Guest Writings
16/04/04 Chemical Delusions Edward Teague

6 Albury Drive
Ol12 7SX


Peter Clarke CVO QPM LL.
Deputy Assistant Commissioner
Anti-Terrorist Branch
New Scotland Yard

Friday 16/04/04

Dear Mr Clarke

Re Osmium tetroxide

As you know I have been away and have only just had the chance to catch up on news of terrorist activities. Initially my attention was drawn to a report in the Financial Times, UK – Apr 6, 2004

    "…officials refused to comment on a report by the US news channel ABC that terrorists had been heard discussing the possible use of osmium tetroxide, a chemical…"

So I turned to what appears to be the initial report issued by ABC News in America

    'Very Nasty' Potential Bomb Plot Involved Deadly Chemical

    By Brian Ross and Christopher Isham

    "April 5 – British authorities believe terror suspects arrested last week were planning to make a bomb that would include a highly toxic, easily obtained chemical called osmium tetroxide, ABCNEWS has learned

    "David Scott and Madeleine Sauer contributed to this report."

    ABCNEWS Internet Ventures.

I then turned to the BBC (as I always do for authoritative news)

    What is osmium tetroxide?

    By Claire Foy-Smith
    BBC News Online Tuesday, 6 April, 2004, 15:53 GMT 16:53 UK

    "Dr Steve Simpson, a senior lecturer in chemistry at the University of Salford works with the substance.

    'It is one of the most unlikely things to put in a bomb,' said Dr Simpson. 'It would be incredibly difficult to put it in a bomb.

    'You could buy 10g but it wouldn't be enough to cause damage over a wide area.

    I would say this report sounds like it was dated 1 April.'"

Was this all a joke then? Why did the FT report it (as well as many other newspapers, TV stations and media outlets worldwide as shown by a "Google" search on the Internet (This is a really neat way of getting information from all over the world – you have to be careful though, some of it is a bit unreliable!).

I also found this in the Sunday Observer (remember they published the article by the Prime Minister (Tony Blair) in which he wrote about the "historic struggle" in Iraq which I previously brought to your attention? This Ingrams chap seems a bit of a joker perhaps?

    Time to fire Daddy

    Richard Ingrams Sunday April 11, 2004 The Observer

    Over now to Dr Brian Jones, (see below) the former government scientist and a man who told the Hutton inquiry that he had registered his disquiet more than once about that famous dossier, thus demonstrating that Blair's categorical assurance to MPs that there had been no such disquiet was yet another big fib.

    Writing in the Independent two days after the foiling of the terrorist plot, Dr Jones revealed that, despite having worked for 15 years in the field of chemical warfare, he had never heard of osmium tetroxide until he read about it in the newspapers last week.

    He had since discovered that you can buy it quite easily over the internet in glass containers. In addition, he pointed out that, in spite of the plot allegedly being foiled, not a single arrest had apparently been made. ….

    Guardian Unlimited (c) Guardian Newspapers Limited 2004,9176,1189990,00.html

    Brian Jones: Were terrorists really planning a dirty bomb?

    The Independent 09 April 2004

    "Whatever the background to this particular episode, I find it frightening that those who are leading our defence against terrorism either do not properly understand the requirement or are prepared to see the public misled as a short term expedient to achieve policy goals, however necessary.

    "The Leader of the Opposition has expressed concern about uncertainty over who is in charge of counter-terrorism. I think there is much greater concern that those who claim to be in charge do not, apparently, have a clue about the problem."

    "The writer was head of the branch of Defence Intelligence Staff responsible for the analysis of intelligence on nuclear, biological and chemical warfare with 15 years experience." [Sounds a good chap… ET]

    (c) 2004 Independent Digital (UK) Ltd

    Rare poison linked to terrorists planning an attack in Britain By John Steele and Roger Highfield
    Daily Telegraph(Filed: 07/04/2004)

    "Evidence that terrorists are making preparations for a chemical attack in Britain has been uncovered by police and the security services.

    "Suspected terrorists sympathetic to al-Qa'eda and Osama bin Laden have studied a highly toxic chemical known as osmium tetroxide, it has emerged.

    … The evidence has emerged in a highly sensitive operation by police and the security service, MI5, few details of which have been disclosed.

    "So far, it is understood, none of the chemical has been found and there is no evidence that the terrorists control any. There is also not thought to be evidence that attempts have been made to buy osmium tetroxide.

    "News of the discovery surfaced yesterday in a report on the ABC news network in America.


    Copyright of Telegraph Group Limited 2004

It was evident that lots of people had however taken these claims very seriously so I turned to the New Scientist which is a very good weekly magazine which reports on scientific matters – ie it is not a political publication.

    Experts divided over poison bomb claim

    17:45 07 April 04 news service (The World's No.1 Science & Technology News Service)

    by Shaoni Bhattacharya

    "The reported foiling of a "dirty bomb" plot by UK intelligence agencies has left experts divided over the likelihood that the chemical cited, osmium tetroxide, would be a weapon of choice for terrorists.

    "The alleged plot to attack the UK, revealed by unnamed sources, is said to have been discovered after the interception of emails and phone calls referring to osmium tetroxide by UK agencies working with the US National Security Agency.

    "Alastair Hay, an environmental toxicologist and a chemical weapons expert at Leeds University, UK. told New Scientist that osmium tetroxide is poisonous enough to kill in high doses, but suggests that much of the highly reactive compound might be destroyed in any blast."

    (c) Copyright Reed Business Information Ltd

However, it is evident that some people were convinced that this was not a joke, including according to The Scotsman the Home Secretary (Mr David Blunkett). (His offices have been moved around a bit after Beverley Hughes resigned because she hadn't lied or been incompetent, so he now has someone else to looks after terrorism (or is that more correctly anti-terrorism ?). Poor man, one minute it's one legged Romanian roofers hopping over border controls the next, the end of civilisation as we know it.

    9:36am (UK) Wed 7 Apr 2004 (c)2004

    'Gas Plot' Justifies Anti-Terror Tactics – Blunkett

    By James Lyons, Political Correspondent, PA News

    "Reports of a thwarted poison gas attack vindicate the decision to bring in tough anti-terror measures, Home Secretary David Blunkett said today.

    "Details of the alleged plot, feared to have focused on the London Underground, an airport or major public area, emerged yesterday in a report by ABC News.

    "Security services are said to have foiled a plan to use a highly toxic chemical called osmium tetroxide after listening in on communications between terror suspects.

    "Today Mr Blunkett said: 'All of us, for two-and-a-half years, have been indicating that that is precisely what the network called al Qaida, in its loose form, are actually about.'

    'The plot refuted the claims of those 'who said we have exaggerated', Mr Blunkett told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.'"

Now what struck me after reading all this (and a lot more as well) was this:

1. These stories are true and none of us can sleep peacefully in our beds or,

2. We (the public worldwide) have been subject to a deliberate, and if I may say so, a pretty nasty hoax. Obviously Mr Jones (who appears to have a lot of experience in this field) and this chap Ingrams think so. It therefore seemed to me that anybody who perpetrates a hoax involving the use of a noxious substance which is designed to influence the government or to intimidate the public or a section of the public, is guilty of an offence or if they intend to induce in a person anywhere in the world the fear that threats are likely to be carried out, are guilty of an offence.

As a consequence I looked up the appropriate legislation – at least I think it is – I'm no lawyer. I've extracted the bits that seem relevant to me.

Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001

2001 Chapter 24

Copy from Crown Copyright


Hoaxes involving noxious substances or things

(1) A person is guilty of an offence if he-

(a) places any substance or other thing in any place; or

(b) sends any substance or other thing from one place to another (by post, rail or any other means whatever);

with the intention of inducing in a person anywhere in the world a belief that it is likely to be (or contain) a noxious substance or other noxious thing and thereby endanger human life or create a serious risk to human health.

(2) A person is guilty of an offence if he communicates any information which he knows or believes to be false with the intention of inducing in a person anywhere in the world a belief that a noxious substance or other noxious thing is likely to be present (whether at the time the information is communicated or later) in any place and thereby endanger human life or create a serious risk to human health.

(3) A person guilty of an offence under this section is liable-

(a) on summary conviction, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months or a fine not exceeding the statutory maximum (or both); and

(b) on conviction on indictment, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding seven years or a fine (or both).


Sections 113 and 114: supplementary

(1) For the purposes of sections 113 and 114 "substance" includes any biological agent and any other natural or artificial substance (whatever its form, origin or method of production).

(2) For a person to be guilty of an offence under section 113(3) or 114 it is not necessary for him to have any particular person in mind as the person in whom he intends to induce the belief in question.

I hope this is helpful to you. It seems to me that it is important that if this is a hoax it must be exposed as such. Of course what is worrying that the press said when the story "emerged" (that's what these type of stories always do…. emerge). Like monsters from the Black Lagoon !

We must all keep our guard up. Eternal vigilance!

Yours helpfully

Edward Teague

PS I see that Mr Bush (US President) and Mr Sharon (Israeli PM) have come to an agreement – and none too soon. Now they really know all about terrorists and terrorism.

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