At least 40 al-Qaeda operatives in Algeria died last week of the plague, the killer bug commonly known as the Black Death, prompting experts to speculate that al-Qaeda was developing the plague into a biological weapon to attack Western cities, according to press reports.
The body of one al-Qaeda fighter was found by the roadside on Monday, Algiers-based Anahar al-Jadeed reported. The victim allegedly belonged to the al-Qaeda network al-Qaeda in the Land of the Islamic Maghreb (AQLIM), which operates several training camps in a forest in Algeria.
Joint forces found several decomposed bodies of the gunmen infected with
the plague in cave hideouts in the mountainous provinces of Tizi Ouzou,
100 km (62 miles) east of the capital Algiers, and Bejaia, 181 km (112
miles) from Algiers. Local sources speculated that tribes in the surrounding
area also died following the outbreak in the al-Qaeda camps.
A dead rat appeared to be behind the transmission of the disease.
Claims of weaponizing disease
But claims that the al-Qaeda cell in Algeria was developing the disease as a
weapon to use against western cities emerged after the news of the
death, the Telegraph reported.
Several western experts said that the group was developing chemical and
"Al-Qaeda is known to experiment with biological weapons. And this group
has direct communication with other cells around the world,” Dr. Igor
Khrupinov, a biological weapons expert at Georgia University, was quoted as
"Contagious diseases, like ebola and anthrax, occur in northern Africa. It
makes sense that people are trying to use them against Western
governments," he said.
Once a weapons adviser to the Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev, Dr.
Khrupinov also added that "[i]nstead of using bombs, people with infectious
diseases could be walking through cities."
The disease is worse than any of al-Qaeda’s enemies because it spreads
quickly and kills within hours, a security source told the London-based
"This is the deadliest weapon yet in the war against terror. Most of the
terrorists do not have the basic medical supplies needed to treat the
disease," said the source.
The al-Qaeda affiliated group, led by Abdelmalek Droudkal, was forced to
turn its shelters in the Yakouren forest into mass graves and flee, fearing
the spread of the highly-infectious disease to other al-Qaeda training camps
or Taliban fighters in Afghanistan, according to press reports.
One of the deadliest pandemics in human history, the Black Death swept
across Europe and North Africa in the Middle Ages, killing 25 million people.
The disease takes various viral forms which enables it to spread quickly,
especially in close quarters.
The killer bug spreads by bites from infected rat fleas. Symptoms include
painful boils in the groin, neck and armpits. Another form of the plague
spreads through airborne bacteria spread like flu. Without medication it can
This is the deadliest weapon yet in the war against terror. Most of the terrorists do not have the basic medical supplies needed to treat the disease