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Weapons of Mass Destruction
Weapons-of-Mass-Destruction (WMD)

At the dawn of a new millennium, the possibility of a terrorist attack involving weapons of mass destruction (WMD)--chemical, biological, 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.

Nuclear Mushroom Cloud  • 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.

WDM Fact Sheet

Weapons of Mass Destruction Capabilities in the Middle East »

Chronology of use of chemical, biological, radiological and large explosive weapons in conflict in the Middle East »

Biological Weapons »


Terrorist Organisations
Abu Nidal Organization (ANO)
Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG)
* al-Qa'ida (Al-Qaeda)
Armed Islamic Group (GIA)
Aum Shinrikyo
Basque Fatherland and Liberty (ETA)
Gama'a al-Islamiyya (Islamic Group, IG)
Harakat ul-Mujahidin (HUM)
* Hizballah
Japanese Red Army (JRA)
Kach and Kahane Chai
Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK)
Liberation Tigers of Tamil Elam (LTTE)
Mujahedin-e Khalq Organization (MEK, MKO)
National Liberation Army (ELN)
Palestine Islamic Jihad-Shaqaqi Faction (PIJ)
Palestine Liberation Front-Abu Abbas Faction (PLF)
Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP)
Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command (PFLP-GC)
Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC)
Revolutionary Organization 17 November (17 November)
Revolutionary People's Liberation Army/Front (DHKP/C)
Revolutionary People's Struggle (ELA)
Shining Path (Sendero Luminoso, SL)
Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement (MRTA)
Usama Bin Laden
Ramzi Yousef
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