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The threat of bio-terrorism

By Muna al-Fuzai

Monday, 24 September 2012

This is not an article about a revolutionary weapon, which if it lands in the wrong hands would kill only a few people. This is a much bigger issue that must be taken seriously.

In an unstable world where technology is advancing rapidly in both military and medical fields, it is important that the public must be made aware of the ever changing threat of terrorism, especially bio-terrorism.

Although the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the eradication of smallpox in 1980, this contagious and deadly virus remains high on the list of possible bio-terror threats. This issue was at the top of the agenda for discussion by several officials at the WHO meeting in Geneva in 2011.

They were not wasting their time and here is why.

The use of biological weapons against civilian populations is an actual threat to national security. Smallpox can be used as a weapon and can be cheaply reproduced today, both technologically and synthetically. It is a highly contagious and deadly disease, unique to humans and is caused by the Variola virus. Smallpox is an airborne virus and is transmitted via face-to-face contact.

During earlier smallpox epidemics, thousands of samples were taken and frozen in various laboratories around the world. As far as we know there are two virus repositories that officially exist; one is in Atlanta, USA, and the other in Novosibirsk, Russia. However, intelligence exists that a number of other countries also have unofficial biological weapon programs, which raises serious concerns.

Are we completely safe and protected from the use of biological weapons against civilians here in Kuwait and the wider Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC)?

To answer this question we need to consider all the threat possibilities and act now. The real threat lies in the possibility of a country using a biological weapon to defend itself or a group of suicidal terrorists using this weapon.

But, will that still ensure that no one will try to restructure the smallpox gene in a sophisticated lab?

I guess not.

In his recommendations for a Global Counter-Terrorism Strata given in April 2006, the former Secretary-General, United Nations, Mr. Kofi Annan, clearly stated, “The most important under-addressed threat relating to terrorism, and one which acutely requires new thinking on the part of the international community, is that of terrorists using a biological weapon.”

I do believe he is right, because there is no proven cure or antiviral treatment for smallpox, once a person is infected with it.

The threat of bio-terrorism is real and small pox is the most deadly virus that can be used as a weapon of mass destruction. It is possible for a group of terrorists to reproduce and deploy this bio-weapon, as information is easily accessible through publications, and even the internet. We already know some terrorists use the internet to learn how to make bombs.

This threat must be taken seriously.

Should a smallpox vaccine be stocked to keep us safe and as a precautionary measure for protecting the Kuwaiti population?

Every country in the GCC needs to address this threat and buy enough vaccines to protect its citizens. They should also have a stockpile of vaccines and a plan must be put in place, which involves coordination between hospitals, police and the military in the event of an attack. Right now Kuwait has no such plan and no such stockpile.

On the other hand, many countries have a readiness plan and are prepared to meet the largest threat of mass destruction in the 21st century, which is smallpox.

For example the USA, UK, Germany, Norway and Malaysia each have a smallpox vaccine stockpile as well as a fully practiced crisis management plan, in case of a smallpox attack.

For the record, Kuwait had earlier prepared a batch of vaccines with the help of US donations during the first Gulf War. Most of these vaccines have expired now and Kuwait must purchase new vaccines to build a stockpile and be prepared for a potential smallpox outbreak.

The smallpox virus has an incubation period that ranges from seven to 17 days without displaying any symptoms. Therefore, any person who contracts the virus can travel around the globe during this incubation period, exposing countless number of people to the deadly virus, without actually realizing that he or she is doing so. This is a virus that can easily result in a global pandemic and it is the responsibility of every government to have a plan in place and be prepared to counter such an eventuality.

This article is a call to all Gulf governments including Kuwait’s, and in particular our Ministry of Health (MOH), asking them to act now and I hope they will.

The lives of millions will be at stake, if we ignore this threat.

(The writer is a columnist at the Kuwait Times, where this article was published on Sept. 23, 2012)

Posted on 24 Sep 12 by Alarabiya.net

[Editor’s Note: This article was taken from a web site that is read by Muslims…I wanted to put this in today for two reasons…#1) they seem to think that Kafirs (non-Muslims) are terrorists, even though it’s their “religion” commands them to terrorize non-Muslims, and #2) they raised a very valid point…Iraq (before we went to war with them the second time) were makers of biological and chemical weapons…that were shipped to Syria before we went to war with them the second time, Iran manufactures biological/chemical weapons of mass destruction (WMD), as well as Al-Qaeda (which in Algeria everyone in an Al-Qaeda terrorist camp were found dead because they erred with their making Bubonic plague which is also known as the Black Plague. Iran wants America and Israel off the globe, while other Muslim countries want America to be an Islamic country and Israel taken off the globe…Iran is working on possibly destroying America with an electro-magnetic pulse (EMP) attack on the electrical grid system in America (and that would, if it is done and is successful, then the U.S. would be put back to the 17th century), or Iran would do a possible chemical/biological attack. Iran has basically told the world that they have terrorist sleeper cells here in America and that they have suit cases of “America’s end”…now whether this is true or not, we do not fully know, but it is logically a very high deduction that they do…after all, we have an Islamic president that that has opened our borders for anyone to come in (as you already know, a high amount of “illegals” caught crossing the Mexican border were Arabic Muslims associated with Hezbollah). So, bottom line is this on my view, I feel America has a good chance of getting attacked against with a chemical/biological WMD. America is not a proactive country anymore, we are a reactive one, so some big cities might have a plan if we are attacked by terrorists with guns running through cities, or a bomb going off, but no one is ready for any chemical/biological attack at all. Military bases are a little ready, but if they do not know they are being attack, their chemical/biological gear is useless.

With being unprepared, and having no plans for emergency actions, America would be doomed, thousands, even millions of lives would be lost. America is not willing to do anything to stop this potential atrocity that will lower our population


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