WHITEPAPERS: Army War College , ASM (American Society for Microbiology), CATO Institute, Center for a New American Security, Center for Biosecurity of UPMC, Center for Counterproliferation Research, Chemical and Biological Arms Control Institute, CRS (Report for Congress), GAO (General Accounting Office), Institute for National Strategic Studies, Institute for Science and Public Policy, Johns Hopkins University, National Academy Of Engineering, National Defence University, PERI (Public Entity Risk Institute), RIS (Research & Information System), Terrorism Intelligence Centre, The Federalist Society, UNESCO (United Nations), University of Laussane, and the WMD Center.
Date: September 1997
Source: Institute for National Strategic Studies
Abstract: A review of past incidents suggests limited interest on the part of terrorist groups in biological agents. While some have explored biological weapons as a potential terrorist tool, only a handful have attempted to acquire agents, and even fewer have attempted to use them.
Yet, there is strong reason to worry that bioterrorism could become a much greater threat. An increasing number of groups-foreign and domestic-are adopting the tactic of inflicting mass casualties to achieve ideological, vengeful, or "religious" goals, often hard to understand. Biological weapons are well suited for their objectives. Moreover, terrorist groups could employ biological agents to incapacitate, rather than kill. Such agents are also potentially useful as instruments of extortion, for political or monetary gain.
The greater availability of expertise and resources at the command of terrorist groups could overcome past technological barriers to effectively dispersing biological agents, especially if the terrorists gain access to the expertise of a state-sponsored biological warfare program. An attack involving anthrax, for example, could kill tens or hundreds of thousands, if the agent were properly prepared and disseminated.
In the United States there is growing concern that terrorists will employ biological agents. Law enforcement officials have arrested individuals associated with white supremacist and militia groups for acquiring biological agents. As a consequence of this heightened awareness, the U. S . is improving its ability to respond to biological attacks on American population centers. Both the legislative and executive branches are working to strengthen the federal, state, and local capabilities in the areas of crises and consequence management. Yet, much more will need to be done if we are minimize the potential casualties from a bioterrorist attack (Institute for National Strategic Studies, 1997).