• Homegrown terrorismU.S. Coast Guard officer to be charged with mass terrorism plot

    Christopher Paul Hasson, a U.S. Coast Guard officer will appear in court today (Thursday), charged with plotting a massive, 2-prong attack modeled after the 2011 Anders Behring Breivik’s terrorist attack in Norway. Breivik killed eight people in Oslo as a diversion, before killing 69 teenagers in a summer camp organized by the Norwegian Social Democratic Party. Hasson compiled a hit list of liberal politicians, Supreme Court judges, and journalists – but his violent plans extended to trying to “establish a white homeland,” and using biological weapons to “kill almost every last person on Earth.”

  • BiothreatsGain-of-function (GoF) research set to resume, and unease grows

    Gain-of-function (GoF) research involving H5N1 is set to resume – but without review comments, as the review panel has kept mum. Many scientists are worried, arguing that certain studies that aim to make pathogens more potent or more likely to spread in mammals are so risky they should be limited or even banned.

  • BiothreatsAntimicrobial resistance: A neglected biodefense vulnerability

    We typically think that biodefense is about defending against bioterrorism or the next pandemic – or, in extreme cases, about some laboratory accident. Biodefense is mostly about all these things, but also about much more. Antimicrobial resistance is not a headline-grabbing topic and it certainly is not getting its own apocalyptic outbreak movie anytime soon, but the microbial threat has been growing since antibiotics were first discovered.

  • 2001 anthrax attacksDeath in the air: Revisiting the 2001 anthrax mailings and the Amerithrax investigation

    By Glenn Cross

    Time may have dimmed the memory of the 2001 anthrax attacks and the sense of urgency surrounding the efforts to identify the attacker. The attacks, which involved mailings of five anthrax-laced letters to prominent senators and media outlets, killed five individuals and made seventeen others ill. The anthrax mailings played a crucial role in raising concerns over possible terrorist use of biological agents in attacks against the homeland. As a result of the anthrax scare, Americans’ perceptions of terrorism came to include an existential fear of biological terrorism.

  • BiowarfareInsects as potential weapons in biological warfare

    Owing to present-day armed conflicts, the general public is well aware of the terrifying effects of chemical weapons. Meanwhile, the effects of biological weapons have largely disappeared from public awareness. A project funded by a research agency of the U.S. Department of Defense is now giving rise to concerns about being possibly misused for the purpose of biological warfare.

  • BiosecurityDOD lagging on lab biosecurity: GAO

    For three years, the DoD has been attempting to implement security reforms after reports revealed that an Army lab at the Dugway Proving Ground in Utah accidentally sent 575 live samples of Bacillus anthracis, the bacterium that causes anthrax, to 194 labs over the course of a decade. The GAO says the Department of Defense (DoD) is still short of meeting goals meant to improve the department’s biosafety and biosecurity programs, leaving government labs still at risk.

  • BiodefenseWhite Houses unveils new National Biodefense Strategy

    The Trump administration on Tuesday released a new National Biodefense Strategy, along with an order from President Donald Trump that directs the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to take the coordinating lead and establishes a cabinet-level biodefense steering committee. Some experts are praising the broad scope of the strategy, new elements that it covers, and the high-level attention and oversight built into the plan.

  • BioterrorismGerman prosecutors widen bioterrorism plot probe

    German prosecutors have widened their investigation into a thwarted biological terror attack. Two suspected accomplices were arrested in Tunisia, one of whom planned a “simultaneous” attack in Tunisia. In June, Sief Allah H. was arrested in a police raid on his apartment in the western city of Cologne. Investigators found “toxic substances” that were later determined to be deadly ricin poison. The 29-year-old was also found to have bomb-making materials in his possession.

  • TerrorismRicin attack plotters in Germany tested biological weapon on a hamster

    German prosecutors have arrested the wife of a Tunisian man who was detained last month for plotting a biological attack. The couple bought a hamster to test a chemical substance before they were going to use it in a planned terrorist attack.

  • BioterrorismSoligenix receives European, Canadian patents for its ricin toxin vaccine (RiVax) formulation

    Soligenix, Inc., a late-stage biopharmaceutical company, announced that it has received notice of allowance for European and Canadian patent applications further extending protection around ThermoVax  including coverage of the company’s ricin toxin vaccine, RiVax. RiVax potentially would be added to the Strategic National Stockpile and dispensed in the event of a terrorist attack.

  • BioterrorismGerman police find large quantities of castor seeds in bioweapon suspect’s apartment

    German police investigators have found more than 3,000 castor bean seeds in the Cologne apartment of a 29-year old Tunisian, who was arrested last week for making a biological weapon. The quantity of castor seeds was much larger than initially thought. Castor beans are used in making the toxin ricin. The suspect, who is married to a German woman, had been under police surveillance for contacts with Islamist extremists.

  • Designer pathogensSynthetic biology could be misused to create new weapons

    Synthetic biology expands the possibilities for creating new weapons — including making existing bacteria and viruses more harmful — while decreasing the time required to engineer such organisms, concludes a new report by the National Academies of Sciences. Although some malicious applications of synthetic biology may not seem plausible right now, they could become achievable with future advances.

  • BioterrorismPolice carry out more raids in Cologne, Germany, after biological weapon arrest

    Police in the German city of Cologne on Friday searched several empty apartments in a high-rise, following the Tuesday discovery of the highly toxic substance ricin in one of the apartments. On Thursday, police charged a 29-year-old Tunisian man with producing a biological weapon and for “preparing a serious act of violence against the state.”

  • TerrorismGerman police arrest man for building a biological weapon

    The police in Cologne, Germany, on Tuesday arrested 29-year old Sief Allah H. for trying to build biological weapons in his apartment. He came to Germany in 2016 and had been under police surveillance for terrorist sympathies. In mid-May he ordered 1,000 castor seeds — the main ingredient for used in ricin toxin — and a coffee grinder from an online store. In June he managed to produce the toxin June.

  • BiosecurityMost Americans favor more funding for biosecurity capabilities

    A new nationwide survey of the American electorate reveals that the vast majority of Americans support increased funding to address biosecurity threats. Additionally, most Americans support their elected officials actively engaging to promote and support biosecurity.