Early reports indicated that the eight Islamofascists arrested last week in England possessed materials for a fertilizer-type truck bomb. Today British authorities said they thought the suspects had something more in mind: a chemical attack.
British authorities believe terror suspects arrested last week were planning to make a bomb that would include a highly toxic, easily obtained chemical called osmium tetroxide, ABCNEWS has learned.
Used primarily in laboratories for research, osmium tetroxide is known to attack soft human tissue and could blind or kill anyone who breathed its fumes. “It’s a nasty piece of work,” said Dave Siegrist, a bioterrorism expert at the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies in Arlington, Va. “It irritates the eyes, lungs, nose and throat. It leads to an asthma-like death, what we call a ‘dry-land drowning.'”
Scientists say if, for example, the bomb used in the 1993 World Trade Center attack had produced such fumes, they would have wiped out the first police and rescue workers on the scene.
“They become overwhelmed by fumes,” said Jerry Hauer, an expert on biological and chemical terrorism and director of public health preparedness at the Department of Health and Human Services, describing what could have happened. “They can go blind. This is not a benign chemical. It is very nasty.”
Somehow I have a hard time taking much comfort from John Kerry’s reassuring view that the threat of terrorism is “exaggerated.”