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November 17, 2004
Marines Find Sarin In Fallujah

Big Trunk at Power Line points readers to a slideshow on USA Today's website that reveals a disturbing find in the soon-to-be former terrorist stronghold in the Sunni Triangle. The second image presented is this:

The caption on this photograph reads: "Marines discover 40 vials of suspected Sarin gas while searching a house in Fallujah, Iraq. It was secreted in a briefcase hidden in a trunk in the courtyard of the house. Two mortar tubes, three mortar rockets, compass and fire maps were also found."

So here we have the WMD for which we sought, hidden in Fallujah either by foreign al-Qaeda terrorists or, more likely, remnants of the Saddam Hussein regime that knew where to get them. I'm no expert, but I think that 40 vials of this chemical could ruin the day for thousands of Iraqis, American troops, or people anywhere in the world that the terrorists could reach. This picture appears to answer George Bush's critics, and it shows that a lot more of this material is still probably floating around in Iraq. It demonstrates the critical necessity to reduce all of the "insurgent" strongholds as quickly as possible, before someone gets the chance to use it.

As Trunk notes, check out the German and Russian labeling on the sarin packaging. Why do we still concern ourselves over whether they approved of deposing Saddam Hussein?

UPDATE: Please make sure you check out the picture at USA Today, where the label is clearer. The labels do not say 'ANTIDOTE', nor is it packaged the way an antidote would be. Antidotes to chemical weapons are typically stored in syringes, ready to use instantly.

UPDATE II: CQ reader khr128 says that these are indicator tubes, a test for the presence of sarin and not a delivery mechanism for sarin itself. Could be -- I'm not familiar enough with delivery mechanisms to say, although the USA Today report makes a clear statement that these are sarin gas tubes. I'd question why anyone needs 40 indicator tubes at a time ...

UPDATE III: CQ reader Peyton Randolph provides more info. I'm updating the post rather than just leaving this in the comments:

Those are marked as samples of soman, sarin and V- agents, the three main sorts of nerve gas. The Russian matches the English label, "For operating instructions..." and the German seems to be "Handle with Care." (yeah, no kidding. Like warnings on Hotpockets that the contents will be hot after microwaving.) There's an obscured date on the lower right of the Russian label - "Okt 1..." A "born-on" date? A "serve by" date? (A clever lieutenant-colonel just translated the German next to the date for me as "Good until..., so these are beyond their expected shelf-life. Probably not safe to stir into your coffee, though.)

Considering the labeling, I doubt that these are Iraqi nerve agents. If not, though, then why are Russian chemical weapons being found in Iraq? Or, are they German? (Ruh, roh!) What could be the designed purpose of such a kit? Surely not, "Give these a try, and see if you like them." Possibly live-agent training for chemical warfare personnel, but why the variety?

I don't think that this is the "look at what Sadaam did!" smoking gun that we'd like, but it's not a good thing to find in the enemy's hands, either.

We've got some pretty smart readers here at CQ...

UPDATE IV: Even more smart readers in comments now pretty much agree that these are testers of one sort or another, probably dating back into the 80s, and not deployable sarin. As Peyton said, it does get one wondering why they felt the need to retain these testers.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at November 17, 2004 12:35 PM

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Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Marines Find Sarin In Fallujah:

» Sarin Gas in Fallujah from Coyote Blog
This is not a huge surprise, but it is still bad news. [Read More]

Tracked on November 17, 2004 1:17 PM

» Sarin in Fallujah? from Ed
Check out the photograph and description over at Power Line, and then check out Captain Ed for his thoughts. For more fun chemical warfare thoughts, PoliPundit has an interesting connect-the-dots theory regarding the anthrax scare from shortly--very sh... [Read More]

Tracked on November 17, 2004 2:26 PM

» Possible Sarin Find in Fallujah? from Hyscience
Disclaimer in behalf of the blogosphere: the implication presented in the image is that this might be Sarin gas. But one must be careful here - this is not confirmed, the "document could be a forgery (the vials might be something other than what appear... [Read More]

Tracked on November 17, 2004 2:53 PM

» Forty Vials Of Sarin Found In Fallujah? from Diggers Realm
Some stories going around about possible Sarin vials found in Fallujah. The Second picture in this USA Today slideshow seems to show Sarin related material. There's more information at Power Line, Captain's Quarters, INDC , , , -->... [Read More]

Tracked on November 17, 2004 2:55 PM

» More Fallujah Sarin Vials from CALIFORNIA YANKEE
Last Friday I posted about the discovery of a case filled with vials labeled sarin: In the course of locating seven weapons caches in a single block around a mosque in northeast Fallujah, an Iraqi platoon Wednesday found a suitcase [Read More]

Tracked on November 17, 2004 3:07 PM

» A quick look at combat... from Milblog
BTW, the vials in Picture 2 are, to my thinking, almost certainly tester tubes from a test kit to detect the various V-gasses. (An explanation of such a kit and how it works is here...) and there's been quite a... [Read More]

Tracked on November 17, 2004 3:20 PM

» Sarin Gas or Sarin Gas Kit? Not Sure Yet from Hyscience
Continuing with the previous story on the possibility of sarin gas being found in Fallujah by our Marines, a story which is being closely followed up on at Powerline and Captain Quarters, let's take a look at the following two images, one is the new on... [Read More]

Tracked on November 17, 2004 3:52 PM

» Sarin Gas in Fallujah? from Coyote Blog
See Update Below This is not a huge surprise, but it is still bad news. [Read More]

Tracked on November 17, 2004 5:03 PM

» WMD Found In Iraq from Opinion Times
The news media can find evidence that a Marine shot a dead Iraqi militant and blasts it all over the news. But some pictures of WMD show up on the USA Today website, and not a word in broadcast airtime. Thank goodness for the blogsphere. Kudos Cap... [Read More]

Tracked on November 17, 2004 10:30 PM

» WMD? from Speed of Thought...
... [Read More]

Tracked on November 17, 2004 11:21 PM

» Sarin Gas in Fallujah? from Coyote Blog
See Updates Below -- Update #1: Sarin test kits, most probably. Update #2: MSM still waddling along, left in the dust by blogs This is not a huge surprise, but it is still bad news. [Read More]

Tracked on November 17, 2004 11:44 PM

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