Combining expertise to fight chemical threats

Combining expertise to fight chemical threats
Mr Salim Mohamed Nasir, an associate research fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, He visits schools, giving talks on terrorism and engaging the young to think of different ways of promoting racial understanding and resolving conflicts.

SINGAPORE- The fight against terrorism is being taken to another level, with experts getting together to come up with new methods to fight this old war.

One new initiative is a multi- disciplinary research programme to counter chemical and biological terrorist threats. This will see security experts work alongside specialists from the fields of science and technology.

The dean of the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS) Barry Desker explained why there are plans to start this multi-disciplinary approach.

On the biological front, he said the recent use of the nerve gas sarin by the Syrian regime had heightened terrorists' interest in using dangerous agents in their attacks.

These agents are chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear materials, known by the abbreviation CBRN.

Some of these toxins are not difficult to obtain, if terrorists link up with experts who can manufacture them. And terrorists are increasingly turning to the Internet to obtain information and contacts - and access to these dangerous materials.

Thus, the fight against terrorism has to merge the traditional expertise of security analysts with the expertise of scientists.

For example, mustard agent, which damages the lungs, is not commercially available. But it can be made by experts won over by terrorists. Another poison, ricin, can be extracted from castor beans. The delivery means can be crude, through pipe bombs or food poisoning.

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