Lugar calls for vigilance against bioterror following bin Laden's death

Sen. Richard Lugar called for the United States to remain vigilant for an Al-Qaeda sponsored or inspired nuclear, chemical or biological counterattack in the wake of the strike that led to the death of the terrorist group’s leader Osama bin Laden.

“There is a risk that some bin Laden-inspired group may try to lash out in dramatic fashion,” Lugar wrote in an article published by the Washington Times on May 2.

Lugar, hopeful that there will be upheavals in Al-Qaeda that the U.S. can exploit as a result of its leader’s demise, urged vigilance in keeping nuclear, chemical and biological weapons materials away from terrorists.

“Our top military leaders have said that the biggest threat to U.S. security, both short-term and long-term, would be the possibility of a terrorist organization obtaining a nuclear weapon,” Lugar wrote in the Washington Post.

Lugar recommended continuing with the Nunn-Lugar program, which conducts an effort to destroy weapons of mass destruction in Russia and the former Soviet Union states. He said that the Nunn-Lugar program recently helped to facilitate the destruction of a Soviet-era chemical weapons stockpile in Albania and led to the dismantling of Libya’s chemical weapons program in 2004.

According to Lugar, American efforts in Africa to control and contain biological weapons and dangerous pathogens need to be stepped up.

“Africa has a unique combination of naturally occurring dangerous diseases, poorly secured laboratories and research centers where those pathogens are collected for public health study, and simmering Islamist terrorist activity that thrives in the region’s many poorly governed spaces,” Lugar wrote in the Washington Post.

The next step, Lugar said, is using the Nunn-Lugar program to address key security problems in African laboratories.