Israeli Anthrax Developer Resigns

Avigdor Shafferman The Anthrax Letters: A Medical Detective Story

the magicians could not stand before Moses because of the boilsExodus 9:11



Dr. Avigdor Shafferman, Director of the Israel Institute for Biological Research (IIBR) since 1995, resigned on April 4, 2013. He sent a letter to the institute workers in which he explained: “In the last two years, the institute development tendencies changed. In 2013, I was forced to reduce the budget in over 4%, including the firing of workers. Two weeks ago, we were asked to prepare ourselves to another reduction in the budget, which will have deep repercussions. I cannot be part of this.” The real reason for the unprecedented step was different.
Shafferman has a PhD in Physical Chemistry (not Chemical Physics) from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. He joined the IIB in 1983, establishing the Molecular Genetics Department there. Later on, he became Head of the Biology Directorate, Manager of Scientific Research, and finally Director of the Institute. IIBR has approximately 350 workers, 150 of them scientists; a large part of it is owned by Japanese pharmaceutical companies.
IIBR and Weapons
One of the IIBR strongest fields is the development of nerve toxins. On 4 October 1992, El Al Flight 1862, a Boeing 747 cargo plane crashed into the Groeneveen and Klein-Kruitberg flats in the Bijlmermeer neighborhood of Amsterdam. Many people died and were injured. The cargo included over 280 kilograms of depleted uranium, used for certain types of missiles, and 190 liters of dimethyl methylphosphonate, which is used in the synthesis of Sarin nerve gas. The owner of the latter was the IIB. The IDF possesses weapons containing Sarin.
On September 25, 1997, Khaled Mashal, a prominent leader of the Hamas, was the target of an assassination attempt carried out by the Israeli Mossad under orders of the Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who at this occasion became a proven bio-terrorist. Two Mossad agents carrying Canadian passports entered Jordan and injected Mashal with an unknown nerve toxin. A few days later, Netanyahu surrendered to international pressure and provided the antidote. Toxin and antidote were developed at the IIB.
Shafferman has a different field of expertise: anthrax. How can a physical chemist become an expert on a biological weapon? The point is simple, the infection with anthrax is not a biological problem. The disease is caused by bacillus anthracis, a bacteria that can form dormant endospores capable to survive in harsh conditions for centuries. The problem in its transformation into a weapon belongs to a field known as “surface treatment;” physical chemistry is the relevant discipline. The terrorist-scientist task is to make the weapon safe enough to be transported while assuring its proper dispersion and activity. In other words, the 2001 anthrax attacks on the USA were unlikely to be prepared by terrorists. A government was behind them.
                                                       Protests at IIB Entrance, January 2013 Anthrax Terrorism
IIBR Develops Anthrax
Israel has a horrific history of non-consensual experiments on humans, which cross the line of criminal practices (see Israel’s Eugenics Program: Dr. Mengele Blues and State of Israel Forced the Sterilization of Ethiopian Women). For its anthrax program, the State of Israel used unaware IDF soldiers.
Between 1998 and 2006, the IIBR ran together with the IDF Medical Corps a terror-experiment called Omer Two (chillingly, “omer” means “harvest”). 716 soldiers were infected with anthrax and given untested vaccines. Over 200 of them complained of multi-symptom illnesses allegedly associated with the vaccine. The Defense Ministry denied them disability benefits. In court, it was disclosed that they haven’t been told the details of the experiment they have been lured into. The High Court forced Dr Shafferman to disclose this neo-Nazi horror.

                                                Former US Secretary of State Colin Powell showing an anthrax vial

Israeli Bio-Terrorism
IIBR is an unusual institution. It is under the direct jurisdiction of the Prime Minister’s Office and under the close watch of the Director of Security of the Defense Establishment (DSDE, known as Malmab in Hebrew) in the Ministry of Defense. It is classified “Top Secret.” Thus, it is the target of espionage efforts. Former IIBR Deputy Director Abraham Marcus (Marek) Klingberg was detained in 1983 for spying for the Soviet Union; interestingly, before that he passed lie detector tests. Yet, he got medals from Mother Russia. Shafferman has a similar history, although he is not defined as a “spy.”
In 2007, an investigation against him was opened by the DSDE. In his academic roles, Shafferman reached universities in the USA and Canada. He created contacts with two companies related to anthrax research, PharmAthene and Nexia Biotechnologies. He became scientific consultant of both companies. Shafferman is not loved by the IIBR workers, who referred to him as the “Dictator-Director.” In August 2012, he named Adi Keren, head of the IIBR workers union, “Goebbels,” after the Nazi propaganda Minister and caused mayhem. This was the public peak of an ongoing conflict. His workers had complained anonymously about Shafferman’s secret consultancy job with the North-American companies. The companies even gave Shafferman options on their shares. The DSDE defined Shafferman actions as having “contradicting interests.” In other words, Shafferman benefitted by unofficially selling the IIBR secrets. In 2005, Canadian Nexia sold one of its divisions to American PharmAthene, and formally mentioned Shafferman as part of its scientific board. He couldn’t deny.
This was far more sensitive than the Klinberg Affair. This time, the IIBR Director was involved in the transfer of bio-terror technologies that Israel is not supposed to have or to work on. The DSDE gave him a slow death-kiss. The IIBR workers union publicly protested against him (see picture above); this is unthinkable unless they knew that the DSDE won’t oppose. Moreover, he was limited in his capability to solve the inner problems. By reducing the institution budget, the State assured he won’t solve the apparent labor conflict. On April 4, he renounced. The State of Israel won’t renounce to its Bio-Terrorist Weapons of Mass Destruction; there are by far more solid proofs of Israel possessing WMD than there were against Iraq. Will the USA attack Israel as it did Iraq?


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Roi Tov is a graduate—among others—of Tel Aviv University and the Weizmann Institute of Science. In addition to his memoir, Tov is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Molecular Physics and other scientific journals. He won various travel writing and photography awards. In his writings, he tries to reveal life in Israel as a Christian Israel Defense Force (IDF) officer—from human rights violations to the use of an extensive network of underground agents. He was recognized first as a refugee and subsequently as political prisoner of Bolivia.