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Sample 11 - Part 1
7 Pages - Social Sciences

Biological Agents and Bioterrorism, a Global Threat


The attacks of September 11, 2001, generated a new panorama for world medicine, which would lead to the use of biological agents for criminal purposes, and which today are presented in the context of terrorism. The use of threat and violence against the population or property defines terrorism precisely when it comes to emphasizing a bioterrorist attack, including the spread of viruses, bacteria, toxins or germs in order to cause illness or death.

Taking the above into account, this research will address the biological risks that threaten global security, also analyzing the threats that exist in the country; taking as a starting point terrorism, which in one way or another, has started the various attacks that occurred after 2001, and consequently, has caused the possibility of bioterrorist attacks by the great world powers.

Key Words: Terrorism, biological agents, biological warfare, public health, diseases.


  1. Introduction 

Terrorism can be defined in its broadest sense, as “the tactic of using an act or threat of violence against individuals or groups to change the outcome of some political process.” This action acquired great presence after the attacks of September 11, 2001; Although terrorism was practiced in various ways before that time, it was after the attacks on the Twin Towers that the world population and the world’s governments gave it the attention it demands, since such attacks significantly affect human integrity. 

As the experts express the concept, terrorism has originated “the most complex debates on law and politics in recent times, both in the international and state spheres”; This may well indicate that the terrorist attacks have been motivated by various reasons, whether for political, religious and / or military reasons. 

Now, since vulnerability is an important object by which terrorism bases its planning on human populations, a possible chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear attack has been an important topic of discussion, but has presented a significant deficit in a systematic analysis. , that leads to an understandable understanding of this global issue.

It is necessary to understand that biological agents are normally found in nature, but with scientific advances a dangerous increase in their capacity has been achieved at the time of spreading rapidly, and with this make timely treatment more difficult, since the policies of Public health lacks important scientific and relevant content when it comes to designing programs to prevent or mitigate attacks with these types of agents in the near future. 

Faced with this, the powerful and developing countries have given their international response to a biological attack, through agreements that prohibit the use of biological agents for war and defense purposes; in the same way, an exchange has been generated in the field of scientific knowledge and technological development for the prevention of attacks by bioterrorists. It is valid to highlight the opinion of public security entities, regarding the catastrophic impact that terrorism generates on communities and infrastructures with CBRN materials (which means: Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear materials). 

Faced with this scenario, bioterrorism is present in the different political schedules, however, as argued by political experts in the area, the degree of vulnerability that human populations experience against chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear terrorism can be discussed in different scenarios of international dialogue, but scarcely analyzed by the actors responsible for prevention policies and actions. 

In this sense, this document will focus on conducting a literary review of the subject in question, in order to identify the different biological risks that threaten global security. 


1.1. Research question 

Considering the aforementioned, the subject raises a question which will start the development of the investigation, and will allow to define its focus; responding to the interest that the current scenario has generated in the face of bioterrorist threats to which the world is exposed, with an emphasis on this country, for which the following question is described:

How is this country in the context of national security in the development and implementation of protocols against an attack with biological agents


1.2. Methodology 

1.2.1. The terrorism 

  • Generalities and concepts of terrorism

Before delving into the concept of terrorism, it is valid to mention that terrorism does not begin with the attack on the Twin Towers in 2001, although the term acquired notoriety in the world, it is considered that this term “part of a tradition that It may well go back to the 19th century ”. That is why the mentioned author highlights Bordes’s opinion to make the clarification as follows:

(…) Terrorism was not inaugurated with the fall of the Twin Towers in 2001 as can be believed due to the boom that the subject has acquired as a result of such events, but is part of a tradition that may well go back to the 19th century , with the so-called «classical terrorism». However, it is only with the Jacobin experience, especially between 1793 and 1794, that the use of terror finds a successful antecedent as an instrument of “political conviction.” Now, according to the author, who reflects on terrorism establishing a definition that describes that it is not a simple semantic disquisition, but rather, it is a social fact that can significantly alter the course of history, regardless of the meaning or meaning of terrorism. field whatever, so establishing a definition is not a matter of a social need, but this responds to an inescapable duty for academics. 

In addition, the author maintains that the use of the term terrorist varies according to who and from where it is said, that is, that this term acquires a “polysemic character as it is usually said in these times”. 

Thus, it is evident that until now there is no universally agreed definition of terrorism, and therefore, attempts to define it abound, as the recognized author maintains; There are many specialists and actors of the International System (IS) who have allowed themselves to develop their own definitions, but the aforementioned author highlights the concept established by another subject, relevant to the issue of bioterrorism, who determines that terrorism is related to a political tilde strategy, based on “the use of violence and threats of violence by an organized group, in order to induce a feeling of terror or extreme insecurity in a non-belligerent human community and thus facilitate the achievement of their demands

Likewise, the definition made by Peter Waldmann can be taken, who defines terrorism as those “scandalous violent attacks against a political order, prepared and organized from underground.” Said definition responds to the author’s intention to separate the concept of state terrorism from terrorism itself; understanding both terms in the same way would be contradictory, since, as it well states, “the state elites can at most establish a regime of terror, but not a terrorist strategy against the population.”

As noted above, the concept of terrorism will vary according to the place, which is why one of the previous authors highlights what terrorism is in the United States and in Europe, understanding that: 

There are as many definitions of terrorism in the US as there are different interpretations. In them it is possible to assume as true that, claiming a social objective whatever this may be, will be classified as terrorism: This is how the Federal Boureau of Investigation (FBI) defines it, for example, when it states “terrorism is an illegal use of force or violence against people or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population or any other segment, in pursuit of social or political objectives ”. 

While in Europe, there has been a concern to find legal solutions to terrorist attacks, this led to the establishment of multiple measures that allow fighting terrorism, and it was not until 2002 that a definition was established for groups terrorists, which indicates that in the European Union they do not have a specific definition of terrorism, then, the notion only relates to the groups that carry out these acts, and it is considered as “a structured faction of more than two people who they act in combination to commit terrorist crimes ”. 

In this sense, it is valid to expose the characteristics of terrorism that open the debate for a reflection on its conceptualization, so that in order to obtain a clearer image in the face of the confusion that exists of the term, the reflections of an expert who maintains that terrorism is an attack against the fundamental rights of the human person, that is, life, freedom, property, among others.

Therefore, terrorism not only includes the use of violence or the existence of a threat against a State, because the State can be a terrorist, nor does it include the execution of a common crime (either individual or of a group), since that a murder cannot be classified as a terrorist act, however, but terrorist acts can be considered as murders.

The foregoing casts doubt on the specificity of the term terrorist, but at the same time there is some clarity regarding the act of violence of terrorism, since it is an indiscriminate violence that is exerted on a certain population, and that is where the terror of these actions originates. , since these acts do not discriminate against their victims, so: 

“There is terrorism when any citizen can be the victim of violence that is no longer directed only against predetermined subjects (political, military), but against citizens in general (« non-combatants »). In other simpler or more direct words: killing women, children, the elderly or citizens who go shopping or are having dinner in a restaurant, etc., is strong proof that one is in the presence of a terrorist act. 

  • Types of terrorism  

Due to the diversity of vague concepts, various types of terrorism have arisen, which is why, based on the criteria of several specialists in bioterrorism, a typology is established on the term. 

On the other hand, some experts divide the concept into two types of terrorism, that is, local or regional and global or international, understood as: 

  • Local or regional terrorism: 

This type of terrorism originated during the Cold War and the execution of decisions of a political and strategic nature established its materialization. It is a terrorism focused on a specific place and with a specific objective, and for this reason, the actions are intended only for the population of a specific geographic space, this being the predetermined target of terrorist actions an example of this, they are: 

(…) The groups against the Taliban, who attack Pakistan and Afghanistan, the Haqqani Clan and other warlords, who create chaos in both countries, an example of this was the assassination of former President Rabbani in Afghanistan by the Taliban loyal to Mulah Omar. 

  • Global or international terrorism: 

It is the terrorism that currently affects the world, as a result of the convergence in Pakistan in 1989, when a group of combatants participated in the expulsion of the Soviets from Afghanistan, led by Osama Bin Laden, and arrived in original Pakistani territory. from different countries of the Muslim world. 

A benchmark of this terrorism in Islam, which is the most relevant group in the materialization of global terrorism, the author highlights that Al Qaeda: 

(…) It has franchises, cells and supporters that make it the largest terrorist network in the world, since it is spread across Europe, Central Asia, the Maghreb, the Sahel, the Arabian Peninsula and the United States. 

  • Differences between terrorism and related figures 

Terrorism is often mistakenly related to rebel groups (for no specific reason), organized crime, delinquency and / or vandalism; However, it has its very marked differences, although terrorism does not respond to a universal concept, if it is known about what terrorism is not when it is analyzed against other violent acts. As an expert on the subject expresses it, terrorism must be carefully differentiated from the following figures: 

From common crime, with which it is usually identified “instrumentally”, but is separated by the political purpose that terrorism brings; as well as other “criminal activities that may have a direct or indirect political relevance, but where the eventual violence is not strategically and organized to achieve the end.” 

In addition to this, the «classic» terrorist organizations (ETA or GRAPO.) Must also be differentiated from the Antiterrorist Liberation Groups (GAL) since the difference “seems more quantitative or of a degree than substantial or qualitative, inasmuch as whether The former seek to supplant the legislator who creates general rules, the latter seek to supplant the legal operators in charge of applying these general rules to particular situations. 

In this sense, it is necessary to differentiate other figures that are not directly related to terrorism, in order to be clear when facing a terrorist attack or a common crime, for this the aforementioned author points out that the term must be defined from the “ organized violence that does not pursue ends or does not achieve political results, that is, of common illicit associations; demarcate it ”. 

Also of conducts of undoubted political purpose, that is, those that “use spontaneous or unorganized violence, and that constitute an excessively limited exercise of fundamental rights, with greater or lesser criminal significance.”

Not to mention political dissidence, that is, “demonstrations that may even be outside the institutional rules of participation, but that do not involve any criminal reaction, generally due to their peaceful nature.” 

  • Myths about terrorism 

The most common myth around terrorism is the relationship that most people give to terrorist actions with the Arab population. It is known that terrorist groups possess ideologies that have been founded in groups of diverse origins, all with the aim of expanding their strength and making their objectives known, in other words, it could be said that in an intention to demonstrate their presence Before the world, they are given the task of recruiting men, women and children under their terrorist concepts, which are justified by an apparent “common good”. 

Regarding this issue, recognized journalist, he maintains that there is a myth that affects the community, as is the definition of the terrorist. The perception that people have of terrorists is notorious, which relate it to the lack of basic and university education (since it is believed that terrorists spend their entire lives preparing for the attack and learning about the ideology they profess), mental instability with sociopathic features, and of Arab origin. 

For this reason, the journalist highlights the following as a way of generating a reflection on this myth: 

The analysis of more than 330 people sentenced in the US since 9/11 for crimes related to jihadist terrorism reveals a profile that contrasts with the more common beliefs about who these terrorists are. When they committed these crimes, they were, on average, 29 years old. A third of them were married and another third had children. They had reached the same educational level as the average for the US population, and the incidence of mental problems in this group was lower than the average for the country. Another important fact is that all the lethal attacks of Islamist motivation were perpetrated by citizens or legal residents in the United States. 

The foregoing clearly indicates that the personality and appearance of the terrorists may vary, there is no obvious characteristic that can differentiate them from the rest of the people until the moment of the attack arrives; After September 11, 2001, people of Arab descent experienced a collective rejection, since their physical features were similar to those responsible for the attack. 

However, with the passing of time this “terrorist aspect” has been dissipating, since the attacks can be carried out by American or European citizens who have great influence from the ideologies professed by the jihadists or Islam, that is why that this journalist highlights that in the case of Western youth – who feel marginalized, lonely, lost, bored, spiritually and existentially dispossessed and overwhelmed by too much freedom – they are a target for ISIS, and other superficial but contagious ideologies, already who take advantage of this group of young people to found their ideologies being a very tempting group for terrorist acts. 

  • Terrorism effectiveness 

Taking into account that effectiveness comprises the harmony between effectiveness and efficiency, we proceed to point out how effective terrorism can be, and for this, it is valid to mention that “terrorism can be effective in different ways – what academics or policy makers often overlook – and all of them are important to understanding the intentions and impact of the groups that use it ”.

When talking about effectiveness, it is necessary to take into account the levels of effectiveness that exist in each terrorist action with respect to the strategic objectives that have been set, that is, the studies must identify the causes, effects and perceptions of violence, therefore They are executed at three levels of analysis: strategic, organizational, and tactical; and that in turn, correspond to different units of analysis, that is, governments and societies, and organizations and individuals. 

These levels expose the three types of effectiveness, and that linked to the terrorist conceptualization is understood as follows:

(…) The use of violence and the generation of fear (tactic) by an organization that tries to survive and strengthen itself (organizational) to achieve political ends (strategic). 

However, it cannot be considered that terrorism has a total effectiveness in its execution, since sometimes, the strategic objectives that motivated the action are not achieved, as the aforementioned author explains: 

Although the debate on the efficacy of terrorism a priori seems to be empirical in nature, in reality it is a controversy of a methodological nature. When a common threshold for the effectiveness of terrorism is applied to the same group of cases, the debate or controversy disappears.

However, when analyzed from another approach, it can be stated that terrorism can be effective when it comes to generating polarization, since its effectiveness is achieved thanks to the ideologies deeply founded in the actors who carry it out, in such a way , which can be determined that with regard to indiscriminate terrorism, it may be likely to be seen as a way of winning wars and founding states, but there is also the scenario where “it can lead to increased probabilities of polarization and demographic changes in the society. With the use of terrorism it is easier to spread an idea than to eliminate it ”. 

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