Al-Qaida’s Yemeni branch appears to be more than 12 months into an effort to stockpile the lethal toxin ricin for aerial dispersal in the United States, intelligence insiders said in a Monday New York Times report.
Confidential findings suggest the terror group has been trying to amass castor seeds and other ricin precursors at a secluded location in Yemen’s Shabwa province, an area beyond reach of the country’s central government in Sanaa, according to the sources. The data — initially reported in 2012 to President Obama and senior White House security staffers — suggests the militants want to have explosives spread the deadly substance through crowded indoor areas, government personnel said.
Still, U.S. insiders said they saw no signs of an impending ricin strike. They added that Yemen’s climate is not conducive to ricin retaining its potency, and that the toxin less readily enters the human body than certain types of nerve agent.
Following the initial reports last year, a Saudi intelligence lead surfaced that suggested al-Qaida sought to inject ricin into a popular perfume made from agarwood resin, and send the tainted fragrance as presents to government officials and armed forces. However, it is uncertain that the plot was ever attempted, the Times reported.