11.12.2014 Author: Vladimir Platov

Project Coast: Who’s Behind the Recent Ebola Outbreak?

43242388The report issued by the World Health Organization states that the current Ebola outbreak in West Africa is the largest and most complex since the detection of the virus in 1976. This outbreak has reached an all time high in both the number infected with the virus and those deceased from it than in all the previous outbreaks combined. The outbreak started in March 2014 in Guinea and it soon jumped across the border to Sierra Leone and Liberia, and then the infected brought the virus via air and land transport to Nigeria and Senegal. But this time around, the virus was not simply spreading across Africa, but it had managed to reach other continents.

However, if one is to study the facts carefully, then a question arises: how is it that a virus that was first identified in 1976 “suddenly” became so active and able to spread across the African continent and beyond?

To get an answer one must study the history of US secret experiments in this area, although Washington strives to hide it from public attention.

As follows from leaked files and a number of media publications, the Ebola virus had been extensively studied back in 1980 in South Africa as a potential biological weapon. This project that goes under the codename Project Coast was launched by Dr. Wouter Basson, also known as “Dr. Death”, who practiced medicine in South Africa during apartheid times and was a personal physician to Pieter Willem Botha, who was the sitting prime minister of South Africa at that time. The project aimed at creating biological and chemical weapons, which were to destroy or sterilize the black population, bringing death to all the political opponents of apartheid.

In principle, the idea behind Project Coast, is not new. As reported in a recent publication of The Age magazine, an Australian microbiologist and Nobel laureate Sir Frank Macfarlane Burnet urged the Australian government to develop biological weapons against “over-populated countries of Southeast Asia” in 1947. During a secret meeting in 1947 with The New Weapons and Equipment Development Committee microbiologists recommended “to form a research group tasked to create biological weapons that could be unleashed by contaminating foods supplies in order to control the population of Indonesia and other Asian countries.”

Among the components for the new biological weapons developed under Project Coast, the United States picked Marburg and Ebola fever viruses whose strains were shipped to a secret laboratory in South Africa. A report titled “The Rollback of South Africa’s Chemical and Biological Warfare Program,” that was published in 2001 by Dr. Stephen F. Burgess, a professor of the Department of International Security Studies, US Air War College, and Helen E. Purkitt, a professor of international relations at the U.S. Naval Academy, states that back in 1984, the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) shipped eight tubes with Ebola and Marburg strains to South Africa. These authors behind the report claim that not only were the CIA and MI6 informed about Project Coast, but the Bush administration and Margaret Thatcher were as well.

Bioweapons expert Jeanne Guillemin wrote in her book “Biological Weapons: From the Invention of State-Sponsored Programs to Contemporary Bioterrorism,” that “the project‘s growth years were from 1982 to 1987, when it developed a range of biological agents (such as those for anthrax, cholera, and the Marburg and Ebola viruses and for botulism toxin)…“

The history of Basson’s project is surrounded by profound mystery. As he himself stated in front of the Supreme Court of Appeal: “CIA agents in Pretoria threatened me with death in two steps from the US embassy entrance on Schoeman Street, they demanded me to keep the details of our studies a secret.” According to an article published in 2001 in New Yorker, the US Embassy in Pretoria was fairly terrified by the prospect that Basson could reveal the role Washington played in Project Coast.

In 2013, Basson, dubbed “Doctor Death” by the South African media, was found guilty of unprofessional conduct by the Health Professions Council of South Africa.

As for the actual prosecution of “Doctor Death”, in 2002, after thirty months of trial, when a total of 150 witnesses were heard and 40,000 documents were presented to the court that proved Wouter Basson was involved in numerous cases of poisoning and flat-out slaughter during the apartheid era, as while being connected to the deaths of more than 2,000 South Africans, the the Supreme Court of Appeal failed to find any offense in his actions.

Biological weapons program led by Doctor Basson saw its end in 1994, but no independent verification of the actual destruction of pathogenic strains has ever been provided. A direct order to destroy all strains was issued directly to Dr. Basson, but according to the Wall Street Journal, the actual destruction of virus strains depended solely on his honesty.

Basson pointed out that he had contacts with a number of Western agencies that were providing “moral and other forms of support” to Project Coast. In particular, in an interview for the documentary “Anthrax War,” Basson repeatedly claimed that he met Dr. David Kelly, the prominent UN weapons inspector that visited Iraq (Kelly was a high level UK expert on biological weapons).

Some may find it suspicious that once the investigation of the Project Coast began Dr. David Kelly was found dead near his house in Oxfordshire in 2003. As for the causes of death, the official version put forward by the British authorities states that Kelly committed suicide. However, medical experts had serious doubts about this fact. In addition, a Mail Online article published in 2007 specified that a week before his death Dr. Kelly was to be questioned by MI5 concerning his ties with Dr. Basson due to the rise of public discontent of the criminal nature of Project Coast and the degree of British involvement in it.

The suspicions about the connection of the latest Ebola outbreak in Africa and the “research work” that “Doctor Death” carried out in South Africa were expressed by the Ghana Times newspaper in September. Earlier, a similar statement was made by Zimbabwe’s Minister of Health Dr. Timothy Stamps, when he underlined that Zimbabwe became the target of biological weapons tests that had been developed by Wouter Basson.

The Commission that was studying the crimes committed in South Africa in the 1970s and 1980s, led by Nobel Laureate Desmond Tutu, confirmed that more than a thousand people were killed during the apartheid era in South Africa, not only as a result of arrests, torture and assassinations but also by biological weapons tests.

It should be noted that the leakage of harmful strains studied in secret laboratories that operated under the direct control of Washington in different countries has already become a pattern. In June more than 80 scientists and regular employees were exposed to anthrax in a secret biological laboratory in Atlanta US, due to carelessness. This accident has not simply presented a threat to their health and lives, but could potentially trigger an epidemic of this extremely dangerous disease. Similar incidents are occurring in other countries where secret Pentagon and US intelligence laboratories are trying to develop new types of biological weapons in violation of the “Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on their Destruction” that was signed back in 1972 only to enable Washington to establish its own “control” over microbiological studies .

The troubling fact is that the number of such biological laboratories has been increasing for years. Back in 2006 their number reached 400 laboratories which were designed to facilitate the “war on terror”, Washington is actively redeploying such research laboratories to third-world countries where there’s a possibility to study the effectiveness of viruses aimed at different animals and local populations. In case of a possible military confrontation in a region, the effect of such viruses can be devastating for the region. Thus, in Ukraine alone, where the risks of regional contamination with lethal viruses is extremely high due to ongoing political instability one can find 11 such laboratories, some of them are deployed in contested areas. For this reason, one shouldn’t be surprised by the recent outbreak of anthrax in the Odessa region in the spring and summer of this year.

Hundreds of such laboratories exist in other countries, particularly in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Burundi, Kenya, Uganda, India, Iraq, Tanzania, South Africa, Central and Southeast Asia, and Latin America.

In this regard, the increasing amount of reports on Pentagon’s involvement in the Ebola outbreak is not surprising, neither are the claims that Pentagon experts have already found “the effective cure” for this disease.

Vladimir Platov, Middle East expert, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”

Please select digest to download: