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WMD History


In 1995, the FBI established a Weapons of Mass Destruction sub-program within the Counterterrorism Division. During the succeeding years, the Bureau 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, then-Director Robert 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 sections—Investigations and Operations Section (IOS), Countermeasures Section (CS), and Intelligence and Analysis Section (IAS). IOS oversees the FBI’s WMD response and investigation programs. IAS provides timely, relevant, actionable intelligence analysis to collaborate with key domestic and international stakeholders to identify, understand and mitigate current and emerging WMD threats response for meeting the future WMD threat.

WMDD has achieved FBI National Program status, demonstrating its impact on the Bureau’s WMD program since its inception. 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.