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  • Bioweapons

    Does anyone have interest in or knowledge of bioweapons and bioterrorism?
    I have found that few members of the security community are aware of the potential danger of substances that are so readily available to those that wish to do us harm. While I realize that a high school kid can make Thermite ( I did when I was 15 or 16), the weponization of biologic compunds can be far more horrific than the damage created by explosives.

    As an example of availability, I was reading an article this week regarding the weaponization of Botulinum Toxin, commonly known as BOTOX. If you Google Botox, you will find that you can buy a 5ml vial of Botox online for $550. This can be aerosolized and used as a weapon. This is a very real threat yet no one seems to be moving toward methods of preventing or mitigating the damage from such threats. For those in Mall Security, this has been brought up by several sources as a potentially devastating method of attacking the American economy. If you have visited my web site, you know that this is my niche in the industry and I am working to educate anyone interested in learning about this subject. I would be very interested to hear your thoughts on this matter.
    If everyone is thinking alike, then somebody isn't thinking.
    George S. Patton


    www.fedtia.com

  • #2
    A vial of pharmaceutical-grade Botox contains only 0.3% (3 tenths of 1%) of the amount needed to make an individual sick, and 0.005% (5 thousandths of 1%)of the amount needed to kill just one person. As such, pharmaceutical Botox is not considered a practical bioweapon.

    http://www.kcmo.org/health/pdf/chapter7.pdf

    If you want to spread botulism, you'd do better just burying some raw hamburger in the ground for a few weeks and then slipping it into the local Mickey D's meat supply.

    Most bioweapons involving organisms and/or their toxins present very challenging problems for terrorists. Many of these have to do with weaponization, targeting and delivery. It takes a lot of science to weaponize most biological agents.

    More importantly, though, there is also the fact that the nature of bioterror using symptom/disease-producing weapons doesn't really suit the objectives of most terrorists because it doesn't have the publicity type "bang" that a simple explosion causes, literally or figuratively. As long as explosives and other munitions are so cheap and readily available and have the "terrorist effect" on the population, most terrorists will stick with those.

    You mention Botox. Modern medicine, as well as the food and cosmetic industries, use many toxins. If you look at the list of food additives, cosmetic ingredients, etc., you'll find lots of them - but they are only poisonous in huge amounts. I suppose a terrorist could purchase a boxcar load of Coppertone lotion or Pond's cold cream, and distill it down into a teaspoon of some kind of poison.

    And don't forget household cleaners! Mix a little bleach, a little ammonia, add a touch of lye...

    I'm not suggesting that bioterrorism isn't a concern, as it certainly is. We probably are not doing nearly enough to protect the food and water supply. BUT you can't draw a straight line from commercially-available products such as Botox to bioweaponry, that's for sure.

    The first thing you must do in order to evaluate whether something might be a bioweapon is to be sure you understand the science behind it (which isn't nearly as simple as many "bioterror" sites and books suggest) and that you understand the practical weaponry aspects of the agent. Then, you have to understand the economics involved. Then, you have to try to assess the strategic value of the weapon (or lack of it) to terrorists.

    In short, who is going to develop this weapon, and how? At what cost? Targeting whom? Delivered how? For what result? You wade through those questions and you get a better picture of the real nature of the threat. You CANNOT simply make this kind of calculus:

    A. Five grams of pure botulinum toxin could destroy the human race.
    B. Botox contains botulinum toxin.
    C. Therefore, all a terrorist has to do is get his hands on some Botox and he's all set to kill masses of people.

    Conspiracy theorists are famous for this kind of sheit-brained thinking and hysteria. BEWARE THE CONSPIRACY THEORISTS!
    Last edited by SecTrainer; 08-24-2007, 07:12 AM.
    "Every betrayal begins with trust." - Brian Jacques

    "I can't predict the future, but I know that it'll be very weird." - Anonymous

    "There is nothing new under the sun." - Ecclesiastes 1:9

    "History, with all its volumes vast, hath but one page." - Lord Byron

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    • #3
      Thank you for the link AND the information. It is greatly appreciated.
      If everyone is thinking alike, then somebody isn't thinking.
      George S. Patton


      www.fedtia.com

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      • #4
        Sectrainer has a huge point here. The weaponization of bioweapons is hard. It always has been. Its a lot easier to weaponize chemicals, or to simply use explosives.

        The ultimate "big bang," of course, is a special atomic demolition device - or pocket nuke. This would scare the crap out of the enemy (us) far more than a anthrax scare ever did.

        Of course, its kinda hard to get a Russian briefcase nuke into the CONUS, so a dirty bomb's gonna have to be built "breeder reactor in the shed" style. Even then, the time and energy required to do this...

        Is it worth it to the terrorist?

        Terrorists want to scare the crap out of us so that we, as the American/British/Whoever people, force a political change in our government.

        Terrorists: "You people stop or start doing X, or we will do Y till you comply."

        Politicians: "We do not negotiate with terrorists."

        People: "Will you STFU AND DO WHAT THEY SAY THIS IS NOT COOL."

        Politicians from another camp: "Vote for me and I'll do it."

        Al-Queda propaganda videos on YouTube all say the same thing: Vote Democrat.

        The reason for this was the Democratic platform of "ending the war in Iraq." Which, of course, the "terrorists" can use as a moral victory and rallying point for recruiting. "We made several countries occupying your land leave. Come fight for us."

        Its far easier to scare us by blowing something up than by poisoning us. We know that when lots of bombs go off, its "the terrorists." People start getting sick, is it the terrorists, or does McDonalds quality control just suck?
        Some Kind of Commando Leader

        "Every time I see another crazy Florida post, I'm glad I don't work there." ~ Minneapolis Security on Florida Security Law

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        • #5
          Originally posted by N. A. Corbier View Post
          Sectrainer has a huge point here. The weaponization of bioweapons is hard. It always has been. Its a lot easier to weaponize chemicals, or to simply use explosives.

          The ultimate "big bang," of course, is a special atomic demolition device - or pocket nuke. This would scare the crap out of the enemy (us) far more than a anthrax scare ever did.

          Of course, its kinda hard to get a Russian briefcase nuke into the CONUS, so a dirty bomb's gonna have to be built "breeder reactor in the shed" style. Even then, the time and energy required to do this...

          Is it worth it to the terrorist?

          Terrorists want to scare the crap out of us so that we, as the American/British/Whoever people, force a political change in our government.

          Terrorists: "You people stop or start doing X, or we will do Y till you comply."

          Politicians: "We do not negotiate with terrorists."

          People: "Will you STFU AND DO WHAT THEY SAY THIS IS NOT COOL."

          Politicians from another camp: "Vote for me and I'll do it."

          Al-Queda propaganda videos on YouTube all say the same thing: Vote Democrat.

          The reason for this was the Democratic platform of "ending the war in Iraq." Which, of course, the "terrorists" can use as a moral victory and rallying point for recruiting. "We made several countries occupying your land leave. Come fight for us."

          Its far easier to scare us by blowing something up than by poisoning us. We know that when lots of bombs go off, its "the terrorists." People start getting sick, is it the terrorists, or does McDonalds quality control just suck?
          Valid points, all. And again, I appreciate the input. This is about "learning" and I'm doing a great deal of it hear on this board. I agree that explosives still provide the ultimate desired effect for terrorists. It is certainly there goal to gain as much shock value as possible from their actions. And nothing says "hello" like a few dozen people dripping off the walls (what's left of them) and ceiling. As George Tenet so kindly pointed out in his book, it is amazing that we don't have suicide bombers walking into shopping malls. Perhaps I am looking at this from the wrong angle. As you pointed out, terrorism is basically for political change. The issues I see would lean more toward shutting down the country as a whole. Collapsing our economic structure. This would be a more long term, slow process. If the goal was to cripple the United States as a whole, would it not be advantageous to poison our food and water supply, shut down the economy by making our citizens to paranoid to go to the store by blowing up markets (as they did in S. Africa) or as I mentioned shopping malls, etc. or releasing a little good old fashioned Ricin at the super bowl? Would not the question you posed of "is it the terrorists or McD's quality control not cause a panic state if it continued to happen nation wide?
          If everyone is thinking alike, then somebody isn't thinking.
          George S. Patton


          www.fedtia.com

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