- In the wake of the unprecedented terrorist attacks on
Sept. 11, Americans official and unofficial increasingly look to Israeli
experts in counterterrorism for guidance.
- A prime terrorist target for most of its existence,
has developed layers of defenses against most known methods of modern
NewsMax.com recently caught up with one Israeli bioterrorism expert, Dr.
Dany Shoham at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies at Bar Ilan
University in Ramat Gan.
- A 20-year veteran of Israeli military intelligence,
retired with the rank of lieutenant colonel in 1990. He holds a Ph.D. from
Tel Aviv University.
- Q: With all the focus on anthrax, are there other more
dangerous threats we should be concerned with?
- A: Chiefly with plague, smallpox and radioactive
that may contaminate water systems.
- Q: What other chemical or biological agents do we have
to worry about other than anthrax?
- A: The main additional agents would plausibly include:
nerve agents, mainly VX sarin, soman but commercial pesticides as well;
radioactive materials such as iodine; biotoxins such as botulinum and
contagious pathogens, particularly pneumonic plague and smallpox and exotic
viruses such as Ebola and encephalitic viruses.
- Q: How serious is the bioterrorism threat to the
- A: The bioterrorism threat to the U.S. is indeed a grave
one, and should be expediently lyhandled, in every sense. Bioterrorism
may be launched by both organizations and states. It may employ a wide
variety of pathogens and toxins, some of which bear a dreadful epidemic
potential, and some untreatable.
- Q: Is the United States prepared for a bioterrorism
- A: The answer, in that case, is not, of course, yes
or no. One ought to notice that during recent years enormous attention
has been paid by various U.S. authorities to an increasing biological
and that many steps aimed at elevating the level of preparedness, readiness
and intelligence monitoring were conducted accordingly.
- In actuality, the bioterrorism attacks were not
concretely but certainly were not a complete surprise. The awareness of
the authorities to such possible events was evident. Perhaps the awareness
of the ordinary citizen was poor.
- All in all, I would say that conceptually the U. S.
is, and actually also was, fully prepared, whereas practically the level
of preparedness is satisfactory concerning the current ongoing affairs
but partially with respect to wider scenarios.
- Q: What wider scenarios do you envision?
- A: Wider scenarios may include further bioterrorism,
such as contamination of water systems, food supplies, an unmannned plane
spraying a biological warfare agent or delivery of ballistic missiles
carrying biological weapons.
- Q: Isn't an unmanned plane spraying a biological warfare
agent problematic for the perpetrator, weakening diffusion of particulate
- A. The spraying system has indeed to be fairly
so as to form the biological cloud desirable for the attacker. Yet, such
a system is not unattainable for terrorist organizations, and certainly
not for states.
- Q: Can any ABM defense stop a delivery of ballistic
missiles carrying biological warheads?
- A: ABM defenses would stop a delivery of ballistic
carrying biological warheads, ostensibly, but in actuality I don't know.
The missiles might bear counter devices.
- Q: How can we in the U.S. prevent bioterrorism?
- A: Intelligence is the key for prevention. Hence, the
main pre- emptive effort should be increasing the capacities of the various
intelligence agencies to trace and follow any intentions and steps made
within any framework to use biological warfare agents.
- Q: Do you see a greater need, on our part, for technical
or human intelligence?
- A: I think both sorts of intelligence, but perhaps more
important is the intelligence capacity to integrate pieces of information
and correctly identify and analyze unseeming links.
- Q: Do you see intelligence analysis as a weakness of
ours against bioterrorism threats?
- A: I see intelligence analysis as a weakness concerning
various threats, including bioterrorism.
- Q: What precautions would you suggest the U.S. take
against chemical or biological attacks?
- A: Precautions should include stockpiling of protective
equipment for the public, a monitoring network aimed at early detection,
and a fool-proof doctrine to be implemented towards, or in case of.
- Q: What sort of doctrine do you suggest?
- A: A doctrine that would completely and entirely meet
any possible scenario and the related consequences and needs, so that
is left, practically, for consideration at the time of an actual
- Malcolm A. Kline is editor of the National Journalism
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