South African appears in court over bioterror threats

Brian Roach, the 64-year-old South African businessman who is accused of threatening to release biological weapons in the United States and Britain, appeared in a Johannesburg court this week after his arrest Saturday on terror charges.

A spokesman for the prosecution said that Roach may have been driven by concern over the plight of white farmers in the neighboring country of Zimbabwe. Spokesman Mthunzi Mhaga said that the suspect did not have the means to carry out his threats to spread food and mouth disease, the Associated Press reports.

Roach sent emails and letters to both countries’ governments threatening to spread disease unless he was given $4 million.

"We have the expertise and resources to do this very effectively and will be able to devastate the industry in the U.K. which will cost billions to the economy," Roach wrote in an email to the British government, according to the AP. "We will devastate your farms and then we will then take the problem to your coconspirator the USA."

Since 2000, around 4,000 white farmers have been forced from their farms in Zimbabwe. This is part of a campaign to put more land in the hands of impoverished blacks, according to Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe. In actuality, many of the beneficiaries have been top politicians, the AP reports.

The six-month investigation to nab Roach was a collaboration between the South African police and British and U.S. officials. Roach was charged with terrorist activity and money laundering.