The Increasing Threat of Biochemical Terrorism Has Security Experts on High Alert

Crossing the Threshold: The Increasing Threat of Biochemical Terrorism

Source: Intelligence Project ct/ip-4a1.html

A microbiologist with neo-Nazi connections has provided the extremist underground with a detailed blueprint for waging biological terrorism.

Larry Wayne Harris, 44, of Columbus, Ohio, claims that his self-published Bacteriological Warfare: A Major Threat To North America is designed to help readers survive a biological attack. But the scope and depth of information in the book also make it an effective do-it-yourself manual for mass destruction through biological terrorism.

Publication of the book comes at a time when the Patriot movement is awash in rumors about impending biological warfare against Americans. Harris, a lieutenant in the Ohio chapter of Aryan Nations, actively promotes this theory.

Harris released his guide to plague warfare in late 1995 and is selling it for $28.50 over the Internet and on Florida anti-abortion leader Jeff Baker’s short-wave radio broadcasts. He plundered U.S. Army technical and field manuals for the material included in the book.

Bacteriological Warfare is a solidly researched -- if sometimes bizarre -- guide to the cultivation, retention and deployment of biological agents. The 131-page book provides extensive information on a host of deadly bacteria and the diseases they produce. Special focus is given to five potent biological agents: anthrax, bacillary dysentery, brucellosis, cholera and bubonic plague. Harris also includes detailed instructions for preparing the antibiotic terramycin, an essential substance in handling deadly biological agents in substandard laboratory conditions.

A former member of the National Alliance, Harris came to national attention in May 1995 after officials at a research laboratory became suspicious of his purchase of four vials of freeze-dried, bubonic plague cultures. They tipped off law enforcement agents.

Authorities soon determined, to their amazement, that the purchase and possession of this extremely virulent form of bacterium was not illegal. Federal prosecutors were able to charge Harris with three counts of mail fraud and one count of wire fraud because he had given his Ohio employer’s state lab permit number for a personal delivery to his home. In December 1995, he plea-bargained down to one wire fraud count in return for a guilty plea.

Harris told authorities he bought the bubonic plague cultures in order to concoct an antidote to the disease.

Heightened awareness

The publication of Bacteriological Warfare: A Major Threat To North America comes at a time of heightened awareness of the threat of biological and chemical terrorism. The anthrax and sarin attacks in Japan by Aum Shinrikyo, a fanatical sect of antigovernment zealots, have alerted security officials worldwide that the deployment of biological or chemical warfare agents into a populated area is not beyond the capabilities -- or the will -- of a small band of enterprising terrorists. "The attack in Japan has global implications," warned Yonah Alexander, an Israeli terrorism expert.

Counter-terrorism experts are currently conducting an intensive dialogue on biological and chemical attack. Their research highlights these dangers:

Biological agents can be delivered to a target in a variety of ways, some requiring minimal technical skills.

Bacterium and viruses can be easily introduced into a building’s ventilation system with small aerosol canisters or simple insecticide sprayers. Dispersal of bacterium spores by explosive devices or high-powered rocket warheads is feasible. Effective mass destruction could be accomplished with a payload aboard a single-engine Cessna like the one that crashed into the White House in 1995. (In his book, Harris describes the Cessna 150 as an ideal craft for such a biological attack.)

"If one crazed amateur can violate the airspace of what is supposed to be the most secure building in America and leave his plane piled up a few feet below the President’s bedroom, a dedicated terrorist can manage a successful airborne biochemical attack of any major city in the country," says Michael Reynolds, senior intelligence analyst for the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Intelligence Project.

Cultivation of a biological warfare agent does not require expensive equipment or a large space.

According to one specialist in the field, an investment of $10,000 and a 15’ x 15’ room is all that is necessary to produce enough bacterium to satisfy the requirements of a national arsenal. Harris showed just how easy it is to obtain virulent bacterium through the mail. Viruses and toxins useful to the terrorist can just as easily be stolen.

"Approximately 1 million patients per year in the United States and Europe receive botulinum toxin injections as therapy for a variety of diseases," writes John F. Sopko, deputy chief counsel to the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, in a recent issue of Foreign Policy. "These deadly toxins, as well as the research that supports their use, can easily be accessed by would-be proliferants or terrorists without attracting the attention of most intelligence sources."

Former Under Secretary of the Navy Richard Danzig observed in a January 1996 Institute For National Strategic Studies report, "The argument that chemical weapons are too difficult for most terrorists to manufacture was discredited when a CIA report concluded that clandestine production of chemical and biological weapons for multiple casualty attacks raises no greater technical obstacles than does the clandestine production of chemical narcotics or heroin."

Small quantities of biological agents can be lethal.

Of these, the most deadly is anthrax. One gram of this deadly organism produces 1 trillion spores -- an amount equivalent to 100 million lethal doses, according to the Institute for National Strategic Studies report.

Law enforcement faces extraordinary difficulties in solving biological and chemical terrorism cases.

"The alternative delivery methods for deploying biological and chemical weapons of mass destruction usually leave few clues to identify who is responsible," writes Sapko in his Foreign Policy article.

The apocalyptic outlook of many terrorists today makes such attacks much more likely. "Past assumptions that those in possession of weapons of mass destruction are rational, informed opponents who calculate the risks and benefits before using such force do not apply when these groups are driven by ’divine intervention,’ messianic leadership, or suicidal instincts," writes Sapko.

The propaganda campaign

In the preface to his book, Harris recounts a fantastic tale of a 1993 encounter with a female Iraqi microbiologist at the Ohio State library. Harris writes that this woman -- called "Mariam" -- was a member of a terrorist band preparing to unleash biological attacks in the United States "some time in the next few years."

Harris continues to spread this story of the "coming biological attack against U.S. citizens" through video and audio tapes that are sold in the January 1997 issue of The Patriot Report, published by Christian Identity proselytizer George Eaton. According to Harris, Iraqi agents are already in place throughout the country ready to strike urban areas with plague and anthrax.

The Patriot movement today is rife with propaganda about an impending biological attack on American citizens, possibly launched by the federal government itself. This campaign ominously echoes a propaganda blitzkrieg launched by Patriots and militias in the months before the Oklahoma City bombing. By April 19, 1995, extremist publications, fax networks and meetings were saturated with dire warnings that "something big" was about to happen -- an operation the New World Order in Washington, D.C., would carry out and then blame on Patriots. "Today, the Patriot propaganda machine has laid the groundwork for blaming an incident of biological terrorism on the American government," says the Intelligence Project’s Reynolds.

Harris and an ad hoc group of writers and quasi-scientists, including former U.S. Army nurse Joyce Riley, are promulgating a theory known as "The Gulf War Syndrome Cover-Up" that has gained widespread credence in the Patriot movement. They claim that the U.S. government and the Pentagon deliberately exposed American troops in the Persian Gulf War to biological agents which then produced the mysterious malady afflicting veterans of the conflict. Gulf War Syndrome is just one phase of a plan to reduce the U.S. population through biological attacks on an unwitting public -- especially Patriots -- and leave the survivors under the yoke of the New World Order, they further assert.

One of the earliest versions of this propaganda appeared in a confidential memo circulated to Aryan Nations members nationwide in mid-1995. The four-page document charged that an "extremely contagious biological agent was transferred directly to Iraq who [sic] used it on our troops during Desert Storm."

The Aryan Nations letter claimed this was done "under the watchful eye of the [Z]ionist occupied government." Furthermore, according to the neo-Nazi missive, "transmission to the civilian population is very much to be taken for granted in the furtherance of a Z.O.G. population control program."

To bolster his credibility, the Aryan Nations writer appended a portion of a letter from Garth Nicholson, a Houston-based research scientist whose questionable theories on the Gulf War Syndrome are a cornerstone of the Patriot propaganda campaign. Nicholson charges that "HIV-1 (the AIDS virus) was one of approximately 10 such viruses constructed at Ft. Detrick, Md., as biological weapons and field tested in Africa and Haiti. Unfortunately, the experiment got out of hand." Nicholson’s version of AIDS fits well within the extremist right’s "AIDS cover-up" conspiracy that has been hawked for years by Patriot and racist newspapers.

Since January 1995, Identity news media including The Jubilee, Aryan Nations’ Calling Our Nation and Dave Barley’s America’s Promise have joined with other extremist right publications like Militia of Montana’s Taking Aim, The Spotlight, The American’s Bulletin, Anti-Shyster and The Free American in a massive fear-mongering campaign warning of "biological genocide" at the hands of the federal government. The articles in these publications are nearly identical. The same material can be found on the American Patriot Fax Network, short-wave broadcasts, videos, and at Preparedness Expos and Identity meetings.

Extremists on the Right have long flirted with biological and chemical warfare against U.S targets. Federal agents found 33 gallons of cyanide when they invaded The Covenant, The Sword and Arm of the Lord compound in northwestern Arkansas in 1985. CSA leader James Ellison said he and extremist Bob Miles had discussed poisoning municipal water supplies. Four members of the Minnesota Patriots Council were convicted in 1995 of conspiracy to use the deadly toxin ricin to kill federal agents and law enforcement officers.

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