Left Outside

Does Patrick Mercer think the Taliban’s HIV bombs will work?

There’s something fishy about this story. In case you haven’t heard and the above title is confusing you, let me fill you in.

What?

Reported in The Sun this morning, and everywhere else this afternoon as the world’s churnalists fell on the story, was an interesting development from Helmand Province (Hat Tip Septicisle at The Sun Lies).

The Taliban are reportedly placing HIV infected needles atop their improvised explosive devices. These are reported to become “deadly flying shrapnel” once the bombs go off, spreading HIV.

Who?

Patrick Mercer is the man  “that continued to work with the discredited Glen Jenvey for 2 months after he had sold the “TERROR TARGET SUGAR” story to the paper, a report which he had entirely concocted himself after posting on the Ummah.com web forum.”

He is allegedly an authority on terrorism but his conduct, as documented by Tim Ireland et al., has been less than recommendatory.

How?

The statistics on the prevalence of HIV in Afghanistan are sparse to say the least. However, as long ago as 2005 reports were warning that the country was increasing danger of widespread infections.

As one of the world’s premier poppy growing, opium producing and heroin refining sites, Afghanistan has a significant intravenous drug problem. This problem and the countries poverty have led to an outbreak of HIV which this Lancet paper discusses in more detail.

The Taliban are presumably acquiring these needles and using them in bombs.

Why?

This is the important question. Why? Not necessarily why Patrick Mercer was passed this information but why this information ended up reported as it has been.

There is almost zero chance of these bombs “working” in the manner implied. There is a large chance of these bombs killing someone because IEDs have a horrific record in Afghanistan, but the chance of someone contracting HIV is negligible.

HIV is scary, but the HIV virus it dreadful at surviving outside of the body. If you leave some HIV containing fluid on a table and it dries, the virus dies in the time it takes to dry. Of course do the same with fluid in a hypodermic needle and it takes a  little longer, as the needle prevents evaporation, but we are still talking less than a few days. In the arid heat of Afghanistan less still.

If that wasn’t enough, this fragile virus has to undergo the tremendous force and heat of an explosive that can punch through armoured vehicles.

The danger to soldiers seems utterly minimal; the logistics of assembling  these devices mean they will be rare; the biology of the virus means they will be ineffective. The Taliban are troglodytes, but not in the metaphorical sense of being uneducated, many of them know everything describes thus far; if these bombs exist, they know they won’t work.

So, why publicise this story?

The sole effect seems to be to imbibe the Taliban with an even more satanic glow and to terrorise and demoralise our troops. The sole strategic advantage of this weapon is as a method of intimidation, the battle field advantage gained is as negligible as either these bombs existing or for them actually working.

Patrick Mercer has scored a fantastic propaganda coup for the Taliban and a tremendous ego boost for himself. I hope he pats himself on the back tonight for a job well done.

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Filed under: Foreign Affairs, The Media

7 Responses - Comments are closed.

  1. sadbutmadlad says:

    I was thinking just the same thing. Total propaganda, not a single item of truth in it.

  2. Patrick Mercer is a fucking scumbag.

  3. Philip Nolan says:

    Mercer denies he was a member of the notorious FRU (judge, jury and executioner) in Northern Ireland. The FRU recruited and handled agents from a secure base within the Intelligence Corps centre at Thiepval barracks. Mercer was stationed at Thiepval barracks and worked in plain clothes.

    Propaganda seems to be something Mercer knows all about like his scaremongering about Pakistan nukes falling into the hands of our enemies– highly improbable. Exploding underpants and the like dramatised and used in a way to cause fear and apprehension. We all know in all probability bin Laden been dead a long time but perhaps continues to be a tool to fan the sparks of war and fear for the likes of Mercer.

    I regard Mercer to be a scaremonger and a warmonger. Mercer wrote, we should all have unlimited access to the thoughts of others, having unethically silenced his own constituent and according to Dr Campbell during the recent election intimidated and browbeaten people into keeping their mouth shut.

    Are there no depths to which some politicians will stoop? “Réalité-EU was at one time linked to the former Shadow Security Minister Patrick Mercer, raising further concerns about the Conservative MP’s links to individuals and groups involved in exaggerating and even fabricating domestic and international threats for personal and political ends.”

    http://www.campaigniran.org/casmii/index.php?q=node/9037

  4. davidhenrysalford says:

    It’s a really crap idea, they’d have more luck using a more contagious pathogen. HIV isn’t that scary – it’s the stigma, and irrational fear which they are playing upon. I’m surprised they haven’t got Riccin or something.

  5. [...] no intel, nothing” on Patrick Mercer’s claims of the Taliban’s HIV Bombs I wrote last week on Patrick Mercer’s bizarre claims that the Taliban were using HIV infected needles as booby [...]

  6. Pierre F. Lherisson says:

    This story sound fishy and stupid at best. Probably the reverse seem to be more likely.
    In the battle field, you want to incapacitate the adversary as quickly as possible;effective results expectancy are measured in seconds not in years.

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