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Ken Alibek: For the Biodefense

Ken Alibek People who make biological weapons live with the risk that they will die by them. Ken Alibek found that out in a visceral way one Sunday evening in 1983 when a phone call to his home informed him that the tularemia plant he directed had a problem. When he arrived at the plant, Alibek went to inspect a room suspected of being contaminated by a leak from Zone 3, the interior area reserved for culture of tularemia bacteria. Entering alone and turning on the lights, he found himself stand

Tom Hollon


Ken Alibek
People who make biological weapons live with the risk that they will die by them. Ken Alibek found that out in a visceral way one Sunday evening in 1983 when a phone call to his home informed him that the tularemia plant he directed had a problem. When he arrived at the plant, Alibek went to inspect a room suspected of being contaminated by a leak from Zone 3, the interior area reserved for culture of tularemia bacteria. Entering alone and turning on the lights, he found himself standing in a puddle of Francisella tularensis.

Tularemia is a plaguelike disease transmitted by bites from fleas, ticks, and flies. First described in the county of Tulare, in California, its potential as a weapon was recognized before World War II. America, Great Britain, and Canada once had tularemia battlefield weapons. Alibek was one of the few who knew Russia...

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