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Experts Say Bioterror Attack in Australia Unlikely

Global Security Newswire

Security experts said today they did not expect Australia to face a bioterror attack, but added that prevention requires an understanding of the thinking of those who might attempt such a strike, the Australian Associated Press reported (see GSN, March 28).

The experts gathered at the Infectious Diseases and International Security Symposium in Sydney. Among topics discussed were biological weapons, their possible use by terrorists and avian flu, according to AAP.

Experts at the symposium agreed there was only a small chance of a biological attack against Australia.

“It still remains easier to make bangs than bugs,” said Sydney University professor John Hearn.

Australian Defense Force Academy global security expert Christian Enemark said that the threat of a biological attack was overstated following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

“From a government point of view, yes, you enunciate the worst-case scenario,” he said. “They feel as if they need to have covered the spread of possibilities.”

There have been only three historical cases of nonstate actors using biological weapons, according to AAP. Al-Qaeda was not involved in any of them.

Australian Federal Police official James Robertson said the greatest concern in connection with a public health threat was panic.

“It seems to me that in this area our worst enemy is fear and it's fear of the unknown,” he said.

He added that the public, security and health agencies must share “accurate, nonsensationalist information” on biological threats (Amy Coopes, Australian Associated Press, April 20).