An American biodefense analyst living in Europe says if the U.S. invades Iran to halt its nuclear ambitions, Syria is ready to respond with weapons of mass destruction – specifically biological weapons.
“Syria is positioned to launch a biological attack on Israel or Europe should the U.S. attack Iran,” Jill Bellamy-Dekker told WND. “The Syrians are embedding their biological weapons program into their commercial pharmaceuticals business and their veterinary vaccine-research facilities. The intelligence service oversees Syria’s ‘bio-farm’ program and the Ministry of Defense is well interfaced into the effort.”
Bellamy-Decker currently directs the Public Health Preparedness program for the European Homeland Security Association under the French High Committee for Civil Defense.
She anticipates a variation of smallpox is the biological agent Syria would utilize.
“The Syrians are also working on orthopox viruses that are related to smallpox,” Bellamy-Decker said, “and it’s a good way to get around international treaties against offensive biological weapons development. They work on camelpox as a cover for smallpox.”
According to the Center for Infectious Disease Research & Policy (CIDRAP) at the University of Minnesota, camelpox is a virus closely related to smallpox, that causes a “severe and economically important disease in camels,” but rarely, if ever, causes the disease in humans.
Bellamy-Decker also told WND the North Koreans were working closely with the Syrians on their biological weapons program.
“The Syrians have made some recent acquisitions in regard to their smallpox program from the DPRK,” she explained. “Right before the recent Lebanon war, the Syrians had a crash program in cryptosporidium.”
According to the Washington State Department of Health, cryptosporidium is a one-celled parasite that causes a gastrointestinal illness with symptoms of diarrhea, abdominal cramps, headaches, nausea, vomiting, and a low-grade fever. The symptoms can last for weeks and may result in weight loss and dehydration.
“Because cryptosporidium is impervious to chlorine,” Bellamy-Decker continued, “you could infect the water supply by the bucket full of cryptosporidium, if you know where to get it. The resulting illness would put down a lot of civilians and military who might oppose you going into their country.”
“The Syrians have a modus operandi of covert operations and deniability,” she stressed, “so biological weapons are absolutely perfect for them.”
WND asked Bellamy-Decker if the Syrians have any history of having used biological weapons.
“I believe they are testing biological weapons right now, in Sudan, in the conflict in Darfur,” she answered. “There is credible information about flyover activity in Darfur, where little parachutes have been dropped down on the population. This is consistent with dispersal methods in bioweapons attacks. I’ve also seen evidence of bodies that have been recovered from Darfur that look as if they had been exposed to biological weapons.”
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran met with Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir in Khartoum Feb. 28 to exchange expressions of support and solidarity.
“The Syrians now consider biological weapons as part of their arsenal,” Bellamy-Decker said. “The Syrian military is also beginning to plan the eventual integration of biological weapons in its tactical and strategic arsenals.”
She referenced an April 2000 article published by Syrian defense minister General Mustafa Talas, titled “Biological (Germ) Warfare: A New and Effective Method in Modern Warfare.” The article was republished in a Farsi translation in Tehran.
“All indications suggest that Syria’s ultimate objective is to mount biological warheads on all varieties of the long-range surface-to-surface missiles in its possession,” Bellamy-Decker maintained. “This is a goal that can probably be achieved within a few years, and it may already have been realized in part.”
She argued that instead of producing large quantities of bioweapons agents, Syria is seeking to develop a smaller, but high-quality arsenal, which it can deliver accurately against military and civilian targets.
When asked how Syria might be expected to retaliate against Israel or Europe if the U.S. attacked Iran, she responded, “Syria has most likely forward-deployed some of their covert operatives. Smallpox does not need to be weaponized. Aerosol release is the way to go.”
Bellamy-Decker explained the methodology of a terrorist bio-attack:
So with a good primary aerosol release in an airport in Israel or Europe and you could get 100 index cases. If you’ve made the strain sufficiently virulent, you could have a ratio of 1 to 13 for infectivity, where the normal ratio is 1 to 3. If every index case infects 13 other people, you unfortunately have a great first hit.
“A terrorist bio-attack could go global,” she noted. “A good biological hit will spread rapidly with international travel. Smallpox is a better weapon than anthrax. Smallpox has been field-tested, it is highly stable, and highly communicable, especially if you look at some of the strains the Russians manipulated. Syria probably retained some of [its] smallpox strains from the last outbreak back in 1972.”
Another risk is the possibility Syria’s military might give bioweapons to terrorists.
“We are close to seeing a breakthrough where Syria could provide biological weapons to some of the terrorist groups they work with, like Hezbollah in Lebanon,” Bellamy-Decker argued. “The Syrians believe they can vaccinate themselves and they are working within the Syrian military. They’re certainly not worried about releasing these biological weapons in a military setting, or even if civilians were infected as well, as long as they are vaccinated. I think it is a real threat.”
Bellamy-Decker is presenting a paper at this week’s Intelligence Summit in St. Petersburg, Fla. It is expected to focus on the sophisticated state of development of the Syrian bioweapons program.
“The Syrians have developed a rather remarkable bioweapons capability that has gone under the radar of U.S. intelligence,” she said. “U.S. intelligence continues to insist that the Syrian capability is not highly developed. The Syrian program mirrors how the Russians have developed their program, as well as Iraq under Saddam Hussein, North Korea, and Iran. The emphasis in the Syrian program is on latent potential and outbreak capability.”
Bellamy-Decker explained we should not expect to find stockpiles of biological weapons.
“Stockpiles are just not how biological weapons are done,” she said. “With biological weapons, it is not the quantity, but the quality that counts. If you can produce a virulent, communicable strain, then you have a great biological weapon and it doesn’t matter how much of it you have, it depends on what the weapon looks like.”
Bellamy-Decker also referenced a paper she had co-authored for the European Homeland Security Association (EHSA) titled, “Public Health Security and Preparedness.”
This paper is intended to be used as part of a new initiative EHSA is launching in Brussels to hold a quarterly bioterrorism forum bringing together national and international experts with high-level decision-makers “to discuss the threat posed by deliberate disease and the appropriate preparedness and response mechanisms vitally needed to address this threat.”
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