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Gas problems? Wait for worse...
Bio-terrorism adds to the global fear of organised terrorist attacks

Barring a few developed countries, almost all countries remain highly vulnerable to the new form of terrorist attack, bio-terrorism, defined as spreading and injecting virus, bacteria or other germs (called biological agents) in people to cause illness, even death. Such agents, which are abundantly available in nature, have been the most sophisticated and recent form of identified terror attacks.

But bio-terrorism is not new; biological agents were used much before World War I. Many German agents, including Dr Anton Dilger, had developed Anthrax and Smallpox to attack America as early as 1915-16. Even America began developing biological weapons in 1942 after then President Roosevelt financed its new developments. Later, realising legal viability and international codes of conduct – especially after North Korea accused Western powers of using deadly biological weapons in the Vietnam War – Nixon shut down most of these facilities in 70s. And finally, global efforts were taken in 1972 to prevent production, stock and sale of any biological weapons globally. But then, all that is, as they say, officially. It is well documented that Iraq was alleged to have conducted R&D to develop bio-weapons in the 80s, which – at a secondary level to WMDs – ultimately led to the Gulf war. In 1984, members of a quasi-religious sect of a spiritualist leader called Rajneesh were accused of using salmonella on local people in New Oregan to win a local election, which resulted in over 751 people falling sick. 1995 saw Aleph, a small terror group using Sarin gas in Japan, which killed twelve and injured over 5,000 people. In 2001, the US was frightened sick with several Anthrax attacks on US citizens.

Bioterrorism is becoming easier as agents are much easier to make. Any trained biologist can engineer it with comparatively lesser cash, but remain equally lethal. Only the US has been able to fight back bio-terrorism with strong regulation and with its capability to produce vaccines. Most of the remaining countries remain vulnerable to it. As the threat from terrorism is increasing, so is the same from bio-terrorism.

By:- Akram Hoque

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