The Doomsday Scenario outlined in Part One of this trilogy told the story of a bio-terrorist attack using aerosolized Anthrax and Botulism serotype H, the deadliest poison known to humankind with no antidote, ending with the preparation of Yersinia pestis and Variola major by two rival Islamic State laboratories. Let us play out the simulation.
Just as the dust was settling down from the most successful terrorist strike in history, in which of a total of 3,296,398 people infected, 1,071,008 died and many others were still critically or seriously ill, the message was issued from Raqqa, HQ of Islamic State in northern Syria, to the laboratory in Busayra to the east on the Euphrates river and to Katibat al-B'ittar al-Libi, the branch of Islamic State operating in Sirte, Libya. "48 Delta Zero" (confirm final preparations are ready to go for Operation Day in 48 hours, 07.00 a.m. UTC Thursday December 17).
Meanwhile just outside the capital city still reeling from the Anthrax attack in one of the surrounding villages, where three quarters of the children had died from Botulism serotype H after drinking contaminated milk, Mussa received the same message "48 Delta Zero". He was ready. "Allahu Akhbar!" he said under his breath as he nodded his head. Now he had to send the modified encrypted message to Kalil in Tringham, the second city and Qasim in Hampton, the third, the three cities totaling nearly twenty-five million people. "Order delivery 4 8" (Hit Target 48 hours). The messages instantly came back confirming: "Mushroom pizza" from Kalil and "Happy Meal" from Qasim. Twelve minutes later, Raqqa had received confirmations from Sirte, Busayra and Mussa, who had by now discarded his (stolen) mobile phone, as had Kalil and Qasim, the Operations Managers, fifty miles away from where they had grown up, lived and worked.
The staff at the secret bio-warfare factory in Sirte, Libya, once a peaceful seaside town, the birthplace of Brother Leader Muammar al-Qathafi, had received confirmation of the delivery of the vials of Yersinia pestis aboard vessels travelling from the Isles of Killy into a remote fishing village on the mainland coast some three weeks previously. Mussa had received the Yersinia pestis-derived fusion protein F1-V to protect him against an aerosolized form of the disease when he travelled to Tunisia for his holiday three weeks earlier. Kalil and Qasim were happy because this was to be their Martyrdom and they were looking forward to entering Paradise. The staff at Sirte had been extra careful after the disaster in Algeria the year earlier, when a vial of Yersinia pestis had smashed and nearly all inside the laboratory were infected. One, a female biologist trained in London, survived and she received two shots through the back of the head.
The vials from Busayr containing Variola major, cultivated at 28ºC on sheep blood agar from the sample obtained from a rogue scientist for just one million dollars - a briefcase of notes - had taken a different route and had been carried across the Balkans, through Hungary into Germany and from there to a vessel which docked in the northern fishing port of Soll. The deliveries were transported to two safe houses and were divided into three lots, each lot of two bio-warfare agents taken to the three cities, the targets of the attack.
A tip-off had been given to the intelligence services through an encrypted message but the service could not get the platform to work and chatter was reported by a freelance journalist to the British Embassy in a European capital city, receiving the message that the duty officer was not available and please leave any urgent messages with the American Embassy, which as it happened was not answering the telephone that weekend. Both potentially life-saving messages were lost.
In the capital city, 48 hours later, Thursday December 17, Ian Taylor's wife looked proudly at her husband walking down the drive on his last day at work before retiring and spending their Christmas on a dream holiday in the Maldives, booked for the following Saturday. Her husband had used an inheritance to buy into VAC - Vector Air Conditioning just before the company won a major contract to service air conditioning units at ten major transportation hubs, including five airports. Climbing into his car for his last working day, he contacted his workmate, Peter to ask him to call in at the office to pick up the security clearance for both of them before they started work on the Terminal Three A/C units. Peter's voice sounded strange on the phone and his message even stranger: "Things have changed, we have to put up the cards personally and sign in, have to go mate, see you in a bit". As Ian arrived at the office and walked down the corridor, he was grabbed from behind and suffocated with cheese-cutting wire. His body was hidden in the filing cabinet beside Peter's.
The same scene was being played out at Vector Air Conditioning premises in Tringham and Hampton, where two teams of three men entered Vector vans - the drivers and co-drivers in the front seats and in the back, their partner carrying two containers with the vials. One team transported the Yersinia pestis, the other, Variola major. Fitted out with the Vector suits and security clearances, all of them were waved through and began their work in terminals carrying domestic flights, and international flights to the USA and France.
The operation was carried out simultaneously in three locations, three airports with internal flights, flights to the USA and to France at 07.00 on Thursday December 17. The first cases began to manifest themselves on Friday evening in the center, north, south, east and west of the country, in France, Paris and surroundings, Chartres, Quimper and in the USA, New York State, Boston, Washington DC, Detroit, Chicago and two members of a family in Maine.
The attack was carried out just as a serious outbreak of seasonal Influenza was sweeping across western Europe and the United States and due to the flu-like nature of the early symptoms - fever, feeling of weakness, then shortness of breath, pneumonia, cough and chest pain, some cases with nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain - the first cases were classified as seasonal flu and while treatment with oral antibiotics such as tetracycline, ciprofloxacin or injections with streptomycin or gentamicin at the onset of symptoms would have saved most people, treatment was delayed and where delivered, was with anti-virals and not antibiotics.
As the days went by, the symptoms worsened and cases began mushrooming all over the country, also in France and the USA, then Canada and then in different locations around the world, but the cluster centered on the first three. After five days, the first wave of deaths was reported - caused by respiratory failure and shock.
"Is the doctor working on Christmas Day?" the frantic voice of Mary Thomas was met with a polite "no" by the village surgery's receptionist. "It's my Frankie, he's got these black lumps on his legs". She was told to take him to the General Hospital. Frankie was not the only one. "It looks like Bubonic plague," said a junior doctor, half-joking. It was. And it was no joke. Many other cases were confirmed after blood and sputum samples were checked and lymph node aspirates were sent to laboratories, confirmed after 24 to 48 hours.
For a week, the medical services were in chaos in many countries around the world until a pattern was confirmed, namely primary infection by Pneumonic plague by those affected at the points of contact and passed on to family members, neighbors, co-workers through close contact, coughing and sneezing in elevators... Some of those with skin lesions developed Bubonic plague, and some of these secondary Pneumonic plague as the infection spread to the lungs, then waves of secondary infection from these among close contacts. Most of those treated within 24 hours made a full recovery; most of those whose treatment was delayed - almost all - died.
But this was not the only problem.
Amanda Weller was diagnosed with extreme social phobia after she was raped on her way home from school. Gradually becoming more and more withdrawn, she lived confined to the suite on the upper floor of her parents' sprawling home just outside Terminal Three of the main airport. The only contact she had with her parents was when her mother knocked on the door and left a tray of food outside in the corridor and walked away. A minute or so later the door would open, Amanda would slide out the tray from the last meal, and any hand-written request on a piece of note-paper and would collect the fresh meal her mother had left, closing the door with a determined thud, which spelled "Leave me alone".
Amanda's mother was worried: her daughter had not stirred for two days. It was December 31, New Year's Eve, precisely two weeks after the Operation and she needed to know if her daughter would be OK if they threw a small New Year's Eve party downstairs. Her repeated calls and knocking on the door were met with a murmur. She had to break their Agreement and go in.
Amanda was feeling so seriously ill that she did not stir from her bed. She had a high fever, headache, severe body aches and had just enough strength to get to the toilet to vomit. Calling a doctor was out of the question, so Amanda's mother, thinking it was a severe bout of the Flu bug that was going around, left her daughter some mineral water, analgaesics and some tablets for her nausea and vomiting and closed the door. Amanda, now terrified that she was so ill they would have to call the doctor, forced herself to play along with the dishes routine to convince her mother she was getting better for a few days but on January 4, she could not get up out of bed. First her mouth and tongue were filled with sores, then her throat became infected and three days later she had a reddish rash all over her skin. A day later, she fainted when she looked in the mirror.
Amanda´s mother once again broke their Agreement and what she saw made her release a high-pitched scream of terror, drop the tray she was holding and stagger backwards out of the room, her eyes wide with horror, her hands covering her face, as she yelled out her husband's name with all her strength. "Paul! Paul! Paul! Oh God, Paul, come here!" The urgency of her voice had her husband bounding up the stairs two at a time. "Oh F*ck! F*ck! Jesus! God!!" were the only words her husband could find as they both looked at their daughter lying on top of the bed, every millimeter of her face literally covered with liquid-filled pustules, less on her torso but her arms and legs covered, like her face.
A visit from the local doctor on call produced the risible diagnosis of "severe chicken pox", buying Death a few more days, Amanda's social phobia buying it another two and by the time the ambulance pulled up outside the house, Amanda was dead.
Other cases of this horrific disease popped up in the same areas affected by the Plague, then spread out without any set pattern around other cities and countries. Epidemiologists were struck with disbelief, because the symptoms were classic signs of Variola major - smallpox. And it was.
Of the 33 million cases of Pneumonic plague, around 25 million died, most with Bubonic plague survived and in the case of smallpox, around 330,000 of the one million infected perished.
"God is Great! We have confirmation of the Cesium!" The Islamic State HQ South-East of Raqqa, now abandoned, was again abuzz, a hive of activity and euphoria. The race to make the Dirty Bomb was on. Focus: South-Eastern Europe.
*Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey has worked as a correspondent, journalist, deputy editor, editor, chief editor, director, project manager, executive director, partner and owner of printed and online daily, weekly, monthly and yearly publications, TV stations and media groups printed, aired and distributed in Angola, Brazil, Cape Verde, East Timor, Guinea-Bissau, Portugal, Mozambique and São Tomé and Principe Isles; the Russian Foreign Ministry publication Dialog and the Cuban Foreign Ministry Official Publications. He has spent the last two decades in humanitarian projects, connecting communities, working to document and catalog disappearing languages, cultures, traditions, working to network with the LGBT communities helping to set up shelters for abused or frightened victims and as Media Partner with UN Women, working to foster the UN Women project to fight against gender violence and to strive for an end to sexism, racism and homophobia. A Vegan, he is also a Media Partner of Humane Society International, fighting for animal rights. He is Director and Chief Editor of the Portuguese version of Pravda.Ru.
In no way whatsoever is this fictional piece intended to insult Islam or Moslems. I have read the Qu'ran with attention and respect and have found a wonderful message of peace and good relations among all our brothers and sisters, including respect for our environment. This is Islam. Islamic State is not. It is an insult to Moslems and a blasphemy against Islam.