Congress warned of overseas bioterrorists

State department and non-government experts have told Congress that countering bioterror threats overseas is essential for protecting the United States.

A hearing by the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation and Trade on "the National Strategy for Countering Biological Threats," chaired by Rep. Brad Sherman (D-California) was told last week about the bioterror threats facing the U.S.

“The biological threat has several important components, including intent from groups that have expressed interest in obtaining biological weapons and expertise, emerging infectious diseases that create new opportunities for havoc, and growing biotechnology capacity in areas of the world with a terrorist presence," Vann H. Van Diepen, the acting Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation, testified, reported.

"A biological weapons attack is a real and present danger, particularly in light of the 2001 anthrax attacks," Van Diepen said. “We have tangible evidence that al-Qaida leadership directed a focused effort to develop the capability to conduct a biological threat with anthrax.”

Prof. Barry Kellman, president of the International Security and Biopolicy Institute, told Congress that “Homeland security is international security and vice versa. We cannot wall ourselves from worldwide bio-attacks," reported. "Global biopreparedness must be a high foreign policy priority of the United States, working with our allies and the international system. This means having a global network of stockpiled medicines linked to delivery systems to get them to where they are needed quickly with effective plans to ensure smooth distribution.”