Even as the spread of the Islamic State (ISIS) terror group is slowed in the Middle East, its followers continue to perpetrate horrific attacks around the world. Writing at The Times of Israel, terrorism expert Yonah Alexander and nuclear physicist Milton Hoenig explain how a concerted global effort is necessary in order to keep ISIS from pulling off an even greater attack involving biological, chemical, or nuclear weapons:
Just imagine what might happen in the aftermath of the anticipated collapse of Daesh (also known as ISIS, ISIL, Islamic State) in Iraq and subsequently in Syria. Daesh leadership has promised to regain “lost areas,” and its fighters and supporters are orchestrating their deadly attacks in dozens of countries in the Middle East and beyond, including the United States. Since the self-declared “Islamic Caliphate” represents a territorial vision without borders, Daesh is likely to resort, without compunction, to a broad range of biological weapons in battles for regional and global dominance.
In 2016 alone, Daesh operatives planned to contaminate Turkish water sources with bacteria causing tularemia, a potentially fatal human illness; another Daesh-linked plot that involved an anthrax attack in Kenya was foiled by the police; and in Nigeria, the army intercepted poisoned fish allegedly brought into the country by Boko Haram terrorists.
Facing potential biological threats, several European countries have recently focused attention on the looming challenge. The United Kingdom expressed concern that Daesh might weaponize Ebola, Germany hosted an international symposium on protection against biological warfare agents, Italy engaged its scientific community to deal with biological defense, and France performed a nationwide drill to prepare for biological attacks.
The U.S. Government is also concerned with the biothreat, spending billions annually to address it. But federal efforts are incomprehensive and fragmented. A bipartisan Blue Ribbon Study Panel on Biodefense, co-chaired by Senator Joseph Lieberman and Governor Tom Ridge, released a report that identified deficiencies and mapped out actions that the President and Congress should undertake to improve the nation’s capabilities to prevent, deter, and mitigate biological incidents...