By David Warren
Anyone familiar with their websites will know that a bio-terror attack claiming millions of lives has been the waking dream of Islamist fanatics for some time now -- a fantasy preferred even to alternative nuclear or chemical attacks. It is because of this, and because such a bio-attack would be easier to pull off, that Interpol arranged the first of three major conferences, in Cape Town this week -- to brief medics and police from several dozen countries on what they can do to prepare for it. The attack itself is “inevitable”, according to Ron Noble, the Interpol director.
I also think it is inevitable. Yet the preparations for such an attack strike me as modest, diffident, even fatalistic, given the scale of catastrophe in view. The assumption is, we can't really do anything about it until it happens.
It is what we do AFTER it happens that is thus the real issue. And that is what we could more comprehensively discuss, to make an impression on our enemies. I am not so much thinking of the public health response, for that will be complete chaos. I am rather thinking, what steps we will take, after the plague has subsided, to eliminate “Islamism”. For we have only to imagine 10 million dead, to imagine a Western electorate prepared to do whatever is necessary to achieve that end, promptly.
In passing: I wouldn't necessarily worry as much as the conference delegates about a "suicide bio-weapon" -- i.e. Islamist terrorists infecting themselves, and then wandering around densely populated cities. For as I’ve noted before, they have consistently selected painless "exit strategies" for themselves. They have only ever manifested the sort of courage that requires endurance of pain when placed in the "cornered rat" position (usually by members of the United States Marine Corps). I think the postal anthrax attack on the U.S. in 2001 is a better predictor of Islamist methodology. (In contradiction of the U.S. authorities, I also remain convinced it was an intended follow-up to the air attacks of 9/11/01.)
People with the facility to put two and two together -- and get four -- should realize that Canada is the likeliest target for such a bio-terror attack. The United States would be ideal, since the U.S. precedes even Israel as the subject of Islamist hatred. But it is not therefore the more likely immediate target. The great effort that is being made to secure American borders (likely to increase as the isolationist impulse grows), and the general effort of Homeland Security (however incompetent) make hitting the U.S. directly a dicier proposition. Canada has the merit, from an Islamist point of view, of more open borders and less suspicious authorities. Yet a pathogen would cross the border easily, no matter what security were in place. So why take the risks of starting it there, when they could more easily start it here?
Europe could be ruled out, as a first choice, because in the Islamist mind, Europe is already in the process of becoming Islamic territory, by demographic progression. Of course the fallout from a bio-terror attack could quickly become planetary -- but THAT is the sort of hypothetical risk with which Islamists are characteristically undisturbed.
We now have large and concentrated Muslim immigrant communities in such cities as Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, and London, Ont., to provide the necessary cover during preparations. And as the pathetic, “politically correct” response of Mayor Miller and his police chief to gang warfare in Toronto’s streets has shown, the possibility of determined police action can be thrown off by the semblance of a shadow of the threat of a charge of police “racism”. Not since Indonesia, in the months before the 2002 attack on Bali nightclubs, has a country so advertised its desire to be “sucker-punched” by terrorists feeling the constraints of police action elsewhere. Canada again becomes the target of choice.
Moreover, we can provide the terrorists with the weapons they need, without the inconvenience of crossing international frontiers. What isn’t available over the counter from pharmacies, or by mail order, could be obtained from the poorly-secured stocks of a public hospital via sympathetic or blackmailed staff. The means to launch a smallpox epidemic -- or to disseminate anthrax, botulism, or an Ebola-style virus -- are all available locally. The U.S. scientists who ingeniously re-created the 1918 “Spanish flu” that killed more people than the First World War, thoughtfully published their accomplishment so it could be reproduced anywhere in the developed world. There is really no end of possibilities.
It is from the contemplation of such facts, that persons of sound mind may deduce what is necessary to avoid an attack. We cannot possibly eliminate the means, without also eliminating everything that makes our society technologically advanced. We must instead find and eliminate the people who want to kill us. This, incidentally, is the pro-active strategy President Bush and company embarked upon, about Sept. 20th, 2001. But perhaps it wasn’t bold enough.
Copyright 2005 Ottawa Citizen