Expert warns of danger of bioterror attack

Ambassador Laura Kennedy, the U.S. special representative for biological and toxic weapons convention issues, warned that despite Osama bin Laden’s death, Al-Qaida may still attack the United States.

Kennedy said that the United States must remain vigilant across the many possible methods extremists could use to wreak havoc, including biological weapons. Some biological weapons like ricin, which is derived from readily available castor bean, could be used by terrorists.

"There is no doubt that al Qaida will continue to pursue attacks against us," Kennedy said, according to Xinhua. "You can develop bio agents using very simple laboratories. So you don't require a huge elaborate infrastructure, as you would to develop a nuclear weapon. Very simple capabilities will do, that are available around the world. So indeed bio terrorism is a real threat and one that we take very seriously.”

Kennedy contends that a bioattack could take many different forms, including a low tech attack with a limited number of casualties or a sophisticated operation yielding tens of thousands of deaths. Kennedy said that the challenge is to stop bio attacks when materials for deadly biological weapons are easily available worldwide, Xinhua reports.

"There's been an explosion of knowledge and development in the bio area, so it's very hard to keep track of," Kennedy said, according to Xinhua. "You may think you have a handle on it, but then new things are engineered and new techniques are developed at quite a dizzying pace."