemical agents having been used against water supplies. An interesting case study involved the poisoning of water tanks with potassium cyanide at a Turkish Army base outside Istanbul in March 1992. Two large, empty boxes were found alongside the water tanks, and the perpetrator appeared to have generated a layer of foam that caused suspicion and led to investigation. It was later concluded that the attack was initiated by the Kurdish PKK.
Similarly, in Romania during the December 1989 revolutionary fighting, the water supply of the city of Sibiu was poisoned with an organophosphate.
The threat to water supplies in Third World countries has prompted a dozen studies in the United States in the past few years. Most center on a specific theme: that Western forces in remote regions increasingly find themselves without adequate supplies of good water.
Reports of this kind of activity come from all over. The ITAR-TASS news agency reported
some years ago that workers at a chemical plant in Tebnik in
Lviv Oblast threatened to release poisonous waste into the
River Dniester unless they were paid for the previous six months. In 1996, in China’s Guangxi Province, more than 200 students needed emergency treatment after the well serving the school’s kitchen was intentionally contaminated with a toxic chemical.
There were two other incidents prior to that. The first involved General Nikolay Matveyev, who threatened to contaminate the water supplies of the Russian 14th Army in Tiraspol, Moldova, with about 75 pounds of mercury. Shortly afterward, during heavy fighting along the Thai-cambodia border near Pailin, a dozen Khmer Royal Armed Forces combatants died after drinking water from streams and ponds poisoned by the Khmer Rouge.
A ready source of information on the subject can be found in a book by Eric Croddy titled Chemical and Biological Warfare: An Annotated Bibliography. Croddy, formerly a senior research associate at the Monterey Institute of International Studies in Monterey, California, contended that the threat suddenly becomes much more of a reality if highly toxic organic phosphorous chemical warfare agents are introduced into the equation.
In the United States, he explained, the allowable concentration of sarin in drinking water is 0.5 parts per million (ppm)—that is, if no more than 5 liters of this water is drunk during any one day and provided it is not consumed on more than three consecutive days. It should be noted that these values are for adults. Children and babies can withstand only one-tenth to one-hundredth of this amount, Croddy explains.
“This means that the maximum daily dosage of sarin is 2.5mg, or 7.5mg in three days. For tabun, another nerve gas, the allowable concentration is 1.5 to 2 ppm.” Thus, he states, it is entirely possible to poison large reservoirs.
The conclusion of this article appears in next month’s issue of American Survival Guide. There, author Venter fills us in on several recent examples of the use of chemical weapons and describes some pretty disturbing concerns about potential attacks on the United States of America.
RECENT U.S. INTELLIGENCE REPORTS INDICATE THAT WATER SUPPLIES IN THE NEAR EAST, CENTRAL ASIA AND EVEN AFRICA COULD PRESENT TERRORISTS WITH POTENTIAL TARGETS. FURTHER, THERE ARE AT LEAST 20 DOCUMENTED INSTANCES OF THE USE (OR THE THREAT) OF CHEMICAL OR BIOLOGICAL AGENTS AGAINST WATER SUPPLIES.
In this literal example of the blind leading the blind, these men of the 55th British Division were casualties who lost their sight after a poison gas attack during World War I.
This photo from a pre-world War II gas mask drill in London shows the lack of understanding of the potential impact that chemical weapons can have on the human organism.
A father cradles his infant twins, who were killed in a Syrian chemical attack in April 2017. (Photo: Ap/alaa al-youssef)
Victims of a World War I mustard gas attack. This toxin can cause a multitude of symptoms and injuries, including death, depending on the level and areas of exposure.
Above: Workers in protective suits unload chemical warfare munitions from transport containers for later detonation and destruction in a blast furnace on March 05, 2014, in Münster, Germany. Left: This is a demonstration model of a U.S. M190 Honest...
French infantrymen wear protective gear in anticipation of gas attacks from the German opposition during World War I.
Some of the large number of civilian casualties in the Syrian chemical weapons attack on Aleppo (Photo: United Nations)
The chemical warfare symbol is used to identify weapons, agents, work areas or contaminated locations where these toxins might be present.
Bodies of victims of a suspected chemical attack on Ghouta, Syria, August 21, 2013 (Photo: Eyevine)
A photo of a British mustard gas bomb used in World War I, circa 1915 (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)
Below: Part of the aftermath of alleged Syrian government chemical attacks in Damascus in August 2013 (Photo: Human Rights Watch)