Are militant groups interested in weaponizing Ebola?

Ebola suffererBy IAN ALLEN |
Does the Ebola epidemic present militant groups, such as the Islamic State or al-Qaeda, with the opportunity to weaponize viruses and direct them against Western targets? Earlier this month, United States Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson dismissed in strong terms the possibility that Ebola would be used by Islamic State militants to attack American targets. Speaking to the Association of the United States Army, Johnson acknowledged that the Islamic State is a “very, very dangerous terrorist organization”, but added that his Department had seen “no specific credible evidence that [the Islamic State] is attempting to use any sort of disease or virus to attack” the US. A few days earlier, however, Forbes magazine had quoted Al Shimkus, Professor of National Security Affairs at the US Naval War College, as saying that the Ebola outbreak presented Islamist groups with the opportunity to use a low-tech bioterrorist weapon “to attempt to wreak strategic global infection”. Shimkus added that a group like the Islamic State wouldn’t even have to weaponize the virus’ it could “simply use human carriers to intentionally infect themselves in West Africa, then disseminate the deadly virus via the world’s air transportation system”, he said. On Wednesday, a senior Spanish official told a parliamentary committee in Madrid that the government of Spain was “taking seriously” discussions in Internet forums linked to the Islamic State about using biological weapons against the West. Francisco Martínez, who is Spain’s State Secretary for Security, told the Committee of the Interior in the Spanish Congress that online commentators connected to the Islamic State have been discussing the possibility of using Ebola as a weapon against America and its Western allies. He told Committee members that the discussions had been taking place on Internet forums as recently as mid-September. He also cited “a series of tweets” from last July, in which another Islamist group, Ansar al-Islam, with roots in Iraqi Kurdistan, proposed using “deadly chemical products from laboratories” as means of launching attacks against the West. Martínez did not provide further details on the allegations.

One Response to Are militant groups interested in weaponizing Ebola?

  1. There was much discussion of this probability (not possibility) by the subscription readers of the (UK) Times (on Line) in August 2014. Not wishing to be alarmist, the conclusion was Ebola and ISIS may well join forces in the form of suicidal “Ebola bombers” and that no one in Government anywhere had taken the threat seriously enough.

    The worldwide controls in place now are pathetic because someone bent on becoming a suicidal Ebola bomber could time his/her contraction of the illness. They could then travel undetected and once contagious intentionally spread the disease as much as possible. I won’t advise how, but the consequences would make the black death or the trenches of the Somme look humane.

    If you are a fanatical terrorist bent on suicide presumably it doesn’t matter that much how you die but if you could take down a quarter of say Beijing or Moscow or New York or London with you and wreck the global economy as a bonus then facing an unpleasant death has its warped ideological rewards. I fail to understand why the world hasn’t united much faster to pre-empt such a probable attack or more likely simultaneous attacks in cities across the world: after all, can you name one major city that hasn’t got some sort of extremist threat from ISIS already?

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