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Volume 5, Number 4—August 1999
Historical Review

Historical Trends Related to Bioterrorism: An Empirical Analysis

Jonathan B. TuckerComments to Author 
Author affiliation: Monterey Institute of International Studies, Monterey, California, USA

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Table 1

Comparison of Values Across Selected Bioterrorist Incidents

Case Motivation/Objective Ideology Target(s) Agent(s) Delivery Outcome
Weather Underground (1970) Temporarily incapacitateU.S. cities to demonstrate impotence ofthe federal government Revolutionary movement opposed to American imperialism and theVietnam War Urban populations in theUnited States Reportedly sought to obtain agents at Ft. Detrick by blackmail of gay soldier Reportedly planned to put incapacitating CW/BW agents in urban water Report originated with U.S. Customs informant; case probably apocryphal
R.I.S.E. (1972) Kill off most of humanity to prevent the destruction of nature, then star human race over with a select few Perpetrators were college students influenced by ecoterrorist ideology and1960s drug culture Initially entire world population, later narrowed to residents of five states around Chicago Eight microbial pathogens including agents of typhoid fever, diphtheria, dysentery, and meningitis Planned BW aerosol attacks (dispersed by aircraft) and contamination of urban water supplies Attack aborted when cultures were discovered; the two main perpetrators then fled to Cuba
Red Army Faction (1980) Allegedly planned BW attacks against West German officials and business leaders Marxist- revolutionary ideology Specific targets unknown Group member allegedly cultivated botulinum toxin in a Paris safe-house Unknown Probably an erroneous report, later repudiated by German government (BKA)
Rajneeshee Cult (1984) Scheme to incapacitate voters to win local election, seize political control of county Indian religious cult headed by a charismatic guru Residents of the town of The Dalles and Wasco County, Oregon Salmonella Typhimurium Multiple methods, mainly contamination of restaurant salad bars Plot revealed when the cult collapsed and members turned informant
Minnesota Patriots Council (1991) Cause harm to the federal government, obtain personal revenge Anti-government tax protesters; right-wing "patriot" movement IRS officials, U.S. deputy marshal, local law enforcement officials Ricin extracted from castor beans obtained by mail-order Planned todeliver ricin through skin with DMSO and aloe vera, or as dry aerosol Group was penetrated by FBI informants; four key members arrested
Aum Shinrikyo (1995) Prove an apocalyptic prophecy, eliminate enemies and rivals, halt an adverse court ruling, seize control of
Japanese government New Age doomsday cult seeking to establish a theocratic state in Japan, with a charismatic, power-hungry leader Mass civilian populations, individual opponents of cult, judges ruling against and police investigating cult Biological agents (anthrax, botulinum toxin, Q fever Ebola virus) and chemical agents (sarin, VX, hydrogen cyanide) Attempted on at least 10 occasions to disperse BW agents in aerosol form; all known attacks failed Multiple CW attacks (in Matsumoto, Tokyo, and assassination campaign) killed at least 20 people and injured more than 1,000
Larry Wayne Harris (1998) To alert Americans to the Iraqi BW threat; seeks separate homeland for whites in the United States Links to Christian Identity and white supremacist groups (e.g., the Aryan Nation) Made vague threats against U.S. federal offcials on behalf of right-wing "patriot" groups Obtained plague and anthrax (vaccine strain), reportedly isolated several other bacteria Discussed the dissemination of BW agents with crop-duster aircraft and other methods Arrested when he talked openly about BW terrorism and made threatening remarks to U.S. officials

BW, biological weapons; CW, chemical weapons; DMSO, dimethylsulfoxide; IRS, Internal Revenue Service; FBI, Federal Bureau of Investigation.

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