Patterico's Pontifications


The Definition of a Dirty War

Filed under: Terrorism,War — DRJ @ 2:46 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

The Sun reports on the despicable Taliban tactics in Afghanistan:

“TALIBAN fighters are burying dirty needles with their bombs in a bid to infect British troops with HIV, The Sun can reveal.
Hypodermic syringes are hidden below the surface pointing upwards to prick bomb squad experts as they hunt for devices.

The heroin needles are feared to be contaminated with hepatitis and HIV. And if the bomb goes off, the needles become deadly flying shrapnel.”

I doubt the Taliban leaders waste their time pondering the ethics of Guantanamo or waterboarding. With adversaries like this, I don’t understand why our leaders do, either.

H/T Drudge Report.


37 Responses to “The Definition of a Dirty War”

  1. “…I doubt the Taliban leaders waste their time pondering the ethics of Guantanamo or waterboarding. With adversaries like this, I don’t understand why our leaders do, either.”

    Because, they are incapable of actually doing anything relevant to the situation, but are great at stirring ….!

    AD - RtR/OS! (f15c7c)

  2. Everything I’m finding says HIV degrades pretty quickly outside the body. This seems unlikely to spread AIDS, but I can see how it would have a demoralizing effect. A despicable tactic from a despicable foe.

    Chuck Roast (9bab18)

  3. This likely would be more effective as a scare/morale tactic than anything health threatening. HIV is a very treatable condition now and not easily transmitted as described. Hepatitis C is a bigger concern, realistically speaking, but not every one who is exposed contracts it, not all who contract it get sick with it, those who get sick with it generally do so after 20 years, and there is relatively effective treatment.

    I’d be curious to know just how the MP was using this information.

    MD in Philly (5a98ff)

  4. Demoralizing, yes, but it seems to me there could also be other side effects:

    First, if someone on the bomb squad gets stuck by a needle, that might sideline them for a period of time while they are tested and/or waiting to learn if it was contaminated. I don’t think there are an excess number of bomb squad personnel so losing even a few for a short period of time might be a problem.

    Second, it may be designed to infect or weaken people wounded by a bomb. If the explosion doesn’t kill them, wouldn’t an infection be more dangerous to someone injured and in a weakened state?

    DRJ (d43dcd)

  5. If it’s found that Iran is aiding in the production of these biological weapons being deployed against our troops (if they even exist beyond the boogeyman phase), what is our response?

    Dustin (b54cdc)

  6. We’ll talk to them.

    DRJ (d43dcd)

  7. Silly DRJ ! We’ll blame Bush, of course !

    Alasdair (e9a0ac)

  8. People who get infected with Hep C often never know it untill years after the fact, if at all.

    Many people who get HIV feel nothing significant, those who do get a “bad virual infection” with a few weeks of fatigue, listlessness, headache, maybe a rash, sore throat. This can happen anytime wihin a few weeks to 6 months.

    It would be unusual (but would happen “on occasion”), I think, for HIV or Hep C infection to significantly complicate the recovery from traumatic wounds and possible bacterial infection.

    If it would be policy to put people out of combat duty, no matter how well they feel, for 6 months, then I guess it would be a personnel issue.

    Years ago the Fire Fighters in Philly won huge benefits for Hep C as a “work related” injury, because of the high numbers of people with Hep C supposedly from stepping on needles, etc. Had it been seriously looked into by an epidemiology team, “many experts” think it would have been more highly linked with tattoos than experience as a fire fighter.

    Now if you want to talk about something hellish, just remember that Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever virus was among the things found buried in the backyard of the head of Iraq’s bio warfare program. Think Ebola Virus at half-strength or so. Not only is it a nasty thing to get, but it is contagious from human to human, especially before the medical staff understands what it is they are dealing with.

    I think Eric Blair or somebody else may be familiar with the science behind this and want to weigh-in also.

    MD in Philly (5a98ff)

  9. The Viet Cong used pungi sticks. Sharp sticks smeared with human feces in shallow holes covered with leaves. Although I imagine that would work better in a humid jungle than in a high desert.

    nk (db4a41)

  10. As far as HIV and Hepatitis C infected needles go, where the hell would the Taliban get those from? ????? If Afganistan were San Francisco maybe. Otherwise, it sounds mythical.

    nk (db4a41)

  11. We began this war with Saddam’s mythical weapons of mass destruction and now we’re talking about some British sissies’ bugbears. Sigh.

    nk (db4a41)

  12. Where would the Tali get needles….
    From junkies who mainline opium!

    AD - RtR/OS! (f15c7c)

  13. Hey, nk, I don’t want to argue with you or anything, but Saddam did have and use weapons of mass destruction, on multiple occasions. At the time of the invasion, pretty much everyone was convinced he had and would use them…because he did and he did.

    The MSM likes to parrot that “no weapons of mass destruction” meme over and over again, so that it crystallizes on peoples brains and becomes a type of truth. It is a “truth” that supports a particular point of view.

    In fact, I’m pretty sure Saddam still had WMD, and shipped them off to Syria. But I can’t prove that. We sure gave him plenty of of time to do that, and the UN gave him lots of cover. Then and now. The UN is very effective at controlling weaponization by NK and Iran, after all.

    Again, Saddam’s history with nerve gas and mustard gas against both Iranians and Kurds says it all.

    And I think we saw very little of how bad things were in Iraq, because that madman knew his country would be turned to glass if he used them. For example, let’s talk botulinum toxin:

    Turns out that Saddam and his merry band had prepared quite a bit of stuff (from the above reference):

    “After the 1991 Persian Gulf War, Iraq admitted to the United Nations inspection team to having produced 19 000 L of concentrated botulinum toxin, of which approximately 10 000 L were loaded into military weapons.22, 30 These 19 000 L of concentrated toxin are not fully accounted for and constitute approximately 3 times the amount needed to kill the entire current human population by inhalation. In 1990, Iraq deployed specially designed missiles with a 600-km range; 13 of these were filled with botulinum toxin, 10 with aflatoxin, and 2 with anthrax spores. Iraq also deployed special 400-lb (180-kg) bombs for immediate use; 100 bombs contained botulinum toxin, 50 contained anthrax spores, and 7 contained aflatoxin.22, 30 It is noteworthy that Iraq chose to weaponize more botulinum toxin than any other of its known biological agents.”

    And that is just one example. So I think that fears about Saddam using WMD were, um, not exactly overwrought.

    Of course, the Left will tap their toes contemptuously, and reply that (i) that was then, this is now, and (ii) we did worse.


    But I don’t mean to snark or fight. It just makes me sad to see how easily people forget history and toe the Leftist line. But the media and education systems are all about promoting that.

    As for MD in Philly, thank you for the confidence. Biological agents are easy to grow, but sometimes don’t work the way you intend. Japan’s Unit 751 took the scientific approach: it’s thought that as many as 400,000 Chinese died due to Japanese biological warfare:

    I teach about this stuff, and it amazes me every year how many students are willing to believe any terrible thing about their own country, but resist information such as I am presenting tenaciously.

    It’s a weird form of “Daddy Hatred,” I suspect.

    But even more amateur approaches toward biowar have been tried:

    The good news is that it didn’t work well.

    I suspect that the “HIV needles” business is a fake (and easily tested by PCR or ELISA tests on material). It’s meant to scare people, much like troops in the Philippines claimed to use pig fat to grease the cartridges, to frighten the Muslim “freedom fighters/terrorists” of the period.

    But yes, nasty things could be cooked up. As with science fiction, our nightmares are seldom as bad as reality, and our dreams unlikely to be genuine.

    Sorry for the speech.

    Eric Blair (c8876d)

  14. This becomes all the more vile and infuriating when reading about how much money the United States has provided to help Afghanistan with health care and HIV/AIDS prevention.

    In 2007, the World Bank signed a three-year, US$10 million grant with the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to
    enhance the national response to HIV/AIDS through the Afghanistan HIV/AIDS Prevention Project.
    The project will provide harm reduction services to at risk groups (IDUs, sex workers,
    prisoners, and truckers) in different cities (Kabul, Mazar, Jalalabad, Herat). Services will
    be provided by NGOs selected through a competitive process.

    Dana (1e5ad4)

  15. We worry about such things because we are still fighting an honorable war. If something happens that convinces those of the Jacksonian Tradition that those on the other side are actively dishonorable (as opposed to being otherly-honorable) such things may not be of such significance. One treats an opposing warrior differently than one treats a mad dog.

    htom (412a17)

  16. Again, Dana, we have the right techniques to detect if minute (I cannot say “microscopic”!) amounts of HIV using molecular approaches. If any IEDs are “enhanced” with HIV, we’ll know in short order.

    Of course, the press won’t believe it if we find it. Sigh.

    Eric Blair (c8876d)

  17. I have long said we should counter this type of thing with our own propaganda. Make films showing ammunitions makers smearing their product with pig fat. Show American soldiers preparing for battle slicing bacon with their bayonets. With their 7th century superstitions and fears, that would put a real crimp in a Jihadi’s bravery. We won’t do it, of course, but propaganda has been a very useful tool in the past.

    Gazzer (d79016)

  18. I suspect that the “HIV needles” business is a fake (and easily tested by PCR or ELISA tests on material).

    Eric Blair, I wondered about the truth of it, too, especially when there is an apparently very low rate of HIV/AIDS in Afghanistan.

    Reliable data on HIV prevalence in Afghanistan is sparse. To date, 478 HIV cases have been reported. However, UNAIDS and WHO estimate that there could be between 1,000 and 2,000 Afghans living with HIV. The HIV epidemic is at an early stage in Afghanistan and is concentrated among high-risk groups, mainly injecting drug users
    (IDUs) and their partners. Afghanistan’s emerging epidemic likely hinges on a combination of injecting drug use and unsafe paid sex.
    According to a 2006 study, 3 percent of IDUs in Kabul were HIV positive. Almost one third of the IDUs participating in the study said they used contaminated injecting equipment. In addition, large proportions of these (male) drug users also engaged in other highrisk behavior. For example, 32 percent had sex with men or boys, and
    69 percent bought sex. Only about half of the IDUs knew that using unclean syringes carries a high risk of HIV transmission or that condoms can prevent infection.

    Dana (1e5ad4)

  19. Many of us on the Right believe that the IslamoFascists are beneath the respect we would extend to a mad dog, and are more like a rabid dog, and should be treated accordingly.

    AD - RtR/OS! (f15c7c)

  20. First of all, I suspect that a bomb going off would sterilize the contents of the syringe. Second, the bomb disposal folks will just wear Kevlar gloves. It is a psychological thing. The British used to bury dead afghans under pig carcasses. That might be a useful counter-irritant. Tell the Taliban that, if any dirty needles are found, Taliban dead in that area will be buried with a pig.

    Just don’t tell Obama. I don’t think he eats pork.

    Mike K (82f374)

  21. I like Dr. K’s solution to air terrorists: as they board the plane, each passenger will spit on the Q’uran and take a bite of a BLT.

    Oh well.

    Eric Blair (c8876d)

  22. Was this first published in the Lancet?

    daleyrocks (1d0d98)

  23. It doesn’t matter if it’s fake. Every dollar spent testing whether someone has been exposed and keeping them from working while they are tested is a dollar that could have been used elsewhere. Even if it’s fake, they succeed.

    DRJ (d43dcd)

  24. So, DRJ, maybe the right thing to do is advertise our ammunition as “, with bacon!

    Seriously, I think it is propaganda. They might be putting needles and such into IEDs. But HIV? Less likely.

    And if it is there, we will find it. The technology is used daily here.

    Eric Blair (c8876d)

  25. The Iran Iraq war killed 2 million people. Saddam WAS a weapon of mass destruction, even before his well known usage of bio weapons.

    Did Russians help Saddam hide weapons? If they were helping him make such, as they are with Iran, perhaps. But I’ve seen no evidence. Doesn’t matter, really. He would happily have made some and used them at some point. Ridding the world of Saddam is like ridding the world of Hitler. Chamberlain would have condemned you for both.

    Dustin (b54cdc)

  26. No, actually, I think Chamberlain appologized to Churchill before he died.

    AD - RtR/OS! (f15c7c)

  27. This smacks of an urban legend. I doubt it’s true

    jimboster (fe0b27)

  28. Everything I’m finding says HIV degrades pretty quickly outside the body.

    For now.

    Wait until AIDS goes pneumatic.

    Michael Ejercito (249c90)

  29. If it’s found that Iran is aiding in the production of these biological weapons being deployed against our troops (if they even exist beyond the boogeyman phase), what is our response?

    Our POTUS will bow down in front of the Mullahs and beg forgiveness for our wicked, wicked ways.

    Dmac (3d61d9)

  30. I would hope that he would not be so foolish.

    htom (412a17)

  31. With the general level of societal organization in Afghanistan, I’m not sure i would trust supposed HIV statistics. That said, I’m sure there are regions of India and Thailand where there are more than a few infected “sex workers”.

    I’m inclined to think it is more urban legend, as they’ve had more impressive results with IED’s from iran that can destroy armor.

    Eric B.- thanks for the links. I don’t remember hearing of the Rajneeshee_bioterror_attack. I knew the Japanese were brutal, but I had not heard of this organized horror, or that we aided in the cover-up.

    MD in Philly (5a98ff)

  32. Book recommendation – Demon in the Freezer. About the threat of biological war. Was published shortly after 2001 and discusses the anthrax mail attacks and the investigation into them. One thing that that book mentions is that one of the last major smallpox outbreaks before the final eradication was in the Iraq-Iran area. Smallpox is a virus which would have been fairly easy to save in viable form. Goes into some very chilling scenarios.

    Terrorists deploying suicide bombs in Israel have for years included warfarin (a blood thinning medical agent) to potentially interfere with the clotting action of victims who are injured.

    Have Blue (854a6e)

  33. #

    No, actually, I think Chamberlain appologized to Churchill before he died.

    Comment by AD – RtR/OS! — 6/9/2010 @ 5:34 pm

    My point was that Chamberlain had the advantage of seeing whats Hitler was going to do because the leaders of his time let him do it.

    The Chamberlains of today who hate Bush will never have that advantage, and so they smugly condemn him. All the benefit is, thankfully, something we don’t know. If we had paid money and lives and stopped Hitler much earlier on, Chamberlain would have made comments similar to what you hear today about Saddam.

    Dustin (b54cdc)

  34. MD, isn’t it odd we don’t talk about Unit 731?

    I still don’t understand why we let several of the organizers walk. They committed acts every bit as bad as the Nazis.

    I would have hung them all.

    Eric Blair (e2121c)

  35. Have Blue, that is a good book. If “good” is the right word…

    Eric Blair (e2121c)

  36. Eric B. I think it may have something to do with the idea that we want really evil behavior to be the rare event, so it can be pointed at and everyone feels better because: 1) That means they are not so bad themselves, and 2) It also means they are unlikely to ever have to face such evil themselves.

    I’ve always thought the phrase “Never Again” should have been given up almost immediately. Stalin’s Russia, Mao’s China, Pol Pot’s Cambodia, Rwanda, Southern Sudan, Darfur, and so on.

    MD in Philly (5a98ff)

  37. To paraphrase Admiral Halsey, we need to make sure that when we’re done in Afghanistan, the only place that two Taliban will be able to greet each other is Hell.

    M. Scott Eiland (dcaa3e)

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