Smooth Operators: Bootleg Botox Could Become Tool For TerrorismS

Is our global Botox addiction contributing to terrorism? The Washington Post weighs in on the link between mass destruction and beauty-industrial complex injectibles.

"It is the only profit-making venture for terrorists that can also potentially yield a weapon of mass destruction," said Kenneth Coleman, a physician and biodefense expert.

The cosmetic chemical, injected in foreheads and crow's feet all over the first world, is a different variety than the one causing alarm in national security circles. Commerical Botox is an extremely weakened form of the toxin - the high cost and low dosage make it of little interest to extremist groups.

However, if groups like al Qaeda were to start manufacturing Botox (which requires access to the undiluted substance), it would be another case entirely. And the idea of leveraging full strength botulism as a weapon is not a new idea. As the Post reminds us:

So lethal is the undiluted toxin that at least three countries — the United States, the then-intact Soviet Union and Iraq — explored its possible use as a possible biological or chemical weapon. All three gave up on the idea, partly because botulinum toxin degrades quickly when exposed to heat, making it poorly suited for delivery by missile or bomb.

But even outside of weaponry, the sale of faux-tox could prove lucrative - the article does not provide an estimate on the global market for counterfeit pharmaceuticals, but notes that women in Russia, China, and the United States have fallen for promises of cheaper treatments. Considering that the US alone spent more than $337 million on Botox in 2009, diverting even a fraction of that sum could finance all kinds of new initiatives...like recruiting and training female suicide bombers.

Officials fear toxic ingredient in Botox could become terrorist tool [Washington Post]
Al-Qaeda has trained female suicide bombers to attack West, US officials warn [Telegraph]
Alert: Female Suicide Bombers May Be Heading Here From Yemen [ABC News]