Top Secret Effort By U.K. Scientists: Analyzing Potential Islamic State, al Qaeda Weaponization Of The Ebola Virus; But, The Next Global Pandemic Might Just Be Downloaded From The Internet”
Jamie Doward, writing in the British newspaper, The Guardian, is reporting that “scientists at the Top Secret research unit known as Porton Down, have been assessing the potential use of Ebola as a bio-terrorism weapon,” according to confidential documents. A three-page memo, marked ‘U.K. Secret, U.K.Eyes Only,’ reveals the unit, where chemical, radiological, and biological threats are analyzed, was tasked with evaluating whether terrorist organizations such as al Qaeda and the Islamic State could use the deadly virus to attack Western targets.”
“The heavily redacted document, which has been released under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), reveals that the unit was asked last October to provide “guidance on the feasibility and potential impact of a non-state actor exploiting the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, for bio-terrorism,” Ms. Doward writes.
“The [classified] document goes on to explain that non-state actor threat assessments are “provided by the Joint Terrorism Analysis Center,” while threats to “U.K. deployed forces are provided by Defense Intelligence.” Ms. Doward notes that the memo outlines three possible scenarios…under which terrorists might seek to exploit the Ebola outbreak, which so far, has killed more than 9,000 people in the three most affected countries: Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia.”
“The first scenario is outlined is completely redacted, illustrating the acute sensitivity about the issue,” Ms. Doward observes. “The second scenario,” she writes, “is heavily blacked out; but, according to the memo, “would be both logistically, and technically challenging for a non-state group to undertake. It observes, “Clearly, there are practical issues involved with such a scenario…that of themselves, are often not insurmountable; but, taken together — add enormously to the complexity of successful undertaking this attack,”
“A third, also heavily redacted, scenario “constitutes the most technically challenging of the scenarios considered here.”
“Concerns that terrorist groups might look to “weaponize” Ebola have been raised by several think-tanks, and politicians,” the Guardian noted. “Last year, Francisco Martinez, Spain’s State Secretary for Security, claimed Islamic State fighters were planning to carry out “lone wolf”attacks using biological weapons. Martinez said his belief was informed by listening in to conversations uncovered in secret chat-rooms used by terrorist cells. The claim has since been downplayed by others,” Ms. Doward wrote.
Jeh Johnson, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary, said last October, that “we’ve seen no specific, credible intelligence that the Islamic State is attempting to use any sort of disease, or virus to attack the homeland.”
Dr. Filippa Lentzos, a Senior Research Fellow at King’s College in London, and an expert on bio-terrorism, said terrorists looking to use the virus as a weapon would encounter problems. “It doesn’t spread quickly at all,” she said. “Terrorists are usually after a bang; and, Ebola doesn’t give you that.” On average, a person infected with Ebola, will infect two more people. In a developed country such as the U.K., transmission would be even more limited,” the Guardian wrote.
“People with Ebola are infectious only when they show symptoms,: Lentzos said. “Could terrorists go to West Africa, get infected, then come back and sit on the tube? Sure, but, they’re not likely to be functional very long. They’re going to be very sick, and you’ll see that. So, they would only have a very small window in which to operate. And, in a country with a developed public health system like the U.K., there would be plenty of chances to clamp down on an outbreak.”
“Other potential biological weapons would be more attractive to terrorists, experts suggest.
The Next Global Pandemic May Be Downloaded From The Internet
The article above makes a lot of sense to me; and, I think there would be much more likely other pathogens that terrorists might, or could use — if their intent was to kill lots — millions of people. Andrew Snyder-Beattie, writing in the February 3, 2014 edition of Live Science, “The Next Pandemic Could Be Downloaded From The Internet,” writes that “in October 2012, scientists in California sequenced DNA for the “type H” botulinum toxin. One gram of this toxin,” he writes, “could kill one-half billion people — making it the deadliest substance yet discovered — with no antidote.” “The machines that make it possible to re-create deadly pathogens can be bought on E-Bay. For the first time in human history, knowledge that is discovered — has a reasonable chance of never being forgotten. And, while this would normally be a great thing, it also creates a ratchet effect with dangerous information.” As Nick Bostrom, founder of The Future of Humanity Institute at Oxford University once said: “It is said that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. It is an open question, whether more knowledge is safer. Even if our best bet is that more knowledge is on average good, we should recognize that there are numerous cases in which more knowledge makes things worse.” “In the case of synthetic pathogens,” contends Mr. Synder-Beattie, “our probing could indeed make things much worse — if we aren’t careful.”
David Quammen, contributing writer for National Geographic Magazine, and the author of “Spillover: Animal Infections And The Next Pandemic,” wrote in 2013, “we can’t detach ourselves from emerging pathogens, either by distance or lack of interest. The planet is too small. We’re like the light heavyweight boxer Billy Conn — stepping into the ring against Joe Louis in 1946; we can run, but we can’t hide.” V/R, RCP.