Bioterror warning for hotels and restaurants

A new terror threat using ricin and cyanide to cause simultaneous attacks on hotels and restaurants over a single weekend has bioterror experts worried.

In response to the threat, Department of Homeland Security officials and members of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration have briefed a small group of corporate security officers from the hotel and restaurant industries, according to CBS News.

"We operate under the premise that individuals prepared to carry out terrorist acts are in this country," Janet Napolitano, director of DHS said on December 6, according to CBS News.

The alleged conspirators are supposedly tied to al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the same group that tried unsuccessfully to blow up cargo planes over the east coast in October as part of what it called Operation Hemorrhage.

The plot, uncovered earlier this year, involved the use of two poisons - ricin and cyanide - that were to be dropped into salad bars and buffets. Jihadist websites allegedly carry videos and manuals explaining how to make both poisons.

"Initially it would look very much like food poisoning," Dr. Susan Ford said, CBS News reports. Ford is a professor of pharmaceutical sciences at St. Johns University.

DHS limited their comments on the new terror threat.

"We are not going to comment on reports of specific terrorist planning,” DHS spokesman Sean Smith said, according to CBS News. “However, the counterterrorism and homeland security communities have engaged in extensive efforts for many years to guard against all types of terrorist attacks, including unconventional attacks using chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear materials.”