China Caught Smuggling SARS/MERS Into US
A bizarre and troubling story.
In late November 2018, just over a year before the first coronavirus case was identified in Wuhan, China, U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents at Detroit Metro Airport stopped a Chinese biologist with three vials labeled “Antibodies” in his luggage.
The biologist told the agents that a colleague in China had asked him to deliver the vials to a researcher at a U.S. institute. After examining the vials, however, customs agents came to an alarming conclusion.
“Inspection of the writing on the vials and the stated recipient led inspection personnel to believe the materials contained within the vials may be viable Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) materials,” says an unclassified FBI tactical intelligence report obtained by Yahoo News.
It's strange. A legitimate biological research project would not have triggered these kinds of alarm bells. And it's unclear why any legitimate research project in this country would need or want SARS samples from outside the country.
And this was not a one off deal.
“The Weapons of Mass Destruction Directorate assesses foreign scientific researchers who transport undeclared and undocumented biological materials into the United States in their personal carry-on and/or checked luggage almost certainly present a US biosecurity risk,” reads the report. “The WMDD makes this assessment with high confidence based on liaison reporting with direct access.”
Why? We don't know.
In the case of the suspected SARS and MERS vials, the intelligence report cites another classified document that is marked “FISA,” meaning it contains information collected under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Another case cited in the report appeared to involve flu strains, and a third was suspected E. coli.
A reminder that as bad as the FISA abuses were, there was a reason we had FISA. There are foreign enemies who are genuinely dangerous and capable of plotting harm on an inconceivable scale.