RealNews

Technical Hurdles Separate Terrorists From Biowarfare

Hoping to hasten the doomsday their leader foretold, scientists who were members of Japan’s Aum Shinrikyo cult brewed batches of anthrax in the early 1990s and released it from an office building and out the back of trucks upwind of the Imperial Palace. But the wet mixture kept clogging the sprayers the Aum Shinrikyo scientists had rigged up, and, unbeknown to them, the strains of anthrax they had ordered from a commercial firm posed no danger to anyone. Frustrated by their failure at biowarfare, they turned to a less arduous method of mass killing — chemical attack — and in 1995 killed 12 Tokyo subway riders by releasing sarin gas in the tunnels. The cult’s experiences demonstrate just a few of the myriad technical obstacles that terrorists who might try to manufacture biological weapons could face, problems that would confound even skilled scientists who tried to help them, biological warfare experts say. Full Story

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