war in iraq


Newsweek: Counter attack biological weapons

Officials claim 'credible information' that iraqi operatives were planning to use botulinum toxin against US food and water supplies

March 09, 2003

NEW YORK, March 9 /PRNewswire/ -- In the last few weeks, the Pentagon picked up "credible information" that Iraqi operatives were planning to use botulinum toxin to poison American food and water supplies, Newsweek reports in the current issue. The information, Newsweek has learned, was one of the factors that led the Bush administration to elevate the national threat level to Code Orange last month. Iraqi intelligence has also "indicated interest" in food-service companies supplying U.S. troops in Kuwait. Military authorities weeded out suspicious employees from the companies, and the food and water are being closely monitored for tampering. Although when Iraqis have attempted overseas terror operations in the past they have often been bunglers, a steady stream of fresh intelligence suggests there are reasons to be worried, report Washington Bureau Chief Daniel Klaidman and Middle East Regional Editor Christopher Dickey in the March 17 issue of Newsweek (on newsstands Monday, March 10). Their story is part of the "Counter Attack" cover package that examines how Saddam may fight back in Iraq and possibly in the U.S.

Increasingly intelligence officials have focused on the possibility that Saddam would take a more cautious tack: a strike at military or governmental targets with conventional weapons. Sources tell Newsweek that Iraqi operatives have scouted targets of opportunity, including the barracks at the U.S. naval base in Bahrain and the Radio Free Europe station in Prague.

Last summer the CIA learned that Baghdad had ordered its spies at the Iraqi Embassy in Ottawa, Canada, to begin using female agents to penetrate Canada's Iraqi emigre community. U.S. officials believe the broader scheme was to infiltrate agents into the United States. "Because of its belief that the U.S. is about to attack Iraq, the Iraqi Intelligence Service is now exploring possible retaliatory responses, including conducting terrorist-style attacks against U.S. targets," said an FBI internal report. Last week, recalling the intelligence, a U.S. counterterrorism source wondered aloud to Newsweek whether an "Iraqi femme fatale" might slip across the border with a vial of smallpox and contaminate thousands of Americans, Newsweek reports.

While American war planners are unsure about the precise details of Saddam's defense, Assistant Managing Editor Evan Thomas and National Security Correspondent John Barry report in a separate story that it is possible to map out the Iraqi strongman's most likely moves and to ponder his nastiest surprises. Iraqi workers have been digging trenches all around Baghdad and some intelligence sources believe that Saddam will order them filled with oil and set afire. The effect could be to dull America's technological edge: a thick pall of oily smoke would interfere with the laser guidance system used on some American bombs, Newsweek reports.

And Saddam has learned a few lessons from the first gulf war. According to defectors at the time, the Iraqi chieftain told Baath Party leaders after the gulf war that he made a mistake by releasing Western hostages before the fighting began. This time, he may try to hold Western reporters now in Baghdad, or relief workers, or even U.N. weapons inspectors (the Unmovic team keeps a large helicopter at the ready for quick evacuation). Saddam will almost surely use "human shields," including some Europeans who have unwisely volunteered for the job.

Source: Newsweek


war in iraq