February 25, 2006

FBI seeks source of poison at dorm

HOUSTON (Reuters) - An FBI-led task force is trying find
out how the deadly poison ricin wound up in a student dormitory
at the University of Texas, a campus police spokeswoman said on

A chunky white powder, less than the amount that would fill
a plastic sandwich bag, was found on Thursday night and
preliminary tests on Friday showed it to be ricin, a poison
made from castor beans, spokeswoman Rhonda Weldon said.

"This is not associated with any threats against the
campus" in Austin, Texas, Weldon said.

A spokesman for the FBI San Antonio Joint Terrorism Task
Force was not immediately available to comment.

Ricin is extracted from castor beans and even small amounts
of it can kill if inhaled or injected, according to the U.S.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention web site.
Toxicologists say it can easily be made in an ordinary kitchen.

In 2005, an al Qaeda-trained Algerian man, Kamel Bourgass,
was convicted in a plot to spread ricin throughout streets in
Great Britain.

None of the students who lived in the area where the powder
was found were suffering symptoms of ricin exposure, Weldon

It is the first time a dangerous substance like ricin has
been found on the Austin campus, Weldon said.