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Brumfiel, Geoff, “Particle Physicist ‘Falsely Accused’, Claims Brother,” Nature, online October 13, 2009.

  1. “French authorities placed Adlene Hicheur, a postdoc at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL), under formal investigation for possible ‘criminal association in relation to a terrorist undertaking’, He has been held since 8 October, after a raid at his family’s home in the town of Vienne, southeastern France.”
  2. “According to press reports, anti-terrorism police apparently have evidence that the 32-year-old may have had e-mail correspondence with ‘al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb’ -the North African branch of the terrorist organization al-Qaeda –about potential targets for terrorist attacks within France.”
  3. “Based on conversations with other family members, Halim believes that Adlene’s arrest is probably connected to a land purchase in Algeria. Halim told Nature that just before the police raid, Adlene withdrew E13,000 (US$19,200) in cash with which to purchase land near the family’s ancestral home of Setif in northeastern Algeria.  He says that the police were initially asking about the money.”
  4. “In a statement, CERN said that it ‘does not carry out research in the fields of nuclear power or nuclear weaponry’ and that it addressed ‘fundamental questions about the nature of matter and the Universe’. The physicist who worked with Adlene adds that there is nothing from Adlene’s high-energy physics training that could have been used in a terrorist attack.  ‘We don’t have any material or anything you could use for bad things,’ he says, ‘except maybe a hammer.'”

Law Enforcement, Academia, Nuclear, al-Qaeda, France, Algeria


Cruickshank, Paul, “U.S. citizen believed to be writing for al Qaeda website, source says,” CNN Checked July 19, 2010.

  1. “A senior U.S. law enforcement official has told CNN that U.S. intelligence believes the principal author of the new online al Qaeda magazine is an American citizen who left for Yemen in October 2009.”
  2. “The magazine — called “Inspire” — appeared last week. Running to nearly 70 pages online, it included articles on bomb-making and encrypting electronic messages, as well as an interview with fugitive Yemeni-American cleric Anwar al Awlaki.”
  3. “The source has identified the driving force behind “Inspire” as 23-year-old Samir Khan, who previously lived in North Carolina and was involved in radical Islamist blogs, including one he ran called “Jihad Recollections.” The source says Khan traveled to Yemen on a round-trip ticket but has not come back to the United States.”
  4. “In a profile in 2007, the New York Times described him as ‘a kind of Western relay station for the multimedia productions of violent Islamic groups.'”

Information Policy, al-Qaeda


Yaakov Lappin, “Leaked Documents Suggest Taliban Chemical Strike on U.S. Soldiers“, 27 July 2010, Global Security Newswire. Last Checked 23 September 2010.

  1. “Terrorist organizations sought nuclear and other WMD materials as early as 1993, according to one time line by former CIA and Energy Department intelligence officer Rolf Mowatt-Larssen. Former al-Qaeda operative Abu Khabab al-Masri, now deceased, was assigned to militarize biological and chemical agents for use in terrorist attacks.”
  2. “A separate military log report from two years ago described the arrest of a woman in Ghazni province. A search of her purse revealed multiple documents on constructing bombs and employing chemical weapons, along with quantities of unidentified chemicals, according to the field report. Wired reported that the woman is likely Aafia Siddiqui, who at one point was on the FBI’s list of most wanted terrorist fugitives.”
  3. “al-Qaeda was plotting to produce chemical warfare agents to be disseminated by rocket-propelled grenades, the London Guardian reported.”
  4. “One document addresses a special operations forces effort to clear an area of multiple improvised explosive devices and battle insurgents on Feb. 14, 2009. After one bomb was detonated ‘a yellow cloud was emitted and personnel began feeling nauseous,’ according to the combined Joint Special Operations Task Force field log. Dust samples were gathered and the team went back to its base.”
  5. “Another military field report stated that in June 2007 U.S. soldiers in eastern Afghanistan reported being tipped off to an extremist plot to contaminate the food supply of allied troops in the country by stealing coalition food trucks.‘The plan is to inject the bottles or the packages of food with unidentified chemicals, or recreate the same type of packages with contaminated versions of the same product,’ the report said.”

Chemical, Information Policy, al-Qaeda


Shane, Scott, “Expert Panel Is Critical of F.B.I. Work in Investigating Anthrax Letters,” February 15, 2011. last checked February 16, 2011.

  1. “A review of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s scientific work on the investigation of the anthrax letters of 2001 concludes that the bureau overstated the strength of genetic analysis linking the mailed anthrax to a supply kept by Bruce E. Ivins, the Army microbiologist whom the investigators blamed for the attacks.”
  2. “The review, by a panel convened by the National Academy of Sciences, says the genetic analysis “did not definitively demonstrate” that the mailed anthrax spores were grown from a sample taken from Dr. Ivins’s laboratory at Fort Detrick in Frederick, Md. It does add, however, that the evidence is “consistent with and supports an association” between Dr. Ivins’s flask and the attack anthrax.”
  3. “The F.B.I. ‘has long maintained that while science played a significant role, it was the totality of the investigative process that determined the outcome of the anthrax case,’ the statement said. It said Dr. Ivins ‘was determined to be the perpetrator of the deadly mailings.’”
  4. “In an interview, three investigators who spent years on the case expressed frustration with the academy’s findings but said the report raised no questions that change the conclusion about Dr. Ivins. The investigators, who were not authorized to speak on the record, said the academy report merely underscored the difference between pure science and the reality of gathering evidence in a criminal case.”
  5. “Dr. Ivins’s guilt has been adamantly denied by many of his colleagues at the United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, where he was seen as an eccentric but popular character. The academy’s report is likely to renew claims by the F.B.I.’s critics that the bureau merely took advantage of Dr. Ivins’s suicide to close the case.”
  6. “The academy report calls for another look at tests that indicated the possible presence of anthrax at a primitive lab used by Al Qaeda; the report does not give its location, but such a lab was found in Afghanistan after the American invasion. The anthrax investigators said an exhaustive review, including interviews with Qaeda operatives who used the facility, found no evidence that it was capable of producing the anthrax powder in the mailings.”

Anthrax, Law Enforcement, al-Qaeda, Afghanistan, Personnel Reliability


Overbye, Dennis, “Physicist’s Jailing Is Veiled in Mystery,” NYT March 14, 2011, Last checked March 24, 2011.

  1. “When Adlène Hicheur, a French-Algerian physicist working on antimatter at CERN’s enormous particle collider outside Geneva, was arrested on Oct. 8, 2009, on suspicion of conspiring with an Algerian branch of Al Qaeda, fears of doomsday plots rippled through the tabloid press.”
  2. “Last fall, the Swiss government closed its investigation of Dr. Hicheur, saying it had found no evidence of wrongdoing, but in France, Dr. Hicheur’s detention was extended. Last month, it was extended again, by four months. Press officers for France’s interior minister, Claude Guéant, did not respond to telephone and e-mail requests for comment on the case.”
  3. “So, more than 500 days after his arrest, Dr. Hicheur, now 34, remains in preventive detention in a Paris prison without having been charged with any crime. Nor, say his lawyers and his family, has any evidence been produced that he did anything more than browse Islamic political Web sites. No trial has been scheduled.”
  4. “After months of silence, Dr. Hicheur’s family and colleagues have recently begun to speak out, urging his release. The issue, they say, is a simple matter of human rights. The long incarceration has turned Dr. Hicheur’s life into a Kafka novel, they say, and is endangering his physical and mental health, as well as his career and his family.”
  5. “Under French law, a person suspected of terrorist connections can be held in “provisional detention” for up to four years, depending on the nature of the alleged offense, without being charged or tried. Dr. Hicheur could be detained for up to two years, according to his lawyer, Dominique Beyreuther-Minkov.”
  6. “Nearly 100 scientists, including Jack Steinberger of CERN, winner of a Nobel Prize in Physics, signed a letter to the French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, in December. They wrote, “It seems to us that there is no justification for the prolonged detention, of almost 14 months so far, of Dr. Adlène Hicheur, an internationally recognized scientist, held in much esteem by his colleagues.”
  7. “The unusual thing about Dr. Hicheur’s case, say his friends and supporters, is that it is happening to a scientist.”
  8. “After obtaining his Ph.D. under Dr. Lees at the Annecy laboratory, for work done partly at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory at Stanford, Dr. Hicheur worked at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in Britain and then joined the Laboratory for High Energy Physics at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in Switzerland. There, he is part of a team that operates LHCb, one of the giant particle detectors on CERN’s Large Hadron Collider.”
  9. “Dr. Hicheur was arrested at his parents’ apartment in Vienne just as he was about to travel to Sétif to meet with a contractor about building a house on land he had recently bought there, and for which he had transferred about $18,000 to Algeria, his brother said. He was also planning to meet with physicists at the University of Sétif as part of a long-range goal to establish research collaborations with physicists in Algeria.”
  10. “According to news reports, Dr. Hicheur had been under surveillance for a year and had been in Internet contact with Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, Al Qaeda’s North African affiliate. Shortly after the arrest, a French police official told Le Monde that Dr. Hicheur had planned to attack a military base in Annecy that is home to an elite force that had recently left for Afghanistan. The French authorities have been silent ever since.”

Law Enforcement, al-Qaeda, France, Physics, Scientist, Law


National Journal Group, “Trial Cyber Attack Suggests Widespread U.S. Vulnerabilities” 30 March 2011 Global Security Newswire Last Checked 30 March 30, 2011.

  1. “The water supplier’s computer system had permitted outside access by staffers — a key vulnerability exploited by the specialists.”
  2. “Al-Qaeda and other extremist organizations have yet to acquire means of carrying out computer-based assaults.”
  3. “Governments including China and Russia could conduct such attacks, and independent entities might carry out electronic strikes on behalf of terrorists…”
  4. “Weak points identified by the group also exist at critical sites throughout the United States, according to U.S. government sources and independent analysts.”
  5. ‘“If a sector of the country’s power grid were taken down, it’s not only going to be damaging to our economy, but people are going to die…”’
  6. “President Obama established a federal “czar” position to address computer-based vulnerabilities, but the post remained vacant for seven months and has little power, according to the Times.”
  7. “The United States cannot compel companies to safeguard their computer systems, and the private sector has no strong cause to do so,…”
  8. ‘“The odds are we’ll wait for a catastrophic event, and then overreact…”’

Cybersecurity, Russia, China, al-Qaeda


Matishak, Martin, “Experts Offer Measures to Save Lives After Nuclear ExplosionNTI. September 28, 2011.

  1. “The Rad Resilient City plan includes a seven-point checklist composed by an expert panel that communities can implement to better protect residents from radioactive fallout after an atomic blast.”
  2. “It lays out actions cities and regions can take, starting with obtaining broad community support for nuclear incident preparedness; conducting an ongoing public education campaign on the effects of an atomic detonation and how people can protect themselves; having all building owners or operators assess the level of fallout protection given by different types of structures; and building local capacity to deliver public warnings following an incident. The plan also calls for establishing a rapid system for mapping and monitoring radioactive fallout; developing strategies and logistics for a large-scale, phased evacuation of a municipality; and then testing all the elements of the preparedness plan.”
  3. “”The bottom line is the only way for us to be prepared is to know what to do in advance,” Tammy Taylor”
  4. “Today there is enough fissile material in the world to fuel roughly 120,000 nuclear weapons, Tom Inglesby, chief executive officer and director of the Center for Biosecurity told the audience.”

Biosecurity, Nuclear, Public Health, al-Qaeda, Emergency Response, Pandemic, Biodetection


Editors, “Clinton Warns of Bioweapon Threat from Gene Tech,” 7 December 2011, CBSNEWS Last Checked 7 December 2011.

  1. “New gene assembly technology that offers great benefits for scientific research could also be used by terrorists to create biological weapons, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton warned.”
  2. “Experts have warned that the increasing ease with which bioweapons can be created might be used by terror groups to develop and spread new diseases that could mimic the effects of the fictional global epidemic portrayed in the Hollywood thriller ‘Contagion.’”
  3. “The U.S. government has cited efforts by terrorist networks such as al-Qaeda to recruit scientists capable of making biological weapons as a national security concern.”
  4. “‘Less than a year ago, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula made a call to arms for, and I quote, ‘brothers with degrees in microbiology or chemistry … to develop a weapon of mass destruction,’ she said.”
  5. “‘The emerging gene synthesis industry is making genetic material more widely available,’ she said. ‘This has many benefits for research, but it could also potentially be used to assemble the components of a deadly organism.’”
  6. “Gene synthesis allows genetic material — the building blocks of all organisms — to be artificially assembled in the lab, greatly speeding up the creation of artificial viruses and bacteria.”
  7. “Washington has urged countries to be more transparent about their efforts to clamp down on the threat of bioweapons. But U.S. officials have also resisted calls for an international verification system — akin to that for nuclear weapons — saying it is too complicated to monitor every lab’s activities.”

Biotechnology, Bioterrorism, al-Qaeda


Shane, Scott, “Radical U.S. Muslims Little Threat, Study Says,” NYT, February 8, 2012, A10.

  1. “A feared wave of homegrown terrorism by radicalized Muslim Americans has not materialized, with plots and arrests dropping sharply over the two years since an unusual peak in 2009, according to a new study by a North Carolina research group.”
  2. “The study, to be released on Wednesday, found that 20 Muslim Americans were charged in violent plots or attacks in 2011, down from 26 in 2010 and a spike of 47 in 2009.”
  3. “Forty percent of those charged in 2011 were converts to Islam, Mr. Kurzman found, slightly higher than the 35 percent of those charged since the 2001 attacks. His new report is based on the continuation of research he conducted for a book he published last year, ‘The Missing Martyrs: Why There Are So Few Muslim Terrorists.’”
  4. “The upsurge in domestic plots two years ago prompted some scholars of violent extremism to question the conventional wisdom that Muslims in the United States, with higher levels of education and income than the average American, were not susceptible to the message of Al Qaeda.”
  5. “The string of cases fueled wide and often contentious discussion of the danger of radicalization among American Muslims, including Congressional hearings led by Representative Peter T. King, a Long Island Republican and chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security.”
  6. “But the number of cases declined, returning to the rough average of about 20 Muslim Americans accused of extremist violence per year that has prevailed since the 2001 attacks, with 193 people in that category over the decade. By Mr. Kurzman’s count, 462 other Muslim Americans have been charged since 2001 for nonviolent crimes in support of terrorism, including financing and making false statements.”
  7. “‘Fortunately, very few of these people are competent and very few get to the stage of preparing an attack without coming to the attention of the authorities,’ Mr. Kurzman said.”

Terrorist/Offender, Law Enforcement, Homeland Security, al-Qaeda


Farwell, James P. “Syria’s WMD Threat” 5 April 2012, TheNationalInterest,, Last Checked 8 April 2012.

  1. “Buoyed by the loyalty of his Alawite community, Bashar al-Assad has acted ruthlessly to crush dissent in Syria. His brutality has outraged the international community, but that has not deterred Assad. And the worst may lie ahead.”
  2. “Although fears of Iraq’s chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear (CBRNE) capability were also questioned, the Syria situation is different. No one doubts that Syria possesses a modern chemical-weapons capability and thousands of rockets capable of downing passenger aircraft.”
  3. “Syria’s past behavior is disturbing. It is a non-nuclear-weapon state, party to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), and it has a comprehensive nuclear-safeguards agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Yet after Israel destroyed what was probably a plutonium-production reactor at al-Kibar in 2007, an IAEA investigation found Syria had breached its obligations under the NPT.”
  4. “More recently, Lt. Abdulselam Abdulrezzak, who once worked in Syria’s chemical-weapons department, made (unverified) claims that chemical weapons were employed in Bab Amr against protesters.”
  5. “All this points to a shared international interest in containing Assad’s CBRNE arsenal. Using these weapons against his own citizens would constitute a war crime. And the weapons falling into the hands of terrorist groups would enlarge the threat.”
  6. “The nonpartisan Nuclear Threat Initiative assesses that Syria has one of the most sophisticated chemical-warfare capabilities in the world. It has mustard gas and sarin, possibly the VX nerve agent and Scud-B and Scud-D ballistic missiles capable of being fitted with chemical warheads. Some estimate it holds between one hundred and two hundred Scud missiles already loaded with a sarin agent and has several hundred tons of sarin agent and mustard gas stockpiled that could be used for aircraft bombs or artillery shells.”
  7. “It is one of only eight nations that is not a member of the Chemical Weapons Convention outlawing the production, possession and use of chemical weapons. Its agents are weaponized and can be delivered. Although most believe that the arsenal is in working order, we should not presume that is true. It could possibly be in a significant state of deterioration, which would intensify the hazard and suggest it must be dealt with sooner rather than later.”
  8. “Reports differ as to Syria’s biological-warfare capability. German and Israeli sources believe it possesses bacillus anthracis (which causes anthrax), botulinum toxin and ricin. American sources believe the capability is “probable.” In 1972, Syria signed the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention, but it has never ratified it.”
  9. “The international community seems prepared to act. Russia, which values Syria as an arms customer and worries Assad’s fall would reduce its influence in the Middle East, has taken pains to separate itself from Assad’s possible use of WMDs, strongly denying that it has helped Syrian forces use chemical weapons against the opposition. Even while aiding Syrian efforts to crush the protests, Iran denies transferring chemical weapons to any third party.”
  10. “The U.S. State Department has sent a diplomatic demarche to Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Saudi Arabia warning against the possibilities that WMDs may cross their borders. In August, the Wall Street Journal revealed that the United States and its Mideast allies were intensifying surveillance of Syrian chemical and biological depots through satellites and other equipment. The United States has offered to help any post-Assad government secure Syria’s stockpiles of chemical weapons and anti-aircraft missiles.”
  11. “Potential loss of control over WMDs may pose a threat, considering the terror groups that would like to get their hands on them. Col. Riad al-As’ad, head of the opposition Free Syrian Army, says al-Qaeda is not operating in Syria. But al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri has reportedly ordered followers to infiltrate the Syrian opposition. Sunni radicals associated with the Islamic State of Iraq, an umbrella group that includes al-Qaeda, have urged fighters to go to Syria. And one should not doubt al-Qaeda’s determination to acquire WMDs—Osama bin Laden once professed that acquiring chemical or nuclear weapons is “a religious duty.”
  12. “WMDs could be smuggled into Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon, the West Bank or elsewhere. In the past, Hamas, Hezbollah and Palestinian Islamic Jihad have all attempted to acquire chemical or biological weapons. In a sign of precisely how destabilizing some view this threat, Israeli officials have warned that Syria transferring chemical weapons to Hezbollah would constitute a declaration of war.”
  13. “The Friends of Syria, a coalition of over fifty nations that has met in Tunis to discuss forming an international peacekeeping force backed by U.S., EU and Gulf-nation airpower, should ratchet up pressure on Assad to step down. Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait and other Islamic nations have clamored for ousting Assad. That’s a promising sign. Arab nations, not the West, should take the lead in dealing with Assad’s brutality.”
  14. “Securing Syria’s CBRNE arsenal poses a uniquely serious challenge. NATO, Russia and China should join these Arab nations in demanding that Assad immediately secure his stockpile, then show he has done so.”
  15. “President Obama has said the United States won’t commit troops to a military intervention. But there are other options. Allied partners could mount coordinated special operations to secure or destroy Assad’s arsenal.”
  16. “Whether it is better to mount such an operation before or after Assad falls is a decision for military and political experts. But international leaders must think through the options and be prepared to act. All nations—but particularly those in the neighborhood—have a vital stake in containing these instruments of death and destruction. Now is the time for them to exert the leadership to ensure that happens.”

WMD, Bioterrorism, Nuclear, al-Qaeda, Military, Chemical, Syria, U.S. Foreign Policy





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