Vol. 8, No. 1, 2002 Page 6

SPECULATIONS.... A terrorism/lead toxicity connection?

A review of new and novel hypotheses about the origins and treatment of violent, criminal, or aberrant behavior.

Experts advance many economic, historical, and political theories to explain the violent actions of Middle Eastern terrorists. But one scientist suggests that another factor—this one biological—should be added to the mix.

Physiologist Karl Simanonok notes that many Arab fighters (including, Simanonok believes, Osama bin Laden) use large amounts of a makeup called kohl to line their eyes. Kohl, he notes, has a very high lead content. When Simanonok worked at a laboratory in California, he found that Pakistani children often suffered from lead poisoning due to kohl exposure.

Lead poisoning, in addition to lowering IQ, is associated with violent behavior and criminality. Simanonok speculates that lead poisoning could play some role in bin Laden's violent irrationality (as well as his kidney problems, a common result of lead toxicity), and "could only contribute to the madness of suicide bombers" already under the influence of extremist beliefs.


"Did kohl around bin Laden's eyes poison his brain?" UniSci Daily University Science News, December 21, 2001.

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