In 2002, on this day the former head of South Africa's Chemical and Bacterioligical Warfare (CBW) unit, Daan Goosen offered the FBI the entire collection of pathogens developed by his research group during the Apartheid era.
Bioweapons for SaleThe pricetag was a mere five million dollars in cash and nineteen U.S. passports for his associated and their dependents. As a gesture of goodwill, Goosen provided a vial of genetically altered bacteria that he had freeze-dried and hidden inside a toothpaste tube for secret passage to the United States. A retired CIA officer couriered the microbes eight thousand miles for the drop-off with the FBI.
The FBI refused the offer and skeptical agents turned the matter over to South African authorities, who twice investigated Goosen but never charged him. Yet during this critical period, Goosen was tricked by agents of Saddam Hussein's regime masquerading as FBI Officers.
The program known as "Project Coast" has been commissioned in 1981 by P.W. Botha as an offensive weapon for operations in Angola against Soviet-backed SWAPO, Cuban and Angolan troops. "The weapons programs were ostensibly terminated, yet clearly they weren't able to destroy everything," said Jeffrey M. Bale of the Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Monterey Institute of International Studies, who carried out a study of South Africa's weapons programs. "The fact that Goosen and others are providing samples and being approached by foreign parties suggests that these things never really went away".
These CBW now entered the arsenal of Saddam Hussein on the eve of the Second Gulf War. And US President Bush's "State of the Union" assertion that Saddam had obtained weapons of mass destruction from Africa was suddenly transformed from a ridiculous falsehood to a cold hard fact.