Bioterror Attempt Likely by 2013, DHS Report Warns

A U.S. Homeland Security Department intelligence report warns that terrorists are likely to attempt a biological-weapon strike sometime over the next several years, potentially spreading a lethal illness to thousands of people, the Associated Press reported last month (see GSN, Dec. 19, 2008).

Officials fear that terrorists could steal anthrax or another potential disease agent from a laboratory or storage center, AP reported. An attack using such material could inundate regional medical systems with patients and take a disastrous toll on the economy, according to the Homeland Security Threat Assessment for 2008 to 2013.

The report adds that terror attacks involving biological, chemical, radiological or nuclear weapons would remain the most serious security threats to the United States in the coming years, but obstacles to obtaining WMD materials make such strikes less likely than other acts of terrorism.

Al-Qaeda is expected to continue pursuing attacks on the United States aimed at spreading financial havoc and political "turmoil" while killing and injuring as many people as possible, according to the report, which notes that Africa and the Middle East would remain hotbeds of terrorist activity.

Border security is also expected to remain a source of concern over the next five years, the report states.

"The threat of terrorism and the threat of extremist ideologies has not abated," Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said in an end-of-year speech on Dec. 18. "This threat has not evaporated, and we can't turn the page on it" (Eileen Sullivan, Associated Press/Washington Times, Dec. 25, 2008).

January 5, 2009
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A U.S. Homeland Security Department intelligence report warns that terrorists are likely to attempt a biological-weapon strike sometime over the next several years, potentially spreading a lethal illness to thousands of people, the Associated Press reported last month (see GSN, Dec. 19, 2008).