Baghdad looters steal HIV from lab

By Advocate.com Editors

Originally published on Advocate.com April 19 2003 12:00 AM ET

Looters who stole virtually everything from Iraq's Central Public Health Laboratory in Baghdad also made away with several dangerous strains of viruses, including HIV, cholera, and black fever, ABCNews.com reports. The U.S. military is worried that the viruses were specifically stolen by terrorists to use as weapons against the United States. Refrigerators full of the deadly viruses were stolen by looters last week.

"The viruses that are lost, we have no idea where they went," said Iraqi chemist Rasa Al-Alaq.

U.S. soldiers in Baghdad failed to protect the lab from looters, even after being warned of the contents of the building before the war began.

"A building like this should have been known to intelligence, and it should have been a high-category target to come and secure this building," said Peter Galbraith, a former U.S. diplomat who is now an ABCNews consultant. American military members have been told to now consider the building a hot zone and have posted signs around the facility in Arabic warning, "Stay away, extremely dangerous. Lab is polluted with viruses."