anthrax

^With PM-Anthrax Arrests, Bjt
^By DARA AKIKO TOM= ^Associated Press Writer=
LOS ANGELES (AP) No one has ever carried out a deadly act of biological terrorism in the United States, but experts warn that it may just be a matter of time.
The Internet and self-published books abound with information on how to grow and distribute biological toxins, making it relatively easy for anyone with a grudge to injure or kill.
``We've been very lucky so far. We should be very worried,'' said Jonathan Aronson, a professor of international relations at the University of Southern California and an expert on terrorism.
``We already have a delivery system for delivering these things called (express mail),'' he said. ``We can whip this stuff up much more easily than a lot of people are comfortable with.''
Two men were charged in Nevada on Thursday with possessing the deadly germ, believed to be anthrax, for use as a weapon. The FBI said one bragged he had enough to ``wipe out the city'' and last year laid out a plan for a biological attack on New York City subways.
Maurice Eisenstein is security and weapons of mass destruction consultant for the think-tank Rand Corp. He said it is relatively easy to obtain a sample of a deadly bacteria from a laboratory and grow it at home. Many self-published books and the Internet provide information on how to grow and distribute the material, he said.
Hate groups such as the Aryan Nations known for violence against the federal government are more likely to use a biological weapon, he said.
``If they had vial of this stuff and knew how to use it you could easily do what they did in Oklahoma City, without explosives,'' he said.
Los Angeles County Sheriff Sherman Block, head of emergency operations for the nation's most populous county, said there were several multi-agency teams in place in Los Angeles that train for possible biological attacks.
Yet he admitted that the public isn't well educated on how to respond in case of such attacks.
``This country has never been conditioned to deal with this type of situation,'' Block said.
While several experts agreed there's no reason to panic or stockpile gas masks, some questioned whether Americans might have to give up some civil liberties in order to stay safe.
Tom Preston, president of Preston International, a Versailles, Ky.-based company that helps organizations prepare and respond to terrorism and workplace violence, said federal law enforcement agencies have recently beefed up their counter-terrorism units.
``It is a point well made that they consider it more of a threat than in the past,'' Preston said. He estimates militia and hate groups have doubled in size in the last two years.
Combating terrorism, he said, may mean that citizens will undergo more scrutiny in public places searches at the airport, sporting events or concerts, even random stops on the street.
``We will have to be a little more paient at times to ensure our own internal security,'' Preston said. ``Expect a little inconvenience and not to be so pampered
  • CBSNews.com staff CBSNews.com staff

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