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  • theft of toxic chemicals for placement in water supplies, foods, and pharmaceuticals

  • sabotage of chemical plants to cause releases of toxic materials into the air or water supply

  • sabotage of chemical transportation vehicles such as trucks, trains, and ships

Terrorist targets may include individuals, places where large numbers of people aggregate, prestigious monuments, critical infrastructure, and transportation systems. Unfortunately there is no end to targets.

The aforementioned studies all concluded that the strategies to thwart terrorists could for the most part be thought of as increasing difficulty for terrorists to obtain dangerous or precursor chemicals and to make it more likely that those who do obtain possession of such materials will be caught. Absolute prevention of terrorist acts is impossible. However, this “raising-of-the-bar” philosophy was supported by all government and law enforcement officials interviewed in the United Kingdom, Switzerland, and the United States. Interviews with chemical industry representatives suggest the same philosophy prevails in the industry.

The recommendations of the reports and the recent interviews with chemical industry representatives lead to the following broad categories of needed technology developments:

  • more sensitivity in detecting and tracking dangerous products or their precursors whenever they are being moved among locations

  • limiting access to these materials through increased security or more stringent laws and regulations or both

  • rendering materials unsuitable for terrorist use

  • developing new technologies for more efficient cleanup of deliberate contaminations

All these approaches involve combinations of technology use or development, government actions, and the cooperation of industry.


The reports that dealt with illegal use of explosives and black powder examined a number of protection concepts:

  • the addition of detectants to explosives and designated chemicals to make them susceptible to sensitive mass screening devices or animals (dogs)

  • the incorporation of information-containing markers into commercial explosives and certain precursor chemicals so that before or after a terrorist attack,

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