Bioterrorism: Biological Warfare

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The attacks on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001 captured the nation’s attention and gave a new perspective on terrorism. The concept of such a powerful nation under siege by terrorist seemed hard to grasp and brought fear into the lives of Americans. What ensued in the months, weeks and years after, remains the possibility of another attack. The attacks on 9/11 raised awareness and heightened security of terrorism, and its effects on a nation and its people. In the 21st Century, the term terrorists and terrorism are interchangeably used and is a phenomenon that impacts all nations. Terrorism is an ancient form of war that predates even the earliest of the bloodiest battles of our time. Some describe these extreme acts of terrorism as a strategic defense, or a crime against humanity. Terrorists see themselves as freedom fighters, and are willing to die for their beliefs. The fighting style of these so-called freedom fighters does not have limits and the goal is to annihilate as much of the enemy as possible. The United States Department of Defense defines terrorism as “the use of violence, or the threat of violence to cause fear or intimidation to governments and societies, in which terrorists try and sometimes accomplish political, religious, and ideological goals”(What is Terrorism?, 2010 ). Terrorism comes in many forms. Because of past experiences Western society automatically view terrorism as car bombs, airplane hijackings, suicide bombers, and the threat of a nuclear missile crisis. The real threat however is the possibility of a different and uncommon approach to terror that can be much more effective and deadly, which is bioterrorism. This type of terrorism could perhaps have the most effective means of mass destruction without being visible. This type of terrorist attack consists of chemical, nuclear, and biological agents. The Center for Disease Control, states bioterrorism is “international or threatened use of bacteria, fungi, or toxins from living organisms to produce death or disease in humans, animals, plants and involves intimidation of nations or people to accomplish political or social end”(Philips, 2005 ). This research paper discusses the history of bioterrorism, the many aspects of biological agents, there use, and the defense mechanism used to counter bioterrorism attacks. The history of biological warfare has been in the weapons field for eight centuries now. This type of technology has changed the way of fighting battles, from using traditional weapons to using weapons that are invisible to the human eye. The first encounter of biological agents used during conflict, was in the 6th century. Mesopotamia, which is now modern day Iraq, was land that sits between two rivers. This land constantly kept enemies at war for control. During this time, ‘The Assyrians employed rye ergot, an element of the fungus Claviceps purpurea, which contains mycotoxins” (Phillips, 2005). The soldiers’ of Assyria used this substance by putting it into the water wells of their enemies, which poisoned them whenever they consumed it. When the 14th century came, technology in the military weapons had advanced, and armies started to use catapults. Catapults were used to hurl large stones and spears at the opposing force, but they also seemed to use it for dead bodies. In fact, according to Stefan Riedel, author of Biological warfare and bioterrorism stated “The Tartars, however, converted their misfortune into an opportunity by hurling the cadavers of their deceased into the city, thus initiating a plague epidemic in the city” (Riedel, 2004). This plague was known as The Black Death. The scientific name for the plague is Yersinia pestis that has an affect on rats and fleas. In Stefan Riedel article Plague: from natural disease to bioterrorism, he explained that “humans can become infected after being bitten by fleas that have fed on infected rodents” (Riedel, 2005). This un-curable plague was so contagious, that...
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