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Biological Threat Essay

944 words - 4 pages

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 ...view middle of the document...

At the same time, there were a few warning signs that someone has crossed the line from legitimate researcher to would-be bio-terrorist. Gerald Epstein, a homeland-security expert at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, says that the researchers may simply have to learn how to police themselves.

After the attacks of September 11th 2001, a letter arrived in the office of Patrick Leahy, a senator from Vermont. It read: “You cannot stop us. We have this anthrax. You die now. Are you afraid? Death to America. Death to Israel. Allah is great.”
The letter contained anthrax - a bacterium that infects mammals, including people. It occurs throughout the world and is endemic in the Middle East. Many countries (including America) have investigated its potential as an agent of biological warfare. In 1979 it escaped from a Russian military laboratory with dire results. Anthrax spores are notoriously difficult to kill and can survive in the ground for decades. If inhaled, they cause a swift and grisly death.

Back then primary suspects were Al-Qaeda and Saddam Hussein. Today federal authorities are convinced the real attacker was Bruce Ivins, a long time anthrax researcher at Fort Detrick in Maryland, who apparently committed a suicide, just as investigators were preparing to file charges against him.
Details have slowly leaked out since Mr. Ivins’s death. By sequencing the anthrax’s genetic material, federal investigators said it was successfully matched it to a batch that Mr. Ivins had charge of. According to an affidavit signed by one of the investigators, Mr. Ivins had no good explanation for a spike in his night-time laboratory work around the time of the attacks, and that he told a co-worker that he suffered from paranoid delusions that could affect his behavior. Mr. Ivins also...

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