Community Outreach Program for Manufacturers and Suppliers of Chemical and Biological Agents, Materials, and Equipment | AIChE

Community Outreach Program for Manufacturers and Suppliers of Chemical and Biological Agents, Materials, and Equipment

Last updated January 2, 2013

In an effort to prevent Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) terrorism in the United States, especially those incidents that may involve large scale explosive devices or the use of chemical, biological, nuclear, or radiological (CBRN) agents, the FBI is reaching out to the community to ask for its voluntary assistance. The following information is provided to manufacturers and suppliers of CBRN materials and equipment, to better assist them in identifying suspicious purchases or inquiries. 


The FBI, in an effort to thwart terrorism in the United States, is asking suppliers and manufacturers nationwide to review this publication and to voluntarily report any suspicious purchases or inquiries. This publication contains information relevant to identifying suspicious purchases, the materials or precursors that may be used in furtherance of WMD terrorist activity, and contact information that will be needed to report the activity. 

What is a suspicious Inquiry or Purchase?

The FBI recognizes that there are literally hundreds of legitimate commercial, industrial, and agricultural applications that may require the purchase of materials or products mentioned in this publication. It is only the purchase of materials or supplies in furtherance of criminal or terrorist activity that are of concern to the FBI. This booklet contains some questions and identifiers that may assist the retail clerk, store owner, manufacturer, or supplier in distinguishing determination between a legitimate customer and one that may have illicit motives.


The following guidelines are provided to assist manufacturers and suppliers to more readily identify suspicious purchases of materials for the production of biological agents/toxins and chemicals or chemical precursors that could be used in an act of terrorism or for purely criminal activity. 


  • Approach from a previously unknown customer (including those who require technical assistance) whose identity is not clear.
  • Transaction involving an intermediary agent and/or third party/consignee that is unusual in light of their usual business.
  • Customer's reluctance to give sufficient explanation of the chemicals to be produced with the equipment and/or the purpose or use of those chemicals.
  • Customer's use of evasive responses. (This applies to inquiries or purchases involving both biological and chemical materials).
  • Customer's reluctance to provide information on the locations of the plant/place where the equipment is to be installed.
  • Customer's reluctance to explain sufficiently what raw materials are to be used with the equipment. 
  • Customer's reluctance to provide clear answers to routine commercial or technical questions.
  • Customer is associated or employed with a military-related business, such as a foreign defense ministry or foreign armed forces.
  • Customer's reason for purchasing the equipment does not match the customer's usual business or technological level.
  • Equipment to be installed in an area under strict security control, such as an area close to military-related facilities or an area to which access is severely restricted.
  • Equipment to be installed in an area that is unusual and out of character with the proper use of the equipment.
  • Unusual customer request concerning the shipment or labeling of goods.
  • Unusually favorable payment terms, such as a higher price or better interest rate than the prevailing market or a higher lump-sum cash payment.
  • Unusual customer request for excessive confidentiality regarding the final destination or details of the product to be delivered.
  • Customer does not request a performance guarantee, warranty, or service contract. 
  • Order for excessive safety, protective, or security devices.
  • Requests for normally unnecessary devices (for example, an excessive quantity of spare parts) or a lack of orders for parts that are typically associated with the product being ordered, coupled with an unconvincing explanation for the omission of such an order or request.
  • Customer does not request, declines or refuses the assistance of a technical expert/training assistance when the assistance is generally standard for the installation or operation of the equipment.
  • Customer unable to complete an undertaking (due to inadequate equipment or technological know-how) and requests completion of a partly finished project.
  • Contractor is denied access to parts of the plant other than those directly involved with the contract.
  • Contract for the construction or revamping of a plant is provided by the customer, but does not indicate the complete scope of the work and/or final site of the plant under construction.
  • Packaging and/or packaging components are inconsistent with the shipping mode or stated destination. 
  • Modification of a plant, equipment, or item in an existing or planned facility that changes production capability significantly and could make the facility more suitable for the manufacture of chemical weapons or chemical weapon precursors. (This also applies to biological agents and weapons).
  • Customer states or documents that the plant, equipment, or item is for a use inconsistent with its design or normal intended use, and the customer continues these misstatements even after being corrected by the company/distributor.
  • Customer cancels sale, but then requests to purchase the exact same product with the same specifications and use, under a different name.
  • Customer cancels sale, but then the exact same product is stolen or "lost" shortly after the customer's inquiry.

Chemical/Biological Materials likely to be used in furtherance of WMD Terrorist Activities

The FBI is working with other Federal agencies to assess the chemical and biological materials that may be more likely to be used in furtherance of WMD terrorism. Based upon available public source materials, FBI investigations, product availability, and the complexity of manufacture and development, the ensuing lists of chemicals, chemical precursors, and biological agents have been constructed. These lists are not absolute and are made available to provide guidance to suppliers and manufacturers.

Industrial Chemical Materials/Agents

* Chemical agents that may be more likely to be used in furtherance of WMD terrorism or criminal activity

Biological Pathogens & Toxins/Others

There are many biological pathogens and toxins, such as ricin and anthrax, that are of concern to law enforcement because of their use or threatened use. These agents, if improperly handled or misused, have the potential to harm targeted individuals or several hundred persons depending on the circumstance and delivery method. Because of the implications should these agents be purchased for criminal or terrorist use, the FBI requests that careful attention be paid to individuals or entities seeking to purchase the following list of agents for non-commercial or for "independent research." The list of biological agents that appear in this booklet is based upon available public source materials, FBI investigations, product availability, and the complexity of manufacture and development. As previously mentioned, this list is not all inclusive and is made available to provide guidance to suppliers and manufacturers.

Industrial Biological Agents/Other


Equipment exists that may assist would-be WMD terrorists in the development of a functional chemical or biological device; however, at this time, the commercial applications for these products are too great and the range of choices are practically limitless. Due to these and other considerations, the FBI believes that a "short list" of equipment that could be used in furtherance of WMD terrorism would not be comprehensive nor concise; therefore this booklet will not attempt to address this aspect at this time. 

Reporting Sheets

After meeting with your local WMD Coordinator and reading this publication, if you become aware of a purchase or inquiry that contains some of the above mentioned criteria, the FBI  kindly requests that you voluntarily report this information to your local FBI field office. Please download and complete the following sheet, as completely as possible, to better assist our investigative agents. 

Suspicious Inquiries or Purchases

1. Your name, organization, phone number, and mailing address
2. Your business
3. Name, business or military affiliation, telephone number, and address of the person making the inquiry or purchase (if known)
4. Product(s) or equipment being inquired about or purchased
5. Criteria being met (Match to any of the indicators mentioned in this booklet) (if applicable)
6. Date of Purchase/Inquiry or visit (list all dates if multiple contacts)
7. Other
Please contact your local FBI WMD Coordinator to report any suspicious inquiries or purchases.
The FBI appreciates your cooperation and participation in this very critical outreach initiative.