Terrorist Motivations for Chemical and Biological Weapons Use: Placing the Threat in Context [March 28, 2003]   [open pdf - 51KB]

This report presents the arguments for and against future non-state terrorist acquisition and/or use of CBW weapons against the United States, as well as a brief discussion of issues for congress concerning how best to counter the threat. There is widespread belief that the likelihood of terrorist use of chemical and biological weapons (CBW) is increasing, in part as a result of publicized new evidence of terrorist interest and capabilities, as well as the political fall-out from the war in Iraq. This is a serious present concern that deserves examination in the broader framework provided by the patterns, motivations and historical context for the current terrorist threat. Although it can have a powerful psychological impact, past CBW use by terrorists has been rare and has not caused a large number of casualties, especially compared to other weapons. Terrorist attacks are deliberately designed to surprise, so no trend analysis will ever perfectly predict them, especially in the contemporary international climate.

Report Number:
CRS Report for Congress, RL31831
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