Blog posts tagged with 'decontamination'

UK Reports: WMD Terror Strike on Major City ‘More Realistic’

May 2009

Terrorists attacking a major city with nuclear or biological weapons is “more realistic” than ever, British officials warned as they lifted the secrecy from six years of counter-terrorism efforts.

Called “Contest,” the U.K. anti-terror strategy contends that new technologies and lawless nations boost the odds of a WMD attack leading to massive death and destruction.

Titled “Pursue, Protect, Prevent, Prepare: The United Kingdom’s Strategy for Countering International Terrorism,” the 176-page report presents an updated British strategy for combating terrorism.

Home Secretary Jacqui Smith describes Contest as “one of the most comprehensive and wide-ranging approaches to tackling terrorism anywhere in the world.”

Dr. Marvin Cetron, the futurist and founder of Forecasting International, a firm that advises U.S. counter-terrorism agencies, reports that British authorities have every reason to be concerned.

“The terrorists are getting better qualified, more technically trained people as we’ve seen in Britain,” Cetron says. “And they’re trying to get the capability. They’re still working on getting nuclear fissionable material. That’s a low probability, but it is a high-impact event.”

Since 2001, the report reveals, British authorities have thwarted over a dozen terrorist attacks. One measure of officials’ concern: U.K authorities have trained and equipped over 7,000 police officers to respond to WMD incidents. They have also built facilities for mass decontamination’s, should a WMD attack occur.

“Contemporary terrorist organizations aspire to use chemical, biological, radiological and even nuclear weapons,” the report states. “Changing technology and the theft and smuggling of chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear and explosive (CBRNE) materials make this aspiration more realistic than it may have been in the recent past.”

A letter from Prime Minister Gordon Brown accompanying the Contest report states: “This new form of terrorism is different in scale and nature from the terrorist threats we have had to deal with in recent decades. It is intent on inflicting mass casualties without warning, motivated by a violent extremist ideology, and exploits modern travel and communications to spread through a loose and dangerous global network.”

One question counter-terror experts will no doubt be asking: Why after six years is the British government lifting the veil of secrecy over its counter-terrorism strategy and assessments?

Smith said the government seeks to “provide the people of the UK and our partners overseas with as full and as open an account as possible of why and how we are tackling this threat.”

The new report lists four main terror threats facing the U.K., all of them linked to al Qaida:

  • The current al-Qaida organization.
  • Al-Qaida-affiliated terrorist organizations.
  • “Self-starting” terror groups, or individuals, seeking to emulate an al-Qaida style attack.
  • Groups unaffiliated with al-Qaida, that, broadly speaking, have a similar agenda.According to the report, al-Qaida is under such intense pressure around the globe that it is unlikely to survive in its current form, and will likely splinter into many smaller groups. But like a hydra that sprouts multiple cells for each one killed, U.K. counterintelligence predicts the evolution of many smaller organizations — sharing a similar ideology and working toward goals similar to al-Qaida’s.The report attributes the growing danger in part to development of technologies that enable small cells of violent fundamentalists to communicate and plan.Cetron agrees that al-Qaida is breaking into smaller parts, and concurs that in many ways this complicates matters.“Al-Qaida is finding out they can do better with small groups, people who are raised in the country itself, not people who are coming from Islamic lands.” Such “home-grown” terrorists are better able to fit in, and can move freely among the local population, Cetron says.

    Also highlighting the very real danger of terrorists using WMD was the July 2007 National Intelligence Estimate stating that al-Qaida “will continue to try to acquire and employ chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear material in attacks, and would not hesitate to use them if it develops what it deems is sufficient capability.”

    The British report cites several factors it says contribute to an unprecedented level of danger from a WMD terrorist attack:

  • Unresolved regional disputes in Afghanistan, Palestine, Bosnia, Chechnya, Lebanon, and Kashmir.
  • Extremists associated with al-Qaida who tout violence as the “religious duty” of all Muslims.
  • Radicalization, or the recruitment of disaffected citizens who join terrorist groups to carry out attacks.
  • The phenomenon of failed states, which is expected to continue indefinitely.
  • The evolution of technologies “which facilitate terrorist propaganda, communications, and terrorist organizations.” Innovations by terrorists quickly spread around the globe.As an example of how terrorists are learning from other terrorists, the Contest report cites the evolution of improvised explosive devices (IEDs), which were employed with brutal effect against American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.The report states IED technology “evolved rapidly in a series of conflicts over the past 15 years,” adding, “Al-Qaida, its affiliates, and groups inspired by al-Qaida have demonstrated intent to experiment with novel explosives to maximize their capabilities and, in some cases, to deliberately circumvent protective security measures.”Cetron also reports the United Kingdom is No. 1 on al-Qaida’s list of targets. “It is the prime target. France is next, Europe in general is third, and the United States is fourth on that list.”The reason England is more vulnerable? I say, consider this: They have many people, in country, who are trained and angry. This is facilitated by the zealous nature of the far left liberal version/ideology of diversity, over-the-top tolerance and political correctness which will, in the end, be the undoing of western civilizations as our enemies understand how to take advantage of this soft underbelly of our freedoms and play us like a fine Stradivarius violin. Their only chance at victory is to steal technology, use it against us and divide us on political arguments that polarize our politicans. They will need our unwitting assistance.

    Non the less, we say be prepared for the potential of a biological attak in your community. Visit to see how!

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    Cost of bioterror false alarms, anthrax hoaxes rises

    Published 11 March 2009

    The U.S. government has spent more than $50 billion since the 2001 anthrax attacks to beef up U.S. defenses against biological attacks; there has not been another attack so far, but the cost of hoaxes and false alarms is rising steeply

    In the seven years since the fall 2001 anthrax attacks alleged to have been carried out by Bruce Ivins (see “Scientists Reveal How Culprit in 2001 Anthrax Attacks Was Found, 27 February 2009 HS Daily Wire), U.S. government agencies have spent more than $50 billion to beef up biological defenses.

    Seattle Times‘s Bob Drogin writes that no other anthrax attacks have occurred, but a flood of hoaxes and false alarms have raised the cost considerably through lost work, evacuations, decontamination efforts, first responders’ time, and the emotional distress of the victims.

    This, experts say, is often the hoaxsters’ goal. “It’s easy, it’s cheap and very few perpetrators get caught,” said Leonard Cole, a political scientist at Rutgers University in Newark, New Jersey, who studies bioterrorism. “People do it for a sense of power.” Among the recent targets:

    • Nearly all 50 governors’ offices
    • About 100 U.S. embassies
    • 52 banks
    • Ticket booths at Disneyland
    • Mormon temples in Salt Lake City and Los Angeles
    • Town halls in Batavia, Ohio, and Ellenville, New York
    • A funeral home and a day-care center in Ocala, Florida
    • A sheriff’s office in Eagle, Colorado
    • Homes in Ely River, New Mexico

    The FBI has investigated about 1,000 such “white-powder events” as possible terrorist threats since the start of 2007, spokesman Richard Kolko said. The bureau responds if a letter contains a written threat or is mailed to a federal official. In one recent case, emergency crews cleared and sealed a DHS office in Washington, D.C., after a senior official, who had received a package at home containing white powder and a dead fish, brought it to work for inspection. The contents proved harmless, a spokeswoman said.

    Drogin writes that the FBI is trying to figure out who mailed about 150 letters late last year that contained powder and threatening notes. The envelopes were sent from the Dallas area to U.S. embassies abroad and most governors. One letter was addressed to former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, who left office two years ago. When it arrived in Boston, someone marked “return to sender” on the envelope and popped it back in the mail. The return address was the FBI office in El Paso, Texas.

    White powder spilled out when an FBI clerk there opened it on 12 February. Officials emptied the Federal Justice Center, sending more than 300 FBI, Drug Enforcement Agency, and other law-enforcement personnel home. The powder was baking soda, said Mark White, an FBI spokesman in Dallas.

    The Justice Department was able to bring criminal charges in two other high-profile cases. Richard Goyette, 47, pleaded not guilty last Thursday in Amarillo, Texas, to charges of mailing 65 threatening letters to banks and other financial institutions in October. The envelopes contained white powder and a warning the recipient would die within ten days. In the second case, a federal grand jury in Sacramento, California, indicted Marc Keyser, 66, in November for allegedly mailing 120 hoax letters to newspapers, a member of Congress, a McDonald’s, a Starbucks and other targets.

    In the past two fiscal years, records show, U.S. postal inspectors responded to more than 5,800 reports of letters and packages containing suspicious substances. Only a few-dozen cases have resulted in arrests.

    Drogin notes that scientists disagree over whether the nation is more vulnerable to an anthrax attack today than it was in 2001. The U.S. Postal Service in 2003 installed devices to check for airborne pathogens or poisons at the nation’s 271 mail-processing and distribution centers. They have yet to detect a threat, said Peter Rendina, spokesman for the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.

    Some experts fear that the boom in biodefense spending carries a danger. They worry that a tenfold increase in laboratories authorized to work with dangerous bio-agents increases the risk of leaks. The current figures:

    • There are 14 BSL-4 labs in the United States (6 already in operation; 3 completed but not yet operational; 5 under construction)
    • 15,000 U.S. scientists are authorized to work with deadly pathogens
    • More than 7,200 scientists are approved to work with anthrax

    These critics say that by vastly increasing the number of researchers and labs authorized to handle deadly substances, the government has made the United States more vulnerable to bioterror attacks (see “Anti-bioterror Programs May Make U.S. More Vulnerable,” 14 November 2008 HS Daily Wire).

    Let’s face the fact that the threat of biological attack is now a part of everyday life in America, so why not be prepared to quickly identify credible threats from the hoax. We at AdVnt believe it just makes credible sense to be prepared today.