Commonwealth of The Bahamas Minister of National Security Bernard Nottage said on Tuesday that threat of bioterrorist attacks is "real" and should be taken seriously by all countries.
Nottage said there is evidence that shows terrorists have interest in using biological weapons during his speech at the Crisis Management and Simulation Exercise on Bioterrorism Workshop, Bahama Islands Info reports.
"There is much evidence to suggest that terrorists have a strong interest in the use of biological weapons (as) detained terror suspects have in the past, declared that their organizations are capable of using, and will use, these biological weapons such as Anthrax in 2001," Nottage said, according to Bahama Islands Info. "Police raids around the world have also revealed the intentions of such groups through the seizure of manuals relating to the production and use of various biological weapons. "
Nottage said a single attack would could cause thousands of deaths, and could annihilate entire countries.
"Moreover, even if the hundreds or thousands do not die, the fear, panic and subsequent social and economic disorder that could follow such an attack are additional reasons why we should take this threat seriously," Nottage said, Bahama Islands Info reports.
He said that he does not dispute the work being done by the biotechnology industry, but its expansion increases the chance that terrorists will obtain pathogens and methods of production.
Nottage said scientists have been able to reproduce a synthetic smallpox virus from scratch and extract SARS from the influenza virus. While research is valuable, the work also "elicited concerns" about the potential misuse of the technology.
"Many still question whether the threat exists or can occur, especially in our part of the world," Nottage said, according to Bahama Islands Info. "There is no question in my mind that the threat is real."