Terrorism: March 23, 2003


Several news agencies are reporting that CIA sources have revealed that six Iraqis thought to have chemical and biological weapons with them are being hunted in Mexico and the southwestern United States. The men have tried to persuade 'coyote' smugglers (who profit from helping people cross the Mexican border into the US) to get them into America, but someone had tipped off US authorities. 

However, a Mexican government spokesman claimed that there is no evidence of Iraqi terrorists in Mexico. The day before, local officials in Tamaulipas state had received news of the alleged search for six terrorists were planning to cross the border into the United States with toxic gases. 

On the 19th, as part of its preparations in girding for an Iraq war Mexico deployed 18,000 troops to provide security at the U.S. border and at airports and other strategic sites. Mexican authorities increased the number of security personnel guarding the seven most important highways in the country and the border with the United States. Mexican officials said the soldiers would be used to help prevent the infiltration of terrorists into the United States. 

Intelligence indicated that terrorists might have targeted Palo Verde, the nation's largest nuclear power plant, and Arizona National Guardsmen were deployed to protect the facility 80km west of Phoenix. Palo Verde provides electricity to 4 million customers in Arizona, California, New Mexico and Texas. Arizona Public Service Co. operates the plant for a consortium of six other utilities. - Adam Geibel 

March 20, 2003. French authorities finally revealed that Paris police found traces of the deadly poison ricin were found in two vials inside a locker at the Gare de Lyon railway station. The find was made on the 17th, after the state railway company called in a report. Inside the locker were "two vials with a powder, a bottle filled with a liquid and two smaller bottles also containing a liquid". The two smaller bottles contained "traces of ricin in a mix that turned out to be a very toxic poison". Ricin is a toxin found in castor beans that, while not the most effective agent terrorists could use, is still lethal. It is on the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's "B" list of agents and considered only a moderate threat. 

The January 5, 2003 arrests of six suspected terrorists in North London uncovered an operation to produce ricin. One of the suspects apartments had a small number of caster oil beans, as well as a number of pieces of laboratory glassware and chemicals used in producing ricin. All of the suspects are in their teens or early 20s. 
As the character "John McClane" in the movie DIEHARD said, "welcome to the party, pal". - Adam Geibel


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