Weapons of Mass Destruction
The FBI is the lead federal agency for responding to threats from weapons of mass destruction (WMD). The Bureau investigates and collects intelligence on WMD-related threats and incidents to prevent attacks and respond to them when they occur.
Established in 2006, the WMD Directorate (WMDD) is part of the FBI’s National Security Branch. The WMDD leads the FBI’s efforts to mitigate threats from chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, or explosive weapons.
Definition of WMD
A WMD is defined by U.S. law as any of the following:
- A destructive device, such as an explosive or incendiary bomb, rocket, or grenade;
- A weapon that is designed to cause death or serious injury through toxic or poisonous chemicals;
- A weapon that contains a biological agent or toxin; or
- A weapon that is designed to release dangerous levels of radiation or radioactivity.
The WMDD provides leadership and expertise to domestic and foreign law enforcement, academia, and industry partners on WMD issues. The FBI approaches these issues through four major areas: preparedness, countermeasures, investigations/operations, and intelligence.
The WMDD prepares the FBI and its U.S. government partners to respond to WMD threats by developing comprehensive strategic and operational plans. Training exercises not only enhance the FBI’s capabilities, but they also improve collaboration with federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies.
A critical part of the FBI’s work in preventing and responding to WMD attacks are special agents who serve as WMD coordinators in all 56 field offices and in some overseas FBI offices. WMD coordinators build relationships with partners in law enforcement and the private sector. The goal of these relationships is to promote information sharing and ensure the FBI has an early warning of emerging WMD threats.
Investigations and Operations
The WMDD manages WMD-related investigations and leads the FBI’s coordination and investigative response to those threats and incidents. In addition to U.S. operations, WMDD agents in international locations assist host countries with training and WMD response, as appropriate.
Intelligence-driven investigations help the FBI and its U.S. government partners prevent and respond to WMD incidents. The WMDD’s intelligence analysts develop relevant and actionable intelligence related to WMD threats, including intelligence on WMD proliferation and other criminal activities.
- 09.13.2019 — Donald Alway Named Assistant Director of the Weapons of Mass Destruction Directorate
- 09.11.2019 — Former Davenport Elementary School Teacher Charged Federally for Mailing Hoax Biological Agents and Toxins
- 09.09.2019 — Los Angeles County Man Pleads Guilty to Federal Charge of Attempting to Obtain the Biological Toxin Ricin for Unlawful Purposes
- 08.23.2019 — Two Queens Women Plead Guilty in Connection with Plan to Build Explosive, Destructive Devices Similar to Those Used in Prior Terrorist Attacks in the United States
- 07.18.2019 — Broward County Resident Sentenced to Prison for Distributing Information Pertaining to Explosives Online
- 07.18.2019 — Local Inmate Sentenced to 10 Years for Threatening Anthrax Use
- 07.11.2019 — Tennessee Prison Inmate Facing Federal Charges for White Powder Mailing Hoax
- 05.24.2019 — The FBI Rocky Mountain Safe Streets Task Force, ATF, and Aurora Fire Department Need Your Help Identifying an Individual
- 05.22.2019 — Federal Grand Jury Charges San Fernando Valley Man with Planning Long Beach Terror Attack in Plot to Cause Mass Casualties
- 04.19.2019 — Massachusetts Man Sentenced for Sending White Powder and Threatening Letters from 2015 Through 2018
To report suspicious activity involving chemical, biological, or radiological materials, call this toll-free number: 855-TELL-FBI (855-835-5324). For more on reaching out to the FBI, including submitting an online tip, read our Contact Us page which provides detailed information, such as additional phone numbers and the addresses of our local and international offices.