Video: HIV Positive Bombers?
updated 1/10/2006 12:58:04 PM ET 2006-01-10T17:58:04

It is clear that al Qaeda is crafty and it is evil but would its members really use HIV infected people to carry out suicide missions?  And if they did, would the suicide attacks be that much more deadly?

MSNBC analyst and terrorism expert, Juliette Kayyem who teaches public policy at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government joined Tucker Carlson on Monday’s ‘Situation’ to examine the possibility of this newest type of threat.

To read an excerpt from their conversation, continue to the text below. To watch the video, click on the "Launch" button to the right.

TUCKER CARLSON, HOST, ‘SITUATION’:  What do we know about the idea that al Qaeda would be recruiting people infected with the AIDS virus to become suicide bombers? 

JULIETTE KAYYEM, HARVARD'S KENNEDY SCHOOL OF GOVERNMENT:  Well, the British seem to be taking it pretty seriously right now.  The reports that we're seeing are that the British have alerted their troops in Iraq that there's a growing concern that al Qaeda is going to be using HIV-infected suicide bombers. 

So the suicide bomber would walk in, blow up.  The blood would then get dispersed and then thereby sort of infect anyone who came to help, who was investigating the terrorist attack or whoever else. 

We see this in a number of terrorist cases, not with HIV but where they go after the first responders or the military, the people who are on the second wave, helping clean up. 

The U.S. hasn't said much about this yet, but the British are at least advising their troops to wear certain gear after suicide attacks and to protect themselves.  It's a form of, you know, radiological terrorism, except using blood, in the hopes that they infect people anywhere from, I think, you can imagine, anywhere from 10 feet to 200 feet from the suicide bomber. 

CARLSON:  Because a suicide bomber becomes part of the bomb, of course, when he explodes.  We know that in Israel at least one victim of a suicide bombing there contracted hepatitis from bone fragments of the suicide bomber himself.  It's disgusting. 

We spoke to another terrorism analyst today who said he didn't know whether this was true or not, but that he suspected that al Qaeda, because of course, it's comprised of religious zealots, Islamic extremists, would have trouble admitting such a thing as AIDS existed, because of the cultural taboos against homosexuality and drug use. 

KAYYEM:  I think that's exactly right.  So that's why this story is sort of funny, because there's not a lot of play about it.  Who exactly are these recruits?

On the other hand, you know, al Qaeda is trying to recruit people all the time who are going to kill themselves in the name of Islamic jihadist movement.  People who are on their deathbed or people who think that they're going to die may be more susceptible to the kind of influence, if they're told that they're going to go to heaven and then meet all sorts of people up in heaven, to actually perform suicide bombings. 

So this may be a new recruitment mechanism by terrorist organizations to get people who are already infected and some of them maybe fatally infected. 

Now that we're seeing the recruitment of al Qaeda in places like Africa, where AIDS and HIV are quite strong, in Asia and in Latin America, the idea that they're recruiting people who might have HIV and AIDS is not illogical.  I mean, they're going to third-world countries where they don't get the kind of treatment that you do here or even in Europe.  And so it's not out of, you know, normal discussion here about what they're trying to do.  And of course, trying to get people infected so that there's a, you know, sort of long history of them and the suicide attack. 

CARLSON:  Right.  Sure.  And of course, Islamic extremism is prevalent in prisons in Europe.

KAYYEM:  Right.

CARLSON:  And in all prisons, of course, HIV rates are higher than they are virtually anywhere else on the globe. 

Do you think, finally, it's possible, though, that this is one of those rumors that, by itself, is a form of terror?  It's so horrifying the idea that a suicide bomber's body parts, infected with HIV, would be flying around him in this radius, infecting everyone else with HIV.  That's so horrible.

KAYYEM:  Right.

CARLSON:  Do you think it's possible this is just disinformation spread by al Qaeda?

KAYYEM:  It could very well be, because the result would be that the support team or the sort of second wave or first responders or military or whoever else are going to help people who may be victimized by a suicide attack will stall or will wait or will not go in, as they might have, for fear of the blood that's surrounding the crime scene. 

CARLSON:  Right.

KAYYEM:  And that's a success, because if you let people die, or if you don't get them immediate treatment, that's a success according to a terrorist group. 

So I would not be surprised if this is just a lot of rumor going on in Iraq.  The fact that the British have picked up on it and the British media have picked up on it and are actually responding to it suggests how, I think, you know, things are in Iraq now, that the concern is that you really can't control the kind of terrorist attacks that are going on now and that this is the realm of possible right now. 

CARLSON:  It's just absolutely horrifying.  With al Qaeda, you really get the feeling that it's a group of people sitting around, trying to come up with the most anti-human things they possibly can and succeeding. 

Watch 'The Situation with Tucker Carlson' each weeknight at 11 p.m. ET

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