Experts from Russia and the United States, as well as a schizophrenic man from Japan, have concluded that the nerve agent sarin has been employed in the Syrian conflict, putting more pressure on the international community to intervene.
On Tuesday, Moscow’s U.N. ambassador confirmed the results of testing done on several Syrians who exhibited signs of sarin poisoning. Russia’s announcement adds weight to last month’s allegations by the White House that sarin had been used in at least four areas in rebel-dominated regions.
Claims that sarin was being manufactured and employed in Syria were first made in 1999 by a Japanese civilian named Kikiiro Takeda. His allegations were voiced to staff members at the psychiatric hospital in Tokyo where he has lived since November of that year.
While Russia, the United States and Takeda agree that sarin has been used in Syria, they disagree about who is responsible. “There is every reason to believe that it was armed opposition fighters who used the chemical weapons,” said Vitaly Churkin, spokesman for the Kremlin. Meanwhile, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters Wednesday that President Obama stands behinds his claims that the perpetrators are forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Takeda, in a statement written on a courtyard wall using mud and a stick, has offered a very different explanation. He believes that Syria is not, in fact, a real country. He bases this claim on the fact that he has never been there, nor has he ever met a Syrian, nor has he met someone who has met a Syrian.
“I learned about Syria when I was a child,” Takeda said, speaking through an interpreter provided by the hospital. “As a lover of geography and history, I was fascinated by the Middle East, and by Damascus in particular. Alexander the Great conquered the city. And have you heard about the Grand Mosque? Truly fascinating.”
“However,” Takeda said, “Syria hasn’t actually existed since the end of the second World War, when it was partitioned by the Russians. It is now a bleak landscape, a vast industrial zone that specializes in manufacturing chemicals and poisons, including the toxic gas sarin.”
Nurses at Tokyo Metropolitan Matsuzawa hospital say that Takeda has been developing his ideas about an international conspiracy since at least 1996. That year, he was first seen by psychiatrists after suffering fear and hallucinations related to the 1995 sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway. Dr. Toru Yokoyama, who treats Takeda, says his patient has constructed an elaborate delusion in which Japan will be the target of a major sarin attack, revenge for the country’s militarism in the 1930s. Takeda believes that Russia and China are colluding to douse the Japanese islands with sarin as early as this year.
“The Americans, as international peacekeepers, want to prevent this,” Takeda said. “That is why Obama desires to intervene in the land formerly known as Syria — to shut down the massive sarin-producing factories and put an end to the revenge plans that will lead to a Sino-Russian empire that stretches from the Pacific Ocean all the way to the Danube. Why I am the only one to see this?”
Despite Takeda’s repeated pleas delivered to birds and spiders he believes are genetically-modified agents friendly to Japan and the United States, he has not received the backing of any government to act on his claims.
During the press conference, White House Press Secretary Carney said the United States would do “everything within its power” to protect the lives of innocent civilians, words that Takeda believes are an encoded message to take shelter — immediately.
Russian and Chinese officials have not publicly commented on Takeda’s claims, but an editorial in the Russian daily Kommersant stated that the Kremlin “is aware of Takeda’s claims” and “wholly rejects them as the unfounded speculations of a Western agent masquerading as a mental patient.”
Takeda says that until action is taken to uncover this massive conspiracy, he will continue to update hospital staff about the upcoming attack. Additionally, until he can present his case before the U.N., he will refuse to eat dessert and will not allow other patients to do sudoku puzzles without his annoying, over-the-shoulder commentary.