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Biotech The Military Politics

Islamic State "Laptop of Doom" Hints At Plots Including Bubonic Plague 369

Posted by timothy
from the theocrat's-cookbook dept.
Foreign Policy has an in-depth look at the contents of a laptop reportedly seized this year in Syria from a stronghold of the organization now known as the Islamic State, and described as belonging to a Tunisian national ("Muhammed S."). The "hidden documents" folder of the machine, says the report, contained a vast number of documents, including ones describing and justifying biological weapons: The laptop's contents turn out to be a treasure trove of documents that provide ideological justifications for jihadi organizations -- and practical training on how to carry out the Islamic State's deadly campaigns. They include videos of Osama bin Laden, manuals on how to make bombs, instructions for stealing cars, and lessons on how to use disguises in order to avoid getting arrested while traveling from one jihadi hot spot to another. ... The information on the laptop makes clear that its owner is a Tunisian national named Muhammed S. who joined ISIS in Syria and who studied chemistry and physics at two universities in Tunisia's northeast. Even more disturbing is how he planned to use that education: The ISIS laptop contains a 19-page document in Arabic on how to develop biological weapons and how to weaponize the bubonic plague from infected animals. ... "The advantage of biological weapons is that they do not cost a lot of money, while the human casualties can be huge," the document states.
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Islamic State "Laptop of Doom" Hints At Plots Including Bubonic Plague

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  • by mc6809e (214243) on Friday August 29, 2014 @08:03PM (#47788221)

    The plague exists in the wild in many western states of the USA.

    Colorado just had four cases in the past few months.

  • by sumdumass (711423) on Friday August 29, 2014 @08:25PM (#47788373) Journal

    You can hide folders and files in most operating systems, It's generally a file attribute you set either through a command line argument or the properties dialog in the US.

    There have been a couple root-kits that used special characters enveloping the file or folder name which would hide it from the OS and anyone using the OS to look for it. I'm betting it is just the attribute in this case.

  • by retroworks (652802) on Friday August 29, 2014 @09:27PM (#47788689) Homepage Journal
    It's called "Blow-back" and mod parent up.
  • by khallow (566160) on Friday August 29, 2014 @10:02PM (#47788841)

    Yea and it's not the middle ages either and there are no strains of plague that are anti-biotic resistant. The only Bacteria that are scary are anti-biotic resistant ones, all the rest can be cured with a dose of anti-biotic. That's why people with the real knowledge don't research bio-weapons from bacteria, they use viruses that have no effective treatment option.

    OTOH, it's far easier to cultivate bacteria than viruses. For example, Yersinia pestis, the bacteria that causes bubonic plague can be grown in a modified agar gel [nih.gov] with no need for host cells of any kind. And it's pretty easy to breed in resistance to anti-biotics by exposing the bacteria over many generations to all the anti-biotics in use at doses where a small part of the colony survives.

    Whether that can be done over a short enough time that interests an organization like ISIS, is unknown to me. But it wouldn't take much effort IMHO to make a bubonic plague variant that is at least highly resistant to anti-biotics. Making it also highly infectious and lethal is another problem. That might require substantially more testing and breeding of the bacteria in host animals like rats or mice or something closer to us, like monkeys or people themselves.

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