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ADL Report Examines Extremists And The Biological Threat to America


w York, NY, November 26, 2001 ... The ability to successfully use anthrax or other biological agents against civilians or the government has long captured the imagination of members and groups of the extreme far-right fringe in the United States.

A new report issued by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) says that members of hate groups and anti-government organizations have shown considerable interest in how to manufacture chemical and biological agents, but there have been few examples of attacks carried out.

The report, Beyond Anthrax: Extremists and the Bioterrorism Threat, identifies extremist groups whose members have historically expressed a fascination with biological weapons as a method to spread fear and panic, and cites specific examples of attacks using anthrax and other chemical and biological agents.

"Extremist interest in chemical and biological weapons is not a new phenomenon," said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director. "While no right wing extremist group has to date carried out any such attack, our concern is that domestic hate groups and extremists will try to spread more fear and panic by creating additional anthrax hoaxes."

ADL's report details how extremist groups previously capitalized on public fears of biological weapons to disrupt the functions of American business and government. The report does not draw any conclusions about who may be responsible for recent anthrax cases in Washington, D.C., Florida, New York and Connecticut, but raises the possibility of a new wave of hoaxes stemming from the attacks.

"It is a favorite tactic of anti-government groups to attempt to generate further anxiety by spreading false information or even staging copy-cat versions of the attacks just to scare people," said Mr. Foxman.

Among the topics examined in Beyond Anthrax: Extremists and the Bioterrorism Threat:

  • Over the last decade, extremists have exhibited a growing appetite for violence;
  • Manuals on anthrax and other biological and chemical weapons are readily available on the Internet, where extremists peddle them for profit and spread information on committing terrorist acts;
  • Anthrax hoaxes, including a rash of false reports, drastically increased concern and publicity over the bioterrorism threat. Recent hoaxes may signal a return to a favorite tactic of anti-government extremists and right-wing zealots;
  • Key targets of bioterrorism hoaxes include government buildings, abortion clinics, schools and civilians.

EDITORS NOTE: To speak with an expert on right wing extremism, contact the ADL Media Relations Department at 212-885-7749 or write to

The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, is the world's leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry.

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2001 Anti-Defamation League