Britain’s security services have increased preparations to deal with a possible terrorist attack in the UK using biological weapons, Financial Times reports. The UK is increasing stocks of medical supplies and boosting emergency planning.
While the Home Office does not suggest any new terrorist threat to use biological weapons has emerged, senior officials say that they believe biological weapons could be easier for terrorists to use than other weapons of mass destruction, i.e. chemical or radiological devices.
Improvement to the speed and coverage of the health response to a large-scale terrorist attack involving biological agents is a priority for the UK government, the article says.
In its survey of potential terrorist threats, the Home Office also brings attention to a range of other concerns, including:
- The civil war in Syria – Some 70 of the foreign fighters in Syria are UK nationals, who could use the skills developed overseas to carry out attacks.
- Firearms – The report notes that the government is concerned by “the trend for terrorists to use firearms as part of an attack.”
- The risk of terrorist attacks on aircraft – The availability of surface-to-air missiles in parts of North Africa and other risks have lead to the government’s accelerated deployment of new airport security scanners to detect non-metallic improvised explosives.
- Exploitation of charities by jihadist groups – The report notes that this abuse is often used to raise funds and distribute propaganda.