Most people think only of nuclear devices or bombs, when Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) are mentioned. But there are other devastating weapons of mass destruction. For example, Anthrax is a bio-terrorism agent and is addressed in my first novel, Cabo Caper. Anthrax is highly contagious and will kill anyone exposed in a very short time if not treated with appropriate antibiotics as soon as possible. The mere mention of WMD’s scares the hell out of everyone, and rightly so.
In my fourth novel, Existential Threats, released in August of 2015, chemical WMDs, namely Sarin gas, are considered in connection with the civil war in Syria. The lethal gas was used by Assad’s troops on the liberation rebels despite all international conventions forbidding its use. Even the Nazis refrained from using the poisonous nerve gas. News photos of its convulsing victims shocked the world leading to “red lines” being drawn in the sand.
Sarin is unstable and degrades in months, so how did Assad store and deploy the gas without exposing his troops to collateral damage? This topic is explored in chapter seven of Existential Threats.
Biff Roberts and the counterterrorism team are discussing the threat of WMDs in Syria with the CIA’s Admiral Delaney. They are planning to destroy the nerve gas storage sites in Damascus using Mossad’s intel location reports. Tyler Dubain, Biff”s attache, has spent considerable time in covert assessment on the ground in Syria and explains how Assad stores the Sarin and goes about deploying it against the rebels, the Syrian Free Army (SFA.)
After hearing Tyler’s assessment, Biff becomes convinced they must take action before terror groups like ISIS get their hands on Sarin. It’s bad enough Assad is using it.
Excerpt from Existential Threats
“We must carefully examine our alternatives,” Biff continued. “The State Department is caught up in the humanitarian aspects. The bloodshed is heart rending, but we can’t strive to save the world year after year. We’re running short on resources. Let’s concentrate on concrete measures that could influence the Syrian outcome in our favor without committing troops, ‘boots on the ground,’ as the politicians love to say.”
“But, Biff, shouldn’t we do something material to assist the rebels?” Admiral Delaney persisted. “At least something beyond symbolic political gestures?”
“I understand the other aspects of the problem, Admiral, but I urge us to maintain our focus on the key issue of not allowing the further use of WMDs and prevent them from falling into the wrong hands, particularly AQ’s or Hezbollah’s. That’s our vital interest, our big dog in the fight.”
“That’s a strong point of argument,” the admiral conceded.
“The DOD and Joint Chiefs will resolve the arms supply problem no matter what we recommend, sir,” Tyler added. “We can hedge on that
tricky issue for now. We have most of Libya’s captured weapons, which we could ship covertly through Turkey. First we must determine who we can trust in Syria.”
“Good point,” Butler said. “Spot on.”
Biff emphatically stated, “The only reason to become involved, as I see it, is the WMDs. That demands swift action. Something that makes a dramatic statement.”
“I agree,” Butler remarked, “it’s paramount that we not allow WMDs further use, or for them to fall into AQ’s or Hezbollah’s possession under any circumstances. We need to act swiftly, concentrating on that objective.”
“You hit the nail on the head, Adam. All agreed?” Biff asked.
The group murmured their collective agreement.
“Then we have to secure the WMDs before reaching that threatening point in the conflict,” Butler interjected. “Destroy or secure the nerve gas as soon as possible, before they use it again.”
“Easier said than done, Adam,” Tyler retorted. “As I’ve related, it’s a mess over there. We lack the critical assets in Syria, we don’t know who
to trust, who we can rely on to get the job done. Sending in a Seal Team would be suicidal, and bombing risky with the modern air defenses Russia recently provided Syria, even with stealth bombers. We know where most of the WMDs are stored, but not all the critical coordinates of the storage garrisons, unfortunately, or even how many. They probably spread them all over the countryside.”
“Israeli and Jordanian intel agents are busy finding out that information,” Biff said. “They have reliable assets infiltrated inside Syria. We’ll soon have that critical knowledge.”
“Then once located,” Butler politely added, “we must somehow destroy those WMDs storage sites.” Butler paused, frowning. “How do
they store the nerve gas, anyway?”
“Sarin is unstable and degrades in months,” Tyler said. “So they add stabilizing chemical agents that allow the sarin to be stored in sealed aluminum casings. The nerve gas is colorless and odorless, so a leak would be extremely dangerous. In binary weapons, the two precursors that activate the gas are stored in a separate chamber of the shell casing, mixed to form the lethal agent before or while the shell is in flight. This has the dual benefit of solving the stabilization problem and insuring safety of storage.”
“I see you’ve done your homework, Tyler,” Biff complimented.
The admiral knew it was rare for anyone to one up Biff. They definitely had a good team going.
The discussion went on for hours, alternatives debated back and forth, into the evening. Finally, Biff suggested adjournment and dinner.
His shoulder was aching, and he needed medication. As everyone headed for the dining room, he took a pain pill and motioned for Tyler to consult with him.
“How secure is my international communication system here?” Biff asked.
“Langley quality, safe and sound. Why?”
“Need to place a call to Tel Aviv.”
Tyler frowned. “It’s the middle of the night over there.”