BioterrorismTerrorists could use coronavirus as example for future biological attack – expert warns
Terrorism experts are warning that the coronavirus pandemic could be used as a template for future biological attacks by either state or non-state actors. Security experts with the Council of Europe say that terrorists, assessing the impact of the coronavirus, would now recognize the fact that they can use biological weapons to inflict a major blow on Western countries (or, for that matter, on any country). According to these experts, the virus has exposed how vulnerable modern societies are.
Terrorism experts are warning that the coronavirus pandemic could be used as a template for future biological attacks by either state or non-state actors.
So far, the coronavirus has infected more five-and-a-half million people around the world, leading to the death of more than 350,000, and caused an economic downturn not seen since the 1930s’ Great Depression.
DWreports that security experts with the Council of Europe say that terrorists, assessing the impact of the coronavirus, would now recognize the fact that they can use biological weapons to inflict a major blow on Western countries (or, for that matter, on any country). According to these experts, the virus has exposed how vulnerable modern societies are.
The Council of Europe said in a statement: “The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated the vulnerability of modern societies to viral infections and their potential for disruption.
The intentional use of a pathogen or other biological agent for the purpose of terrorism may prove highly effective and cause damage – both human and economic – on a far grander scale than ‘traditional’ terrorist attacks, paralyzing societies for prolonged periods, spreading fear and sowing distrust far beyond those communities immediately affected.
All countries are vulnerable to bioterrorism.
Its damage is rapid and potentially global.
It is necessary to strengthen preventive bioterrorism measures by means of competent interinstitutional intervention and effective international cooperation.”
The Council stressed, though, that there have been no reports of a planned terrorist bioattack.
The UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres also warned that terrorists could also seize on the opportunity to strike. He said:
The weaknesses and lack of preparedness exposed by this pandemic provide a window onto how a bioterrorist attack might unfold – and may increase its risks.
“Non-state groups could gain access to virulent strains that could pose similar devastation to societies around the globe.
We are seeing stigma, hate speech, and white supremacists and other extremists seeking to exploit the situation.
We are witnessing discrimination in accessing health services.
Refugees and internally displaced persons are particularly vulnerable.
And there are growing manifestations of authoritarianism, including limits on the media, civic space and freedom of expression.”
The Daily Express reports that U.S. and U.K. intelligence and defense officials have also expressed their fear of a potentially damaging bioweapon.
Chris Phillips, the former head of the U.K. government’s National Counter Terrorism Security Office, warned of the potential for a laboratory-created virus.
Phillips stated in the wake of the virus’s outbreak that COVID-19 had now highlighted just how vulnerable the world is. “If you were a hardened terrorist and had worked in a lab for years, you would know how to do it,” he said
Robert Kadlec, assistant secretary for preparedness and response at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, told NBC News how the virus could greenlight a potential attack.
He said: “Many of the very worst-case characteristics of an intentional event are also being seen in this naturally occurring pandemic.”