Biological Weapons and their Creation

Terrorists use violence for the purpose of creating fear to their target population. It’s a way of bringing their specific political objective to be known (Carus, 2017). The menace of terrorism has been systematically and widely been practiced by various groups for right and leftist objectives. Some of these political organizations include revolutionaries, religious groups, and even state institutions like police, armies and also intelligence services. Revolutionary warfare employs terror to achieve its purpose, however, terrorism has a certain strategic plan which is quite different in comparison to those of national or political organizations aiming to take charge of a state. The use of violence means towards non-combatants by politically motivated terrorist has in the 21st century become one of most great concern to many nations across the globe.


The old phenomenon of demoralizing and intimidation, have led to many lives being lost and several victims left with both physical and psychological injuries (Carus, 2017). The terror attack that occurred in the US on September 11, 2001, opened a new level of possibility of more lethal attacks to inflict maximum damages to innocent civilians. Lives of more than 3,000 people were lost as a result of simultaneous attacks which were the responsibility of al-Qaeda terrorist group. Due to this attack, the infrastructures and buildings running into billions of dollars were incurred. The attack elaborates the intense of a single terror attack can do to a nation. The terror group involved had its terror cells stationed in many countries around the world which could reconstitute and reshape as commanded by their senior echelon of leaders. The al-Qaeda terror group was a no state organization which could strike its target when list expected. In recent times the use of biological has become one of the terrorist next method to further advocate their evil agenda. In this research paper, the discussion will be about biological weapons and creation of an action plan to stop bioterrorism.


The historical background of biological weapons


            Underdeveloped types of biological weapons have been used many centuries back. It is known that during the 6th century BC, the fungus was used by Assyrians to poison enemy wells and hence render them rambling (Turner, 2018). Increase in knowledge about germ theory propelled the advancement of various techniques in microbiology which has led to sophisticated bio-agents. During World War I, the Imperial German government used anthrax and glanders in biological sabotage. Some other notable instances which used of biological agent is in the pre-Christian era include, about 300 B.C., animal corpses were used by Greeks to pollute the wells of their sworn foes. The method was also practiced by the Persians and Romans. The battle of Tortona in Italy highlights another example of the use of bio-agents to contaminate water of their enemies. Emperor Barbarossa’s soldiers used the remains of dead soldiers and animals to carry out this objective (Turner, 2018). When plague stroked the Tartars army in the 14th century during the Kaffa’s capture, the Tartars catapult the corpses of their allies towards the partition of Kaffa city, this resulted to a drastic change in the stand-off. The Genoese fled the city and talk with them the disease.


            Additional evidence of usage of biological war can be traced during the blockade of Carolstein, it is believed that the Lithuanian soldiers catapulted dead bodies of captured soldiers into the city. There was widespread of fever across the city population which made them be extremely scared. Between the years (1754-1767) during French-Indian War, a commander of the British army, ordered distribution of blankets infected with smallpox to hostile Indian tribes in order to counter their population (Turner, 2018). The revival of the virus lasted among these native people for a period of more than 200 years.   


Biological weapons


Biological weapons are also referred to germ weapon. It involves certain agents which cause diseases such as viruses, fungi, bacteria, rickettsia, toxins and many other biological elements. The biological agents may be used by a terrorist as weapons against humans for the purpose of harming them and with the motive of pushing forward their agenda. Just like nuclear weapons, chemical weapons, and radiological weapons, the biological weapons can also be called weapons of mass destructions (Klaus, 2018). The term “weapon of mass destruction” may not be quite appropriate, when used to describe biological armaments. Biological weapons are not capable of destruction of buildings, equipment’s and infrastructure systems as compared to the other but can cause massive death when released to the population. However, due to indiscriminative and lethal nature of biological weapons, most of the countries have agreed to classify it as a weapon of mass destruction.


Biological weapons are capable of setting off a pandemic that would be difficult to control. In 1972, Biological Weapons Convention (BWC), opened a signature in order to prohibit its member states from developing, producing, stockpiling, deploying and testing biological weapons (Klaus, 2018). Nevertheless, the majority of the member states have adamantly continued to engage in testing their biological capabilities, to seek for cheaper but deadly weapons as opposed to the expensive process of making nuclear weapons. The threat of terrorist manufacturing or taking by force of these biological weapons is imminent and one of the emerging security concern.


The types of organism used in the process of making these weapons affect their lethality, stability, time of incubation, infectiousness and the process of reversing the effect of the weapons by use of current medicines and vaccines (Klaus, 2018). The five-biological organism that can be used to make biological weapons include bacteria-this is a single-cell microbe that results in diseases such as plague anthrax, brucellosis, and tularemia. Secondly, rickettsia- can be described as a microbe that has a similar appearance as bacteria but is different in the sense that the organisms are intracellular parasites and multiply as well as reproducing inside cells. Some of the notable disease caused by rickettsia include Typhus and Q fever.


Thirdly, viruses-they are intracellular parasites, their size is approximately 1/100 compared to the expanse of bacteria, they can be bioengineered to spread conditions such as Venezuelan equine encephalitis. Fourthly, fungi- they are pathogens which can be processed and create destructions of food crops by causing diseases such as potato blight, cereal rust, rice blast, wheat smut. Fifthly, toxins—they are poisons obtained from plants and animals and can be extracted to make as biological weapons. Some of the animals used to extract toxins include spiders, insects, snakes, plants, fungi, bacteria and marine organisms. Toxins such as ricin are derived from the seeds of the castor beans.


The biological agents which can be used to cause devastation are easily produced, are cheap and have a very high probability of inflicting maximum damage to the body and objects even when a small amount is used for attacks. Through the use of the internets, unemployed scientists and criminal individuals use the available documents, procedures, and processes for preparing these bioweapons are becoming increasingly accessible.  Getting access to the pathogens is easy since most of them occur naturally within our environment or are being researched in labs, universities or in military facilities (Ózsvári et al., 2015). Terrorists can use the bioweapons facilities in legitimate industrial facilities to make their weapons.  


Bioterrorism


            Bioterrorism is explained as the intentional harming of people, animals, or plants by use of biological mediums such as; viruses, bacteria, toxins or any other biological agent. Most of the biological agents are zoonotic in nature which has brought much concern and heightened awareness on the use of animals in terrorism (Ózsvári et al., 2015). Animal caregivers and farmers are the ones who can diagnose and spot the early cases of these barbaric act when animals are used. Documentation of the biological agents which can be used in an act of terrorism has been grouped categories A, B, and C. In class A, the mediums and conditions are spread from animals to humans, person to person, and can cause a very high mortality rate and overwhelm the public facilities in the affected area. In this category, an exception is given for smallpox since it does not have an animal reservoir.


The agents in category B are not as lethal as those in category A. When the agents of category B are released, they result to lower mortality and morbidity rates. The agents and diseases in category C, are the emerging pathogens which can be manipulated through engineered to cause mass dissemination. Although most people in the society are knowledgeable on the precautionary measures to use in preventing bioterrorism, there is much which is required to be done in order to end acts such as terrorism. More advanced modern laboratory equipment and skilled scientists are required to scrutinize disease agents, control and investigate these pathogens (Ózsvári et al., 2015). Strict international measures should be put in place for the sole purposes of controlling the access of these dangerous biological agents by authorized personnel. Scientists and researchers working in research laboratories should be given the critical role of active surveillance for the biological agents and diseases so as to prevent and eliminate bioterrorism agents.


Action plan to stop bioterrorism


            The risk of a bioterrorism attack is somehow different from other forms of terror attacks that we face today. Bioterror attacks involve the use of improvised explosives or chemical threat which may accompany nuclear attacks. Since the nature of the biological attack is similar to the common diseases and other infectious ailments, a more advanced strategy is required (Mardani " Rezapour, 2017). Thoughtful understanding of epidemic diseases is required to curb this threat. Different forms of approaches and cooperation’s between individual countries are required.


            The programmes that are put in place by nations to prevent attacks are inadequate without proper investments with various partners’ states.  Biological terrorism is a global threat and cannot be taken lightly as a “lights and sirens” form of attack. In case biological attack has occurred, there is no immediate signal to clearly distinguish it from that of a naturally occurring disease. The attack will most likely unfold as an epidemic, infecting the majority of the population before the authority realize it’s an attack towards its citizens (Mardani " Rezapour, 2017). Identification of an attack would most likely be noted when affected victims start showing up in hospitals with similar symptoms or mysterious ailments. Moreover, it will be impossible to trace the culprits or the area where the disease was released- or clarify if the disease was occurring naturally or it was a terror attack.


            In case of terror attacks, the first people who are at a higher chance of detecting the problem would be the medical practitioner. However, in most circumstances, detection of the problem would be delayed since most medical facilities are not prepared with the diagnostic equipment to precisely analyze the samples of the biological agents (Mardani " Rezapour, 2017). Unfortunately, even if the correct diagnosis is made, there will be the marginal rate of interventions and success. Due to the contagion or prolonged exposure to the general population, there is a great window of the outbreak to persist for months to years. The accuracy and speed of diagnosing and intervention to a biological attack are paramount to reducing fatality and managing the outbreak.


Response to the threat of bioweapons


            In case there is an immense suspicion of an attack, it is important to put several strategic action plans within reach. The existing measures, however, either need to be expanded or restructured, with additional initiatives and policies being formulated and embedded. The most vital action to implement is to acknowledge that health practitioners are part of this important team of national security team when fighting bioterrorism (Vilcinskas, 2015). Public health experts should be involved in the National Security Council and be involved in Homeland Security.


            In the current times, security personnel’s have supported the initiative of availing modern equipment so as to help public health systems to diagnose, track and prevent these contagious diseases (Vilcinskas, 2015). The facilities are among the major pillars posing bioterror attacks in case they land in the hands of the criminals. It is the high time for the government to fund these neglected, undercapitalized and fragmented public health facilities as a way of countering bioterror attacks. Uplifting the facilities involves injecting the required amounts from the government directed to implementing measures to counter bioterror attacks. In the first step, there is need to strengthen and expand capable and effective monitoring system that can speedily detect and relay accurate information on any suspicious symptoms or infections.  The strategy requires improved epidemiologic competence, retaining medical personnel on new procedures to follow. Furthermore, construction of more laboratories and equipping them with the machines that can speedily and accurately identify the dangerous pathogens would be deemed necessary in the fight against bioterrorism. Secondly, there is need to set up communication systems that are linked to various health facilities to enhance the detection of information between various groups which might be planning a bioterror attack.


            In conclusion, preventing bioterror attack prior to its happening is the greatest precaution to avert disaster. Bosting intelligence on proliferation and manufacturing of biological weapons is an ounce of prevention. Surveillance team will benefit in great extent from data and reports from medical experts about their scientific findings. To achieve this, there is a need for co-operation between the intelligent department, public health, law enforcers and researchers. Since most of the laboratories are functional, a close monitoring and regulation are required to prevent tools of current genomic biology do not end up developing biological pathogens. Safe handling and storage of the scientific materials are required in controlling their availability.  The government is should ensure proper registration process and monitor import and export of these dangerous pathogens. The intended use of biological agents should be clearly documented and disclosed. Finally, International partnering will seal the deal of preventing and stopping the threat posed bioterror attacks.


                  


References


Carus, W. S. (2017). A century of biological-weapons programs (1915–2015): reviewing the evidence. The Nonproliferation Review, 24(1-2), 129-153.


Klaus, S. (2018). A Brief Review of Biothreats and Biodefense.


Kwo, J., " Johnson, D. W. (2018). DISASTER MEDICINE, BIOTERRORISM, AND EBOLA. Critical Care Secrets E-Book, 457.


MARDANI, M., " REZAPOUR, M. (2017). AGRO TERRORISM, DEFINITION, EFFECTS AND PREVENTION.


Ózsvári, L., Kasza, G., " Lakner, Z. (2015). The history and importance of bioterrorism.


Pal, M., Tsegaye, M., Girzaw, F., Bedada, H., Godishala, V., " Kandi, V. (2017). An overview of biological weapons and bioterrorism. Am J Biomed Res, 5, 24-34.


Turner, S. (2018). Caging the genies: a workable solution for nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons. Routledge.


Vilcinskas, A. (2015). Pathogens as biological weapons of invasive species. PLoS Pathogens, 11(4), e1004714.

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