America has no strategy, but ISIS does: Biological terrorism

The nature of the threat the Islamic State poses to the West is a subject of much debate. Some indicate that the group is planning to execute attacks in the West at its nearest opportunity, while others say that the organization has designs only on capturing and holding territory in its neighborhood – and that’s a range of confused opinions coming from former and current administration officials.


While there is a robust debate over whether ISIS is planning to execute terrorist attacks against Western targets, there should be no debate that the origination is actively seeking the capability to carry out terror strikes.

According to a report in Foreign Policy magazine on Thursday, investigators recently had an opportunity to inspect a Dell laptop allegedly linked to ISIS which was transported to Turkey from Syria. In that laptop, which belonged to a man who studied chemistry and physics at two Tunisian universities, contained files with instructions on how to manufacture weaponized bacterial agents.

The ISIS laptop contains a 19-page document in Arabic on how to develop biological weapons and how to weaponize the bubonic plague from infected animals.

“The advantage of biological weapons is that they do not cost a lot of money, while the human casualties can be huge,” the document states.

The document includes instructions for how to test the weaponized disease safely, before it is used in a terrorist attack. “When the microbe is injected in small mice, the symptoms of the disease should start to appear within 24 hours,” the document says.

The laptop also contained propaganda files, videos of Osama bin Laden, and an Islamic fatwa sanctioning the use of weapons of mass destruction as part of a jihad campaign against the kafir, or infidels.


Experts suggest that it is no that manufacture of biological agents which poses the most acute threat, but the delivery system for such a weapon. However, the laptop is a confirmation of what many feared – the Islamic State is amassing trained scientific professionals who are busily working on how to make that nightmare a reality.

“Use small grenades with the virus, and throw them in closed areas like metros, soccer stadiums, or entertainment centers,” the 19-page document on biological weapons advises. “Best to do it next to the air-conditioning. It also can be used during suicide operations.”

Maybe it is time to craft a strategy to combat this threat to civilization.

This post has been updated since its original publication. An earlier version of this post cited a report in Foreign Affairs magazine

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David Strom 5:20 PM | April 15, 2024