Al Qaeda terrorists contemplated an attack on New York subways in 2003 using an “easily constructed” device called a “mubtakkar” to release cyanide gas, according to a story in Time Magazine this week.
But there are reasons to question the reliability and significance of the story, suggested chemist George Smith of GlobalSecurity.org.
For one thing, “why, if the mubtakkar of death is so easy to make has it not been seen since, or employed in Iraq, or used anywhere there have been other terror attacks?”
An overview of chemical warfare agents and analytical methods for their identification was prepared this year by Defence Research and Development Canada.
See “Analysis of Chemical Warfare Agents: General Overview, LC-MS Review, In-House LC-ESI-MS Methods and Open Literature Bibliography” (pdf), Defence Research and Development Canada, March 2006.