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Author: Lewis M. Branscomb
The author makes a case for bilateral counterterrorism projects.
Terrorism is a very old threat to established societies, most frequently from groups with political agendas (such as the IRA) or individuals with idiosyncratic motives for violence against the societies in which they live (such as Timothy McVeigh). No nation is immune. Even stable, homogeneous societies, such as Japan, are vulnerable. The religious sect Aum Shinrikyo made small quantities of a number of biological agents and carried out a successful attack on people in the Tokyo subway. The group also carried out marginally successful attacks on the Diet and the Crown Prince’s wedding with botulin toxin and attempted an anthrax attack on the streets of Tokyo (Olson, 1999). With a reputed $1.5 billion in assets, the sect was rumored to have attempted to purchase nuclear weapons materials.
Two recent events have heightened Japan’s awareness that it might be targeted by Al Qaeda. First was the threat, thought to come from Al Qaeda, of terror attacks if Japan sent troops to Iraq (as she has now done). The threat became manifest with the taking of three hostages (since released) by insurgents. Second, the attack on the trains in Madrid, attributed to Al Qaeda, reinforced the reality of terrorist threats against U.S. allies.
Motives for Cooperation
Japan and the United States face similar threats, and a strong case can be made that they have a mutual interest in collaborating to reduce their vulnerabilities: