posted on Aug, 15 2008 @ 09:36 AM
There are many misconceptions involving biological weapons. The three most common are that they are easy to obtain, that they are easy to deploy
effectively, and that, when used, they always cause massive casualties.
While it is certainly true that there are many different types of people who can easily gain access to rudimentary biological agents, there are far
fewer people who can actually isolate virulent strains of the agents, weaponize them and then effectively employ these agents in a manner that will
realistically pose a significant threat of causing mass casualties. While organisms such as anthrax are present in the environment and are not
difficult to obtain, more highly virulent strains of these tend to be far more difficult to locate, isolate and replicate. Such efforts require highly
skilled individuals and sophisticated laboratory equipment.
Even incredibly deadly biological substances such as ricin and botulinum toxin are difficult to use in mass attacks. This difficulty arises when one
attempts to take a rudimentary biological substance and then convert it into a weaponized form — a form that is potent enough to be deadly and yet
readily dispersed. Even if this weaponization hurdle can be overcome, once developed, the weaponized agent must then be integrated with a weapons
system that can effectively take large quantities of the agent and evenly distribute it in lethal doses to the intended targets.
During the past several decades in the era of modern terrorism, biological weapons have been used very infrequently and with very little success. This
fact alone serves to highlight the gap between the biological warfare misconceptions and reality. Militant groups desperately want to kill people and
are constantly seeking new innovations that will allow them to kill larger numbers of people. Certainly if biological weapons were as easily obtained,
as easily weaponized and as effective at producing mass casualties as commonly portrayed, militant groups would have used them far more frequently
than they have.
Militant groups are generally adaptive and responsive to failure. If something works, they will use it. If it does not, they will seek more effective
means of achieving their deadly goals. A good example of this was the rise and fall of the use of chlorine in militant attacks in Iraq.