Yemen-based al-Qaeda may be trying to acquire ricin

According to unnamed intelligence officials and reports, a Yemen-based al-Qaeda affiliate has been trying to acquire castor beans, which can be used to produce poisonous ricin.
The apparent intent of the organization was to pack the poison around small explosives that could use the explosions to disperse the ricin, Reuters reports. The white powdery ricin is so deadly that a speck alone can kill if inhaled or taken into the bloodstream.
The apparent targets for the plot were enclosed spaces, like an airport or shopping mall. President Barack Obama and top aides were briefed about the threat last year and while they have received updates since then, there was no indication that an attack was imminent.
There are limits on ricin's utility as a weapon because it loses its potency in sunny, dry conditions like those in Yemen, and the poison is not easily absorbed through the skin like some other nerve agents.
According to a New York Times report, a secret government task force was working with Saudi officials and the remnants of Yemen's intelligence agencies to counter the threat. With the virtual collapse of Yemen's government, al Qaeda has been able to widen its control in the county and strengthen its operational ties with al Shabab, the Islamic militancy in Somalia.