Laptop of Death, 2.0

The Greater US War to Remake the Middle East has been going on so long, it is already re-running its story lines.

Back in 2004, when Dick Cheney was trying to drum up a hot war against Iran, the CIA got dealt a laptop that provided a casus belli all wrapped up in a bow: all aspects of Iran’s nuke program, all conveniently collected on one laptop, somehow falling into intelligence hands. It later showed signs of being a forgery.

Now, as the warmakers are trying to gin up a hot war against ISIS (in seeming co-belligerence with Iran!), that’s whose laptop we find, courtesy of Foreign Policy: a Tunisian named Muhammed whose last name and picture Foreign Policy declined to provide. On the laptop, FP found a 19-page document that explains how to “weaponize” bubonic plague by throwing it on grenades close to air conditioning units.

“Use small grenades with the virus, and throw them in closed areas like metros, soccer stadiums, or entertainment centers,” the 19-page document on biological weapons advises. “Best to do it next to the air-conditioning. It also can be used during suicide operations.”

Because a college science student only needs 19 pages to accomplish the technical feat of weaponizing the plague.

Remarkably, a lot of people are taking this as a serious discovery, even though FP describes obtaining the laptop this way:

Abu Ali, a commander of a moderate Syrian rebel group in northern Syria, proudly shows a black laptop partly covered in dust. “We took it this year from an ISIS hideout,” he says.

Abu Ali says the fighters from the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), which have since rebranded themselves as the Islamic State, all fled before he and his men attacked the building. The attack occurred in January in a village in the Syrian province of Idlib, close to the border with Turkey, as part of a larger anti-ISIS offensive occurring at the time. “We found the laptop and the power cord in a room,” he continued, “I took it with me. But I have no clue if it still works or if it contains anything interesting.”

As we switched on the Dell laptop, it indeed still worked. Nor was it password-protected.

We are supposed to believe that 1) ISIS got routed back in January 2) left their laptop 3) don’t password protect their devices.

More amusingly, we’re supposed to believe that upon capturing devices from an adversary, the “moderate” beheaders in the FSA would not look for intelligence on those devices. Instead, they’d let a computer collect dust over the course of 8 months, never once attempting to so much as turn on a laptop, until such time as it became imperative to foster opposition to ISIS.

Because powering a laptop is apparently too hard for FSA commanders?

Either Abu Ali is lying, or he’s lying. Which means the provenance of this laptop and this story is so suspect it should not be treated seriously. There are plenty of other reasons to doubt the story. But if your source claims never to have turned on a laptop — never to have even tried! — seized from an adversary over the course of 8 months, your source is not telling the truth.

12 replies
  1. ArizonaBumblebeeper says:

    I think the key phrase from the FP article you excerpted is “a commander of a moderate Syrian rebel group in northern Syria”. Once again we are introduced to another member of the almost mythical “moderate Syrian rebels”. No doubt whoever is behind this elaborate psyops mission in the American government is hoping to gull us into believing that ISIS is totally evil but our moderate Syrian rebels, the good guys, are there to help us save the day. Apparently FP is so gullible that is allowed itself to be snared by this elaborate ploy.

  2. bloopie2 says:

    Can we indict Dell for supplying material aid to the enemy? Or should we rewrite our technology export control laws to prohibit computer shipments outside our borders? That’ll stop ’em. Or maybe a few more bombs.

  3. orionATL says:

    let’s see now,

    – how would one get a hold of bubonic plague? grind up bodies buried in 13/1400’s in in catacombs in syria/turkey/iraq.

    – using plague spores would be an excellent way to get rid of a million refugees in camps, but not so effective without crowded conditions.

    – to find out more about deadly effective terrorism schemes like this one, give former nytimes reporter james risen a call. hurry though, he’s about to be locked up incommunicado by our gov.

    • orionATL says:

      did you hear that isis had dirty nuclear bombs ready to be delivered in the back of pick-ups?

      me neither, but reports about this new wmd will surface soon.

      stay tuned.

      • bloopie2 says:

        If ISIL is smart it will dump one of those out by the new NSA place in Utah, keep the spooks out of business for 50 years or so.

    • P J Evans says:

      grind up bodies buried in 13/1400′s in in catacombs in syria/turkey/iraq

      Easier to catch a bunch of rodents, to which it’s endemic, and create your own version.

  4. Jim White says:


    It just occurred to me that it’s astounding this laptop didn’t have directions on how to unleash a massive Ebola outbreak and make it look natural.

  5. Dan says:

    That sure is some mighty fine English those ISIS guys are using. How about asking Dell where that laptop was shipped to?

  6. albatross says:

    This is a small nitpick, but plague isn’t a virus, it’s bacterial. Just as a suggestion, if your instructions on how to weaponize something are written by someone who gets that basic a fact wrong, you may want to be a little bit careful about trusting them to get the other details right. (Though in truth, random jihadis developing bioweapons in their mom’s basement from directions downloaded from the internet have about a 99.9% chance of never getting anything to grow and a very small chance of making themselves sick while never affecting much of anyone else.)

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