Magazine article The Futurist

Terrorists: Hype and Reality

Magazine article The Futurist

Terrorists: Hype and Reality

Article excerpt

The threat of terrorists armed with chemical and biological weapons, and more-powerful explosives, has prompted government policy makers to spend freely on countermeasures in recent years, according to arms expert Brad Roberts.

"The United States now spends about $10 billion per year in this area, with approximately half devoted to the weapons of mass destruction challenge," writes Roberts in Hype or Reality? The "New Terrorism" and Mass Casualty Attacks, a collection of policy essays published by the Chemical and Biological Arms Control Institute (CBACI).

Large-scale terrorist attacks in the 1990s--including the bombings of the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City and the World Trade Center in New York--may have created an exaggerated fear of mass-casualty attacks in the future, argues Roberts.

For example, the Aum Shinrikyo group's use of sarin in its assaults on the Tokyo subway system quickly heightened global concern about society's vulnerability to the threat of biological terrorism. In fact, the Aum group was unable to actually manufacture biological agents, its attack claimed few victims in Japan, and other terrorist groups have not duplicated the attempt, according to Roberts and security expert Milton Leitenburg. …

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