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Wednesday, February 8, 2023

National WMD Terrorism Strategy Warns of Potential Role of AI in Future Attacks

The White House released its first-ever National Strategy for Countering WMD Terrorism on Monday, and pledged to shore up efforts at home while providing equipment, training and “related assistance as appropriate” to foreign countries.

The 22-page strategy broadly outlines the goals of the Trump administration, and warned that artificial intelligence and other technology poses unforeseen security implications “beyond our current understanding.”

“Despite our technological and military advantages, we cannot eliminate all pathways for terrorists to conduct a WMD attack against the United States and its interests,” the strategy notes. “Artificial Intelligence alone, soon to be a ubiquitous presence in our daily lives, is certain to produce security implications that are beyond our current understanding. As this technology races forward, its potential for deliberate or unintentional harm merits close scrutiny. Above all, we will be mindful of the great paradox of the modern age—that the technological advances that make our lives ever more safe and comfortable can often be twisted for malevolent purposes.”

ICYMI: Malaysian al-Qaeda Scientist Who Tried to Produce WMD to be Released from Jail Next Year

As far as specific terrorist organizations, the strategy briefly mentions ISIS’ use of chemical weapons in Iraq and Syria and al-Qaeda being “thought to have pursued a homegrown nuclear weapon capability, a prospect made even more sobering by the knowledge that on at least 18 occasions since the early 1990s weapons-usable nuclear material has been seized outside of regulatory control.”

The White House said that it will need to share technology and intelligence with foreign partners in the fight against WMDs.

The strategy highlighted how quickly science and technology can evolve, noting that the neutron was discovered in 1932, only to be followed up with the use of the first nuclear weapon in 1945.


“Yet, future WMD threats might arise not only from exotic new capabilities but also from reduced barriers to extant technology,” the strategy stated. “Others may stem from novel combinations of technologies to produce unforeseen effects, a phenomenon foreshadowed by our adversaries’ increasingly creative coupling of cyber attacks with disinformation campaigns. Because the WMD terrorism threat will inevitably evolve, we must remain vigilant in identifying and responding to technological trends with nefarious applications. Such attentiveness will require a wide-ranging approach that harnesses the ingenuity of the Intelligence Community, our national laboratories, and other centers of science and technology.”

Related: FBI Director Names New Leaders in Cyber, WMD, IT Roles

James Cullum
Multimedia journalist James Cullum has reported for over a decade to newspapers, magazines and websites in the D.C. metro area. He excels at finding order in chaotic environments, from slave liberations in South Sudan to the halls of the power in Washington, D.C.

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