It’s no secret that the lone-wolf threat to Europe is bad, and worsening. However, it’s not just an increasing number of lone wolves, but the variety of tactics they’ll employ in terror’s service that makes prevention a challenge. 

It’s no secret that the lone-wolf threat to Europe is bad, and worsening.

According to Britain’s Security Minister and top counter-terrorism officer, Ben Wallace, it is likely that a biological or chemical terror attack is on the horizon. At a security conference in London, last Tuesday Wallace warned, “The only limit to the ambition of our adversaries is their imagination.

Chemical and biological weapons are getting closer.

Chemical and biological weapons are getting closer. They have developed and worked on a better arsenal. We have to be prepared for the day when that comes to our streets.” Implicit in his remarks was the notion that counter-terror specialists, as well as governments, must be equally imaginative in their pro-activity.

One major challenge governments face in trying to thwart chemical and biological attacks is the scale. If one person releases tiny amounts of a chemical agent like Anthrax, it could have implications for hundreds, or, millions of people. Traffic flow disruptions, water supply tainting, exposure areas untouchable, these are just some of the possibilities. 

Governments and private contractors have little experience with bio-terrorism. If terrorists were to release biotoxins in civilian areas, the damage could be enormous.

A terrorist need only infect one person, who could then infect her (sic) social circles. Epidemic exposure rates could be a reality faster than you can say Cipro, bringing repercussions on a global scale. The terrorists would need to do very little. The disease would naturally spread at a velocity that grows exponentially.

The probability of these attacks is increasing, and it’s time that governments took note. Currently, there is no international system in place specifically to combat chemical and bio-terror.

If a terrorist infected someone with a biological agent in New York, and then that person flew to Germany infecting people in Berlin, German and American authorities would have no pre-existing framework within which they could cooperate, info-share about how to stop the disease’s transmission, and help those infected. 

The international community will have to work together with maximum efficiency. Unfortunately, it seems governments, unlike terrorists themselves, have a fixed view of terrorism.

It is critical that such a framework is in place before the scenario unfolds. In the event of a biological or chemical terror attack, time will be of the essence. The international community will have to work together with maximum efficiency. Unfortunately, it seems governments, unlike terrorists themselves, have a fixed view of terrorism.

Governments use major resources to plan for shooters, suicide bombers, and other common acts of terror. Diversifying those resources and intensifying the focus on biological and chemical terrorism could, in the future, save countless lives.

Kate Kleinle

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