2005-03-08 / Front Page

FBI gives local volunteers update on chemical threats


Staff Writer

Scott R. NawrockiScott R. Nawrocki MANALAPAN — Members of the township’s volunteer medical reserve corps got a firsthand lesson recently from the FBI about weapons of mass destruction (WMD).

“Traditionally, the FBI dealt with bank robbers and gangsters,” said Special Agent Scott R. Nawrocki. “Today we deal with terrorist threats and function as a counter-terrorist agency.”

In a presentation to the volunteer medical corps — which would respond in the event of a local medical emergency — Nawrocki said the FBI has to be ready to respond to threats from within and outside of America’s borders.

The FBI conducts investigations in conjunction with local police departments, the New Jersey State Police, the New Jersey Office of Counterterrorism, the U.S. Secret Service, the federal Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms.

Nawrocki said the FBI has a close relationship with all of those agencies and frequently works with them to cover special or high profile events in order to prevent acts of terror from occurring.

In a power point presentation, Nawrocki detailed a list of incidents involving domestic terrorists, specifically individuals who are wanted for manufacturing WMD. Nawrocki said such weapons can include bombs, grenades, rockets, toxic chemicals and so-called dirty bombs which might contain radioactive materials.

“WMD can be any weapon designed to cause deaths,” the FBI agent said.

The bureau also investigates any threats which may involve biological pathogens or chemical weapons.

“We use the New Jersey Department of Health for biological agent testing,” said Nawrocki, who noted that the FBI also works with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, as well as state and local responders, to identify and resolve any threat to public safety.

He said most people are aware of worldwide incidents in which WMD have been used. Those incidents include the use of sarin, anthrax, ricin, salmonella and radiologicals, to name a few.

The agent said threats can come at any time and in the past have been aimed at schools, government facilities, businesses and religious institutions. A post office in Hamilton Township, Mercer County, was cited as an example where anthrax was delivered in 2001. That facility remains closed.

Other examples included the Minnesota Patriots Council, which in 1992 plotted to assassinate law enforcement officials using ricin; and a 1994 incident in which a group known as Rejneeshee contaminated salad bars and infected more than 700 people.

Nawrocki explained how different chemical weapons can affect parts of the body and how the medical reserve corps members can be an effective unit when working with federal and state agencies who are responding to emergency situations.

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