Germ Warfare; We Must Prepare for Attack, Warns Midland Scientist A Birmingham Scientist Has Called for Emergency Medical Staff to Be Educated about the Risks of Biological Warfare. MARTIN BANKS Reports

Article excerpt

AS a former doomsday cult leader today started a life sentence for an horrific nerve gas attack in Japan that killed 12 people, a Birmingham professor has issued a chilling warning that a similar attack could happen in Britain.

Thousands of commuters were also taken ill after Yoshihiro Inoue, 30, and four Aum Shinri Kyo agents spread deadly sarin nerve gas in subway trains in the Tokyo subways during morning rush hour in 1995.

Inoue was a close advisor to former cult guru Shoko Asahara, now on trial for masterminding the gassing and other crimes.

In deciding against sentencing Inoue to death, the court accepted the defence's argument the defendant had been brainwashed by the cult.

Now a growing number of health experts fear that similar cults, despots, extremists and cranks could use biological terrorism to further their aims.

Among them is Professor Richard Wise, from the City Hospital's Department of Medical Microbiology.

Catapulted

He spoke recently on the subject at a three-day Pathology 2000 conference at the International Convention Centre in Birmingham.

Prof Wise says: 'Biological warfare is actually not new.

'As early as the 14th century it is recorded that armies beseiging a Ukranian city catapulted plague cadavers into it to intimidate the resident population.'

More recently after the Gulf War, United States inspectors found a wide range of biological materials, including 20,000 litres of solution containing botulinum toxin and a fighter aircraft fitted with pesticide sprays amongst the Iraqi arsenal.

And following the horrific Tokyo subway attack investigators discovered that the same cult was working on the possibility of using the Ebola virus, botulinum toxin, anthrax and other, potentially-lethal chemicals in more attacks.

They had also acquired a spray helicopter, presumably for the purpose of releasing their killer substances. …