Editor says, what if the FBI turned down an offer they wish they hadn't refused? Our story is based upon the 2003 revelation in the Washington Post that the FBI were offered biological and chemical warfare components by a South African research group from the apartheid era which raises the issue, what if other agents had intercepted the delivery?
Editor says, The original article reads ~ PRETORIA, South Africa -- Daan Goosen's calling card to the FBI was a vial of bacteria he had freeze-dried and hidden inside a toothpaste tube for secret passage to the United States.
From among hundreds of flasks in his Pretoria lab, the South African scientist picked a man-made strain that was sure to impress: a microbial Frankenstein that fused the genes of a common intestinal bug with DNA from the pathogen that causes the deadly illness gas gangrene.
"This will show the Americans what we are capable of," Goosen said at the time.
On May 6, 2002, Goosen slipped the parcel into the hands of a retired CIA officer who couriered the microbes 8,000 miles for a drop-off with the FBI. If U.S. officials liked what they saw, Goosen said he was prepared to offer much more: an entire collection of pathogens developed by a secret South African bioweapons research program Goosen once headed.
Goosen's extraordinary offer to the FBI, outlined in documents obtained by The Washington Post and interviews with key participants, promised scores of additional vials containing the bacteria that cause anthrax, plague, salmonella and botulism, as well as antidotes for many of the diseases. Several strains, like the bacterial hybrid in the toothpaste tube, had been genetically altered, a technique used by weapons scientists to make diseases harder to detect and defeat. All were to be delivered to the U.S. government for safekeeping and to help strengthen U.S. defenses against future terrorism attacks.
U.S. officials considered the offer but balked at the asking price -- $5 million and immigration permits for Goosen and up to 19 associates and family members to come to the United States. The deal collapsed in confusion last year after skeptical FBI agents turned the matter over to South African authorities, who twice investigated Goosen but never charged him. Editorial comments are entered in [light green] typeface.