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A 10-Step Personal Self-Defense Strategy Against a Coordinated Bioterrorist Attack

Gary North
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Please do not read this article unless you are willing to take specific steps to protect yourself if you become convinced that my assessment is plausible.

Knowledge without action creates guilt. Guilt paralyzes. It feeds on itself. Avoid guilt. So, please don't read this if you will not implement some of what I recommend.

Maybe you have read my essay on terrorism that is posted on Lew Rockwell's site:


If you have read it, you know that I regard the worst-case scenario for the victims of a terrorist attack as the one described by Col. Thomas Hammes in his 2007 Military Review article on fourth-generation warfare. It appears on the final three pages. If you have not read it, you owe it to yourself and your family to read it.


The problem is simple to state: over time, the cost of producing a biological weapon of mass destruction will fall. Let us assume it will be smallpox, which has a nine-day incubation period. This is Hammes' scenario.

Of course, it could be air-borne anthrax. A sleeper cell's members could immunize themselves before releasing the weapon. They would not have to join a suicide squad. But the incubation period is short: 48 hours. It could take out a city, but it would not spread relentlessly. Already, this strategy is technologically feasible with anthrax. It is not a high-cost project. A small group could pull it off. It could be designed outside the United States and implemented by a sleeper cell here.

With synthesized smallpox -- not yet in existence, I hope -- it can be delivered by a handful of suicide squad members. All it would take is the cost of international plane fares into half a dozen American cities. Members could buy round-trip tickets, so as not to arouse suspicion. One-way tickets would be too suspicious.

They could target large, closed-in audiences: movie theaters, or lecture halls in Ivy League universities, or the visitors' section of the New York Stock Exchange.

Because this could be done by a non-state group, the usual methods of penetrating the group with informants would become more difficult. It would be hard to get advance warning.

A Hypothetical Scenario

You may think, "It can't happen here." Do you think it could happen in the State of Israel? Do you think residents of that nation are potential targets? Do you think that visitors from that nation, who are unknowingly infected, might take a plane trip to the United States? The smallpox incubation period is nine days. Suicide squad members could walk into an Israeli airport in a busy time and be searched by Israeli inspectors. They could then sit in the area close to ticket-takers and passport-stampers. That would do it. From then on, airport personnel would become carriers.

The group could send in one carrier per day for a week, just to make sure. Each one gets on an El Al plane and flies to America. Each American city is different. All are large. By the end of the flight, every plane would be carrying dozens of living weapons of mass destruction, all visiting relatives, friends, and business associates.

Meanwhile, three or four will do the same thing in a London airport.

The next day, the planes' crews will climb aboard and fly back home. The flight attendants will serve meals, these being cross-Atlantic flights.

You tell me: What is a feasible defense?

There is no feasible defense against this strategy, other than prayer. But the potentially targeted victims are not praying about this. They do not recognize the threat. I doubt that they will until after the strategy has been implemented.

Do you think the U.S. government will ever go public and warn people that this threat exists? When there is no known defense?

If I can figure this out, a terrorist group can. Hammes says that there are multiple Islamic Websites that cover fourth-generation warfare. These people are professionals. We should not underestimate them. As war spreads in the Middle East, there will be recruits.

Of course, you may think that peace will soon break out in the Middle East, that a new appreciation of Americans and Israelis is just around the corner. I do not share your optimism.

Most Americans believe they are immune from threats like this one, just because they are Americans. They are wrong. Increasingly in the future, Americans will become ever-more vulnerable targets, just because they are Americans.

Ten Steps

The first step in preparing for such an event is mental-emotional. You must face technological reality. This bioterrorism threat is a possibility, not a fantasy. Not many people will make this mental transition this side of the first city's outbreak. After that, they will have only a few hours to make fundamental changes in their lives. Not many people will understand what is happening and how little time they have to prepare themselves.

Second, you must be spiritually prepared to die for your cause, just as the enemy is willing to die for his.

Third, you must have economic reserves that are not dependent on re-supply by inter-state trucking. The United States is dependent on inter-state trucking. You must recognize that thousands of truckers will quit when they are told to deliver goods into a city that has been hit by a plague.

Fourth, you must have economic reserves that are not dependent on fractional reserve banking. There will be a run on ATM's within a day after the first report surfaces. The currency will not be re-deposited in another bank -- the ultimate threat to fractional reserve banking. Within a day or two, banks will not allow people to withdraw cash.

Fifth, you must have a primary residence or secondary residence in a small town location that is not in the path of traffic. Not many people will enjoy this benefit. There are some areas inside the United States that would have a huge safety factor. I cover this here:


Also see my department and my site's forum on Safe Places.


Sixth, you must have good relations with your neighbors. The division of labor will move down, rapidly. Community quarantines against outsiders will be imposed, once it is clear that the country is under biological attack.

Seventh, you must be emotionally willing to admit to yourself what is happening as soon as the first reports of a major plague or rare disease hit the Web. You must be willing to take decisive, possibly expensive, immediate steps that will not be possible within a few days after the initial report.

Eighth, you must be prepared to risk taking your annual vacation the next day. Your boss won't like it. But you will need time to complete your defensive plans.

Ninth, it would be best to have an occupation that is mobile geographically. Imitate me.

Tenth, you must be prepared to take in close relatives, which means exposing yourself to risk. Thus means extra space. The cheapest way to get this is with a used mobile home, single-wide, 10 years or older. This means living in the country: no zoning laws. It could mean buying a second property within a few miles of a small town home.

Most people cannot and will not take these steps in time. They think, "This can never happen." They also think that, as Americans, they are immune to a world comparable to what millions of Iraqis are facing and have faced since 2003. Two million of them, out of a population of 25 million, have left their country, probably permanently. They faced reality early.

You must balance your economic opportunities against threats to your lifestyle. Of all the worst-case threats that are feasible in today's world, I regard this one as the most likely. There are dedicated seekers of revenge out there, and their numbers are growing daily. The tools of their revenge are getting ever-cheaper. Remember this economic law: "When the price falls, more is demanded."


The evil genie is not yet out of the lamp, but the terrorist world knows where the lamp is buried within a one square mile area. There are highly dedicated people out there with metal detectors. Time is not on our side. This means your side.

This worst-case scenario is not an immediate threat, or seems not to be. Yet it will not go away until the conditions that foster it go away. So, we have time to prepare. If and when it appears, the cost of taking effective action will become very expensive. If you say, "I'll deal with this when the problem arrives," you will not be able to deal with it when it arrives.

You can take some steps, slowly and systematically, whenever you get some extra money to set aside for this purpose. You may not be able to implement all ten steps. You can implement some of them. Several can improve your lifestyle, even if nothing like this happens. The division of labor is a great thing, but don't become completely dependent on it. Don't put all your eggs in one basket.

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