ANTI-TERROR bosses last night hailed their latest ally in the war on terror the BLACK DEATH.
By ALEX WEST
Published: 19 Jan 2009
At least 40 al-Qaeda fanatics died horribly after being struck down with the disease that devastated Europe in the Middle Ages.
Epidemic … in Britain in 1665
Epidemic … in Britain in 1665
The killer bug, also known as the plague, swept through insurgents training at a forest camp in Algeria, North Africa. It came to light when security forces found a body by a roadside.
The victim was a terrorist in AQLIM (al-Qaeda in the Land of the Islamic Maghreb), the largest and most powerful al-Qaeda group outside the Middle East.
It trains Muslim fighters to kill British and US troops.
Now al-Qaeda chiefs fear the plague has been passed to other terror cells or Taliban fighters in Afghanistan.
One security source said: This is the deadliest weapon yet in the war against terror. Most of the terrorists do not have the basic medical supplies needed to treat the disease.
It spreads quickly and kills within hours. This will be really worrying al-Qaeda.
Black Death comes in various forms.
Bubonic Plague is spread by bites from infected rat fleas. Symptoms include boils in the groin, neck and armpits. In Pneumonic Plague, airborn bacteria spread like flu.
It can be in the body for more than a week highly contagious but not revealing tell-tale symptoms.
Deadly … the plague bacteria causes horrific symptoms
The al-Qaeda epidemic began in the cave hideouts of AQLIM in Tizi Ouzou province, 150km east of the capital Algiers. The group, led by wanted terror boss Abdelmalek Droudkal, was forced to turn its shelters in the Yakouren forest into mass graves and flee.
The extremists supporting madman Osama bin Laden went to Bejaia and Jijel provinces hoping the plague did not go with them.
A source said: The emirs (leaders) fear surviving terrorists will surrender to escape a horrible death.
AQLIM boss Droudkal claims to command around 1,000 insurgents. Training camps are also based in Morocco, Tunisia and Nigeria.
AQLIM bombed the UN headquarters in Algiers in 2007, killing 41. Attacks across Algeria last year killed at least 70 people.
In an interview last July, Droudkal boasted his cell was in constant contact with other al-Qaeda brothers.
BLACK Death is believed to have started in Asia and then spread across Europe during the 14th century with plague rats reaching Britain in 1348.
The last outbreak in 1665 claimed the lives of 30,000 Londoners.
Nowadays the plague can be treated with antibiotics and deaths are rare. It has become virtually unheard of in the developed world.
But the World Health Organisation still reports several thousand cases a year, mainly in southern Asia, southern Africa and central America.
Between 1989 and 2003 there were more than 38,000 cases causing 2,845 deaths in 25 countries. The last known major outbreak started in Chinas Yunan Province in 1865.
Fleas on rats spread the plague to neighbouring India, causing 12million deaths. It was still killing 200 people a year until 1959. The US and Peru had four non-fatal cases in 2002.