An Al-Qaeda "Chemist" and the Quest for Ricin

(Washington Post) Joby Warrick - Menad Benchellali was known as "the chemist" because of the special skills he learned at al-Qaeda training camps in Afghanistan. When he returned to his native France in 2001, according to investigators, he set up a laboratory in his parents' spare bedroom and began to manufacture ricin, one of the deadliest known substances. Today, exactly how many jars of ricin Benchellali may have produced - and their whereabouts - is an urgent question for European governments facing a wave of terrorist attacks and threats. U.S. forces invading Afghanistan in 2001 discovered and destroyed two production centers that were preparing to manufacture cyanide and the botulinum and salmonella toxins, and possibly anthrax. In the past 2 and 1/2 years, ricin-making equipment or traces of the toxin have been discovered during police raids on al-Qaeda-affiliated cells in Britain, France, Spain, Russia, Georgia, and Kurdish-controlled northern Iraq.

2004-05-05 00:00:00

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