ITS REAL POSSIBILITIES AS TERRORISTS’ USABLE WEAPON AND IN THE MODERN WARFARE. ITS INSTRUMENTS AND HISTORICAL CONTEXT.
The biological warfare is the military use, as war weapon, of the living pathogenic, animal or plant organisms, and of the natural poisonous products, called toxins. Since the germs and the bacteria are used in it, it is also called germ warfare, though this term only incorporates a part of the biological agents capable of being used aggressively against the men.
The military use of the pathogenic microbes.
The pathogenic organisms, which produce diseases in the man, can classify in 4 big categories or types: the fungi, the bacteria, the virus and the rickettsia, an intermediate entity between these 2 last ones, in its nature, size and characteristics.
The bacteria are unicellular organisms of spherical (they take the suffix coco in the name), cylindrical (the bacilli) or spiral (the espirilium) forms. They reproduce by transverse repeated division and, often, the partial microbes remain united forming a chain. Many of them can move by means of their whips or eyelashes (shorter). According to Lauria, the virus is a genetic element constituted by ribonucleic acid and desoxirribonucleic acid, suitably to move from cell to cell and capably of synthesizing with the available amino acids its particular proteins, which will form then the infective viral particles. It is not known neither its origin nor the date of its appearance, since the existence of fossils virus is ignored. Elford, in 1931, managed to measure its size, which varies between 10 and 300 microns. Also the virus classify in vegetables, animals and bacteriafhagous, every type with their specific characteristics. Their vital cycle has, among others, 5 important phases for us: fixation to the cellular surface, penetration inside the cell, multiplication of the virus at the cost of the components of that one, liberation of the new viral individuals and their dispersion in the environment.
The military employment of the pathogenic microbes is difficult, because they are living organisms. The military usual vectors, the conventional (explosive grenades) and the reactive artillery (rockets with ballistic path, without autonomous direction) and the air bombs, turn out to be too aggressive and destroy them before their dispersion in the target. To eliminate these serious limitations, bombs with ceramic cases have been developed, which has been tried satisfactorily with flies infected with the bacterium yessinia pestis, the causer of the bubonic pest. Also it has been tried its dispersion through the air, using dispensers means of several types. But its control and the estimation of the effect on the target are very difficult. During the 40s of last century, biological desiccated and freezing of the microbes technologies were improved. With them it was seeking to prolong their life and to increase their resistance, allowing them a major storage time, their dispersion using explosives and to achieve a longer exposure in the environmental conditions.
Their real employment by means of not military transmitters has been more common. In 1763, during the war in North America between Great Britain and France for the control of all the European colonies, the military British command decided to try to infect with smallpox the hostile Indians. With this motive 2 sheets and a handkerchief from the room of infected by smallpox in a British hospital, were delivered to 2 Indian chiefs. The disease spread soon among the tribes.
Soon after the suicidal air raids on the Twin Towers and the Pentagon, in September, 2001, some packages and letters supposedly containing anthrax spores, active or in vitro, acquired or stolen in pharmacological investigation laboratories began to appear in the USA, in the post offices and the addresses. The collective paranoia of these tragic moments helped to increase the extension and the importance of these facts. And it constituted a multiplier of the propaganda perverse effect in any type of individual or collective terrorism aggression. Whose purpose is the terror extension, generally using violent indiscriminate actions and the threats of repeating them. That do that all the members of the attacked collectivity considering themselves to be possible or probable, according with the cases, goals of these future actions.
The toxins as a warfare weapon.
The toxins are poisons naturally produced by the plants or the animals, so much the big or visible as the microscopic ones or microbes.
The toxins have certain advantages for their employment as war weapon. They are natural, not more or less complicated, costly and unstable synthesis chemical products. This facilitates their production in pilot or manufacturer plant scale. Some of the biological toxins are among the most poisonous products that are known. Their effect is made without the presence of the producing agent. This one, as an alive organism, presents problems in its manipulation, as being more unstable or perishable than toxins. That is to say, they can be preserved and spread easier, by means of explosive special grenades or with aerosols or atomizers dispensers, boosted by inert or neutral gases.
The enterotoxin B of the golden estafilococo is the responsible of the majority of the food human poisonings. This bacterium can grow in multitude foods and on having done produces the toxin, which is consumed by the consumption. In general, the enterotoxin B is not lethal, but a dose of only 50 micrograms already causes vomits and diarrheas in the adults. The deliberate use of this toxin is possible. For example, during a siege by the irregular rebels, always relaxed and no hermetic, to military defensive positions, and trying to scourge and to debilitated the vital enemy resistance. The sharp sound effect produced by the operating toxin is called almost onomatopoeicly «the whistling sound».
A more terrible toxin, which it is possible also to find in the food, is the butolinic A toxin, produced by the clostridium butolinic bacteria. It is the most powerful known poison, a microgram kills an adult. The normal appearance of the bacterium associates with the badly preserved food, as the expired or badly sterilized during its manufacture tinned vegetables. It is a neuroagent that causes that the nervous system accumulates in excess during its functioning the acetilcolin, in a similar way that do the of nervous type agents used in the chemical warfare.
The castor toxin exists in the seeds and the leaves of the common castor plant. Its use by the secret service Bulgarian agents known as the umbrellas’ assassins, was confirmed in the 70s. In the free ends of those were concealed a mechanical launcher, which was projecting a pellet impregnated with the castor toxin and capably in the short distance of going in the naked meat. Two Bulgarian dissidents fled from the communist regime in their country, were positively identified of having being murdered this way in London.
Its appearance in the History. Modern situation.
From very ancient the pathogenic agents and the toxins have been used with military purposes. The poisoning of the enemy water fountains or to throw the infectious patients corpses over the enemy defensive walls, are military methods used by Alexander the Great or the Mongolian. It is only in the modern times when the use of biological agents in the war has acquired a stigma character. This way, no modern nation has admitted its employment in combat against her enemies.
We have an extreme example of how the use of biological agents by profane persons can go away of control, in the siege of the Genoese city of Kaffa, today called Feodosiya, placed in the Ukrainian coast of the Black Sea. During in it the biological harmful effects were reasonably circumscribed inside the walls of this city. In the middle of the XIVth century the Mongolian were besieging the city. The Mongolian were throwing over her walls, using catapults, the dead men’s bodies by the bubonic pest. It is thought that some Genoese ships that departed from the city towards their metropolis, could carry the plague’s bacillus, which was habitually lodging in the rates. Hereby the bubonic pest could reach Italy, and begin the massive and fulminating epidemic known in the History as the Black Death, which almost depopulated the European continent in that century.
From the 80s of last century, the genetic engineering and the biotecnology have turned into technically industrial instruments destined to improve the life conditions of the humanity. One of its possible applications is the development of vaccines against the pathogenic agents, both the natural and the reinforced by genetic actions on the first ones. This can allow the most developed countries to acquire a certain more or less widespread immunity, which is never absolute, against these biological attacks. Whereas their potential enemies, less technologically developed and with fewer economic resources, except the crude oil producers during the expansion phase of the sales cycle, would be defenseless against the biological military agents.
Its military use is punctual and restricted.
The effective, precise in the time and controlled use of biological agents in the modern combat is difficult and its results are also too vague. For the majority of the biological agents, its own nature does that its controlled launch on a target is difficult. Between the effective action on the enemy and the beginning and the development of the disease, it exists an unavoidable delay, due to the inevitable incubation periods, that goes from the hours to days; which is never acceptable in a mobile military operation. Always exist the natural and the acquired immunities (by vaccination or more or less controlled exposure), that prevent from specifying the real probable results, the number of enemy casualties derived from a biological attack. The theoretical estimated effects are diminished by certain climatic conditions, the rain, the fog, the solar luminosity and the extreme temperatures, or altered by the winds, which drag them of the surface target.
For all this, nowadays the military use of biological agents has a restricted employment in the special operations and the more or less concealed harassment of the enemy, technique where the time is not a rigid and critical parameter. This way, the goal of debilitating the enemy, more than eliminate him totally, does that the calculations of the conflicting forces correlation have to be neither so exact nor so punctual in time. The dissemination of the biological agents becomes directly, without the employment of the heavy ammunitions used as vectors. And the time between the exposure and the development of the disease, betrayed by its symptoms, constitutes then a planning factor within the attacking plan.
Its difficult and improbable use by terrorists and madmen.
Attempts have been, as the already indicated about the anthrax spores and this that we report now. In 1980 the French police assaulted a home of the Red German Army Fraction in Paris, placed in n º 41 A, Chaillot street. Those which chiefs committed simultaneously suicide later in their isolation cells in Germany. There they found a simple but effective installation «washing-up basin» type for producing the butolinic A toxin.
A natural repugnance exists in the men to experiencing the diseases, specially the infectious, the disfigurement ones and the extreme debilitating. It is only enough to see the announcements about all kinds of health centers, which offer something like a youth elixir, similar to that Ponce of León looked for in The Florida in the 16th century. The age is inevitable and implacable, but it is sought to keep, almost by all the means, the use and enjoyment of the maturity, which deterioration is one of the most fearsome effects of the diseases. The infectious serious diseases are in the habit of passing with external catastrophic symptoms. The man s attacked from inside in his aspect, in his integrity and in his capacities, by a painful and even disgusting way, up to his infamous death. This is not the death more or less adorned by us, to make it glorious and less disgusting, which is waited for the soldiers in the battlefield.
The manipulation of the pathogenic microbes and their poisonous derivatives imply high pharmacological and chemical technology operations. Here any leak or impurity leads to the failure of the experiment or to an affection of the manipulators (the most nearby and exposed possible carriers). And already we know something of how these pathogenic dwarfs and their organic products operate over us.
The fundamentalist Islamic fanatics do not find in the Noble Koran nor in the Prophet’s sunna any inducement, stimulus or excuse for their employment in the war. The microbes and their humors are in the category of the pork, the dog, the aquatic animals without fins, of the banned by Allah, all of them impure and detestable for the faithful Muslim. When the Book descended from Allah, the “ansars” or Islam’s devout could acceptably died by the sword, the mace, the axe, the lance and the arrows, in defense of the Umma or universal Islamic community and to extend its domains, applying the Jihad or sanctified war in many aleyas or verses of the Koran.
One also speaks about the possible utilization of the most attainable and known for the biological warfare means by the madmen. But a mad is not an demented. The demented has degraded his cognitive and volitional powers, by the physical deterioration of his cerebral tissues, due to the age or certain diseases (ictus, cerebral arteriosclerosis). The mad, for his part, has a portion of his feelings, ideas and concepts affected, upset and missed. But the madman is capable of reasoning specially in the topics that I will call «objectives», which are outside of his deliriums and mental affections. The madman can believe that his more or less individual terrorist actions, will be important to subvert the political regime of a country. But the mad can know how to mix sugar and potassium chlorate (the pills to disinfect the throat) to make a domestic explosive. Though the ETA (BASQUE SECESIONIST REVOLUTIONARY GROUP) adds sulphur to it, here it is not needed and only reduces the weight efficiency, since the chlorine takes charge connecting with the potassium and forming potassium chloride. In any case, the sulphur can be obtained, as component of the gunpowder, if there exist sensitive products restrictions, treating with commercial chlorhidric acid the sodium bisulphide, a photographic developer. Or how to concentrate the cars batteries liquid, to obtain sulphuric acid, base to obtain nitric acid (for the cotton powder or without smoke powder) and nitrates (the oxygen supplier in the smoke gunpowders, base of the pyrotechnic. And the madman also has very much, a lot of fear, probably more because a hypochondriac specific component, about the degrading diseases, stigmatized by the social group.