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Flashtraffic: Netanyahu wary of potential attacks on Israel

The United States and Israel face the most ominous threats since 9/11, warns Israeli Foreign Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in an exclusive interview with WORLD.

Issue: "Attacking the future now," Feb. 22, 2003

The United States and Israel face the most ominous threats since 9/11, warns Israeli Foreign Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in an exclusive interview with WORLD. Mr. Netanyahu is concerned about missile attacks but more so about terrorist infiltrators smuggling in Iraqi-made anthrax, smallpox, and other deadly toxins. Also, top U.S. and Israeli intelligence experts warn that a new wave of suicide-bombing attacks could also be on the way.

"We are concerned about missile attacks by Iraq," said Mr. Netanyahu, former prime minister of Israel, during a 35-minute interview in his second-floor office in the newly designed Foreign Ministry complex in downtown Jerusalem. "At this point, however, we don't think that Iraq has been able to develop an ability to spray or release chemical or biological weapons in the air before impact. Plus, we have the ability to shoot missiles down."

Iraq hit Israel with 39 Scud missiles in 1991, which triggered development of the Arrow anti-ballistic missile system, highly successful in recent tests. Israel also significantly upgraded the capabilities of the Patriot missile-defense system that performed so poorly during the Gulf War. These systems went on high alert against attacks last week, after United Nations weapons inspectors found that new Iraqi surface-to-surface missiles violate the maximum 93-mile range and are capable of hitting the Jewish state.

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The missiles are cause for concern, "but not the biggest concern," said Mr. Netanyahu. "The threat of armed unmanned drones [from Iraq] is real as well because they're hard to detect and stop. But the most serious threat our two countries face are terrorists slipping across our borders unnoticed-they may already be here-smuggling Iraqi anthrax, smallpox, and other chemical and biological warfare toxins. Such infiltrators could be infecting people right now. They could be spreading an epidemic and we may not even know it until it begins to take its toll and spread. That's what concerns me."

Joel C. Rosenberg
Joel C. Rosenberg

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