My watch list  

Kenneth Alibek

Original submission reprinted with permission from D. Anderson.

Kenneth Alibek, M.D., Ph.D., Sc.D. (Russian: Канатжан Алибеков; Kazakh: Қанатжан Әлібеков) is a physician-scientist, biological warfare expert, entrepreneur, and philanthropist who was born Kanatjan Alibekov in Kauchuk, Kazakhstan. Because of his exceptional performance while studying military medicine at the Tomsk Medical Institute and his family’s noted patriotism, he was selected to work for Biopreparat, a secret organization attached to the Soviet Union’s Council of Ministers. His first assignment was to the Eastern European Branch of the Institute of Applied Biochemistry near Omutninsk, a combined pesticide production facility and reserve biological weapons production plant that would be activated in a time of war. At Omutninsk, Dr. Alibek mastered the art and science of formulating and evaluating nutrient media and cultivation conditions for their impact on microbial growth. It was here that he expanded his medical school laboratory skills into the complex skill set required for industrial level production of microorganisms and their products.

After less than a year at Omutninsk, Dr. Alibek was transferred to the Siberian Branch of the Institute of Applied Biochemistry near Berdsk. With the assistance of a colleague, he designed and constructed a microbiology research and development laboratory to develop techniques to optimize production of biological formulations. After several promotions over a short period of time, Dr. Alibek was transferred back to Omutninsk where he quickly rose to the position of Deputy Director.

Dr. Alibek wasn’t at Omutninsk long before he was transferred to the Kazakhstan Scientific and Production Base in Stepnogorsk (another reserve biological weapons facility) to become the new Director. Officially, he was Deputy Director of the Progress Scientific and Production Association, a manufacturer of fertilizer and pesticide. At Stepnogorsk, Dr. Alibek created the most efficient industrial scale assembly line for biological formulations. In a time of war, the assembly line could be used to produce anthrax biological weapons. Continued successes in science and biotechnology led to more promotions which resulted in a transfer to Moscow.

In Moscow, Dr. Alibek began his service as the deputy chief of the Biosafety Directorate at Biopreparat. He was later promoted to First Deputy Director of Biopreparat where he not only oversaw the biological weapons facilities but also the significant number of pharmaceutical facilities that produced antibiotics, vaccines, sera, and interferon for the public. Though the time he had available was short, he took this additional responsibility to public health seriously. In response to a Spring 1990 announcement that the Ministry of Medical and Microbiological Industry was to be reorganized, Dr. Alibek drafted and forwarded through channels a memo to President Gorbachev proposing the cessation of Biopreparat’s biological weapons work. Though the President approved the proposal, an additional paragraph had been secretly inserted into Dr. Alibek’s draft resulting in a presidential decree that not only ordered the end of Biopreparat’s biological weapons work but also required them to remain prepared for future production. Though disappointed by the double dealing, Dr. Alibek used his position at Biopreparat and the authority granted to him by the first part of the decree to begin destruction of the biological weapons program. He also negotiated a concurrent appointment to a Biopreparat facility called Biomash. Biomash designed and produced technical equipment for microbial cultivation and testing. He planned to increase the amount of product sent to the hospitals and the civilian medical laboratories beyond the 40% allocated at the time.

Dr. Alibek wasn’t at Biomash long when he was placed in charge of the intensive preparations for the facility inspections that were to be conducted by a joint American and British delegation. While participating in the subsequent Soviet inspection of American facilities, his growing suspicion that the U.S. did not have a biological warfare program was confirmed before his return to Russia (the Soviet Union dissolved while he was in America). Not long after his return from America, Dr. Alibek resigned from both the army and from Biopreparat and secretly emigrated with his family to the United States.[1]

Since moving to the USA, Dr. Alibek has provided the government with a detailed accounting of the former Soviet biological weapons program and has testified before United States Congress on numerous occasions (see also Sverdlovsk anthrax leak). He has provided guidance to the intelligence, policy, national security, and medical communities and has returned to the pure biomedical research that captured his interest as a medical student. He was the impetus behind the creation of an innovative biodefense graduate education program at George Mason University that drew students from across the country and has served in the program as both a Distinguished Professor of Medical Microbiology and as the Director of Education. He also developed the plans for the university’s biosafety level three (BSL3) research facility and was instrumental in obtaining $40 million dollars of grants from the federal and state governments for construction of the facility. On March 11, 2006, Dr. Alibek announced that he would not be teaching classes beyond Spring semester and that he was resigning from George Mason University effective August 27, 2006. In an agreement with his students, he volunteered his time from Spring 2006 through Spring 2007 to help them earn their doctoral degrees.

Dr. Alibek is currently the President and Chief Scientific Officer at AFG Biosolutions, Inc [2] where he and his scientific team are continuing their development of advanced solutions for antimicrobial immunity. Motivated by the lack of affordable anti-cancer therapies available in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, AFG Biosolutions, Inc. is using Dr. Alibek’s extensive biotechnology experience to plan, build, and manage a new pharmaceutical production facility designed specifically to address this problem. The high quality pharmaceuticals produced will be an affordable source of therapy for millions of regional people who otherwise would have no available therapeutic options to enhance the quality of their lives.


  1. ^ "Interview Dr. Ken Alibek", Journal of Homeland Security (September 18, 2000)
  2. ^ AFG Biosolutions

This description of Dr. Alibek should be accepted only in the context of an article published July 1, 2007 in the Los Angeles Times titled "Selling the Threat of Bioterrorism" by David Willman which questions much of Dr. Alibek's reliability on the subject of bioterrorism and raises questions about his motives. Similar questions about the motives behind publication of the Los Angeles Times article are raised in Rachel Neuwirth's July 6, 2007 article "Don't Be So Sure There Were No WMD in Iraq" published by American Thinker.


  • Alibek, K. and S. Handelman. Biohazard: The Chilling True Story of the Largest Covert Biological Weapons Program in the World - Told from Inside by the Man Who Ran it. 1999. Delta (2000) ISBN 0-385-33496-6 [1]
  • Anderson, D. Lessons Learned from the Former Soviet Biological Warfare Program. 2006. UMI Dissertation Services, UMI NO. 3231331
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Kenneth_Alibek". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
Your browser is not current. Microsoft Internet Explorer 6.0 does not support some functions on Chemie.DE