Captain's Quarters Blog

« Why al-Sadr Was Inevitable | Main | More Evidence of Economic Boom »

April 13, 2004
Autistic Man Possessed Ricin: FBI

The FBI arrested a man Friday for possession of ricin, one of the most deadly poisons known to man and one considered to be a likely agent for use in terrorist attacks:

Robert M. Alberg of Kirkland, Wash., was arrested at his apartment Friday and charged with one count of possession of a biological agent or toxin.

"It is enough that it could cause concern that it could harm someone -- could kill someone," FBI spokeswoman Roberta Burroughs told KING-TV on Monday.

Alberg was held pending a hearing Thursday in U.S. District Court. He is described in court documents as having autism, a developmental disorder featuring a spectrum of symptoms including impairments in communication and repetitive behaviors such as finger tapping or head banging.

Federal criminal justice sources told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer they do not believe Alberg had political motivations for making the ricin and had no plans to use it.

Alberg first came under suspicion when he ordered five pounds of castor seeds, the base ingredient of ricin. The company alerted the FBI of the unusually large purchase, and their investigation led to his arrest. No one seems to understand why an autistic man with no apparant connection to terrorist or radical groups suddenly decided to manufacture ricin; the FBI dismisses political motives, at least for now.

However, if nothing else, this demonstrates the threat reporting with which the FBI deals with on a daily basis. They receive an enormous amount of intelligence every day, foreign and domestic, and not all of it relates to Islamofascist terror or even terror in general. Sometimes their investigations reveal nothing unusual, or in this case, something very unusual, and even threatening, but not in a national-security sense. These threats all get reported up the chain, where decisions have to be made which threats get the most focus -- and those which are uncorroborated and seemingly far-fetched will inevitably get lower priority as valuable resources are directed at more pressing and realistic threats.

Think about this when you re-read that PDB from August 6, 2001.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at April 13, 2004 7:35 AM

Trackback Pings

TrackBack URL for this entry is

Design & Skinning by:
m2 web studios

blog advertising


Proud Ex-Pat Member of the Bear Flag League!