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.
As part of the countermeasures program, WMDD personnel work with academic and industry partners to protect advances in scientific research and biotechnology development and to prevent the misuse of biological knowledge, material, and technology. The WMDD also supports U.S. health security in part by coordinating with Global Health Security Agenda partners to prevent, detect, and respond to biological incidents.
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.
- 09.14.2020 — Man Who Tried to Procure Ricin Sentenced to Three and One Half Years in Prison
- 08.19.2020 — Former Fort Riley Soldier Sentenced for Distributing Information on Napalm, IEDs
- 08.04.2020 — Columbia Man Pleads Guilty to Attempting to Purchase Chemical Weapon on the Dark Web
- 07.21.2020 — Federal Grand Jury Indicts Austin Man for Possession of an Improvised Explosive Device
- 06.10.2020 — Jacksonville Man Indicted for Possession of Molotov Cocktail at Protest
- 06.09.2020 — Man Charged with Possessing Molotov Cocktails at La Mesa Protest
- 06.06.2020 — Pittsburgh Man Charged with Possession of a Destructive Device After Placing a Backpack of Homemade Explosives in Downtown
- 06.05.2020 — Bend Man Pleads Guilty for Placing Hoax Bomb at Deschutes County Courthouse
- 06.03.2020 — Worcester Man Charged with Civil Disorder and Possession of a Destructive Device
- 06.03.2020 — Joint Terrorism Task Force Charges Three Men Who Allegedly Sought to Exploit Protests in Las Vegas and Incite Violence
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.