Expert: Anthrax not only threat

Expert: Anthrax not only threat

By Joe Baker

By Joe Baker

Senior Editor

An Israeli bioterrorism expert has warned Americans not to regard anthrax as the only biological threat they face. Dr. Dany Shoham, a 20-year veteran of Israeli military intelligence operations, holds a Ph.D. from Tel Aviv University.

Today Dr. Shoham works at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies at Bar Han University in Ramat Gan, Israel. (

He said Americans should be on the watch for such things as plague, smallpox and radioactive materials that could contaminate our water systems. Dr. Shoham said additional agents would include: nerve gas, principally Sarin gas, soman and commercial pesticides and radioactive materials such as iodine plus biotoxins like botulinism and ricin; contagious pathogens, especially pneumonic plague and smallpox and exotic viruses such as Ebola and encephalitic viruses.

Asked by NewsMax how serious this threat is, Dr. Shoham replied: “The bioterrorism threat to the U.S. is indeed a grave one and should be expediently handled, in every sense. Bioterrorism may be launched by both organizations and states. It may employ a wide variety of pathogens and toxins, some of which bear a dreadful epidemic potential, and some untreatable.”

Is the United States prepared to meet this threat? Dr. Shoham said that question cannot be given a yes or no answer, but that greater attention to such a possibility has been paid by American authorities in recent years.

“In actuality,” he said, “the bioterrorism attacks were not anticipated concretely but certainly were not a complete surprise. The awareness of the authorities to such possible events was evident. Perhaps the awareness of the ordinary citizen was poor.”

Possibilities that may loom in coming weeks could be contamination of water systems, food supplies, spraying of a biological warfare agent by an unmanned plane or delivery of such agents by ballistic missiles, Shoham said.

He was asked how this country can prevent bioterrorist attacks. “Intelligence is the key for prevention,” he said. “Hence, the main pre-emptive effort should be increasing the capacities of the various intelligence agencies to trace and follow any intentions and steps made within any framework to use biological warefare agents,” Dr. Shoham said.

He commented that the U.S. needs improved human and technical intelligence but the most important thing is the ability to “integrate pieces of information and correctly identify and analyze unseeming links.”

Dr. Shoham said he sees our intelligence, analysis capabilities as a weak link concerning several threats, including biological ones. He recommends stockpiling protective gear for the public, a monitoring system aimed at early detection, and a fool-proof policy to be put into action in the event of a materializing attack.

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