Two Islamic State operatives were arrested in Kenya after trying to launch an anthrax attack, raising fears the terrorist group is increasingly close to acquiring the deadly biological weapon.
Kenyan media reports that both operatives were medical interns at Malindi hospital, who studied at Saratov State Medical University. “The two were planning to acquire fake travel documents to facilitate their escape to Somalia,” Kenyan counter-terrorism authorities told Kenyan media.
The hospital has a history as a breeding ground for Islamic terrorists. Four other interns at the hospital were arrested by Kenyan authorities in 2015 for planning to join ISIS. Another Kenyan medical intern at a separate hospital, Mohamed Ali, was arrested in April for trying to plan an anthrax attack.
The suspects were planning attacks akin to the Westgate Mall attack, with the intention of killing Kenyans. “Ali’s network included medical experts with whom they planned to unleash a biological attack in Kenya using anthrax,” Kenyan intelligence told local media in April. Four al-Qaida terrorists gunned down 67 people, including many Westerners, at Westgate mall in Kenya in 2013.
The most recent arrests represent a persistent effort by ISIS to radicalize medical personnel with access to anthrax.
A United Nations report confirmed Thursday that ISIS used mustard gas against civilians on at least one occasion in Syria. The group has demonstrated a willingness and eagerness to get its hands on weapons of mass destruction.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes, “If a bio-terrorist attack were to happen, Bacillus anthracis, the bacteria that causes anthrax, would be one of the biological agents most likely to be used.” The CDC troublingly continues, “It only takes a small amount of anthrax to infect a large number of people.”
Five people were killed in 2001 when anthrax was weaponized in the U.S. postal system. The attack targeted the U.S. Capitol, shut down select Senate offices for months, and caused mass panic throughout the U.S. after the 9/11 attacks.
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