'Al-Qaida planned to poison US hotel buffets, salad bars'

Report: US Dept. of Homeland Security uncovers plot to slip cyanide into food by group who tried to bomb UPS plane earlier this year.

buffet 311 (photo credit: stock photo)
buffet 311
(photo credit: stock photo)
The US Department of Homeland Security discovered an al-Qaida plot to poison buffets and salad bars at American hotels and restaurants over a single weekend, CBS reported on Monday.
A Homeland Security source called the threat "credible," and Department of Agriculture and FDA officials reportedly briefed security officers from the hotel and restaurant industries.
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The same al-Qaida-affiliated terror group that attempted to bomb cargo planes in October was reportedly behind the plan to slip two poisons, ricin and cyanide, into salad bars and buffets.
The poison attacks are part of what al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula called "Operation Hemorrhage," which consists of "attacking the enemy with smaller but more frequent operations" to "add a heavy economic burden to an already faltering economy." October's attacks on UPS planes headed for the US were also part of the operation.
The terror group's websites feature manuals and videos explaining how to make both poisons.
Dr. Susan Ford, a professor of pharmaceutical sciences, told CBS that such an attack "would look very much like food poisoning," but only 250 mg of sodium cyanide is a "fatal dose."
Department of Security spokesman Sean Smith said to CBS: "We are not going to comment on reports of specific terrorist planning. However, the counterterrorism and homeland security communities have engaged in extensive efforts for many years to guard against all types of terrorist attacks, including unconventional attacks using chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear materials. Indeed, Al-Qaida has publicly stated its intention to try to carry out unconventional attacks for well over a decade, and AQAP propaganda in the past year has made similar reference.
"Finally, we get reports about the different kinds of attacks terrorists would like to carry out that frequently are beyond their assessed capability."