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Belgian Police Seize Letters in Anthrax Scare
Posted on 06/04/2003 4:05:06 AM PDT by kattracks
BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Belgian police have intercepted at least five envelopes containing white powder, including one addressed to the prime minister's office and another to the U.S. embassy, fearing it may be anthrax or another dangerous substance.
Police had yet to determine the nature of the suspicious powder, a spokesman for the interior ministry said.
The letters were reminiscent of the anthrax mailings in the United States which killed five people following the September 11, 2001 attacks in New York and Washington.
Those letters caused a global scare that the bacteria was being used as a biological weapon.
Belgian police seized the letters at postal terminals in a number of towns including Ghent before they were to arrive at their final destinations in Brussels, the spokesman said.
A U.S. embassy spokesman declined comment.
Belgium and other Western European countries have been on alert for possible attacks following last months' suicide bombings in Saudi Arabia and Morocco.
Letters containing benign powder have been delivered to a number of embassies in Brussels in the past.
TOPICS: Anthrax Scare; Foreign Affairs; News/Current Events; War on Terror
KEYWORDS: anthrax; bastards; belgium; chemicalwarfare; iis; international; islamicsociety; poisonplots; threats; usembassyplots; warnings; wmd
posted on 06/04/2003 4:05:06 AM PDT
To: Badabing Badaboom; The Great Satan; Fred Mertz; Mitchell; eno_
Comment #3 Removed by Moderator
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To: Badabing Badaboom
Some argue that islamists would never merely send lethal substances through the mail (though the risk of significant casualty is low) to send a message or warning.
Only complete morons, or more likely, people with a not-too-well hidden agenda. We have some of those types here on Free Republic.
posted on 06/04/2003 12:15:04 PM PDT
By Gilles Castonguay
BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Letters containing a nerve gas ingredient were sent to the Belgian prime minister's office, the U.S. and British embassies and a court trying al Qaeda suspects in Brussels, the federal prosecutor said Wednesday.
Two postal workers were taken to hospital after being exposed to the chemicals in the letters at mail depots.
No one else was injured by the 10 letters sent to a variety of targets, also including the Saudi Arabian embassy, three ministries, an airport and a port authority.
The brownish-yellow powder contained phenarsazine chloride, an arsenic derivative used in nerve gas, as well as hydrazine, an agent used as a rocket propellant, the Health Ministry said. Both substances are also found in pesticides.
The letters contained no more than a spoonful of the chemicals -- not enough to be life-threatening -- but caused irritation to the eyes and skin and affected breathing, Health Ministry spokeswoman Anne-Francoise Gally said.
Police suspect the letters came from a single source in Belgium, said a spokeswoman for the federal prosecutor's office, overseeing the investigation.
"There are clear indications that the sender of the letters is one and the same person," Lieve Pellens told VRT television. "There are clear similarities among the letters," she said, referring to the handwriting on the envelopes.
Pellens said some of them contained a written note reading "International Islamic Society" and "Bastards" in English.
"The first checks by police specialists show that this organization is unknown," she said.
TRIAL UNDER WAY
The apparent attack came as 23 suspected collaborators of the al Qaeda Muslim militant network stood trial in Brussels on charges of fraud, possession of firearms, recruiting for a foreign armed force and other crimes.
The charges link them to the killing of Ahmad Shah Masood, an Afghan commander who fought the Taliban, as well as a plan to attack a Belgian air base said to house U.S. nuclear weapons.
The letters were reminiscent of the anthrax mailings that killed five people in the United States following the September 11, 2001, attacks blamed on fugitive Saudi-born militant Osama bin Laden (news - web sites)'s al Qaeda movement.
Belgium and other west European countries have been on heightened alert for possible attacks following last month's suicide bombings in Saudi Arabia and Morocco, also blamed on al Qaeda or people affiliated with it.
Police suspect toxic letters were sent to the airport in the coastal town of Oostende and the Antwerp port authority because both were transit points for U.S. military equipment shipped to the Gulf before the U.S.-led war in Iraq (news - web sites), Pellens told Reuters.
Police intercepted some of the letters but those sent to the British and Saudi Arabian embassies slipped through.
"It wasn't opened...the police have come this morning and removed the envelope," British embassy spokeswoman Lucy Joyce told VRT. "It was a fairly ordinary white envelope."
Saudi and U.S. embassy officials declined comment.
Belgium had anthrax scares in 2001 but investigations found the letters contained innocuous powder. The latest discoveries were the first to involve dangerous substances.
posted on 06/04/2003 12:18:34 PM PDT
To: Fred Mertz; pokerbuddy0; Badabing Badaboom; aristeides; jpl
The fact that two chemicals were used implies more than a scare tactic, but an actual attempt to be effective - perhaps lacking the scientific knowledge to actually be effective. Say, the kind of knowledge developed not in a university but a primitive Afghan setting.
Here's a page turner. http://www.wileyeurope.com/WileyCDA/WileyTitle/productCd-0471415537.html
Hydrazine and its Derivatives: Preparation, Properties, Applications, 2nd Edition
In the past century, hydrazine, an important intermediate in the synthesis of countless chemicals with NN bonds, has grown into a major industrial commodity with a wide range of uses. It is used as a fuel in rocket propulsion, as a boiler feedwater deoxygenating agent, and in the manufacture of foamed plastics, pharmaceuticals, and biodegradable pesticides and herbicides, to name just a few uses. Since the first edition of Hydrazine and Its Derivatives: Preparation, Properties, Applications was published in 1984, there has been considerable development in this field and many new aspects of hydrazine chemistry and applications have evolved.
Offering an overview of hydrazines and their industrial applications, this book also provides a compilation of numerous references to the scientific and technical literature arranged in a systematic manner, allowing the reader to find the necessary information by accessing the pages either from the table of contents or the alphabetical subject index. Some other features of the significantly enlarged Second Edition include:
posted on 06/04/2003 12:45:20 PM PDT
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