Is this a real threat or are we getting a little, uh, paranoid about what lengths terrorists will go to to build a bio-terror arsenal? The "hook" in this article sits precariously on the premise that a growing underground distribution network for Botox Cosmetic clones may beget a chemical Armageddon via Al Qaeda or some other Islamo-fascist organization. You be the judge. Officials fear toxic ingredient in Botox could become terrorist tool:
In early 2006, a mysterious cosmetics trader named Rakhman began showing up at salons in St. Petersburg, Russia, hawking a popular anti-aging drug at suspiciously low prices. He flashed a briefcase filled with vials and promised he could deliver more — "as many as you want," he told buyers — from a supplier somewhere in Chechnya.
Rakhman's "Botox" was found to be a potent clone of the real thing, but investigators soon turned to a far bigger worry: the prospect of an illegal factory in Chechnya churning out raw botulinum toxin, the key ingredient in the beauty drug and one of world's deadliest poisons. A speck of toxin smaller than a grain of sand can kill a 150-pound adult.
No Chechen factory has been found, but a search for the maker of the highly lethal toxin in Rakhman's vials continues across a widening swath of Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Asia. U.S. officials and security experts say they know the lab exists, and probably dozens of other such labs, judging from the surging black market for the drug.
Al-Qaeda is known to have sought botulinum toxin. The Lebanese Hezbollah movement, which the United States has designated a terrorist organization, and other groups have bought and sold counterfeit drugs to raise cash. Now, with the emergence of a global black market for fake Botox, terrorism experts see an opportunity for a deadly convergence.
"It is the only profit-making venture for terrorists that can also potentially yield a weapon of mass destruction," said Kenneth Coleman, a physician and biodefense expert.
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