The Australian Group warns of bioweapons attack

A terrorism alert raised by the Australia Group in Canberra in 2008 and released by Wikileaks this week warned that while Islamic terror group Jemaah Islamiah prefers conventional weapons, it might launch crude chemical and biological weapon attacks.

The leaked U.S. diplomatic cable reveals government fears that these chemical and biological agents might be developed across Southeast Asia, the Australian reports.

"Australia noted that the region was a proliferation point for dual-use materials and technologies and potential terrorist access due to poor security," the cable said, according to the Australian. "One former JI operative reportedly was involved in Al Qaeda's CBW efforts, demonstrating the ability of groups to reach out to (other) extremist groups in order to acquire relevant expertise."

The cables also mentioned that a proposed "distance learning" university course that an unnamed university proposed on terrorist attacks to "government officials with a need to know," had been restricted, according to the Australian.

Ron Huisken, Australian National University's proliferation expert, told the Australian that JI's capacity for building chemical and biological weapons was still valid today. He also cautioned that crude chemical and biological bombs were "not that simple" and that the terrorists' preferred weapon was still the conventional explosive, the Australian reports.

The Australia group was founded in Australia in 1984 after the use of chemical weapons during the Iran-Iraq war.