Terrorism: May 26, 2000


charges last February. --Stephen V Cole

TOPOFF, the largest counter-terrorism exercise ever held in or by the US, began on Saturday 20 May. The scenario included a simulated chemical weapons attack at a mock charity event in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and a simulated biological warfare attack near Denver, Colorado. The exercise included cabinet secretaries, two governors, and dozens of officials at all levels. The exercise cost $3.5 million; funding came from the Justice Department and the Federal Office of Emergency Management. The fire and ambulance units arriving at the scene in Portsmouth had to figure out what chemical agent was used, how they could contain it, how they could protect themselves, and how they could treat the victims. Portsmouth officials called for help from communities as much as 50 miles away. The biological attack was on a mock hotel in Aurora, Colorado, just outside of Denver. A building on the grounds of a former Army hospital was dressed up as the "Hide-Away Hotel" where a "maid" (actually a government employee) "discovered" a 25-year-old man (actually a mannequin) dead with unusual lesions on his body and gangrene on his big toe. While real reporters were kept at a distance, fake reporters from "Virtual News Network" were allowed into the incident scenes so that police could learn how to deal with them. A separate counter-terrorism test involving an unspecified weapon of mass destruction was held near Washington DC in Prince Georges County, Maryland. The incidents are scheduled to continue for 10 days.--Stephen V Cole

May 15, 2000; A meeting in Peshawar, Pakistan, last April was attended by representatives from Moslem rebel groups in Chechnya, Uzbekistan, Tajikhistan, and the Uighurs of China's Xinjiang Province. They reportedly worked out plans for a coordinated campaign of uprisings and insurgencies this summer.--Stephen V


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