I met with my contact a few days ago in order to conduct one of the most important interviews of my career. I’d been working on this for quite some time and all the phone calls, talks over coffee, moments of building trust were going to finally bear some fruit: I was going to meet with a real-life former teenage bio-terrorist.
When I met the man who proudly proclaimed himself an “Anarchist For Life," he seemed like a normal enough chap. Now, he had settled down, gotten married, and had children. He was now the president of a company he had started a few years ago and seemed to be doing quite well. An unassuming man, you might even say "likeable" in many respects. But who could have known about his dark and sordid past? He was soft-spoken and smiled often.
Of course, in order to protect his identity, I cannot use his real name so I’ll refer to him as “Nigel." Nigel had so many fantastic stories to tell. Were they all true? Who knows? All I had were a few leads and a hot tip that lead me to sit down at that restaurant on that day with a man who had committed innumerable crimes in his day and had never even spent a single moment in a jail cell for it. I was a bit taken aback by this man. I couldn’t believe I was interviewing Nigel and he was telling me his stories.
I didn’t know where to begin the interview and I still don’t know, really, where this story ends. But some of these stories are so frightening, so harrowing in their rich detail that I, for one, cannot help but believing that Nigel is/was the real deal. He spoke in hushed tones.
“Well, it all started when I was about 15, maybe 16. Sure what we did was bad. But I don’t regret what I did at all. We all did it.”
“But weren’t you afraid of getting arrested? Weren’t you always on the run, looking over your shoulder?”
“No, Mike, you see, it was a different world back in those days. You have to remember that this was way before 9/11. It was way before the Iraq war. We didn’t even know who Saddam Hussein was.”
“So you are telling me now that you had nothing to do with Al Quaida? Nothing to do with Saddam? There was no connection what-so-ever between what you did and these organizations?”
“Don’t be absurd. Just the mere notion that what me and me boys were doing had anything to do with some mythical Al Quaida or Iraq is just complete rubbish and a complete and total fabrication. I’d swear on my mother’s grave on that…. Don’t make me laugh.”
“But what you did is clearly defined as bio-terrorism. Weren’t you…”
“Mike, what we did is defined by today’s standards as bio-terrorism. We hadn’t even heard the word back in those days. Well, let me take that back… We had heard the word ‘terror’ many times. Especially when some of the victims spoke about what it was we had done to ‘em. But "Bio-Terror" is a relatively new word, isn’t it?”
“Granted it is a relatively new term. But by today’s standards, you would have been convicted for bio-terrorist activities. Am I right?”
“Now you are trying to get me to admit to a crime that happened a long time ago using lingo that’s used today. I’m not going down that road with you in this discussion. I don’t want to go into that direction. This is all some sort of a word game with you, isn’t it? All I will say, is me and me mates did what we did. A few got hurt along the way. But I don’t regret it for a minute. And I shan’t wish to discuss this particular point again."
“And you’d do it all again?”
“Well, I can’t. I have a family now.”
“No, but I mean, if you were young again. You’d do it all again. For all the same reasons?”
“But after making these, for lack of a better term then, “Bio-Terrorist attacks," weren’t you afraid of someone in your group, your ‘cell’, breaking down and ‘spilling the beans’ to the police so to speak?”
“Well, we didn’t use the word ‘cell’ back in those days. We were just our group on our mission. We would carry out the attack, complete the mission, and then head back home to our regular lives.”
“And you never got caught?”
“Well, we came close a few times. But never got caught. You see, after making an attack, we were very difficult to pick out of a crowd. We dressed like everyone else. We would carry out the attack. Get rid of the evidence. And then, under the cover of darkness, we could very easily blend into a group of people and just disappear. Attack. Bang. Direct hit. And a second later you are just one of the crowd of onlookers and you’d be on your way.”
“You say you had no Al-Quaida connections….”
“Yes, yes, you say you had no Al-Quaida connections…. But how was your group financed? Have you ever heard of ‘Carlos the Jackal’? Did you have any relation with the man?”
“Of course we had heard of Carlos. Who hadn’t? His face was splashed all over the front of every major paper in the world. But he had nothing to do with us. I deny that completely. Our operations were shoe-string budget. Cheap, quick, but very effective. We had our own agenda. Carlos had his.”
"But you have met the man? You have spoken with him before?"
"I don’t really see where me answering that question in the affirmative or the negative has anything to do with what we are talking about right now. Like I said, Carlos had his agenda. We had ours. And that’s all there is to it."
“You know that terrorism and bio-terrorism are ‘buzz words’ in America now. It’s a problem that’s on the lips of the public and law enforcement agencies all across the United States. The question is: ‘How to stop the terrorists?’ Nigel, if your cell was so shoestring, so inexpensive to run, how would you organize the campaign to stop these terrorists?”
“Well, there really is no way to stop the terrorists under the definition that you daft Americans are using of ‘what is a terrorist’ now is there, really? I mean, the entire idea is just absurd. If you Americans said you were going to destroy Rock music, you’d be laughed at all the way to Mars. Now you might try to destroy all Rock musicians, which might not be such a bad idea. But you could never destroy Rock Music, now could you? So this all boils down to how you are going to define what is and what is not a terrorist. This entire nonsense is really all about how you dim Americans want to define a word, isn’t it?”
“I understand. But let me ask you, if you and your group were running on such a shoestring budget, and you had no major international financing, where did you get your weapons?”
“From the local market.”
“The local market!?”
“Yeah. That’s right. The local super.”
“You had some inside connection there? Or was someone at the local market involved in some sort of underground activities like gun running, or something?”
“Well, there were a few of them who had something to do with underground activities, but I am not quite sure what it was they was doing. Something to do with produce.”
“So, you had a connection at the local super and that’s how you obtained weapons?”
“No. The people at the local super didn’t have a clue as to what was going on right under their noses. I think a few of them might have suspected. But that’s all they had were suspicions. Like I said, we looked like ordinary kids. We certainly didn’t run around dressing and advertising ourselves as ‘Bio-Terrorists’.”
Easily concealed SEM (Salmonella Enhanced Medium) encased hand-launched “missiles”. If you see anyone with missiles like these, report it to the police immediately! (Photo courtesy of Phester Swollen.)
“And did you and the members of your group have some kind of secret communication system to plan out your attacks?”
“Well, we had a system. But I wouldn’t really call it ‘secret’.”
“You didn’t use a code or code language at all?”
“No. Well, we didn’t shout it out to the entire world to hear what we was doing. But we didn’t have a code.”
“And you communicated by…?”
“The telephone!? You organized bio-terrorist attacks over the telephone?”
“Yeah. That’s right.”
“What did you say?”
“Well, I’d call up one of me mates and say, ‘Me mum and dad are gone tonight. Let’s grab a few pints outta the fridge, have a few fags, and then terrorize the neighborhood by throwing around a few rotten eggs and tomatoes at cars and such….’”
"Do you have any last words for our readers?"
"Yeah, I suppose…Me and me mates were lucky never to have been caught. I thank the Lord for that. But now I have to live with the memories of my actions for the rest of my life. But you just may not be so lucky."
“Thanks for the interview.”
Mike (in Tokyo) Rogers [send him mail] was born and raised in the USA and moved to Japan in 1984. He has worked as an independent writer, producer, and personality in the mass media for nearly 30 years.