Terrorist Attacks In The 1980s

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In the early 1980s a religious commune in the state of Oregon used salmonella to sicken nearly 750 people in the surrounding area (Davisson 2003, 1) (Hilow, 1995). Their actions are a form of CBRN deployment and could be considered terrorist attacks on a civilian population. Terrorist attacks use violence as a form of political activism; which is precisely what the perpetrators attempted to do in 1984. The CBRN agents used by the religious group could be deployed today against the American population and still provide a credible threat to the general population.

Salmonella is a form of bacteria that causes food poisoning type symptoms in humans and animals. There multiple strains of the bacteria which cause different reactions. This bacteria was placed in local salad bars by the Rajneeshpuram members to infect the local population (Davisson 2003, 1) (Hilow, 1995). A similar event, on a larger scale could be used today to sicken or kill hundreds or even thousands of people in the United States. One possible way to accomplish this is to infect crops such as lettuce which have porous skins and easily carry biological agents.
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According to many experts biological weapons are easy to procure or produce, easy to weaponize, and can cause significant damage to a population. The actions of the Rajneesh in the 1980s could be a forecast for additional future lone wolf biological terrorist attacks in the United States. These types of attacks are difficult to prevent and pose a significant challenge to U.S. counterterrorism

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