In a old James Bond 007 thiller the arch-villian, a three-nippled, $1,000,000-per-hit assasin by the name of Scaramanga(Sp?) used a specially built
pistol and bullets made of gold, with the name of the intended victim inscribed on them.
Given the scarcity of the material used to kill this "ex-FSB" agent, gold seems to be a relatively cheap alternative!
Seriously, I think we need to focus more on the method of the murder and the implications posed by that method,
than who might be to blame.
Let the evidence point out the most likely suspect!
Point. The victim was poisoned, using a relatively slow-acting poison. Assuming that quicker methods of execution were available, including methods
utilizing faster-acting poisons, we must conclude that the assassin was Not concerned that the victim might disclose sensitive information.
Point. Poisonings lack the "immediacy" of other forms of execution. Poisonings take time to work their lethality. This is time the poisoner can
use to escape or disassociate himself from the crime. In some cases, a clever poisoner can arrange to have his his strike delivered by an unknowing
The scheming lady of the Manor slips a bit of arsnic from the hunky gardner's shed into the congac. The innocent butler delivers the lethal nightcap
to the dottering lord of the house as his nightly soporific...and the butler is hauled off to the gallows!
In addition to providing the maximum amount of "escape time" to a potential assassin, slow poisons may also be employed to inflict the maximum
amount of suffering upon the intended victim; which seems to have been the intention in this case. However, slow poisons have a considerable
draw-back: the more time you allow the victim to suffer, the more likely it is that an antidote to the poison used will be found.
Unless the poison used has no antidote
and the assassin knows exactly how much of the poison to use to insure a slow, painful death!
Given these two points it seems logical that this was a murder for revenge. Duh! Like we hadn't already concluded That
days ago! But
something still bothers me about this case: The weapon of choice, Polonium-210.
Like Scaramanga's golden bullets, using such a rare material as a weapon seems excessively exotic. In fact, Po-210 makes mere golden bullets seem
like an insult!
It is almost as if the assassin (or his controller) wants to draw as much, or possibly more
attention to the weapon used in the killing
than to the fact of the murder itself!
Research on Po-210, which appears to have been the weapon used in this incident, shows it to be extremely rare, I believe that the article said only
about 100 grams are produced per year. Thus, I assume that such rarity makes Po-210 extremely valuable, more valuable than a solid gold bullet, and
far, far more valuable than other, more readily available slow-acting no-known-antidote poisons.
Talk about $600 hammers! Just think what a Po-210 assassin's kit would cost the typical government bureaucracy!
Additionally, although extremely dangerous in even small quanities (a lethal dose is said to be about the size of the period at the end of this line,
if that large), such small amounts are also extremely difficult to handle safely.
A potential assassin using Po-210 is just as likely to kill himself by ingetsting or inhaling his weapon as he is killing his target with it. The
only solution would be to have enough on hand to facilitae delivery of an adequate dose to the victim. But being highly radioactive, that much
Po-210, if you could get it!, would surely set off radiation detectors at every port of entry.
Unless you knew
which ports of entry didn't have radiation detectors
Or unless your source for the material was already inside the country
where the attack was to occur.
Research also, albeit tangentally, provides some support for a Russian conection: Polonium-210 was used in some early Soviet-era RTG's (Radioisotope
Thermoelectric Generators) used in their space program. A relatively small amount of Po-210 will generate a significant amount of heat for power
generation and maintenence of operational temperatures for on-board systems with minimal shielding. But I would consider this only circumstantial
evidence, at best.
By far the most worrisome bit of information I was able to gleen regarding Po-210 is that, due to its facility as a strong neutron source,
Polonium-210 can be used as a trigger For Nuclear Weapons!
Here's my take on the matter:
Suppose you belonged to an organization that was assembling a nuclear device in an "enemy" country. Some of the materials you required were
provided to you, with a "wink and a nod", by agents of a former rival/current ally for the country destined to suffer your wraith.
As a quid pro quo, your suppler's agents ask you to "take care of" a traitor for them; direct provable involvement would be risky at the moment.
Your device is all but ready to deploy, but your ethics, your faith requires you to provide your intended victim one last chance to repent, one last
warning before suffering his fate.
What do you do to demonstrate to your enemy the futility of resistance and the consequence of his apostasy?
Why you kill two birds with one stone, one radioactive stone.
A legacy, and a clue, of what you have in store.