A bioterrorist attack is not a case of "if" but "when," the international police organization Interpol
warned Monday, citing threats by the al-Qaida terror network to use biological weapons to kill millions of people.
Interpol Secretary General Ronald K. Noble
said the world was woefully unprepared to cope with the impact of such a bioterrorist attack and said there was too little cooperation between law enforcement and public health authorities on the issue.
"In my view, al-Qaida's global network, its desire to do the unthinkable and the evidence collected about its bioterrorist ambitions ominously portend a clear and present danger of the highest order that al-Qaida will perpetrate a biological terrorist attack," he said at the opening session of a three-day workshop to train African police agencies on how to reduce the risk of bioterrorism.
The workshop, the first of three regional meetings, follows a conference at Interpol headquarters in France
on the issue earlier this year.
Noble cited al-Qaida claims that it has the right to kill 4 million people using biological and chemical weapons.
South African police chief Jackie Selebi, president of Interpol, said there was a need for much more global cooperation and an increase in resources to reduce the threat. "If it is not 'if' but 'when,' we need to be ready today, not tomorrow," Selebi said. "We should have been ready yesterday."