Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 3 Issue: 32

As it became clear that a large number of the hostages had perished in the attack, questions began to be raised both in Russia and the West about what was in the poisoned gas the special forces had used. “Almost all the hostages died from gas poisoning,” read a headline in the October 27 issue of the website On October 27, Dan Eggen, a correspondent for the Washington Post, wrote: “The unidentified gas used by Russian security forces in their raid on a Moscow theater appears to have been an incapacitating agent that may fall into the gray area of international restrictions on chemical weapons, U.S. experts said…. Russian officials have declined to identify the chemical used in the operation, describing it generically as a ‘sleeping gas’ or ‘special gas’…. Elisa Harris, a chemical weapons expert at the University of Maryland and a former staff member at the National Security Council, said that ‘if they used something other than tear gases in this scenario, they may well be in violation of the Chemical Weapons Convention.'”