Biological terrorism poses a unique threat. For many years, the U.S. intelligence and policy makers did not take biological threat as seriously as dangers posed by the nuclear weapons. They claimed that while many countries might experiment with biological weapons, they would not use them against the United States fearing a nuclear retaliation. However, biological weapons in terrorists’ hands were hardly accounted for.
It is a matter of a great concern that biological weapons might be developed by the terrorist groups and since many biological weapons have a delayed effect, attackers could execute multiple attacks before the first one is even noticed.
As biological agents are becoming easier to make and become more potent, sophisticated weapons will become available to small or relatively unsophisticated groups capable of engineering their own chemical weapons. Today, the bioterrorist’s laboratory could be the size of a household kitchen, and the weapon built there may be smaller than a toaster.
Biological attack could also come with little or no warning. The National Intelligence Council recently surveyed a group of international experts on the threats that would develop between now and 2020, and the report showed that most terrorist attacks will continue to employ primarily conventional weapons, incorporating new twists to keep counterterrorist planners off balance.
There are internet sites in a wide variety of languages, providing literature on the manufacture of biological agents and toxins. The number of websites is growing, therefore expanding the knowledge and the range of options for those interested in producing their own nasty bugs.
A possibility of industrial accidents or sabotage must be accounted for as well. Researchers have synthesized polio from scratch, and in 2001 a company in California created the first synthetic bacterium. A group of Australia researchers has modified the gene of the bacterium that causes mousepox, a cousin of...