TERRORISTS will wage war on the world with catastrophic bioweapons after the Wuhan "lab leak" chaos showed how they could get away with murder, experts have warned.
Evidence of a Covid lab leak has been piling up over the last year as scientists, researchers and governments hunt for answers – but US intelligence agencies fear they might never be able to uncover the true origins of the pandemic.
Although questions continue to rage over whether the deadly virus could have escaped from the Wuhan Institute of Virology, investigations into the shady lab have been "easily" shut down by China.
But genetic engineering expert Alina Chan and renowned science writer Matt Ridley have warned that "ignoring or dismissing" the possibility of a lab leak will have "serious implications" for the world.
Chan and Ridley said terrorists who are considering using bioweapons will have noted how quickly China was able to dismiss the idea of a lab leak – and avoid scrutiny.
It means militants will now know how easily they can "get away" with the release of a cataclysmic bioweapon, knowing the source of the attack will likely never be found.
In their new book, Viral, Chan and Ridley said: "Regimes around the world that are carrying out military-civilian, dual-use pathogen research, and terrorists who are also considering the use of bioweapons, are paying attention to what has happened.
"Not only will they have noticed the vast scale of disruption caused by an epidemic; they will also have noticed how easily the Chinese authorities dismissed a lab leak and neutered an international investigation, with the willing help of many scientific experts worldwide.
"Nefarious actors may have learned that they can easily get away with the creation and release of dangerous pathogens – with an unpredictably large impact on their target populations."
In a chilling warning, the World Health Organisation said the risk of deadly pathogens being used in a terror attack is increasing.
Biological agents, such as anthrax, botulinum toxin and plague, can cause a huge number of deaths in a short amount of time – and the outbreak would be difficult to contain once unleashed on the world.
There have been warnings that terrorist groups such as ISIS and Boko Haram, or rogue states such as North Korea, could access biological weapons – like Ebola or Zika – and use them to create weapons of mass destruction.
ISIS is already known to have used Iraqi prisoners as human test subjects in experiments with chemical and possibly biological weapons between 2014 and 2016.
The UN investigators shed a terrifying new light on the terrorist group’s forays into making a weapon of mass destruction.
"Evidence already secured indicates that ISIL tested biological and chemical agents and conducted experiments on prisoners as part of this program, causing death," the report said.
"Weaponized vesicants, nerve agents and toxic industrial compounds are suspected to have been considered under the program."
And there have already been ISIS-linked terror plots foiled in Europe.
In 2018, suspected Islamist extremist Sief Allah Hammami, a 29-year-old Tunisian, was arrested in Germany after planning a "biological weapon attack" using the poison ricin.
'BIGGEST POTENTIAL THREAT'
The terrifying plot was described as "the biggest potential threat ever found in Europe".
Prosecutors confirmed the suspect "had contacts with people on the jihadist spectrum".
In a briefing to the European Parliament, analyst Beatrix Immenkamp urged members of the public to take the threat of bioterrorism from terrorists more seriously.
She said: "European citizens are not seriously contemplating the possibility that extremist groups might use chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear materials during attacks in Europe."
And experts have grimly warned al-Qaeda could also unleash bioweapons on the world in future terror attacks.
US spy chiefs have already said the terror group could rekindle its former terrorist training camps in Afghanistan to plot atrocities against Britain and America within two years as the jihadis regroup.
With the Taliban back in charge following the withdrawal of US led forces, al-Qaeda is said to be returning to the war-torn country.
Dr Zeno Leoni, from the Defence Studies Department of King's College London, said the terror group could "absolutely" use bioweapons in a future attack considering its previous attempts.
He pointed to the alleged bioterrorism plot to attack the London Underground with ricin by the suspected al-Qaeda operative Kamel Bourgass.
Dr Leoni told The Sun Online: "I think bioterrorism could be very basic, such as when anthrax was used in the US after 9/11. Or, it could involve the more sophisticated use of genetically engineered organisms."
But he added: "It is difficult not to imagine the involvement of states should a sophisticated attack happen."
Al-Qaeda has reportedly already experimented with producing poison from nicotine.
It's not just terrorists who could be emboldened by the stifled investigation into the origins of the Covid pandemic.
China is also feared to have spent decades illicitly researching biological weapons at dozens of secretive sites ahead of a potential apocalyptic World War 3.
The vast country is home to at least 50 covert labs where state scientists are thought to have manufactured deadly "bacteria bombs", stockpiled deadly pathogens such as anthrax, and even probed weaponising coronaviruses.
High profile defector Wei Jingsheng claimed China once carried out Nazi-style bioweapons and nuclear experiments on "human Guinea pigs".
China is alleged to have developed its germ warfare unit after World War 2 after being subjected to biowarfare by Japan – with the military academy being set up in 1951.
Documents obtained by the US show the People's Liberation Army commanders believed future battles could be fought with bioweapons.
And bombshell evidence from scientists and researchers suggests Covid may have been tinkered with – but China denies all allegations of wrongdoing over the pandemic.
US intelligence reports and analysts have also highlighted startling concerns about bioweapon programmes in North Korea and Russia.
A US State Department report published in 2017 said Russia has not "sufficiently documented" whether its Soviet bioweapons have been destroyed.
And a 2001 report from the South Korean government said North Korea was believed to have a stockpile of 2,500 to 5,000 tonnes of chemical and biological weapons – such as anthrax.
Analysts believe Pyongyang has made "major strides" in all technical areas needed for the production of bioweapons.
Andrew C. Weber, a Pentagon official in charge of nuclear, chemical and biological defense programmes under President Obama, told the New York Times: "North Korea is far more likely to use biological weapons than nuclear ones.
"The program is advanced, underestimated and highly lethal."
And according to NATO consultant Dr Jill Dekker, Syria has also worked with several pathogens, including anthrax, plague, smallpox, and cholera – some of which came from Russia, North Korea, Iran and Iraq.
Former PM Tony Blair has warned terrorists could wage war on the West with grim bioweapons after seeing the catastrophe caused by Covid.
He said it was no longer "the realm of science fiction" that Islamist extremists could attack with bugs.
In a speech at the RUSI think tank marking 20 years since the 9/11 attacks, he said: "Covid 19 has taught us about deadly pathogens.
"Bio-terror possibilities may seem like the realm of science fiction. But we would be wise now to prepare for their potential use by non-state actors.
"Islamism, both the ideology and the violence, is a first order security threat; and, unchecked, it will come to us, even if centred far from us, as 9/11 demonstrated."
- Viral: The Search for the Origin of Covid-19 will be published on November 16
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