FBI magazine raises spectre of agroterrorism
The FBI has warned that terrorists consider America's agriculture and food production tempting targets.
According to the FBI Bulletin magazine, terrorists have noticed that US' food supply is among the most vulnerable and least protected of all potential targets of attack.
"When American and allied forces overran al Qaeda sanctuaries in the caves of eastern Afghanistan in 2002, among the thousands of documents they discovered were U.S. agricultural documents and al Qaeda training manuals targeting agriculture.
"A subset of bioterrorism, agroterrorism is defined as "the deliberate introduction of an animal or plant disease for the purpose of generating fear, causing economic losses, or undermining social stability." It represents a tactic to attack the economic stability of the United States. Killing livestock and plants or contaminating food can help terrorists cause economic crises in the agriculture and food industries. Secondary goals include social unrest and loss of confidence in government.
The article states: "Agriculture may not represent terrorists' first choice of targets because it lacks the shock factor of more traditional attacks; however, it comprises the largest single sector in the U.S. economy, making agroterrorism a viable primary aspiration.
"Such terrorist groups as al Qaeda have made economic and trade disruption key goals. They believe that by imposing economic hardship on America, its citizens will tire of the struggle and force their elected leaders to withdraw from commitments abroad.
"Every level of the food chain, including farms, feedlots, chemical storage facilities, meatpacking plants, and distribution operations, remains vulnerable to agroterrorism. Because terrorists rely on a lack of preparedness, law enforcement agencies should develop a plan to prevent agroterrorism and minimize the results of an attack. Officers must investigate from an agroterrorism perspective thefts of livestock; a criminal organization may steal animals with the intent of infecting them and placing them back into the population.
"Thefts of vaccines, medicines, and livestock-related equipment should be of concern and carefully investigated. It also is vital that law enforcement officials forward reports of such incidents to their states' intelligence-fusion centers, threat-integration centers, or law enforcement intelligence units or networks.