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Unit 731

By David Guyatt

 Part 2

The April 1952 midnight flight of the American F-82 night fighter didn’t go unnoticed.  Arriving over Min-Chung village, Korea, it was logged by the Chinese Air Observer Corps.  The following morning local villagers discovered, to their alarm, hundreds of voles.  Most were dead and many had fractured legs.  In all 717 were found inside, around and even on the roofs of village houses.  Panic stricken, the villagers killed and burnt all but four.  Tests conducted on one surviving vole showed it was infected with  the plague.

      US Biological weapons developments were heavily dependent on Japan’s secret Biological Warfare (BW) programme.  The top secret Unit 731, headed by Major General Shiro Ishii, had experimented with non-exploding bombs packed full of plague infected rodents and fleas.  After the war the US cut a secret deal protecting Ishii and his underlings from War Crimes trials. In exchange, Ishii and other members of his unit turned over a mass of secret BW files, and assisted US biological weapons research. 

      It was the Korean war where alleged American use of germ weapons caused international bedlam.  Following US air incursions across the Yalu river, districts in Liaotung and Liaohsi, China, were dusted with masses of infected fowl feathers.  The feathers - a Unit 731 favourite for spreading disease - were contaminated with anthrax.  A number of fatalities resulted. 

      Such was the furore caused by this and other incidents, that an International body was formed to investigate.  Their findings, published in the Report of the International Scientific Commission for the facts Concerning Bacterial Warfare in Korea and China were damning.  Reviewing the Min-Chung village incident, the reports states “there remains no doubt that a large number of voles suffering from plague were delivered to the disrtict of Kan-Nan during the night of April 4-5, 1952, by the aircraft which the villagers heard.  This was identified as an American F-82 double-fuselage night-fighter.”  The US heatedly denied the allegations.

      Despite this, some powerful corroborative evidence - pointing to US use of BW weapons - was provided by UN forces personnel.  A platoon sergeant of the Middlesex Regiment recalled his rapid retreat from the Yalu river, following a surprise Chinese assault.  The withdrawal came to be known as the “Pusan Derby.”  The sergeant’s platoon were “literally the last troops out.”  Retreating through a village he noted a hive of strange activity by American military police.  US soldiers, wearing gloves and face masks, were spreading quantities of fowl feathers around the village houses.  None of the men wore identifying insignia.  The platoon sergeant was told to “clear off in no uncertain terms.”  Three or four months later as UN forces advanced, the same soldier observed “hundreds” of dead bodies of Chinese soldiers who had, he was told, died of cholera.  Infecting fowl feathers with various diseases, was also a technique devised by Ishii’s Unit 731.

      Taking a leaf out of Ishii’s own devious book, the US military commenced a secret programme of testing on unwitting US citizens.  The programme was justified by the increasingly icy cold war.  During 1955, the Central Intelligence Agency conducted a classified test in Tampa Bay, Florida.  Bacteria obtained from the US Army’s Chemical and Biological Warfare arsenal, was released and monitored.  A dramatic increase of Whooping Cough cases followed, resulting in twelve fatalities.  The experiment remains classified.

      By the late 1950’s, the US Army conducted a number of field tests in Savannah, Georgia and Avon Park, Florida.  Vast numbers of Mosquitoes - another Ishii technique - were dropped from aircraft and also released at ground level into residential areas.  Local residents suffering under swarms of the insects fell ill, while others died.  Following each experiment, US military personnel -  masquerading as public health officials  - put each victim through a series of medical tests.  It is believed the Mosquitoes were infected with a strain of Yellow Fever.  These experiments also remain classified. 

      In addition to rural areas, major City’s were also targeted.  Oddly reminiscent of the 1995 Tokyo subway gassing attributed to the militarised Aum Shinriyko sect, the US Army sprayed bacillus into the New York City subway system over a five day period in 1966.  Unharmful, the germ was released to study the dispersion pattern throughout the subway complex.  The experiment was purposely scheduled to take place at peak commuter travel times.  Although still classified, it has been revealed that the purpose of this experiment was to understand how subways in the former USSR, Europe and South America might be targeted. 

      Sixteen years earlier, in 1950, the Pentagon reasoned that Soviet submarines could covertly enter an American harbour and release a cloud of deadly biological organisms.  San Francisco, home of the Pacific Fleet and the Sixth Army, seemed a likely target.  During September, 1950, two US Navy minesweepers patrolled the Golden Gate Bridge, spraying clouds of contaminated bacteria.  One of the bacteria, codenamed “8 UK,” had been developed at Britain’s top secret Porton Down CBW complex.  In all, there were six mock attacks on San Francisco, and scientists later estimated that 117 square miles had been contaminated.  The scientists concluded that almost all of the 800,000 residents would have been infected.  The US Army subsequently confessed, during a closed-door Senate hearing, that it has conducted 239 secret open-air tests in the United States - spread over a 20 year period.

      When the 1977 Biological Weapons Convention came into effect, chemical and biological warfare was outlawed as “repugnant to the conscience of mankind.”  The Convention was principally the result of US pressure.  Recognising the cost-effectiveness of CBW, the US were concerned that less developed nations could easily acquire them.  Non-Proliferation was the name of the game.  Experimentation and development, however, continued behind closed doors. 

      The fear today arises from Genetic Engineering.  In particular there are indications that “Gene Specific” genetic weapons are close on the horizon.  In testimony to the US House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, in 1986, Douglas J. Feith, deputy assistant secretary of defence for negotiations policy, revealed that “It is now possible to synthesize BW agents tailored to military specifications.  The technology that makes possible ‘designer drugs’ also makes possible ‘designer BW.’” 

      Michael Riconosciuto, a former CIA whizkid now serving time in Jail - on what many believe is a trumped up drugs charge -  claims first hand knowledge of covert US gene weapons developments.  In testimony given to the Federal Grand Jury in Chicago in 1991, Riconosciuto alleged that he could provide information about extremely sensitive military applications developed from highly advanced technology.  One of several alarming allegations centred on “Biotechnological Weapons.”  These, Riconosciuto claimed, were lethal monoclonal antibodies that are gene specific and are able to distinguish between racial characteristics.  Put simply, Biological Weapons could be released in a major US City that would annihilate, for example, all Afro-Asians, but not harm any other race or ethnic minority.

      In a 1994 US Army War College publication, authors Steven Metz and James Kievit discuss “biotechnical weapons” that violate the Biological Warfare Convention.  This includes, the authors state, “… a weapon designed to target only a specific racial or ethnic group.”  The authors continue “Could the government and military of this multi-ethnic republic face charges that it was developing or using a weapon targeting Africans, Jews Koreans, Hispanics etc.?  They continue that overcoming these inherent reservations would “require fundamental changes in the United States.”  These authors then argue that these “changes” could be engineered by modifying public opinion via “perception-molding,” “attitude-shaping” and other techniques that used “psychotechnologies.” 

      Since the days of Lt. General Shiro Ishii’s Unit 731, a lot of biological water has flowed under the proverbial bridge.  Today, the US government view proliferation in Biological weapons with great unease.  As the “poor man’s nuke,” CBW is an attractive and affordable option.  The fear is that “terrorists” will obtain these weapons and use them indiscriminately against dense population centres.  One such recent event caused apoplexy around the world.

      The Tokyo subway “Sarin” attack of March 1995, purportedly by members of the Aum Shinriyko sect, resulted in 12 fatalities.  Had the chemical mixture and dispersion system been slightly different, the death toll could have been in the tens of thousands.  We now know that the Aum Sect was dedicated to a cataclysmic confrontation with the west.  The Aum “armageddon,” was predicated upon the political ideology of Kanji Ishiwara (1889-1949).  Ishiwara believed that the final phase of a “Final World War” between Japan and America would occur around the year 2000. 

      Ishiwara, a major general in the Japanese army during WW11, was the military strategist who planned the Japanese invasion of Manchuria in the early 1930’s.  It was the same Ishiwara, whom Shiro Ishii - mastermind of Unit 731 - owed a debt of allegiance to.  After the war, Ishii’s biological weapons know-how ended up in the US arsenal.  As we have seen these weapons were almost certainly deployed in the Korean War.

      In 1991, Foreign Minister Shintaro Abe travelled to Moscow to sign an agreement to co-operate on Science and technology.  President Yeltsin’s crippled state wanted Japanese finance and were prepared, in exchange, to provide sophisticated weapons.  The Aum sect penetrated Russia’s defence industries with the aid of the Russian intelligence services.  They acquired, it is believed, sophisticated weapons and military training.  But there were other, more powerful, forces working behind Aum. 

 It is now doubtful that Aum Shinriyko were responsible for the Tokyo subway gassing.  Independent investigators believe that “a Japanese group and a foreign group” may have been responsible.  The aim of the gassing, it is alleged, was to discredit and disband Aum.  Both aims were achieved. .” At best, Aum Shinriyko were only ever meant to be a front for another more shadowy group.  Having grown uncontrollable they had to go.  It is the “other” Japanese group who - eclipsed behind Aum’s spectacular facade - are said to be continuing to wage the “Final War” to defeat the west.

      Soka Gakkai, a Buddhist sect with a worldwide membership of 15 million - and loads of loot to match - adhere to the teaching of a “Final Global War” that will annihilate the west.  outwardly pacifist, Sokkai Gakkai is a militarist sect that rigidly controls Japan’s Shinshinto political party.  They are known to covertly influence all sectors of Japanese business and government life.  The “foreign group” remains unknown for certain.  However, they are thought to be North Korea.

 History, it seems, may be destined to repeat itself?

 Gulf War Syndrome and Biological Warfare 

Declassified US documents paint a grim picture of CBW use in operation Desert Storm.  The 513th US Military Intelligence Brigade noted the use of Anthrax at King Khalid Military City, on 24 February 1991.  Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Incident logs - prepared for Gen. Norman Schwartzkoph - document dozens of chemical incidents over a 7 day period.  The logs were obtained through the US Freedom of Information Act.  Why do both the US and British governments deny the existence of Gulf War Syndrome?  Is it because of the military’s inability to adequately protect their troops?  Or has it resulted from major western corporations supplies of CBW pre-cursors to Iraq during the eighties?

 Key Dates of experiments on an unwitting US public 

1950:               US Navy sprays a cloud of bacteria over San Francisco 

1952-53:            US military release clouds of “harmless” gases over six US and Canadian cities. 

1955:               Tampa Bay, Florida, undergoes a bout of CIA inspired “Whooping Cough.”

Twelve deaths result. 

1956-58:            Swarms of Mosquitoes believed to be infected with Yellow Fever are released

in Georgia, and Florida.  Dozens fell ill, and some deaths recorded. 

1965:               Prisoners in Philadelphia, subjected to dioxin -  a key component in a defoliant

widely used in Vietnam. 

1966:               The New York subway “bacillus” experiment. 

1968-69:            CIA experiments with injecting poison into the water supply of a US

government building in Washington DC. 

1969-to date:            Experiments and developments of CBW agents continue in secrecy. 

 AIDS - the perfect weapon for population control? 

In July 1969, the US Army requested the US Congressional Appropriations Committee, to approve $10 million budget to develop a synthetic biological agent targeted at the human immune system.  Receiving approval, the programme anticipated a 5-10 year lead time.  By 1990, a quietly declassified National Security Memorandum (MSN 200), authored by Henry Kissinger, outlined the US administrations concern over Third World population.  The memorandum stated “Reduction of the population in these States (i.e. the Third World) is a matter of vital US national security.”  This has led some observers to conclude that AIDS may have been a covert biological warfare programme. 

 British CBW experiments on unwitting victims 

Scientists from Britain’s top secret Porton Down CBW facility joined forces with two medical doctors to participate in covert biological experiments.  Between 1960 and 1966, thirty three patients at St. Thomas’s Hospital - all diagnosed as terminal cancer cases - were infected with Langat Virus and Kyansur Forest Disease Virus.  All 33 patients died.  Two of them contracted encephalitis, an agonising condition resulting in inflammation and swelling in the brain.  Mirroring the US San Francisco experiment, British Royal Naval ships, in 1952, released bacteria clouds off the west coast of Scotland.  Far greater secrecy in Britain has ensured that these and similar biological tests remain largely eclipsed from public view.

 Could a Sarin attack happen in London? 

The short answer is yes.  Sarin, a deadly nerve gas, was first developed by Nazi scientists during WW11.  The formulae is, today, fairly widely known.  During the eighties, British, European and American manufacturers supplied Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, with CBW equipment and chemical precursors that resulted in the horrendous Halabja gassing.  The outcome was over five thousand fatalities.  The ease with which Japanese extremists acquired Sarin for use in Tokyo’s subway gassing can’t be ignored.  Carefully released into London’s underground system at peak travel times would result in disaster.  As we now know, such a catastrophe was only narrowly averted in Tokyo.


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