Israeli Expert - Beware Of
More Than Anthrax
Malcolm A. Kline

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, Israel has developed layers of defenses against most known methods of modern terrorism. 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, Shoham 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 materials 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 ricin; 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 U.S.?
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 threat?
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 menace, 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 anticipated 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 matter?
A. The spraying system has indeed to be fairly sophisticated, 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 missiles 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. materializing threat.
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 nothing is left, practically, for consideration at the time of an actual emergency.
Malcolm A. Kline is editor of the National Journalism Center.
Posted by permission of


This Site Served by TheHostPros