Small Stockpiles, I Guess

The Chicago Tribune reports on the Marines’ continued exploration of terrorist hideouts in Fallujah. It’s horrifying reading–cages, blood, masks, blood-stained knives, bloody handprints on walls, facilities for torturing and murdering prisoners. Over it all, a banner that says: “There is no God but God.”
And this:

On a counter in the apparent bomb factory were a disassembled hand grenade, rubber gloves and numerous bottles of chemicals.
“This one says potassium cyanide,” said an Egyptian translator employed by the Marines. At that point Sunday afternoon, he was the only one who could talk.
Sodium cyanide, he continued reading. Sulfuric acid. Hydrochloric acid.
Eventually, Chief Warrant Officer Lee Fair, of the 1st Battalion, 8th Marines, said quietly, “Anyone that knew what they were doing could put these things together and make something very dangerous. Looks like [in the next room] they were trying to put crude weapons together.”
In that room, a hooded gas mask lay beside a large glass box, as did gloves, a carton of blasting caps and beakers full of chemicals. The floor was littered with broken glass and concrete chips blown out of the walls during the attack.

Last February, we reported on the discovery of cyanide salts in a house that was said to be used by Zarqawi in Baghdad. That find went down the memory hole. I don’t know what the destructive potential of the materials described above is. Maybe some chemists among our readers could enlighten us.
At a minimum, it is clear that the terrorists were making, or trying to make, chemical weapons in Fallujah. Where did the raw materials come from? Some cyanide salts have legitimate industrial uses, as I understand it, while others may not. Are they doing any metal plating in Iraq? I have no idea. Do materials like these count as “weapons of mass destruction,” or are they merely weapons of one-on-one brutality, like the bloody knives? Beats me; again, maybe our readers can help us. In any event, I hope the people that ran that hellish place–I don’t mean that as a metaphor–are dead. Even if it took two bullets to kill them.


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