by Gar Smith

Source: Earth Island Journal, Winter, 2000
Author: Gar Smith

Seven years after El Al Flight 1862 crashed just outside Amsterdam, authorities have just recently discovered what was aboard the plane.

Originally, Israeli officials claimed that Flight 1862 was carrying only "a regular commercial load," consisting of perfume and gift articles. Since the crash, 850 survivors, police and rescue workers have sought medical treatment for a host of maladies.

The denials collapsed on October 4, 1998, when the Dutch daily NRC Handelsblad printed a leaked copy of a page from the plane's cargo manifest. According to the previously secret freight documents, Flight 1862 was hauling 10 tons of chemicals, including hydrofluoric acid, isopro-panol, and dimethyl methylphosphonate (DMMP). These chemicals make up three of the four chemicals used in the production of sarin nerve gas.

(Website note: This was the gas used in the Japanese subway attack blamed on a religious "cult").

The DMMP had been supplied by Solkatronic Chemicals of Morrisville, Pennsylvania. The shipment was destined for the Israeli Institute for Biological Research (IIBR) in New Ziona, outside of Tel Aviv. While the export of DMMP is strictly controlled by the U.S. government, the U.S. Department of Commerce had no problem granting Solkatronic's license to ship DMMP. Still, Israel maintains that the chemicals were to be used to test gas masks, but this explanation is puzzling since it only takes a few grams to conduct such tests. These findings have raised serious questions about the transportation of undeclared hazardous materials.

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