The devastating impact of a terrorist attack in Britain using bioweapons or radioactivity could be further amplified by the panicked reaction and "alarmist media," a leading think-tank has warned.
|Britain could be paralyzed by bioweapons, radioactive attack: think-tank|
To counter this, authorities should provide calmly-presented information about possible scenarios before any attacks take place, said Paul Cornish, head of London-based Chatham House's international security programme.
His report looked at the threat from chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) weapons here and said they could be used by extremist groups "from the largest to the smallest... from the poorest to the best funded."
"A good deal of the effect of a terrorist attack in the United Kingdom using CBRN could prove to be self-inflicted by the victims of the attack -- the general public, business leaders, and government officials -- or magnified by alarmist media," Cornish wrote.
"The United Kingdom might prove to be rather brittle in the face of a CBRN attack...and it seems reasonable to assume that terrorists might hope for such brittleness in order to expand the effect of their attack."
The findings come after Dame Eliza Manningham-Buller, head of the MI5 domestic intelligence agency, warned in November that her agents were investigating nearly 30 terror plots and tracking over 1,600 suspects.
She also stressed that future terror attacks could involve chemical, bacteriological, radioactive and nuclear material.
Cornish echoed this view, writing that "a highly committed terrorist group" might have uncomplicated aims and view the risks of using CBRN as relatively low.
"The desired 'effect' might be no more than some hundreds or thousands of deaths or the destruction of a few buildings, all of which would be magnified by the terrorists' 'propaganda of the deed,'" he added.