The Islamic State, the terror group sweeping through Iraq and Syria, apparently plans to spread bubonic plague and other deadly germs as weapons against “unbelievers” as it attempts to create its new Islamic “caliphate” in the Middle East and possibly around the world. Documents exploring ways to turn bubonic plague into a weapon of mass destruction have been uncovered on a laptop computer left behind on a deserted Islamic State base by a Tunisian militant.
The laptop was seized by a “moderate” faction of Syrian anti-government rebels after a battle with the the extremist group in January, a time when Islamic State called itself Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, or ISIS.
When ISIS fighters fled a building attacked by the rival group, a militant named — according to records on the computer — Muhammad S. forgot to take his computer with him. The Islamic State fighter is apparently from Tunisia who at least studied chemistry and physics at the university level in that country, though the extent of his studies was not clear.
Two journalists writing for Foreign Policy Magazine, Harald Doornbos and Jenan Moussa, were able to “crack” the Dell laptop, where they uncovered about 35,000 hidden folders, taking up 146 gigabytes of hard drive storage space.
The journalists also confirmed that Muhammad S. did indeed attend a Tunisian university, though their article does not specify the institution. However, that the university lost touch with the former student in 2011.
While most of the hidden files contained video and text of speeches by various Islamic extremist leaders, including the late Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, the two journalists also uncovered several more alarming documents.
One of those is “a 19-page document in Arabic on how to develop biological weapons and how to weaponize the bubonic plague from infected animals,” the two journalists reported in their extensive article published online Thursday.
“The advantage of biological weapons,” says the document, “is that they do not cost a lot of money, while the human casualties can be huge.”
Of course, as another expert noted, the disadvantage of biological weapons is the difficulty in delivering them to a target.
“The real difficulty in all of these weapons is to actually have a workable distribution system that will kill a lot of people,” said Magnus Ranstorp, a terrorism expert at Sweden’s National Defense College.
The Foreign Policy journalists were careful to note that nothing on the laptop indicated that Islamic State currently has a supply of bubonic plague or any other weapon of mass destruction.
Bubonic plague is a fearsome-sounding disease. During one major outbreak, it killed about one of every three human beings in Europe. But that was almost 800 years ago. Today bubonic plague is dangerous only if left untreated.
An aggressive course of antibiotics administered with the first sign of symptoms renders the disease fully curable, perhaps making bubonic plague a less-than-desirable weapon for the Islamic State, whose intentions toward “unbelievers” are clearly stated in an Islamic cleric’s fatwa found on the laptop. The group hopes that a weapon of mass destruction “kills all of them and wipes them and their descendants off the face of the Earth.”