It was 2004 when Scott Shane with The Baltimore Sun reported how army scientists in the Special Operations Division (SO Division) at Fort Detrick, Maryland worked on bioweapons during the Cold War (1947-1991) (1).
These weren’t just ordinary scary weapons, they were designed to kill either an individual or a specific group of individuals as well as initiate an epidemic (2).
There is very little documented information on the SO Division’s project code-named MKNAOMI. It’s said to have been the successor to the MKDELTA and MKULTRA projects (3). It was such a covert joint CIA-Army project, that no paper trail was created, which turns out to have been the standard protocol for the project (4).
The bioweapons the SO Division created were many. One arsenal was known as the Big Five. According to a former CIA operative identified in the article as Patrick, “The Big Five program was devoted to assassination.”
In the article, former supervisor of SO Division’s anthrax production, William P. Walter told Shane that the Big Five was “hair-raising.”
If you wish to know more details about the Big Five, you’ll have to wait until it’s no longer classified. Don’t hold your breath, that day will probably never come.
Toxin Laced Dart
Shane states the documents that were declassified reveal a biological dart weapon that was dipped in a “shellfish toxin and fired from a rifle using a pressurized air cartridge.”
The toxin was harvested from special mussels overseas that produced a deadly poison. A grooved dart was dipped into the toxin and shot directly into the target. A Fort Bragg, NC demonstration was performed using a sheep as the target.
The sheep was chosen to represent a clothed person. If the finely pointed dart could penetrate the sheep’s woolly body without the sheep jumping, it could pierce the clothing of a victim without the person reacting (5). The demonstration was a success. The sheep dropped dead 23 seconds after it was shot with the dart. It never made a sound, just fell over dead.
The other four bioweapons in the Big Five arsenal were just a deadly and sinister as the poison dart.
–> An anthrax or botulinum toxin filled 7.62 mm rifle cartridge. The toxin was a time-delay bomb since upon impact it would disperse into the air.
–> The “bomblet” could be used to release a “cloud of bacteria” into a train or truck convoy.
–> A pressurized aerosol containing germs was designed to spew germs into the air. The unsuspecting Russian target(s) would open a food can containing the spray device.
–> E-41 disseminator had no information, just the listing.
Some of the other methods created for dispersing assassination bioweapons included:
–> Walking sticks
–> Fountain pens
–> Bacteria in suit buttons
–> Light fixtures filled with anthrax
–> Tailpipes filled with anthrax
What documents Shane was able to obtain under the FOIA (Freedom Of Information Act) included some very specific assassination attempt information.
1960 Assassination Called Off
A congressional investigation revealed that in 1960, CIA operative, Sidney Gottlieb (contact with SO Division) was sent to Africa to assassinate Congolese leader Patrice Lumumba by exchanging a tube of toxin-laced toothpaste. The plan was thwarted by the CIA station chief who refused and threw the poison tube into a river.
Although there’s no documented proof, other records suggest that the CIA was supplied through the SO Division with various germs in several scheme to assassinate Fidel Castro.
The eras of the Cold War were charged with a constant threat that today has been replaced with the threat of extremists and terrorists. Perhaps the lack of record-keeping was a Godsend to prevent such information from falling into modern terrorists’ hands.
In his interview with Walter, Shane reveals that the former SO Division scientist doesn’t think it’s a bad thing that few records exist on the bioweapons that he and his colleagues created. He warned, “If anybody with bad intentions got hold of the things we had, it would be disastrous.”
References & Image Credits:
(1) Wikipedia: Cold War
(2) Baltimore Sun
(3) Wikipedia: Project MKNAO
(4) TSW: 5 Most Disturbing MKUltra Experiments Conducted by the CIA
(5) Frank Olson Project
(6) Image of Anthrax in Petri Dish