Factors and Motivations That Influence Biological Warfare

Category: Motivation, Terrorism, Water
Last Updated: 16 Apr 2021
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Many troops during the years of World War I met their demise in what is arguable the most terrifying and inhumane of all military tactics - biological warfare. Soldiers inhaled a deadly acidic gas that burned them from the inside out, suffocating them in an excruciating and unimaginable pain. Kurth Audrey, a professor of strategy at the U. S. National War College in Washington, stated: “Science is as neutral as a knife; it may maybe a blessing or a curse depending on the heart and the mind of the man who holds it. ” Terrorists organizations are motivated by many factors to use biological warfare.

If a terrorist organization has the concepts of science down, as a neutral knife, then they can produce weapons that can fulfill their agenda, whether it is something that has to do with reputation, politics, or religion. Many factors contribute to terrorists using this type of warfare, which stimulates the motivations of terrorist organizations. These factors range from; access to information, cost, ease of dissemination, availability, access to technology, and difficulty of detection. Biological warfare is a dangerous type of warfare, than can cause severe damage to a population of people, crops, or animals.

It can also cause harm to the one that is dispersing the biological agent, which causes one to think, why would someone use this type of warfare? Biological agents are often simpler to attain and produce than chemical weapons that can cause mass destruction in a population. The material for biological agents can easily be grown or purchased. There are some agents, such as Anthrax or Brucellosis, which occur naturally in animals in certain parts of the world , and individuals can acquire these agents just by traveling the globe to where these agents grow.

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For an example, the Aum Shinrikyo cult was reported to have gone to Zaire, a place in Africa, to seek the strains of Ebola for its use in its bio-weapons program.  Until recently, anyone could order agents from supple houses around the world. In 1995, American Type Culture Collection (ATCC), a mail order company that provides biological products, shipped the bacteria, Anthrax, to Saddam Hussein's biological warfare program in Iraq. Just like the increase of technology throughout the decades, there is also an increase of availability of information related to chemical and biological weapons.

Information on how to create biological weapons can be taken from articles within scientific literature on a variety of topics, which only requires a trained scientist to understand. The Internet has created forums on which terrorists groups can reach out, recruit members, and spread messages. It also makes a large library of information available to just about anyone who is interested on the production of biological agents. One resource that is found online is, Bacteriological Warfare: A Major Threat to North America, which is written by Larry Wayne Harris of the Aryan Nation. This manual describes the reproduction and growth of biological agents, and can be purchased for only $30. Another resource available is called, Silent Death, which instructs the reader in ways to kill using chemical and biological poisons. According to the publisher of this book, it sells thousands of copies each year. Bio-engineers are now armed with knowledge on how to cease biological agents, as well as the effects of the agents upon a population.

According to Ken Alibek, who supervised the Soviet bio warfare program, “Although the mos-sophisticated and effected versions of biological weapons require considerable equipments and scientific expertise, primitive versions can be produced in a small area with minimal equipment by someone with limited training... They would be relativity inexpensive and easy to produce.” To produce bio-weapons, a terrorist organization must have access to a scientist with some graduate training in the fields of microbiology or genetic engineering.

The political and economic situation in Russia created a supply of bio warfare scientists who were not being paid and were unable to provide for themselves or their families. Regardless of the political, moral and ethical standards of these scientists, it is reasonable to expect that many of those scientists are now working for terrorist organizations around the world. Iraq scientists discovered which strains to order by reviews in American scientific journals, which are located at American Type Culture Collection in Rockville, Maryland.

For thirty-five dollars, they also picked up strains of tularemia and Venezuelan equine encephalitis once targeted for weaponization at Fort Detrick. The knowledge that is learned, and the availability of the biological agents, caused the relative ease of production of the agents, storage they can be contained in, dissemination factors, increased safety for the troops handling the binary agents, and the less complicated processes of demilitarization.

The cost of producing and deploying biological weapons is less expensive than chemical weapons; the materials, equipment, and production space are all so inexpensive, any terrorist organization can afford them. According to an Office of Technical Assessment (OTA) Report, the cheapest overt production of one nuclear bomb costs $200 million, with larger programs costing up to 50 times more. In contrast, a large arsenal costs less than $10 million dollars. Kathleen Bailey, found through interviews with professors, students, and scientists, that all that was needed to create a biological weapons program capable of producing large amounts of agents, would be several biologists with $10,000 worth of equipment – all of which who could fit into the same room. This then causes many terrorists organizations to actually be capable of producing a biological agent. Dissemination of biological agents can be simple and inexpensive. There are a variety of different ways they can be delivered.

The simplest methods of dissemination are through the contamination of food products or water. This method only requires direct access to any food product or water- preferably during the purification stages of that food product or of that water. Biological agents can also be dispersed through the contamination of agriculture, indirect transmission through animals, and direct contact, such as the assassination of Georgi Markov in 1978 through a ricin- containing pallet that was shot into his thigh.

Dissemination through aerosol or vapor into an enclosed area or the open air is more complex than just through food products or water. Biological agents released into the air, such as through the release of vapors from a crop duster, are subject to biological decay, physical decay, atmospheric thermal stability, wind speed, and dimension of the land surface. The dissemination of agents is more predictable in rural areas than urban regions. The agents must be able to withstand the stress of the dissemination, environmental factors, and physical obstructions.

Researchers have found, however, that dissemination of agents at night or enclosed dark areas, such as subways or tunnels, can be particularly effective. Biological agents can be extremely lethal, some biological agents create more deadly affects than others, such as Anthrax. According to the Department of Defense, ten kilograms of Anthrax can cause more damage than a ten kiloton nuclear weapon. This form of warfare can lead a military down by 90% through the intentions of militarization, by giving the military that dispensed the biological agents a form of character.

Since most individuals are not vaccinated for different types of diseases, such as smallpox, it can lead to millions of people dying. Small pox is an example of a bacteria that can cause up to 2 million people, if being exposed to a society, to die because of the complete absence of prevention and control measures since 1970, because people do not believe that this disease will emerge again. It has such a high mortality rate (one in three people die) and infectiousness (on average, one person will infect three additional people).

Politics seams to be the cause of many disasters from the corrupt French government in 1740 which led to the brutal French Revolution, to the rebellions of Aum Shinrikyo, which formed their own structure based on the Japanese government. Aum Shinrikyo attracted followers that opposed the Japanese government, in the late 1980's and 1990's, which caused their group to become larger. Their goal was to pursue terrorist violence in competition with rival groups that Shoko Asahara, the leader of this violent group, feared would attract support away from Aum Shinrikyo.

Their next goal was to take over the Japanese government. On March 1194, Aum Shinrikyo tried to assassinate the leader of a rival religious sect, the Soka Gakkai, but failed because the spraying system mounted on a van malfunction and contaminated its operators. However, the second attempt occurred in Mastumoto on June 27th, 1994, the members working with the biological agents of Aum Shinrikyo, improved the spraying system, which targeted three judges who were expected to rule against the sect in a land dispute. This later resulted in the injuries of 500, including the three political judges they were after.

In September 1984, Rajneeshee religious cult the Dalles, Orgeon grew Salmonella typhimurium to manipulate the results of the November 1984 election. They planned to buss homeless people into their commune and register them as voters, and make the opposing voters sick and unable to vote. They then poisoned to county commissioners by using the method of dissemination of contaminating water with salmonella typhiurium, which caused both the commissioners to become sick. The cult then contaminated ten Dallas restaurants, which opened up 751 cases of salmonella. The uses of these pathogens by both these two different groups, had the attentions of manipulating whatever they deemed was politically corrupted. Biological agents can be small and easy to transport.

William Patrick, who left the US biological Weapons Development Program around 1969, regularly carries a vial containing a stimulant for anthrax, just to test whether or not it will be detected. In 1999, he brought the vial with him into a hearing of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence without being detected and claimed to make the same move at the State Department, the Pentagon, and the CIA. Many have traveled through airports, with high-tech security, around the world carrying equipment for deploying these biological agents through the air and never were stopped to explain the purpose for the equipment. The first signs of an attack may not even come until weeks after the agent has been deployed. Thus, by the time the authorities determine an attack has taken place, the perpetrators could be anywhere in the world, trying to escape what they have done.

Biological attacks can be mistaken for naturally occurring disease outbreaks. Because of the difficulty in detecting a biological weapons attack, it is almost impossible to lay blame on a particular group or individual for the outbreak. As technology, and information on the biological fields of science increase, so do the potential threats of this type of warfare. It has been examined closely to how the factors help contribute to this type of warfare, as well as how motivation leads for this type of warfare to become some-what successful.

The main major factor of groups to use this type of warfare would be religion. Religion plays a tremendous role in human misery, from wars, such as the crusades, to the use of biological weapons targeted at specific religious groups. When terrorism is involved in the name of religion, such as Al-Qaida, it is often motivated by violence that is regarded as “divine duty” which justifies bloodshed. One of the hallmarks of a religious terrorist is the unquestioned willingness to kill a large number of people without conscience behind their agendas.

Since biological warfare is very effective in killing mass number of people, many religious extremist groups use this form of warfare to justify their actions, and views on religion. Terrorists groups have reputations that attract many people. Acquiring such massive biological weapons, or producing such complicated weapons, brings the terrorist group a high-rank reputation as well as to be seen as having no boundaries. It then makes it easier for the terrorist group to achieve their agendas. Aum Shinrikyo cult is an example that uses both of these motivations.

Their attack in the subway system in 1995 not only caused the successful attack of fifty-five hundred people, according to their agenda, but had gotten people to realize their dangerous element; the involvement of highly intelligent and educated people, in which some are considered to be Japan's brightest scientists, computer technicians, and trained professionals. Even by the standards of cults, the Aum were a strange bunch. Among other things, members believed in the virtues of levitation and coffee enemas. They also wore elaborate radio sets on their heads so as to better hear the thoughts of their Leader.

Despite their unusual ideas, the cult attracted a number of educated followers with scientific and technical abilities. It is a discouraging fact: religious cults may be strange and oblivious, but that doesn't prevent them from attracting capable intelligent followers - or to pursue their doomsday agendas. This type of warfare is an inhumane, dangerous type of warfare, that has killed dozens of people. If we actually take the factors into consideration, than we can lower the motivation and the prevent the further productions of these biological weapons.


  1. http://www.bibliotecapleyades.net/sociopolitica/esp_sociopol_AUM01.htm

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Factors and Motivations That Influence Biological Warfare. (2017, Mar 22). Retrieved from https://phdessay.com/factors-and-motivations-that-influence-biological-warfare/

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