Spain: Isis wants to spread Ebola, says security chief

The Spanish government is taking seriously discussions in internet chat rooms on how terrorists could use biological weapons including Ebola in its war against the West, a top official said in parliament on Wednesday.

Spain’s state secretary for security, Francisco Martínez, has told Congress that jihadists with connections to the extremist force Isis have discussed on internet forums how they could use Ebola as a weapon against the United States and the West in general.

Speaking on Wednesday in the congressional Interior Committee, Martínez pointed to internet conversations of this kind as proof that jihadists treat cyberspace as “an extension of the battlefield”.

The state secretary said that it was necessary to combat the online challenge posed by extremists’ use of the internet, explaining that terrorist groups have identified six objectives in their online activities: “Threatening enemies through propaganda, preparing operations, exchanging information, ideological training, recruiting new members and acquiring finance”…

Using diseases as weapons is tricky. I think they would not have much luck without trained people, laboratories, and so on.

The USSR did a lot with this. I have read the book by Ken Alibek, Biohazard: The Chilling True Story of the Largest Covert Biological Weapons Program in the World. Alibek (born Kanatzhan Alibekov) was born in what is now Kazakhstan and left shortly after the fall of the USSR, feeling no particular loyalty to Russia.

Anthrax is popular because the the spores are long-lived and resilient, it is not transmissible from person to person and the fatality rate is very high (about 90%). There is also antibiotic treatment available if someone falls ill by accident.

Ebola has none of these advantages and would not seem a good choice. But scaring people is the main thing.

The Japanese cult Aum Shinrikyo tried to sicken people with anthrax but was unsuccessful. They had several members trained in chemistry and had more success manufacturing sarin nerve gas, killing 13 people on the Tokyo subway. When police raided their compound, they found cultured Ebola, in addition to anthrax.

Aum Shinrikyo were ruthless and some of them were scientifically trained, clever and competent. The Islamic terrorists are ruthless of course but, so far, not as smart.

I also read a book on Aum Shinrikyo and it was one of the most frightening things I have ever read.