Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Plague sweeps al-Qaida camp in Africa

There are reports this week that an outbreak of bubonic plague has killed 40 members of AQLIM (al-Qaida in the Land of the Islamic Maghreb), the largest and most powerful al-Qaida group outside the Middle East, at a training camp in Algeria in North Africa. Although Bubonic plague is still endemic to this region there are rumors that the deceased were victims of al Qaeda biological warfare experiments at a camp in the forested hills of coastal Algeria. Although picked up by a number of international newspapers and media organizations, the original source appears to be the British Sun newspaper - not exactly well known for breaking stories of international terrorism. Curiously this week old story has not received much press in the US although the Washington Times does claim to have confirmation of the story from an anonymous 'senior US intelligence official':

The official, who spoke on the condition he not be named because of the sensitive nature of the issue, said he could not confirm press reports that the accident killed at least 40 al Qaeda operatives, but he said the mishap led the militant group to shut down a base in the mountains of Tizi Ouzou province in eastern Algeria.

He said authorities in the first week of January intercepted an urgent communication between the leadership of al Qaeda in the Land of the Maghreb (AQIM) and al Qaeda's leadership in the tribal region of Pakistan on the border with Afghanistan. The communication suggested that an area sealed to prevent leakage of a biological or chemical substance had been breached, according to the official.

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