WMD History


In 1995, the FBI established a Weapons of Mass Destruction sub-program within the Counterterrorism Division. During the succeeding years, the FBI created units in FBI Headquarters, the Laboratory Division, and ultimately in the Critical Incident Response Group to meet the growing demands of the program.

On September 23, 1996, Congress passed the Defense Against Weapons of Mass Destruction Act, which included the FBI as one of the key federal agencies to work in partnership with other key agencies to better protect the nation from a WMD attack. This involved preparing the nation’s first responders to take action if one were to occur.

Following the attacks of 9/11 and the anthrax attacks a month later, the FBI continued to evolve to meet the threat posed by WMD. The FBI determined the need for a program that not only met the current threat but also prepared a workforce and organization to counter future threats and respond to incidents involving those threats.

During 2005, Director Mueller requested the newly-formed National Security Branch to design an organizational element to meet the WMD threat; by July 2006, the FBI established the Weapons of Mass Destruction Directorate (WMDD). The Directorate incorporated pre-existing units from the Domestic Terrorism Section of Counterterrorism Division in addition to new ones.

Today, the WMDD includes three sectionsInvestigations and Operations Section (IOS), Countermeasures Section (CS), and an embedded intelligence section called the Intelligence and Analysis Section (IAS). IOS oversees the FBI’s WMD response and investigation programs and CS is responsible for meeting the future WMD threat.

On October 1, 2009, WMDD achieved FBI National Program status, demonstrating its impact on the FBI’s WMD program since its inception a few years ago. Achieving program status gave the Directorate full oversight over initiatives and program activities (prevention, preparedness, countermeasures, investigations, and operational response), as well as the ability to lead field personnel.