|At the dawn of a
new millennium, the possibility of a terrorist attack
involving weapons of mass destruction (WMD)--chemical,
radiological, nuclear (CBRN), or large explosive
weapons--remained real. As of the end of 2000, however,
the most notorious attack involving chemical weapons
against a civilian target remained Aum
Shinrikyo's sarin nerve agent attack against
the Tokyo subway in March 1995.
Most terrorists continued to rely on conventional
tactics, such as bombing, shooting, and kidnapping,
but some terrorists--such as Usama
Bin Ladin and his associates--continued to
seek CBRN capabilities.
Popular literature and the public dialog focused
on the vulnerability of civilian targets to CBRN
attacks. Such attacks could cause lasting disruption
and generate significant psychological impact
on a population and its infrastructure.
A few groups, notably those
driven by distorted religious and cultural ideologies,
showed signs they were willing to cause large
numbers of casualties. Other potentially dangerous
but less predictable groups had emerged, and those
groups may not abide by traditional targeting
constraints that would prohibit using indiscriminate
violence or CBRN weapons.
Some CBRN materials, technology,
and especially information continued to be widely
available, particularly from commercial sources
and the Internet.