Date of Award

8-2014

Document Type

Capstone-Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Program Name

Intelligence Studies

Capstone Instructor

Dr. Lydia Kostopoulos

Abstract

Since 9/11, and the subsequent 2001 postal anthrax attacks, the U.S. government has spent billions of dollars to defend the country against bioterrorism. Yet, examples of bioterrorism in the 21st century are noticeably lacking; a litany of academics and scientific experts argue that terror groups, like al-Qaeda, could never conceivably carry out a bioterror attack. This paper examines in-depth the legitimacy of al-Qaeda’s reported bioweapons pursuit and the factors necessary to conduct a successful bioterror attack on U.S. soil. Research consisted mainly of qualitative analysis of academic journals, media reports, and official al-Qaeda statements. The results of the study indicated many significant hurdles involved in either acquiring or producing a bioterror agent. Furthermore, al-Qaeda’s desire to use bioweapons, long considered to be self-evident, may be diminishing in light of the group’s many setbacks. While bioterrorism will always pose a threat to U.S. sovereignty, it is considerably less likely than many policymakers stress, especially in light of post-9/11 biodefense measures.

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