Free Chemical and Biological Weapons in the Hands of Terrorists Essay Sample


Smart denotes that the provisos chemical and biological armaments were first used in 1917 in the First World War. According to him, martial description of the two terms implies a striking similarity. The clarity of a chemical agent is as a substance meant for martial use of carnage, causing grave injury or weakening an opponent. Similar definition applies for a biological weapon. However, the disparity is in their way of causing impairment. The chemical in a biological bludgeon is a disease causing creature while the substance in a chemical weapon maims by inhibiting customary biological processes.

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Broadly, they are usually classified into: nerve agents, vesicants, chocking agents, blood agents and incapacitates. Smart also noted that, this categorization reflects their way of killing or defacing the adversary. This write up looks at these two substances, their historical applications, their use by radical groups and the steps taken to curb such unlawful application.

History of Chemical and Biological Weapons

Smart observed that the First World War denoted the inception of substance and organic in war. Prior to the war, the U.S army had no knowledge of the potential of the two agents in influencing results, in the battle fields. However, by the end of the war, they had acquired vast knowledge on the two agents. They fully appreciated their significance and devised methods of averting a possible enemy strike. Contrastingly, the substances and pathogens used in the Second World War were aged discoveries. These substances included chlorine, cyanide and cyanogens. Vast majority of the biological substances used were equally discoveries of the past decades. Scientist discovered organic substances like anthrax way back in the eighteen century while working in their rudimentary laboratories.

Historically, plentiful substances have found use in war and related aggressions. Smart reported that as early as 1000BC, the Chinese had used arsenical smokes to maim their adversaries. Over the course of human progress, there are records of multiple applications of chemicals in military interventions. The first recent attempt to utilize chemical in war took place during the Crimean war. The proposition by a British chemist to use chemicals to poison enemy ships was termed a distressing technique of war. Moghadam added that the chemist’s later justification of his intentions formed the basis for the final admission of chemical and organic armaments.

In spite of the plentiful propositions over the years, no solitary vital record of military use of chemical existed. According to smart, by the turn of the nineteenth century, nations like France and Germany began experimenting with lachrymator as a military weapon. The sluggishness to use substance weapons prior to the First World War is attributable to several attempts by nations to control the use of chemicals in war. Smart indicated that bilateral agreements between nations such as France and Germany prohibited the use of such weapons. Similarly, during the American civil war, the generals banned the use of such arms.

The First World War prompted many nations to rethink their stand on biochemical warfare. Several nations started extensive research on this dreaded field of armament. According to Smart several allied forces experimented with chemicals at the war front without much success. However, their interest prompted Germany to start its own research in the field. After several futile attempts, the Germans finally succeeded in using chlorine to attack British military in 1915.  Over the course of the war, colossal enhancement on chemical armaments took place (Smart 20). However, the U.S involvement in chemical warfare was not until 1918. This was in response to the chemical attacks by Germans.

Development of biological weapons began in the earlier days of the First World War. Over time, continued research lead to superior development in this field. According to Smart, Japan led in the development of bio weapons. The china-Japan war of 1939 saw vast application of biochemical weapons by the Japanese. Smart noted that the Japanese used tear gas grenades and other chemical shells. This was critical in achieving their victory. By the commencement of the Second World War two, most of the world’s superpowers were ready for potential biochemical warfare.

Smart took notice of the effect of the cold war on the advancement of biochemical weapons.  The Soviet Union’s chemical weapon’s development based on the nerve gas production equipments taken from German plants after the Second World War. According to Smart, these revelations made the U.S very skeptical about the intentions of the Soviet Union. Through out the decades, the military has continuously improved on the biochemical weapons based on suspected external threats. Threats of war helped modernize the biochemical weapons. Evidently, large stockpiles of biochemical weapons still exist in armories around the globe.

The recent century has seen the agreement on international rules that govern the use of biochemical weapons. Smart noted that, there is reduced chance of biochemical conflicts as nations identify the echelon of damage possible in such events. International rules govern the development and stockpiling of such hurtful weapons.

Biochemical Weapons and Terrorists

Over the past decade, the intimidation of fanatic attack using chemical and biological weapons (CBWs) has considerably amplified. According to Cronin, many terrorist groups’ possessed CBWs but lack the skills and expertise needed to organize the resources into a weapon capable of any potential assault. Past pattern of use points at a slow augment in this knowledge. Cronin pointed at the Japanese subway case of 1995. The fanatic who attacked the subway used a nerve agent to kill the travelers. Nerve agents are hard to handle. They required unique training in order to carry out such a job.

Cronin noted that recently there is an increase in the members of a terrorist group’s access to CBWs. According to him, this is attributable to the availability of information concerning massive stock piles a round the world. Similarly, militant groups reportedly forge alliances with religious groups. Through these groups, they get access to the required finances and specials training on the use of CBWs. Cronin equally reported a sharp increase in militant religious groups as a percentage of all fanatic groups. According to Cronin, such organizations have increased from dismal percentage to almost fifty percent in the last days of the preceding century. Their labeling of victims as infidels and unfit to live enhanced the dangers faced by the victims.

Cronin similarly believed that while there are reduced numbers of terrorist attacks, the number of deaths per attack has considerably increased. This is contrasting to the narrow minded ethno nationalists previously witnessed. Cronin noted that persons with religious animus executed a large portion of attacks. The increase in the availability of information on building of weapons is worrisome.

Cronin also observed that an increasingly large number of information that until recently was only available through government departments is evidently available freely on the net. The collapse of the Soviet Union freed a load of sensitive information and weaponry to the localized groups. This freely obtained intelligence has aided in making such decisions as weapon and countering advances by responsible government departments. Additionally, the development of religiously oriented groups has lead to the formation of unions of individuals with common intrest but with a geographically disparity. Cronin notices that this level of a corporation is treacherous as compared to the single independent groupings with dissimilar aims.

Cronin sees this new level of cooperation as a recipe for the removal of moral and political questions that may encumber one’s participation in given decisive procedures. The developing interest for CBWs among the contemporary rebel groups and their reputed ability to use the weapons is thought provoking. Cronin states that, over the years, compelling reports which emerged showed their interest in such weapon system. Given the greed and corruptible nature of man, a man of immense wealth and skill like the al-Qaida leaders possibly possessed such weapons.

However, there are holding reasons why terrorists may like to avoid CBWs. Cronin describe that such reasons could be the deficiency in knowledge regarding installation and usage of such armaments. Cronin explained that carrying out attacks using CBWs requires an extremely skilled and experienced individual. The issue of cost is poignantly significant. According to Cronin, terrorist continuously devise better and cheaper methods of attacking their victims. As such, it is tremendously unfeasible to adopt the CBWs weapons.

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Sources of Chemical and Biological Weapons

Cornish & Anthony revealed that there is an inherent difficulty in establishing the sources of CBWs used by terrorists. Chemical with the capacity to cause human harm are widely used globally. Similarly, the number of pathogens and toxins used at any given instance is impracticable to estimate. However, any global usage of chemicals attributed to chemical and biological weapons convention is subject to scrutiny by authorities before granting permission. Additionally, the organization for the prohibition of chemical weapons keeps watch of all alleged chemical users. However, the treaty only verifying stockpiles of military significance. The task of keeping a watchful eye on the trends of industrial utilization of chemicals is not within its jurisdiction. According to Cornish & Anthony, there is no globally accepted way of verifying the biological levels that are of military significance.

From the above observations, it is possible to accumulate and design formidable chemical and biological weapons without any probable detection. Cronin observes that there is an increase in the availability of information and resources for construction of weapons by terrorist groups. The internet is a vital source of information. Like the rest of the world, terrorists make skilful use of the internet.

Cronin introduces the effect of the Soviet Union in the availability of stockpiles of CBWs. During the cold war, the Soviet Union amassed large stockpiles of weapons including CBWs. After its fall, most of the military gear became available. Noticeably, some ended up in the hands of terrorists. The massive knowledge of the use of the military hardware has promoted acts of terrorism. The mixture of excellent knowledge of weapons and ease of products movement across the borders has significantly contributed to the acquisition of weapons by terrorist groups.

Reasons for the Need to Use or not Use Chemical and Biological Weapons by Terrorists

Cronin established that after the fall of the Soviet Union, many of these CBWs became availed within the European market. However, terrorist groups have to make the final choice between use and disuse of chemical and biological weapons. Several factors influence this decision. They include: the emergence of influential militant religious factions with political ambitions, the ever increasing availability of CBWs, the unification of the threat of terrorism, and the evidence of terrorist interest and capabilities.

According to Cronin, there is a noticeable increase in, religious militant, factions over the past decade. Presently, these groupings are replacing the original ethnic based terrorist factions. These groups use religious beliefs to induce their members to maim and kill. Additionally, the information age has enabled the instantaneous exchange of ideas and the learning of new ones. There is evidence pointing at the contemporary nature of international terrorism. It has over the time, evolved into an exceedingly dangerous faction.

The growth of religiously oriented groups has led to an increased commonality of interest between members in different geographical locations. This has provided a broader platform for recruitment of terrorist members. It becomes increasingly difficult to isolate and kill targets as their spread is throughout the globe. The modern terrorist group is knowledgeable in various fields. They are well trained soldiers with the ability to cause potential harm to targets. Cronin observed that this terrorist is ready to embrace technology and looks to acquire state of the art military hardware. His skills and religious convictions provide influences his choices of military arsenal.

However, most terrorist do not like CBWs. Cronin attributes this to deficient technical skills in dealing with CBWs. In spite of the financial clout associated with factions like al-Qaida, there is a lack of experience necessary to carry out a CBW attack. The level of technical advancement vital for successful institution of a proper attack is way too complicated. Another possible explanation is the existence of other cheaper and probable means of maiming the foe. Critical look at the past event of CBWs attack reveals remarkably little success.  This has influenced other members to reconsider the use of CBWs, Cronin. Conventional weapons are seen by members as more efficient and easier to use than CBWs. Such methods as suicide bombers are considerably more successful.

Evidently, there is an attempt by terrorist to emulate past success of their colleagues. Cronin indicates that most terrorist prefers to use weapons with a proven track record. The subsequent terrorists attack will follow the previous attack.

What Leaders are Doing to Defend the Country?

Aggour observed that following the fanatic attack of 2001, the nationwide security strategy in fighting the war against terrorism has faced criticism for being a policy that is indefensible, one-sided and a marked departure from past U.S values. However, the new policy has sustained the fight over terror through out the decade. The executive arm of the government has ensured no repeat of the events of 2001. According to Aggour, it is the policy calls for open ended war against terrorism that continuous to be costly to the American taxpayers. In spite of the continuous debate, the executive concerned with terrorism. This is evident in the coordinated attack and murder of bin laden.

According to Kogan, the congress has always played its role of enacting legislation that among other things ensures safety of all Americans. After September 11, 2001, the Congress flexed its muscles by enacting a series of rules to aid the injured nation in returning to its former glory. The joint pronouncement passed on September 12 declared a national day of unity and mourning. On 14 of the same month, they passed a decree authorizing the president to react. Evidently, from these assertions, when called upon, the congress answered proudly through a provision of the necessary legislation to fight terrorism.

According to Smart, the United State’s intelligence community is hugely significant in the fight against terrorism. They search information, do analysis of the findings and report the processed information to the executive for appropriate actions. They are hugely significant in winning any war. The climax of this is in the murder of Bin Laden. Prior to attack by Special Forces, the intelligence community combed for information before finally arriving the Bin Laden’s location.

Law enforcement officers are responsible for maintaining law and order back home. Among other functions, they ensure each and every American enjoys his freedom without any fear of favor. They are responsible for local and federal security issues. They provide surveillance on potential threats posed by terrorists.

Kogan noted that, in the past, America had suffered in the hands of terrorists supported by foreign nations. According to him, this was possible as some nations had harbored American enemies. The Taliban Government entertained Osama Bin Laden while there is a proposition that the Pakistani Government knew about his hide outs in Pakistan.


How safe is the U.S. Communities from a CBW Attack?

According to Kogan, the threat of attack from terrorist is still a live. Citizens are to reports to the authorities any suspected incidences. He explained that any potential chemical or biological attack would to a small extent affect the population physically. However, its psychological impacts would be massive. All Americans are constant targets to acts of terrorism. It is in order to prepare the public for the possibility of an attack. Good preparation lowers the likelihood of panic. Frequent campaigns distort it probable magnitude to occur. Contrastingly, public campaigns might motivate terror organizations to attack.

Cronin noted that some measures taken to counter both state and non-state means of proliferation of chemical and biological armament are significant in minimizing the future threats, both domestically and internationally. With the spirit of globalization, there is constant movement of people, goods and services across the international border. It exceedingly becomes difficult to screen all individuals who enter or leave the nation.

Appropriate defensive measures are proposed. Additionally, a strategic consequence management procedure to reduce the effects of attack and incentives to execute one is significant. The steps taken by the government are astute and with the cooperation of the citizens, fighting a chemical or biological attack is eased significantly. 


Over the years, the U.S has fought unfalteringly to defend its people and interests. It defeated the Taliban and the Iraqis and the killing of Bin laden which was quite creditable. However, terror has many faces and comes in different forms. An assault from all sides would deface it permanently. It is vital to reach out to international partners to assist with defacing the evil of terrorism. It is equally vital to respect all the existing treaties on development of chemical and biological weapon.


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