[R-G] Right-Wing Militia behind Anthrax Attacks?
pieinsky at igc.org
Tue Oct 16 08:29:05 MDT 2001
US militia, not bin Laden behind US attacks, says Australian expert
SYDNEY, Oct 16 (AFP) -
The anthrax attacks now spreading terror through the United States are
unlikely to have had anything to do with Osama bin Laden, Australia's
leading authority on terrorism said Tuesday.
Clive Williams, a specialist in terrorism at the Australian National
University (ANU) in Canberra, believes the evidence points to right-wing US
"I think the first instances of it, the ones involving media, were more
likely to have been caused by extremist militia in the US who have shown an
interest in anthrax in the past and tried to acquire it," he told AFP.
"The subsequent instances were basically copy-cat episodes by mentally
unbalanced people, I believe."
Williams, widely acknowledged as Australia's leading authority on the
subject, is preparing a graduate course in terrorism for the ANU's Strategic
and Defence Studies Centre.
Speaking 24 hours after Australia was plunged into chaos and panic because
of a series of hoaxes involving "suspicious" packages of white powder, he
said Australia, in reality, is in little danger from bio-terrorist attack.
However, up to 16 buildings were evacuated on Monday because of hoax
packages and authorities reported dozens more were received on Tuesday.
Williams believes Australia is better prepared than almost any other country
to deal with bio-terrorist attack because of the planning and equipment
acquired for last year's Olympics in Sydney.
"Australians can rest assured that our government agencies are world class
in their ability to react quickly and deal with any potential terrorist
bioligical threats. Armageddon is not around the corner."
He believes the US attacks have involved the use of a form of anthrax
readily available to scientists and researchers.
"But what is rare is the weaponised version of it which is much more
dangerous and has a high lethality rate, but that is not available and is
difficult to manufacture," he said.
"In the United States there has only been one instance in which it was
alleged there was an airborne spore, but that could have been because
somebody touched anthrax and then picked their nose. I'm not convinced that
any of the instances in the US involved the weaponised variety."
But he said the only anthrax the US militia groups could have acquired was
the type with the potential to cause illness and which is readily treatable
A photo editor died on October 5 from respiratory anthrax at American Media
Inc. in Boca Raton, Florida.
Three other people who have since developed the disease were employees of
media companies, triggering suspicions of a bioterrorist campaign by bin
Laden, who is blamed for the September 11 terrorist attacks in the US.
In an article for The Australian newspaper, Williams said few terrorist
groups in the world had demonstrated an interest in bioterrorism and fewer
still had tried to acquire biological agents.
One that did was Japan's Aum Shinrikyo sect which had among its members
biochemists who tried to develop biological weapons using anthrax, but gave
up after nine attempts, deciding instead to focus on sarin gas, a chemical
agent. The sect's 1995 sarin attack on Tokyo's subway system killed 11 and
injured around 5,500.
Williams said it has proved extremely difficult to cause mass casualties
with a biological agent although four people had died in one particular
incident. A leakage of anthrax in the Soviet Union also caused many deaths
decades ago, but that was the weaponised variety, he said.
"So far, no terrorist group has been successful at culturing a virulent
agent capable of causing mass casualties and it is likely to be some time
before this capability exists," he added.
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