UP THE PLAGUE AT HOME:
By Tiffany Danitz, Insight Magazine, January 26, 1998
National Institutes of Health researcher Steven Hatfill demonstrates how a determined terrorist could cook up a batch of plague in his or her own kitchen using common household ingredients and protective equipment from the supermarket.
A homemade broth culture, based on recipes published by Louis Pasteur in the late 1800s, could be incubated in an ordinary electric oven set at a low temperature. An Army surplus gas mask, garbage bags, duct tape and dishwashing gloves complete the chemical chef's fashion ensemble. Household bleach decontaminates working surfaces.
For this photo opportunity, Hatfill left out the secret ingredient -- namely the plague bacteria -- which an enterprising terrorist could collect from a prairie-dog habitat in the American Southwest, where it is endemic. Hatfill "weaponizes" the batch by pouring it into a hiker's water bag attached to a homemade sprayer. In one scenario, a terrorist in a wheelchair, highly inoculated with antibiotics, could conceal the device under a tracksuit and wheel through a crowded area, spraying as he or she went.
Vial Smuggled In to Make a Point At Hill Hearing
By Vernon Loeb
A leading U.S. expert on biological warfare walked through security at the Rayburn House Office Building yesterday carrying 7 1/2 grams of powdered anthrax in a small plastic bottle, proceeding directly to a hearing efore the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and displaying his deadly sample.
The expert, William C. Patrick III, said he was trying to show how a hostile state could smuggle powdered anthrax into the United States in a secure diplomatic pouch and attack major federal government installations almost at will.
"I've been through all the major airports, and the security systems of the State Department, the Pentagon, even the CIA, and nobody has stopped me," Patrick told the committee. "Seven and a half grams would take care of the Rayburn Building and all the people in it."
Patrick's testimony on biological warfare and its most frightening mutant, bioterrorism, was given during one of the intelligence panel's rare open sessions as Congress and the administration focus increasing attention and vast new resources on counterterrorism. Committee Chairman Porter J. Goss (R-Fla.) said he called the unusual open session to help educate the public on what he called "a national security concern of the highest priority."
President Clinton has made defending the country against biological and chemical attacks among the highest priorities of his administration. In January, he proposed a $10 billion counterterrorism budget for the coming fiscal year that includes $1.4 billion for enhancing domestic readiness in the event of a chemical or biological terrorist attack.
In his testimony, Patrick revealed that he toted a number of other chilling samples through Rayburn security "like Sherman went through Georgia," including a small canister of 25,000 dormant mosquito eggs that he said could easily have been infected with encephalitis and loosed on the population at large.
John A. Lauder, director of the
CIA's Nonproliferation Center, told the committee that a dozen countries,
including Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea and Syria, "now either possess
or are actively pursuing offensive biological weapons capabilities for
use against their perceived enemies, whether internal or external." Countries
with biological weapons technology include the United States and some of
its closest allies but also, as Lauder pointed out, hostile powers such
as Iran, Iraq, Libya
Weaponizing biological agents is much more difficult for small rogue states and terrorists "than some popular literature seems to suggest," Lauder said. But biological weapons remain a highly dangerous threat because they are cheap and relatively easy to make, he said, and could become far more threatening with rapid advances in biotechnology.
By A Fear Of Bioterrorism
Experts say a chemical attack in the U.S. is a matter of "not if but when." After a series of hoaxes, some ask: How real is the threat?
by Steve Goldstein, Inquirer Washington Bureau
November 14, 1999
WASHINGTON - Nearly five years ago, the apocalyptic cult Aum Shinrikyo released sarin gas into the Tokyo subway system, killing a dozen people and sickening hundreds.
Aum also released something else, with far greater impact - the specter of terrorists using chemical or biological weapons to murder thousands of people.
Since the Tokyo crisis, there have been no mass attacks using unconventional weapons in the United States or against Americans abroad. Nevertheless, there has been a mushrooming of concern about bioterrorism in government circles - complete with commissions, congressional hearings, and a thriving herd of consultants and defense contractors grazing on an expanding antiterrorism budget.
Terrorism is now a growth industry. The possibility of a chemical or bioterrorism attack is increasingly defined as "not if but when."
As threat fever has soared, so has the number of consultants, experts, institutes and defense contractors involved in chemical- and biological-warfare issues. Defense Week magazine staged a two-day conference-cum-trade show called "WMD [Weapons of Mass Destruction] and Domestic Preparedness III" last week in Washington. The registration fee was $895 for the more than 150 attendees.
The number of agents that the FBI assigns to counterterrorism has nearly tripled from 550 in 1993 to almost 1,400 today. President Clinton submitted a budget of $10 billion for 2000 to fight terrorism; that's up from $6.5 billion in 1998. About $5 billion of that is to go to agencies dealing directly with national security.
A recent General Accounting Office report noted that all of this is happening even though the government has not issued a single assessment of the actual threat to the nation.
The so-called Deutch Commission (named for a former CIA director) tried to unravel the Gordian knot of more than 90 agencies that can claim some jurisdiction over the threat. None of its recommendations, delivered in July, has been acted upon.
The deadly scenarios seem endless. Most recently, when the cause of a deadly mosquito-borne encephalitis was laid to the West Nile virus in crows, a national magazine reported that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein may have been looking for ways to use the virus as a weapon.
Hoaxes involving hard-to-see biological agents are increasing exponentially. The FBI has investigated nearly 150 threats involving anthrax this year alone from among more than 247 cases involving biological, chemical or nuclear weapons. As recently as 1996, the FBI investigated 37 such cases.
Lisa Gordon-Hagerty, director of weapons of mass destruction preparedness for the National Security Council, espouses the ounce-of-prevention, pound-of-cure theory, arguing that because of a real threat of attack, federal and local governments must take defensive and remedial action.
Brad Roberts of the Institute for Defense Analyses, who consults with military and civilian agencies on chem-bio warfare, is also bullish on the threat. Yet he concedes that "there's some overcompensation going on now."
Said Jeff Simon, head of Political Risk Assessment, a security-consulting firm: "When there's so much money being poured around, every entity wants a piece of it, every government agency, every business, every consultant. It's almost like a runaway train - with no clear direction."
"The hype, I think, was necessary to get our attention," said David R. Franz, former head of the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases. "But we have to be careful to deal with facts rather than hype, or we will be expending unnecessary resources."
The facts suggest that attacks are not imminent, but many studies of terrorist activities have stressed how vulnerable America is and how much damage could be inflicted - rather than the actual likelihood of an attack.
"The level of uncertainty is so extraordinarily high that the so-called experts are being called upon to exercise powers of prophecy," said Brian M. Jenkins of the Rand Corp., who has studied terrorism for nearly 30 years.
"Anything beyond five to 10 years is beyond analysis; you're in the realm of speculation and entertainment."
Some attempts are being made to slow the train.
At a recent hearing of a House national security subcommittee, a senior official of the watchdog General Accounting Office said terrorists in most cases "would have to overcome significant technical and operational challenges" to use chemical and biological agents to kill or injure large numbers of people - without substantial assistance from a rogue state.
"I don't know if [the hype] has gotten out of control, but the agencies until now have been tasked to look at consequences rather than risk," said Milton Leitenberg of the Center for International and Security Studies at the University of Maryland.
Leitenberg has tried for years to temper fears of large-scale chemical and biological attacks. He has publicly taken Defense Secretary William S. Cohen to task for predicting the use of weapons of mass destruction by nations or terrorist groups.
Leitenberg and other critics were particularly appalled by Cohen's appearance on a Sunday talk show in 1997, when he held up a five-pound bag of sugar and said that a similar amount of anthrax released in the air over the nation's capital would kill half the city's population, about 300,000 people. A few months later, four government anthrax experts said Cohen had exaggerated the fatality rate by 100 times.
In an extraordinary five-part series called "Biowar" aired in early October on ABC's Nightline, "terrorists" smashed glass bottles containing anthrax spores in a city subway. While illustrating the susceptibility of the U.S. health-care infrastructure to such an attack, the series was otherwise riddled with "misleading scenes" showing efforts to contain the attack, said bioterrorism expert Donald A. Henderson of the Johns Hopkins Center for Civilian Biodefense Studies.
Henderson called for "careful media coverage of this easily sensationalized topic."
Sensational presentations of the subject may be at least partly responsible for an epidemic of hoaxes.
Anthrax in powdered form looks benign and is highly fatal, and unlike a chemical agent, its effects are not immediately apparent - so the target does not know that it is a fake. Authorities have no choice but to respond with significant costs in time and money.
"We were poised to believe that this is terrorism; we're on a hair trigger," Bruce Hoffman of the Rand Corp. said of anthrax hoaxes.
He has concluded that the vast majority of terrorists still prefer the relatively "modest success" of using conventional weapons.
"People see you can make these threats and they are hard to track down," said John Parachini of the Monterey Institute of International Studies in California.
Only the Aum attack involved weapons of mass destruction. The lone bacterial attack in America was in 1984, when the Rajneesh cult used salmonella, a nonlethal bacterial agent, to poison a salad bar in The Dalles, Ore., sickening 700 people.
Most experts say terrorists still prefer guns and bombs.
"The thing we need to fear most in the near term is a truck bomb," said Robert Blitzer, who until last year headed the FBI's counterterrorism unit.
A Rand Corp. terrorism database details about 10,000 incidents in the last 30 years, but only a small percentage involved such unconventional weapons as biological and chemical agents.
"We haven't gotten to the point where we are panicking where there is no threat, but we have a political environment where we are trying to address the threat and people are exploiting this climate," Blitzer said.
Most of those who have studied the uses of such weapons say more caution is needed in developing a comprehensive national strategy.
"The more government money that is poured into this area, the more difficult it is to have interagency cooperation and planning," Franz said.
At bio-chem terrorism conferences, Jenkins said, "it is not accepted to be agnostic; you have to be on board, be a believer."
Leitenberg - who says he has been contacted by TV journalists to talk about the subject only to have his appearances canceled once it becomes obvious that he is not hyping the threat - says the unqualified predictions of many so-called experts are "a stimulant" to possible terrorism.
"These false and hysterical arguments will bring it quicker," he said. "They are telling people how easy it is, and then they say how terrible it will be and how much we fear it.
"They are sucking it out of the woodwork," he said, grimly.
sect was close to bioterrorism, journal says
Live anthrax found at office
Miami Herald/August 30, 2001
Paris -- Aum Supreme Truth, the Japanese doomsday sect that carried out a nerve-gas attack on the Tokyo subway in 1995, made a trial run of an anthrax weapon, using harmless vaccine bacteria as a test, New Scientist says.
What has been dismissed as a botched attempt to carry out an anthrax attack may have been a dress rehearsal for the real thing, it says in a report due to be published on Saturday.
Hiroshi Takahashi, a scientist at Japan's National Institute of Infectious Diseases, told an anthrax conference in Maryland in June that the sect cultured the bacteria in large drums of liquid in the basement of its headquarters outside Tokyo, the report says.
Then, in July 1993, sect members pumped the liquid to the roof and sprayed it in the air for 24 hours.
Takahashi said police investigated when neighbors complained about the smell, but they were unable under Japan's religious protection laws to enter and search the building. However, they did manage to take samples of a fluid leaking from a pipe on the outside of the building.
No one in the neighborhood fell sick. Because of this, when light was eventually shed on Aum's experiments with biological weapons, the operation was seen as a failed attempt to create anthrax.
But, New Scientist says, new evidence suggests Aum was farther down the road to anthrax terrorism than previously thought. A laboratory at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff has now analyzed the fluid sample taken by the police, and found it to be full of live, healthy anthrax bacteria.
DNA analysis shows that the bacteria belong to the Sterne strain, which is used in live vaccine for animals, the report says. Sterne anthrax is designed to lack a fragment of DNA that enables the bacteria to become toxic, and is thus harmless.
Aum carried out the spraying in a practice run but may have been discouraged from carrying out a real attack because of police attention, an Arizona researcher suggested.
The results of the tests show the sect had already overcome the biggest hurdles with bioweapons -- keeping cultures alive, manufacturing enough of the bacteria and spraying in sufficient volumes to cause mass death.
Aum released the nerve gas sarin in the central Japanese city of Matsumoto, killing four people, in June 1994.
It carried out a sarin attack on the Tokyo subway in March 1995, killing 12 and injuring about 5,000 others.
New Scientist vol 171 issue 2306 - 01 September 2001, page 6
Tokyo narrowly escaped a devastating anthrax attack
AUM SHINRIKYO, the Japanese doomsday sect that killed 12 people by releasing sarin nerve gas into the Tokyo subway in 1996, had the knowledge and skills to wreak even greater devastation with anthrax. New research in the US shows that Aum not only had the ability to release anthrax, it even did so—though it used a non-virulent strain.
The sect cultured the bacteria in large drums of liquid in the basement of its eight-storey headquarters in the Tokyo suburb of Kameido, says Hiroshi Takahashi of Japan's National Institute of Infectious Diseases. Then, in July 1993, Aum members pumped the liquid to the roof and sprayed it into the air for 24 hours
The police investigated when neighbours complained about the smell, but Japan's religious protection laws prevented them from searching the building. But they did manage to take samples of a fluid leaking from a pipe on the outside of the building.
Medical records show that no one reported any anthrax symptoms in the area after the spraying, Takahashi told an anthrax conference in Annapolis, Maryland, in June. The fact that Aum was unable to infect people with anthrax is cited by many terrorism experts as evidence that bioweapons are too complex for such extremists.
But now scientists at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff have analysed the fluid sample and found it contains plenty of healthy anthrax bacilli. DNA analysis shows they belong to the Sterne strain, which is used in live anthrax vaccines for animals. Sterne anthrax lacks a fragment of DNA necessary for the bacteria to cause disease, and is easily purchased in the vaccine form. "It wouldn't have made anyone sick," says Kimothy Smith, a member of the team.
Why would terrorists spray harmless bacteria? They may have been practising, says Smith. Police attention could have discouraged them from moving on to virulent bacteria. Worryingly, the results show that Aum had got around the main difficulties with bioweapons—dead cultures and inadequate spraying. "I have no doubt people would have been sick, and probably died, if they had used a virulent strain," says Smith.
"Most terrorists still prefer explosives or arson," says David Claridge, a terrorism specialist at Rubicon, a security consultancy in London. One of the few exceptions, he fears, might be people committing hate crimes.
This scenario will be played out in the drama Gas Attack, to be screened on Britain's Channel 4 this month. It shows racial extremists killing Kurdish asylum seekers in Glasgow with lethal anthrax taken from animal carcasses. "That would be feasible," says Smith. "You can make the culture medium in the kitchen."
as a Weapon of War
Col. Byron Weeks, M.D., Ret.
Dr. Weeks has had a distinguished medical and military career with the U.S. Air Force Medical Corps. He began military service as the youngest flight surgeon in the U.S. Air Force during the Korean War. After 15 years of military service, during which he served in senior posts, including Hospital Commander at Bitburg Air Force Base, Germany, Dr. Weeks retired and entered private practice. For the past two decades, he has focused his studies on the threat of biological and chemical agents as a weapon of war. He has lectured and written numerous articles on infectious diseases and biological warfare.
Like anthrax, plague is a highly lethal bacterium. Unlike anthrax, plague is contagious - and poses a significant threat to America's national security.
Plague is present in many areas of the world and is endemic in prairie dogs and squirrels in the southwestern United States.
American scientists found that plague bacteria quickly lose infectivity in an aerosol.
Weaponized plague was successfully developed after Pasechnik in the Soviet Union developed a powdered form covered with a polymer capsule.
The best delivery system, developed in Russia, is one that releases a canister that sprays a cloud of the dried and powdered bacterium from a low-flying and hard to detect object, the cruise missile.
Bubonic plague has been the most lethal disease pandemic (the term for an exceptionally widespread epidemic) in history. It killed one quarter of the European population in the 14th century. It is the most lethal, virulent and invasive disease known to man.
The plague bacterium, Yersinia pestis, is a rod-shaped bacillus that is non-motile (non-moving), doesn't form spores, stains red with Gram stain, and is of the family Enterobacteraceae.
It causes plague, a zoonotic disease (communicable from animals to humans) of rodents (e.g., rats, mice, ground squirrels and prairie dogs).
Various species of fleas that live on the rodents can transmit the bacteria to humans, who then suffer from the bubonic form of plague.
The bubonic form may progress to the septicemic (blood poisoning) and/or pneumonic forms.
Pneumonic plague is the most serious form of the disease and would be the predominant form after a purposeful aerosol dissemination.
Recovery from plague is followed by temporary immunity.
The organism remains viable in water, moist soil and grains for several weeks. At near freezing temperatures, it will remain alive from months to years but is killed by 15 minutes of exposure to 55°C.
It can live for some time in dry sputum, flea feces and buried bodies, but sunlight kills it within a few hours.
History and Significance
The United States worked with Y. Pestis as a potential biowarfare agent in the 1950s and 1960s before our offensive biowarfare program was terminated, and other countries are suspected of weaponizing this organism.
The former Soviet Union had more success than America and has tons of the dry powdered form for use as a bioweapon.
The Japanese army attempted to use infected fleas on the Chinese in World War II but met with little success. This method was cumbersome and unpredictable.
The Soviet Union developed the more reliable and effective method of aerosolizing the organism, and this method was later adopted in the U.S.
The contagious nature of pneumonic plague makes it particularly dangerous as a biological weapon.
The three forms of plague in man are bubonic, septicemic and pneumonic.
Bubonic plague begins after an incubation period of two to 10 days, with high fever, malaise, headache, muscle aches and, usually, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Up to half of patients will have abdominal pain.
Simultaneous with or shortly after the onset of these nonspecific symptoms, the bubo develops - a swollen, tender lump or lymph node, usually noted in the groin, in the lymphatic drainage from the leg where a bite ordinarily occurs.
The liver and spleen are enlarged and tender. Twenty-five percent of victims will have a pustule, blister, dark scab, or pimple where the flea bite occurred.
Secondary septicemia (invasion of the bloodstream) is common, and 80 percent of patients will be positive for the bacteria on blood culture.
Occasionally the blood infection is primary, without buboes or skin lesions.
The symptoms are similar to other Gram-negative septicemias: high fever, chills, malaise, hypotension, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.
The blood may clot in the small vessels of the fingers and toes, with necrosis and gangrene; clotting may even occur throughout the vascular system.
Blackened distal extremities (fingertips) and purplish patches under the skin are caused by a toxin and are signs of impending death. The bacteria can also spread to the central nervous system, lungs and elsewhere.
Plague meningitis occurs in about 6 percent of septicemic and pneumonic cases.
Pneumonic plague is an infection of the lungs due to either inhalation of the organisms (primary pneumonic plague) or spread to the lungs from septicemia (secondary pneumonic plague).
The pneumonic form is by far the most serious and usually comes on two to four days after either inhalation or via the infected bloodstream.
The first signs of illness include high fever, chills, headache, malaise and muscle pain, followed within 24 hours by a cough with bloody sputum, which may contain visible pus. Gastrointestinal symptoms, including nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain, may be present.
Rarely, a bubo might be seen in the neck area from an inhalational exposure. The chest X-ray commonly reveals patchy pneumonia, although at times it may be consolidated (lobar). The pneumonia progresses rapidly, resulting in shortness of breath, crowing breath sounds, and blueness of the skin. The disease terminates in about 18 hours with respiratory failure and shock.
Nonspecific laboratory findings include a total WBC count up of to 20,000 cells with increased band cells, a sign of infection, and greater than 80 percent polymorphonuclear cells.
One also often finds increased fibrin split products in the blood, indicative of a low-grade onset of coagulation disorder. Signs of kidney and liver failure are usually evident in blood chemistry.
In the bubonic type, the death rate is about 60 percent, and close to 100 percent in the pneumonic type when treatment is begun beyond 18 hours after infection.
In the absence of biowarfare the pneumonic type is rare. In the U.S. over the past 50 years, four out of seven pneumonic plague patients (57 percent) died.
Diagnosis is based primarily on clinical suspicion.
The sudden appearance of large numbers of previously healthy patients with sudden onset of severe, rapidly progressive pneumonia with spitting up of blood strongly suggests plague. A blood smear, or examination of a bubo aspirate or spinal fluid, may demonstrate the organism. Blood culture is reliable and readily available, although studies of antibodies are specific when available.
The organism grows slowly at normal incubation temperatures, and may be misidentified by automated systems because of delayed biochemical reactions.
It may be cultured on blood agar, MacConkey agar or infusion broth. In immunoassay, a fourfold rise in antibody titer in patient serum is diagnostic, but the results tend to be available only after the patient is dead or has survived as a result of empiric treatment. Most clinical assays can be performed in Biosafety Level 2 labs, whereas procedures producing aerosols or yielding significant quantities of organisms require Level 3 containment.
Suspected pneumonic plague cases require strict isolation with masking and gowning to avoid droplets coughed by the patient.
Suspended droplets in the air around the patient are highly contagious. Isolation and quarantine must continue for at least the first 48 hours of antibiotic therapy, or until sputum cultures are negative in confirmed cases.
If competent vectors (fleas) and reservoirs (rodents) are present, flea insecticide sprays must be used, along with attempts at eradication of rodents near patient care areas.
In the areas of native infection, streptomycin, gentamicin, doxycycline, and chloramphenicol are highly effective, if begun early. The bioweaponized form from Russia is resistant to 16 different antibiotics and plague pneumonia is almost always fatal if treatment is not initiated with an effective antibiotic such as ciprofloxacin within 24 hours of the onset of symptoms.
Dosage regimens are as follows: gentamicin, 5mg/kg IM or IV once daily, or 2mg/kg loading dose followed by 1.75 mg/kg IM or IV every eight hours; doxycycline 200 mg initially, followed by 100 mg every 12 hours. Duration of therapy is 10 to 14 days. While the patient is typically afebrile after three days, the extra week of therapy prevents relapses. These may not be efficacious in resistant strains.. Recommended dosage of ciprofloxacin is 400mg IV twice daily. Chloramphenicol, 25 mg/kg IV loading dose followed by 15 mg/kg IV four times daily x 10-14 days, is required for the treatment of plague meningitis.
Usual supportive therapy includes IV saline and potassium if laboratory studies indicate. Monitoring of vital signs is important. Although low-grade coagulation disorders may occur, clinically significant hemorrhage is uncommon, as is the need to treat with heparin. Shock is common from the release of the bacterial endotoxin, but pressor agents such as dopamine are rarely needed. Buboes should not be drained, since they nearly always recede with antibiotic therapy and incision may tend to spread the infection to attendants. Aspiration with a needle and syringe is recommended for diagnostic purposes and may provide symptomatic relief.
Vaccine: No vaccine is available for prophylaxis of plague. A licensed, killed whole cell vaccine was available in the U.S. from 1946 until November 1998. It offered protection against bubonic plague, but was not effective against aerosolized Y. Pestis. A (fusion protein) antigen vaccine is in development at USAMRIID (U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases). It protected mice for a year against an inhalational challenge and is being tested in primates.
Antibiotics: For face-to-face contacts (within 2 meters), patients with pneumonic plague or persons possibly exposed to a plague aerosol in a plague biowarfare attack should be given antibiotic prophylaxis using a quinolone such as ciprofloxacin for seven days or the duration of risk of exposure plus seven days. If fever or cough occurs in these individuals, treatment with IV antibiotics should be started.
Ciprofloxacin, 500 mg orally twice daily, has also shown to be effective in preventing disease if the patient does not have any symptoms of infection, and it may be more available in a wartime setting, as it is also distributed in blister packs for anthrax post-exposure prophylaxis.
Tetracycline, 500 mg orally four times daily, and chloramphenicol, 25 mg/kg orally four times daily, are acceptable alternatives if the strain is native and not genetically modified. Contacts of bubonic plague patients need only be observed for symptoms for a week. If symptoms occur, start treatment with antibiotics.
blame Saddam for this one
There is no evidence to suggest Iraq is behind the anthrax attack
The current spate of anthrax attacks on media and government buildings in the United States has heightened the undercurrent of concern since September 11 about the possibility of links between the perpetrators and the Iraqi regime. However, fears that the hidden hand of Saddam Hussein lies behind these attacks are based on rumour and speculation that, under closer scrutiny, fail to support the weight of the charge.
First, there is the history of UN weapons inspections in Iraq from 1991 to 1998. It is true that Iraq has not fully complied with its disarmament obligation, particularly in the field of biological weapons. However, this failure does not equate to a retained biological weapons capability. Far from it. Under the most stringent on-site inspection regime in the history of arms control, Iraq's biological weapons programmes were dismantled, destroyed or rendered harmless during the course of hundreds of no-notice inspections. The major biological weapons production facility - al Hakum, which was responsible for producing Iraq's anthrax - was blown up by high explosive charges and all its equipment destroyed. Other biological facilities met the same fate if it was found that they had, at any time, been used for research and development of biological weapons.
M oreover, Iraq was subjected to intrusive, full-time monitoring of all facilities with a potential biological application. Breweries, animal feed factories, vaccine and drug manufacturing facilities, university research laboratories and all hospitals were subject to constant, repeated inspections. Thousands of swabs and samples were taken from buildings and soil throughout Iraq. No evidence of anthrax or any other biological agent was discovered. While it was impossible to verify that all of Iraq's biological capability had been destroyed, the UN never once found evidence that Iraq had either retained biological weapons or associated production equipment, or was continuing work in the field.
Another mitigating factor is purely scientific: Iraq procured the Vollum strain of anthrax from American Type Culture Collection, a company based in Rockville, Maryland, which provides commercially available viruses - such as anthrax - to consumers worldwide. While Iraq had investigated other strains, including those indigenous to the country, it was the Vollum strain that Iraq mass-produced for weapon use. It is a unique, highly virulent form of anthrax, and its use would represent the kind of link needed to suggest Iraq as a likely source. That is not to say that the presence of a Vollum strain would automatically indict Iraq, or that a non-Vollum strain clears Iraq. However, federal investigators currently think that the anthrax used in New York and Florida is the same strain, most probably the Ames strain, a variety native to the US. The strain used in Washington is as yet unidentified, but it has been assessed as non-weapons grade and responsive to antibiotics. Based upon this information, it would be irresponsible to speculate about a Baghdad involvement.
There is also the political factor. Despite the ongoing efforts of the US and Great Britain to maintain economic sanctions, Baghdad has been very successful in developing a political and diplomatic momentum to get them lifted since weapons inspectors left three years ago. The events of September 11 brought this anti-sanctions momentum to a halt. It makes absolutely no sense for Iraq to be involved in a bio-terror attack that, in one fell swoop, undermines what has been Iraq's number one priority over the past decade: the lifting of economic sanctions.
There is another side to the political equation. America's policy towards Iraq continues to be one of abject failure, and President Bush's administration exhibits the same level of frustration and impotence shown by its predecessor in trying to piece together aviable plan for dealing with Saddam's continued survival. Washington finds itself groping for something upon which to hang its anti-Saddam policies and the current anthrax scare has provided a convenient cause. It would be a grave mistake for some in the Bush administration to undermine the effort to bring to justice those who perpetrated the cowardly attacks against the US by trying to implement their own ideologically-driven agenda on Iraq. Those who have suggested that Iraq is the source of the anthrax used in the current attacks - including Richard Butler, a former chairman of the UN weapons inspection effort - merely fan the flames of fear and panic. There is no verifiable link whatever and it is irresponsible for someone of Mr Butler's stature to be involved in unsubstantiated speculation. His behaviour has, it seems, been guided by animosity towards Baghdad, rather than the facts.
·Scott Ritter was a UN weapons inspector in Iraq from 1991-8. His book Endgame is published by Simon & Schuster.
Osama bought a batch for 10G
By NILES LATHEM
October 24, 2001 -- WASHINGTON - Terror master Osama bin Laden bought samples of anthrax by mail from shady laboratories in Eastern Europe and Asia for as little as $10,000, a former follower has told authorities in Egypt.
The astonishing claim of how easily - and cheaply - the world's most wanted terrorist was able to acquire anthrax and other deadly germ agents was made in a 143-page confession of former extremist Ahmad Ibrahim al-Najjar at a recent trial of more than 100 members of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad.
Al-Najjar, serving a life sentence in Egypt, was among several Islamic Jihad operatives arrested in Albania in 1999 and brought home to Egypt to face trial for a series of attempts to destabilize the pro-Western government of President Hosni Mubarak.
According to translated accounts of his testimony obtained by The Post, al-Najjar told authorities there was nothing cloak-and-dagger about bin Laden's transactions involving deadly biological agents.
"Factories" in the Czech Republic and elsewhere in Eastern Europe supplied deadly bacteria, including e-coli and salmonella, by mail without checking the identities of the purchasers as long as bin Laden's agents paid $7,500 up front, al-Najjar said.
Bin Laden's group was able to get the anthrax germ from another "factory" in Southeast Asia, which supplied it to the Indonesian-based Islamic Moro Front, a terror group closely associated with bin Laden.
The price for the anthrax spores, al-Najjar said, was $3,685, "plus shipping costs."
U.S. officials say they don't yet know whether bin Laden is responsible for the anthrax scare gripping the nation, although President Bush and other senior officials say they are suspicious.
Bin Laden is known to have contacts with Iraqi officials and mafia groups in former Soviet republics - nations that have extensive chemical-and biological-weapons programs and that are known to have experimented with anthrax.
October 25, 2001
WAR ON TERROR: DEADLY DEALER;
By: Lucy Rock In New York And Andy Lines In Washington
FUGITIVE Osama bin Laden traded in bio-death through the post, one of his aides has revealed.
The al-Qaeda terror chief gave the Indonesia-based Moro Front pounds 2,500 to buy anthrax spores from a factory in south east Asia, plus extra for "shipping costs".
He also paid pounds 5,000 cash for e-coli and salmonella from makers in the Czech Republic and elsewhere in eastern Europe.
Astonishingly, bin Laden made no attempts at secrecy. His identity was not checked and the spores were sent openly by post.
The disclosures, which have stunned the FBI, came as the US anthrax toll mounted and the British consulate in New York was evacuated after receiving an envelope of white powder.
Bin Laden's deadly dealing is revealed in a 143-page confession made to an Egyptian court in 1999 by Ahmad Ibrahim al-Najjar.
Al-Najjar is a senior al-Qaeda lieutenant. He is also a chief of Egyptian Jihad whose leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, is bin Laden's right hand man.
Because of his links, FBI agents believe his claims are true.
Defiant Al-Najjar, serving life jail for trying to topple Egypt's President Mubarak, told the court that all targets in the West are legitimate. He said: "I am a Muslim. I am anti-Jew and support what Osama bin Laden does because the confrontation with the US is an issue of defiance which concerns not only al-Zawahiri or bin Laden, but the Islamic nation."
Referring to the 1998 bombing of the US embassy in Nairobi which killed 213 people, he added: "I supported the operation because that embassy is the biggest centre for monitoring Islamic movements in the region."
Al-Najjar worked undercover with Islamic extremists moving between Pakistan, Sudan, Albania, and Azerbaijan. He was among 12 men extradited to Egypt from Albania in July, 1998.
Accusing the CIA of being behind his arrest and extradition, he said: "They kidnapped me from a street in Tirana, just as they kidnapped all my colleagues.
"They tied my hands and put a canvas sack over my head, which they did not remove except in front of a US general who checked my identity.
"Albanian police fabricated accusations against me and put me under house arrest for 48 hours."
All 150 staff at the British consulate in New York were evacuated after a woman in the visa department opened an envelope containing white powder. The envelope was sent from Glasgow on October 17. It was addressed in black felt tip pen to the British Consulate General.
Within 30 minutes, the building was sealed off. A member of staff said: "People were very frightened. We were told to go home."
Vice consul Ray Donoghue confirmed: "A suspicious letter was received. Precautionary mail procedures were in place."
FBI agents have discovered magazines with cover stories about poison gas and bio-weapons at the home of two men arrested after the September 11 attacks.
Mohammed Jaweed Azmath and Ayub Ali Khan flew from Newark on September 11, then left the flight when it was grounded in St Louis, Missouri.
They were were arrested the next day after being found on a train in Texas with box-cutters, thousands of dollars in cash and black hair dye.
Neither man is cooperating with investigators.
Their flatmate, Mohammed Pervez, is charged with lying to the FBI about more than pounds 70,000 that moved in and out of his bank.
Pervez used to work in Trenton, New Jersey, where anthrax letters were postmarked.
A 55-year-old Pakistani man arrested by the FBI was found dead in his cell at Hudson County jail in New Jersey.
hijacker may have transported anthrax
October 25, 2001
BERLIN (AFP) - German investigators are trying to determine if suspected hijacker Mohammed Atta received anthrax spores from Iraqi agents and then brought the germs to the United States, the mass-circulation Bild newspaper reported Thursday.
Bild quoted reports from Israeli intelligence services that Atta, suspected leader of the pilots who steered two hijacked US planes into the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York on September 11, had met twice in the Czech republic with Iraqi secret service agents who allegedly gave him the anthrax bacteria.
Bild said German investigators suspected that Atta had brought the spores with him to New York, where US customs officers may have checked his luggage for drugs but not for bacteria.
Up to 13 people have been infected with anthrax in the United States, spread in a spate of poisoned letters from individuals whom officials have described as unidentified "terrorists." Three people have died.
Bild quoted US FBI agents as saying that Atta, who lived and studied in the northern German city of Hamburg over the past decade, had met "the Iraqi Achmed Al'ami for the first time on June 2, 2000 in a cafe in Prague."
Al'ami was an Iraqi diplomat in Prague and under surveillance by Czech intelligence services.
Atta allegedly met a second Iraqi agent on another trip to Prague. This agent was the high-ranking Achmed Hedschani, former Iraqi ambassador to Turkey, Bild said.
German federal police, the BKA, refused to comment on the reports.
The German federal prosecutor's office was not immediately available for comment.
On Monday in Prague, police spokeswoman Ivava Zelenakova had said that Atta stayed in the Czech Republic on at least two occasions under his own name.
Police have proof of two visits to Prague in the summer of 2000, and are investigating whether he might have made other journeys to the country, whether under his own name or an alias.
According to his visa, Atta did not leave the transit lounge at Prague airport on his first visit. On the second, his visa records he entered the country.
Czech police would not comment on earlier reports in the Prague daily Dnes that Atta had talks with Samir Al-Ani, former consul and second secretary to the Iraqi ambassador in Prague.
The claims were formally rejected by the Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister, Tariq Aziz.
However, the Prague weekly Pravo reported last week that Atta had spent a night at the Prague Hilton in the summer of 2000.
According to several sources close to the secret services, he had spent several days in Prague and at Kutna Hora, 60 kilometres (36 miles) north of the capital under the name Mohammed Sayed Ahmed, the paper claimed.
Anthrax Battle Lacking in Expertise
By Richard T. Cooper and Josh
"There is a feeling that government is not in control," said Ray Kelly, former director of the U.S. Customs Service and now chief of security for Bear Stearns in New York. "There is no indication we know where this is coming from or that law enforcement is hot on the trail of anybody.
We always thought we were protected, especially in the medical field, and that leaders knew what to do. Not this time."
Even an FBI official involved in the inquiry conceded that the halting pace of the investigation is beginning to strain the public.
"We need to make an arrest soon," the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity, "because the anxiety level out there needs to be ratcheted down."
More Resources, but Expertise Lags
For years, according to one senior federal law enforcement official with scientific expertise, the FBI has been asking for more resources to combat bioterrorism, along with a budgetary wish list of other needs. Beginning in 1996, after high-profile bioterrorism incidents in Japan and elsewhere, the FBI received millions of dollars to do just that.
But there are gaps in the FBI's capabilities. "In terms of knowing the finer details of the [anthrax] materials, we don't have the kind of experts--biological experts--that we have for, let's say, fingerprinting and inks," the official said.
"It is a very small pool of experts, but they are not ours. We are essentially having to hire them, or they are coming from other government agencies."
In the weeks since the anthrax letters began arriving, the FBI has turned to experts at the CIA and the Defense Department. This outside expertise is available, but using it requires speed and coordination that goes well beyond the norm.
One result has been that, as the public poses urgent questions, the nation's lead law enforcement agency has been slow to respond with answers or even relevant information.
"I can't blame them for being concerned," the official said. Anthrax contamination, he said, "really hits home."
Many of the anthrax samples have been sent for testing to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. Others are being reviewed at Ft. Detrick by the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute for Infectious Diseases, known as USAMRIID.
But much of the most arcane scientific gumshoe work has been farmed out to labs outside the government, including the one headed by Keim at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff.
Keim has spent much of his professional life trying to learn more than anyone else in the world about one tiny subject. He has collected samples of anthrax spores from around the world, patiently studying and cataloging each one.
Today, Keim's collection, which neither the CDC nor USAMRIID can match, amounts to a fingerprint bank of the nearly 1,000 strains of the bacterium known to exist.
Keim's analyses already have enabled authorities to tell the world that anthrax spores found in Florida, New York and Washington are similar, perhaps from the same strains. That could help authorities determine who mailed the tainted letters and whether the same person or group was responsible for all of them.
What Keim has done so far was the quick, easy part. As he delves deeper, trying to determine whether the strains are identical and what that might reveal about their origin, the rate of progress has slowed.
The tests take time, and they cannot be hurried.
Moreover, it is by no means certain that the results will point toward specific individuals or groups, much less reveal where they are now. Officials working on the anthrax probe are haunted by memories of the Unabomber case, in which investigators accumulated mountains of scientific and other evidence but found the bomber himself only after his brother turned him in.
As Keim plows ahead, specialists from the intelligence and defense communities are working at facilities across the country. They are focusing on how the anthrax was processed, whether it comes from sophisticated processes known to only a few state-sponsored labs or from more elementary procedures that could have been performed by almost any microbiologist--or even by someone with less training.
Out on the street, meantime, where the old-fashioned shoe-leather work is done, federal agents have encountered unavoidable but maddening delays.
Although about 7,000 FBI staff members, one-fourth of the agency's work force, has been assigned to the anthrax investigation, much of their time and energy has been spent on responding to anthrax scares, most of them unfounded.
"The system got completely overloaded with the suspicious packages, letters and envelopes," one law enforcement official said. "And then, more recently, we have gotten hundreds of deliberate hoaxes, many of them to reproductive rights clinics."
Distracted by these alarms, agents have been slow to complete tasks directly related to the anthrax attacks. What forces the FBI to deal with the daily alarms and diversions is another hole in the system exposed by the crisis: With some exceptions, local authorities are completely unequipped to deal with possible biological hazards.
"In spite of all the training and the talk of the last few years about crisis response to bioterrorist threats, the fact of the matter is that protective clothing and gear are glaringly lacking," an FBI official said, on condition that his name not be used because of his position.
Masks, gloves and other essential protective gear are in short supply. So is the capability to scan for toxins, safely collect samples and decontaminate sites.
And with most alarms proving to be false, the FBI's hazardous material unit recently warned field agents to do a thorough hazardous material analysis before taking any substance into the laboratory.
The obstacles and diversions have slowed the investigation, and the outcome remains in doubt. But a vast effort backed by enormous resources still is proceeding on many fronts, from retracing postal routes and analyzing handwriting samples to pursuing leads and gathering intelligence in cooperation with friendly governments around the world.
"There's a lot going on in this investigation that we're just not telling people about," one FBI official said. "Our agents are very active around the country, and we're being very aggressive."
Times staff writers Eric Lichtblau
and Jack Nelson in Washington contributed to this report.
Leads, Anthrax Hunt Comes Home
By Robin Wright and Josh Meyer
After a month of searching intensely but unsuccessfully for the footprints of a foreign power, perplexed U.S. authorities are focusing greater attention on the possibility that the anthrax crisis may be the work of domestic extremists without ties to Islamic terrorists.
"You can't rule out the possibility of foreign involvement, but at this point there is no evidence pointing in that direction," one well-placed official said, noting that the search for such evidence has been exhaustive.
The shift of focus does not reflect any new leads in the United States but rather the lack of progress abroad. Interviews with investigators from U.S. intelligence agencies, the FBI and the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reveal just how little they have learned in four intense weeks.
"We're feeling our way," Deputy Atty. Gen. Larry Thompson acknowledged late last week. "It is not a science. It's an art."
On the domestic front, investigators are looking at a wide range of possibilities, including that the anthrax might have originated in a university biomedical laboratory.
And the anthrax outbreak has posed such an unusual combination of law enforcement and scientific challenges that it has forged a rare partnership between the FBI and epidemiologists from the CDC, as well as with federal postal inspectors and state and local authorities.
"It was a willing response, it was a rapid response, and it was a creative response," Thompson declared in a speech last week.
So far, however, it apparently has also been an unsuccessful response.
Investigators have learned more about what doesn't work than about what does. Senior CDC officials acknowledge that they wasted time during the early stages of the crisis in Florida by using nasal swabs to test individuals for anthrax exposure.
Similarly, FBI officials have concluded that almost nothing of value has come from the massive effort to find the culprits by sending federal agents swarming through the Trenton, N.J., neighborhoods where several of the early anthrax letters were mailed.
Without abandoning the New Jersey inquiries, the bureau is focusing on possible domestic sources of anthrax bacteria as a way of locating the terrorists--or lone wolf.
"We're looking domestic," a Bush
administration official said Saturday. "If it were international, we would
have seen something in the [intelligence monitoring] traffic, and we've
seen nothing. You can't rule it out completely, but there is no indication
Turns Down Hundreds of Ex-Agents Offering Help
By Eric Lichtblau
Despite an enormous drain on its manpower, the FBI is turning down help in its dual terrorism and anthrax investigations from some of its most experienced supporters: former agents.
As many as 350 former FBI special agents have expressed interest in coming back to work for the bureau to assist in the wide-ranging investigations into the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and the anthrax mailings. About 7,000 FBI agents and support staff are now working the cases, often chasing hoaxes and fruitless leads at the expense of other federal probes that have been forced to take a back seat to anti-terrorism efforts.
While Justice Department officials acknowledge that investigators are "overburdened," the FBI has told most of its former agents that it doesn't need their help. That attitude is stirring tensions among bureau alumni who feel shunned.
"The response we got was, 'Thanks, but no thanks,' " said retired FBI agent Larry C. Upchurch, a 28-year veteran who is pushing the FBI to reconsider its position. "I'm a little bit perplexed. I don't want to carry a gun or a badge. I just want to help."
FBI officials say they have brought back several dozen former agents with counter-terrorism experience since Sept. 11, but the cumbersome security clearance process has dissuaded them from considering a wider recall.
"We recognize this is a tough issue," said one senior FBI official, "because these are guys who have trained their whole lives for these kinds of cases, and everyone wants to be involved, but unfortunately they can't all be."
The CIA, in contrast, is moving quickly to bring back some of the several hundred former employees who have offered to aid the anti-terrorism effort.
"We're doing everything we can to shorten the cycle for getting security clearances reinstated and speeding the process," said CIA spokesman Mark Mansfield.
In Los Angeles, the FBI has received "a great outpouring" of offers from former agents but has not accepted their assistance because "there's not an expressed need at this juncture," said Los Angeles FBI spokesman Matt McLaughlin.
With many of Los Angeles' 650 agents committed to the Sept. 11 and anthrax probes, McLaughlin acknowledged that the office has had to "scale back somewhat" on its non-terrorism investigations. But he said the impact has been modest.
You can take a break [from non-terrorism cases] for a while, but people haven't stopped selling crack cocaine in the economically depressed areas of Los Angeles. Gangs haven't issued truces. Crimes are continuing, and we mean to investigate those as aggressively as ever," McLaughlin said.
But some in the law enforcement community doubt that the FBI can conduct two large-scale terrorism investigations and fight other types of crime all at once--without an infusion of outside help.
One defense attorney in Atlanta who asked not to be identified quipped that with the massive resources the FBI is devoting to the fight against terrorism, "this is a great time to be a white-collar criminal."
Indeed, FBI agents in the field complain that they have been bombarded in recent weeks with what often proved spurious tips from the public about "mysterious-looking" Middle Easterners and suspicious powders.
At last count, there were some 4,000 false anthrax reports, and Atty. Gen. John Ashcroft reported last month that a growing number of hoaxes "tax the resources of an already overburdened" law enforcement system.
Moreover, many FBI agents complain that because of the controversy surrounding the discovery of records before the execution of Oklahoma City bomber Timothy J. McVeigh, their supervisors now demand they record even the most arcane tips and leads. That takes valuable time away from pursuing potentially substantive leads, agents say.
Would bringing back several hundred FBI agents help ease the workload?
Former Agents Want to Help Where Needed
Ex-agents say their familiarity with the system and counter-terrorism investigations could prove invaluable, adding that they would be willing to handle fairly routine tasks that contract employees are allowed by law to perform.
The cost could be minimal because officials at the Society of Former Special Agents, which has acted as a liaison to the FBI on the issue, says that many retirees are willing to volunteer their time.
But some current agents see a downside in terms of bureau morale.
"The idea of volunteers coming in and answering the phones and taking down complaints and limiting their functions is somewhat unrealistic," said one veteran FBI agent who asked not to be identified. "They wouldn't limit themselves to that. You've got a bunch of [former agents] with big egos who have seen it all, and they want to show you how it's done."
Many longtime former agents disagree.
To refuse the services of several hundred skilled ex-agents "just seems very shortsighted to me," said retired agent Gary Aldrich, who also wrote a controversial best-seller in 1996 about his experiences on the security detail of the Clinton White House.
"I can't imagine the bureau's not suffering when you put more than half the FBI agent work force to work on these two investigations" into the Sept. 11 and anthrax attacks, said Aldrich, who has indicated his interest in helping. "You've got so many cases that have just got to be sitting there, and here you've got all these former agents who are willing to do anything at all--answering the phone, taking out the trash, whatever it takes to help."
The FBI's reluctance to court its ex-agents as aggressively as other agencies such as the CIA has set off a fierce debate among the bureau's former agents.
Some FBI Alumni Feeling Shunned
In a flurry of e-mail exchanges in recent days, many FBI alumni complained about shabby treatment from their old employer, saying the bureau's "palace guard" bureaucracy appears unable to bend to extraordinary times.
Other ex-agents, however, defended the bureau's right to make its own personnel decisions--even unpopular ones--and castigated fellow agents for seeking to enlist members of Congress in their cause.
The flare-up comes as the agency, under new Director Robert S. Mueller, has been trying to shed its image as the class bully of national law enforcement.
Before the terrorist attacks, missteps by the FBI in several high-profile cases had damaged the agency's reputation, competence and integrity.
Since Sept. 11, the FBI has won mostly high marks for the vigor and speed with which it pursued the terror investigation.
But the agency has been shadowed by old complaints as well, as some local police criticized the bureau for freezing them out of the terrorism probe.
In response, Mueller has tried to assure local police departments that they are a vital part of the FBI's investigation and will not be pushed aside.
Now, some former agents are hoping that the FBI will extend a similar olive branch to them.
Said Upchurch: "I think the FBI
and the agents who are working this have done a remarkable job, and I wish
I could be a part of that."
of anthrax profiled as a loner
Saturday, November 10, 2001, 12:00 a.m. Pacific
By Chris Mondics and James Kuhnhenn
WASHINGTON - FBI officials said yesterday that they believe the person who mailed several anthrax-filled letters is probably a U.S.-based male loner with a scientific bent, possibly like Unabomber Ted Kaczynski, whose letter bombs mystified law enforcement for nearly two decades.
Federal officials have been speculating for weeks that the anthrax attacks were not connected to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, but the FBI's announcement yesterday was the strongest endorsement yet of that theory.
Even so, FBI officials said they had not ruled out the possibility that Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida network is behind the anthrax attacks. But they said the wording of the three known anthrax-laced letters suggests a domestic source.
Whoever sent the letters "did not select his victims randomly," one FBI source said. Based on analysis of the handwriting on the letters, they said the anthrax attacker likely was nursing a grudge and probably had a high degree of technical training.
The officials believe, too, that he decided to increase the potency of the anthrax he put into the letters as one attack led to another. So far, four people have died after inhaling anthrax spores, and 13 more got sick from anthrax exposure.
Two of three mail workers hospitalized in Virginia with inhalation anthrax went home yesterday while a third remained in fair condition, hospital officials said. All work at the U.S. Postal Service's Brentwood Road plant in Washington, which processed an anthrax-laced letter sent to Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle last month.
The officials said they could detect no political agenda from the letters and their sender's known actions. Each of the three known letters were photocopies, not originals, likely used to help him evade pursuers.
The FBI profile of the likely anthrax attacker suggests that he probably avoids public situations. If he has a job, they said, it likely does not involve contact with many people. They suspect he underwent a significant behavioral change as the letters went out, becoming focused on his mission to spread terror, and might have struck acquaintances as increasingly remote.
FBI officials said they doubt the letters were sent by Middle Eastern terrorists because they do not resemble other such letters sent in the past. One official said that such letters typically include some Arabic text, but these do not.
The FBI's new profile of the likely anthrax-attacker doesn't bring them any closer to solving the case. Law-enforcement authorities spent nearly two decades trying to capture the Unabomber and did not succeed until Ted Kaczynski's brother turned him in.
The FBI appealed openly to the public to help them identify possible suspects, knowing they probably will have to rely on an informant to finger the person responsible.
In a potential break in the hunt for the suspect, anthrax tests detected traces of the bacteria in four more post offices in central New Jersey, authorities said yesterday.
The anthrax was found in private sorting areas at the post offices in Rocky Hill, Princeton Borough, Trenton and Jackson Township. The buildings were closed and will be cleaned today.
The small satellite offices all feed a regional processing center in Hamilton Township that handled three tainted letters sent to Daschle's office in Washington and to the New York offices of NBC and the New York Post.
The new evidence could help narrow down possible sites from where the letters were sent.
Information from The Associated Press is included in this report.
on Anthrax letters speaks volumes
LINDA LISANTI, Staff Writer
A forensic expert said yesterday that the handwriting on the three anthrax-laced letters mailed from the postal facility in Hamilton speaks volumes about the mastermind who mailed them.
"Handwriting is our brain writing. We naturally project our personality and habits through (it)," said J. Richard Naduea, a national handwriting profiler, who worked with the FBI on the Unabomber case.
From tiny A's to swooping J's, handwriting can lend clues to a person's attributes, occupation, even their education level.
While most experts agree that the handwriting on the letters mailed to NBC anchor Tom Brokaw, Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle and the "Editor" at the New York Post is artificial, Naduea said the spacing gives just as many key clues.
"They disguised their actual writing by using a template, but didn't ever think to hide the spacing," the expert said.
"Most criminals never do."
Naduea said the spacing between the letters, lines and words on the envelope and message prove that the sender took time to make it precise.
People with larger spacing, like that on the anthrax letters, are usually thinkers, as opposed to feeling types who rely more on values, he said.
As a thinker, the sender also is data-oriented and excessively organized, which would be useful in occupations like accountant, mathematician or scientist.
Perhaps the most disturbing qualities possessed by the anthrax letter mastermind, Naduea said, are a need for control and a tinge of cruelty
"The letters show this person is excessively controlling...and everyone is subservient to them," said the 30-year forensic veteran.
"They control the experiments. They control people's health. They have a purpose and they have no interest at all in values."
©The Trentonian 2002
& World Report
November 12, 2001
Bravado--and blood--in Taliban territory
By: This article was reported by a former Kabul Times reporter whose name is being withheld for his safety.; Philip Smucker.
KABUL, AFGHANISTAN--"Have you ever heard of anthrax?" asks the diminutive Filipino standing at the reception desk in one of this shattered city's crummy hotels. "That is the kind of thing I'm pretty good at making."
An idle boast? Maybe, except for the letter the man hands the desk clerk. It appears to bear the signature of Osama bin Laden's right-hand man, Ayman al-Zawahiri. The letter grants the bearer free lodging. It is written on stationery emblazoned with the green Arabic letterhead of al Qaeda.
Clad in a white skullcap and clean gown, a pistol at his waist, the man claims membership in Abu Sayyaf, the militant Filipino group linked to bin Laden. He explains, a bit nervously, that he is a biochemistry graduate with "extensive experience in microbiology" and is working on viruses and germs to use against U.S. troops fighting the Taliban.
There is no way to know for sure whether the man is a biowarfare expert. But U.S. officials have been worried that al Qaeda and the Taliban might try to use chemical or biological weapons against American forces.
Of course, the Taliban is also relying on more conventional defenses. Caves, for instance. A strategic base in an old copper mine south of Kabul has been battered by U.S. bombs. But Arab fighters there are still using the caverns. Outside, fighters have formed a kind of Mad Max brigade with 25 motorcycles. "These motorcycles have been brought from Kabul to attack the American helicopters in case they try landing," says a turbaned mechanic. "I've seen the riders training in the mornings with RPGs [rocket-propelled grenades] and heavy machine guns. . . . They seem pretty good at what they do."
Near the entrance to one cave, some 50 Arabs, most Yemenis, take a tea break. They wear pocketed vests containing what villagers say is dynamite. "They tell us they are walking antitank bombs," says the mechanic. One of the Arabs nods his head in the direction of the conversation, adding: "We are ready to be martyrs."
Nursing wounds. At the front lines in the north, there is less bluster. But there is more blood. In the village of Hussein Khil, three ambulances are crowded with patients moaning for help. Puddles of blood spread across the dirt as male nurses, who have used their turbans as tourniquets, splash the faces of their charges with water.
Heavy B-52 raids have turned bunkers into craters. Mullah Abdul Hadi, a 23-year-old Taliban soldier, scanned the front line as another salvo rained 25 bombs onto a nearby bunker. "If this heavy bombing and this weather keeps up, it's bound to be a horrible winter," he bitterly tells a senior commander. Nearby hospitals are so jammed that female nurses have been allowed to treat men. That's a first for the Taliban. "We were prepared for 100 injuries a day," says Nasa Rullah Stankizai, a doctor in Kabul's largest hospital. "But we are flooded with 180."
The only boost for the Taliban was the arrival last week of a few thousand veteran Pakistani fighters. They are being deployed as a second line of defense around Kabul. The militants arrived in trucks, with a loudspeaker blaring Taliban fight chants (without music, per Taliban law). One verse goes: "Oh, backers of Bush, come down and fight; why are you flying around like butterflies and not landing?"
Page One Feature
Sergeant Served U.S. Army and bin Laden, Showing Failings in FBI's Terror Policing
By PETER WALDMAN, GERALD F. SEIB,
JERRY MARKON and CHRISTOPHER COOPER
The first clue came back in 1989, in a field outside New York City.
There, within view of a secret Federal Bureau of Investigation surveillance camera, stood five Arab men taking target practice at a rifle range. At the time, the FBI wrote them off as harmless zealots, fired up to help the mujahedeen fighting the Soviet puppet government in Afghanistan.
What the FBI didn't know was that the young Arabs had a special coach: a U.S. Army sergeant from Fort Bragg, N.C., named Ali Mohamed, who had been giving them paramilitary training in a nearby New Jersey apartment. And one other thing the agents didn't know, until much later: Mr. Mohamed was a longtime member of a radical Islamic militant group banned in Egypt for assassinating President Anwar Sadat.
In retrospect, it is now clear that the FBI had stumbled onto a deadly serious terrorist organization on U.S. soil, one that would eventually be absorbed by Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda network. All five of the target shooters were later convicted on conspiracy charges related to the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and its aftermath. And the mysterious Mr. Mohamed would appear over and over again, Zelig-like, as al Qaeda grew into a genuine threat to American national security.
The sergeant's saga, like the evolution of the broader terrorist threat to America, is the story of intermittent successes, missed clues and bungled opportunities. The FBI used Mr. Mohamed as an informant at times, extracting from him its first known comprehensive briefing on al Qaeda all the way back in 1993. Yet U.S. authorities never were sure how much to trust him and were nearly always a step behind Mr. bin Laden. They spent too much time looking for a state sponsor for terrorism when the network had become stateless. They fixated on threats to U.S. installations overseas. And they treated investigations as criminal matters, with all the attendant legal restraints, rather than national-security issues. The enormity of these lapses would only become clear, in tragic hindsight, after Sept. 11.
An FBI spokesman in Washington declines to comment on Mr. Mohamed. Some investigators say privately that their hands were tied by Justice Department rules that forced them to restrict surveillance to a limited list of known terrorist or radical groups. Constitutional protections of religious activity made the bureau especially careful not to target any religious organizations without compelling evidence of wrongdoing.
"Remember, this was long before Sept. 11. We couldn't investigate groups not on the label list, especially groups with religious ties," says a former FBI agent. "We had to steer clear of the mosques."
Mr. Mohamed's attorney also declines to comment. Much of what is known about the former Egyptian military man comes from legal filings at the U.S. District Court in Manhattan, where Mr. Mohamed pleaded guilty last year to conspiring to blow up U.S. embassies and other installations in East Africa.
Ali Abdelsoud Mohamed, also known within al Qaeda as Abu Mohamed al Amriki, is Egyptian by birth and, it now seems clear, an adventurer at heart. Born in Alexandria in 1952, Mr. Mohamed followed his father's lead into the Egyptian military, rising to the rank of major in Egypt's special forces. A skilled linguist, he often protected Egyptian diplomats overseas, and participated in joint training with American forces in Egypt and the U.S.
While still in the army, Mr. Mohamed secretly joined Egypt's Islamic Jihad extremist movement, the group that assassinated President Sadat in 1981, according to his guilty plea in the embassy bombing case. He was cashiered from Egypt's military in 1984, on suspicion that he had become too religious, says Nabil Sharef, a former Egyptian intelligence officer and now a university professor.
The next year, Mr. Mohamed obtained a visa to visit the U.S. On a trans-Atlantic flight, he met an American woman, married her, became a U.S. citizen and settled for a time in California's Silicon Valley.
In 1986, Mr. Mohamed parlayed his old U.S. Army ties into a spot as an Army supply sergeant and occasional lecturer on Mideast culture at the U.S. Army's special-warfare school in Fort Bragg, a place where he'd studied earlier as an Egyptian officer. His role there came at a time when the U.S. military was eager to learn more about the Islamic world. Little is publicly known about his stint there, which lasted until 1989. An Army spokesman declined to comment and people who knew him there weren't given permission to speak.
His new friends back home in California took for granted that Mr. Mohamed was helping the Central Intelligence Agency in its proxy war against the Soviets in Afghanistan. At the time, the anti-Soviet jihad was a world-wide cause among Muslims. "Everyone in the community knew he was working as a liaison between the CIA and the Afghan cause, and everyone was sympathetic," says Ali Zaki, a San Jose, Calif., obstetrician who was close to Mr. Mohamed and his American wife, a medical technician named Linda Sanchez. The CIA declines to comment.
Nor were Muslims in California surprised when Mr. Mohamed showed up there with Egyptian Islamic Jihad leader Ayman Zawahri on a fund-raising tour in the early 1990s, says Dr. Zaki, who co-hosted Dr. Zawahri on the trip. Dr. Zawahri, an Egyptian surgeon and now al Qaeda's No. 2 leader, has been known for years as one of secular Egypt's most-wanted foes.
Dr. Zaki says he didn't know Dr. Zawahri's real identity when he visited California. Mr. Mohamed had described him as "a physician who was taking care of over one million people in Afghanistan," Dr. Zaki says. "I was asked to escort him while he did fund raising for the Kuwaiti Red Crescent. Was that a crime?"
In 1990, clues emerged that Mr. Mohamed had a secret life. That year, Rabbi Meir Kahane, an extremist who preached hatred of Arabs, was assassinated in a New York City hotel. After the murder, police arrested El Sayyid Nosair, another Egyptian immigrant, and charged him with the killing. They also seized several boxes of personal notes, pamphlets, books and audio and video cassettes from Mr. Nosair's apartment.
Those boxes contained early inklings of the network that was taking shape. There were speeches by a fiery blind imam in Egypt, Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman, glorifying attacks on the "enemies" of Islam. There were notes on destroying "the pillars of their civilization such as ... their tall buildings." There were tape-recorded phone conversations of Mr. Nosair reporting to Sheik Omar about the group's paramilitary training, even bomb-making manuals.
And there, among the materials, were training manuals and classified Army documents from Fort Bragg, some of them in Arabic translation, that had come from Mr. Mohamed, the FBI would later learn.
But the materials in Mr. Nosair's boxes weren't fully processed and translated. Instead, New York prosecutors presented their case against Mr. Nosair with forensic evidence and some 20 eyewitnesses to the Kahane murder. The political dimensions of the case -- lodged in the Nosair boxes carted off by the FBI -- were largely ignored.
Had officials looked more closely, they would have found an early and startling chain of relationships: Mr. Nosair was part of a local group inspired by Sheik Omar and determined to wage jihad against the U.S. The group was closely connected to the al Kifah Refugee Center in Brooklyn, an office that originally was set up to help the anti-Soviet mujahedeen but was turning into an al Qaeda front.
And they would have found that Mr. Mohamed was part of the group. Instead, Mr. Mohamed was free to begin his odyssey into the heart of al Qaeda. In 1991, he told a New York federal court years later, a request came into the Brooklyn al Kifah office: Could he travel to Sudan to help Mr. bin Laden set up his base of operations there? He went. A year later, he was off to Afghanistan to help train al Qaeda operatives in intelligence, military and explosives methods.
Then, a new and much more frightening terror strike finally prompted investigators to dive back into Mr. Nosair's boxes of information. At 12:17 p.m. on Feb. 26, 1993, a truck bomb exploded on the B-2 level of the World Trade Center parking garage. New York's tallest buildings had been hit for the first time. Six people died.
A handful of men were arrested and ultimately convicted in the bombing. Along the way, investigators discovered that some of the plotters had a relationship with Mr. Nosair, and they went back to look at his personal possessions. There, they finally saw the link to Mr. Mohamed. And they began to see they were dealing with a network of would-be terrorists, all seemingly inspired by Sheik Omar, not a couple of stray car bombers.
And as federal investigators were about to discover, they were terrorists intent on striking again. In May 1993, three months after the bombing, Sheik Omar was speaking with one of his disciples at his Jersey City, N.J., apartment when the man asked whether it would be acceptable in Islam to bomb the FBI's Manhattan headquarters.
"Slow down; slow down a little bit," the sheik cautioned, whispering for fear the FBI was bugging his apartment -- which it was. "The one who killed Kennedy was trained for three years." It was never made clear in later court testimony which assassination the sheik was talking about.
The plotters didn't listen, and instead pushed ahead with plans to bomb the FBI, the United Nations and other New York-area landmarks. Their "conspiracy to wage a war of urban terrorism," as prosecutors called the plot, was broken weeks later by an FBI informant and led to long prison sentences. Ultimately, 16 men were convicted in the World Trade Center bombing and the related conspiracy cases, including Sheik Omar and the five Arabs observed during their 1989 target practice.
But the full lesson of that first Trade Center attack didn't really sink in. The profile of the terrorists that emerged from the conspiracy case shaped a misleading stereotype for years to come: conspicuous hotheads, young immigrant men from the poorest and most radicalized Arab countries, clustered around a fire-breathing preacher at an established mosque.
Partly because of their effort to find the elusive "state sponsor" of terrorism, and partly because they treated the investigation as a relatively straightforward criminal matter, investigators overlooked the fact that a much more sophisticated network was taking shape. The bombers' paramilitary trainer, Mr. Mohamed, was highly educated, having earned two bachelor's degrees and a master's degree at the University of Alexandria in Egypt. Ramzi Yousef, the calculating mastermind of the bombing, was found in Pakistan in a house paid for by the bin Laden network. It turned out that he was closely associated with a Saudi Arabian businessman named Mohammed Jamal Khalifa, who happens to be Mr. bin Laden's brother-in-law.
At about the same time, the elusive Mr. Mohamed popped up again on the FBI radar screen with information that underscored the emerging bin Laden threat. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police questioned Mr. Mohamed in the spring of 1993 after his identification was discovered on another Arab man trying to enter the U.S. from Vancouver -- a man Mr. Mohamed identified as someone who had helped him move Mr. bin Laden to Sudan. The FBI located Mr. Mohamed near San Francisco in 1993, where he volunteered the earliest insider description of al Qaeda that is publicly known.
In his chat with the FBI, court documents in the embassy bombings case show, Mr. Mohamed said Mr. bin Laden was running a group called al Qaeda "and was building an army" that might be used to overthrow the government of Saudi Arabia. He also told the bureau he had trained terrorists at Mr. bin Laden's military camps in Sudan and Afghanistan.
Yet even though that interview occurred after the World Trade Center blast, and after Mr. Mohamed's U.S. training manuals already had been found in Mr. Nosair's possession, Mr. Mohamed was let go without further investigation. Investigators on the case say the FBI was flummoxed by its first al Qaeda insider. For one thing, Mr. Mohamed once flunked a lie-detector test administered by the U.S. government, says one investigator. Details of that test couldn't be learned. Later, Mr. Mohamed told the FBI things that turned out to be incomplete and untrue, adds the investigator.
"We always took him seriously," this investigator says. "It's just he only gave us 25% of what was out there."
Soon enough, Mr. Mohamed skipped off to Africa, on what turned out to be a deadly bin Laden mission. As he later admitted in court documents, Mr. bin Laden asked him in 1993 to go to Africa to conduct surveillance of American, British, French and Israeli targets in Nairobi.
"I took pictures, drew diagrams and wrote a report," he testified. He took his research to Sudan, where Mr. bin Laden then had his headquarters. The terrorist leader "looked at the picture of the American embassy and pointed to where a truck could go as a suicide bomber," Mr. Mohamed said.
A Critical Turn
A plot to blow up American embassies in Africa, which would mark a turn by al Qaeda to far more sophisticated operations, was well under way. By 1993, al Qaeda had established a cell of operations in Kenya. Much as the Sept. 11 hijackers moved in and out of the U.S. for a couple of years, the embassy bombers moved in and out in waves, some conducting surveillance of the embassy, others making preliminary targeting decisions, and still others bringing in supplies to prepare for the attack. The same African cell planned the attack on the U.S. embassy in Tanzania.
Even as those plots were falling into place, the FBI was continuing to talk to Mr. Mohamed -- never, apparently, getting a full picture. When prosecutors in the Trade Center conspiracy trial wanted to speak with him, agents, working through an intermediary, tracked him to a safe house in Nairobi. He told authorities he had taken a job in the scuba-diving business -- failing to mention his involvement in the surveillance of al Qaeda targets.
Two years later, at an interview in October 1997, he gave agents a detailed account of how he trained Mr. bin Laden's bodyguards and how al Qaeda operatives in Somalia helped attack U.S. troops in the early 1990s, causing American deaths, according to court papers.
He said he had trained people in "war zones, and ... war zones can be anywhere." He also told the FBI that one did not need a fatwa, or a ruling from an Islamic religious leader, "to go against the U.S, since it was 'obvious' that the U.S. was the enemy," court papers say.
Still, the U.S. investigators didn't get wind of the African embassy plot, despite Mr. Mohamed's role in it. Finally, in nearly simultaneous attacks on Aug. 7, 1998, the terrorists exploded truck bombs at the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.
Following those bombings -- eight years after Mr. Mohamed's U.S. Army documents were discovered with Mr. Nosair and five years after he told FBI agents about his involvement with al Qaeda -- the U.S. moved to pull him in.
For the first time, federal agents searched Mr. Mohamed's home, then in Sacramento, Calif. They did so with a warrant from a special judge under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, issued after the embassy bombings.
In a telephone interview with the FBI the day after those bombings, Mr. Mohamed said he knew the perpetrators but wouldn't disclose them to the FBI. Among the documents seized by the FBI at Mr. Mohamed's home were training manuals for terrorists, describing surveillance and assassination techniques and methods for structuring terror groups into cells.
Also found were instructions on where to plant bombs to blow up buildings and how to encode messages for secrecy. A week later, prosecutors subpoenaed Mr. Mohamed to testify before a federal grand jury investigating al Qaeda in New York. Afterward, he was taken into custody.
"For five years he was moving back and forth between the U.S. and Afghanistan. It's impossible the CIA thought he was going there as a tourist," says Egypt's Mr. Sharef. "If the CIA hadn't caught on to him, it should be dissolved and its budget used for something worthwhile."
By 2001, the U.S. had an intense focus on Mr. bin Laden and a growing pile of intelligence on him and his operatives. But some officials were laboring under a misimpression of what his strategy was, while his operations had become more sophisticated and his agents more seasoned. Because the most spectacular bin Laden attacks had come overseas, many law-enforcement officials argued that the next big attack would be there, against a "soft" American target easier to reach than those on U.S. soil.
It also appears now that an active al Qaeda program of disinformation may have been launched to throw the U.S. off the track of the next terror attack. For the past two years, officials say, two or three false tips of coming terror attacks have come in most months, most of them predicting attacks on overseas targets. All had to be checked out; all kept U.S. officials rushing down false trails. Some U.S. officials now think it was no coincidence.
Perhaps as important, the U.S. hadn't fully absorbed the deeper lesson of Mr. Mohamed: that it was possible for bin Laden associates to roam about the U.S. for years at a time, fooling even the FBI when its agents encountered them.
Finally, early last August, a secret memorandum began circulating at CIA headquarters just outside Washington. Its warning was simple: Mr. bin Laden appears determined to launch a terrorist attack -- not abroad but inside the U.S. But the warning wasn't detailed enough to stop the terrorism it predicted.
Meanwhile, Ali Mohamed, the first and probably best-placed al Qaeda informant the U.S. ever had, was sitting in a federal prison cell, awaiting word of his sentence -- and no longer a potential source of information on what lurked up Mr. bin Laden's sleeve.
-- Robert S. Greenberger in Washington and Alix Freedman in New York contributed to this article.
Overlooks Foreign Sources of Anthrax
WALL STREET JOURNAL
December 24, 2001
The government seems hell-bent in its effort to limit the suspects in the anthrax mystery to a domestic loner. First, the FBI's behavioral analysis came up with the profile of a lone wolf based on its "exacting handwriting and linguistic analysis" of one letter that contained 18 words and another that contained 27 words. It suggested that the writer of these two letters was a single disgruntled American, not connected to the jihadist terrorists of Sept. 11 (even though the letter used the plural pronoun "we" and began with an underlined "9-11").
The problem is that this approach could not apply to the attacks for which no letter was found, such as the one in Florida. More important, the "lone wolf" theory failed to explain how a single person could acquire a virulent strain of Ames bacteria and weaponize it into an aerosol by milling the spore to one to five microns in diameter and producing billions of spores.
Initially, the FBI theorized that this strain was widely available, since it had been circulated to thousands of researchers, but this confused the nonvirulent Ames strain (which lacked an outer protective shells and toxic proteins) with the virulent one contained in the letters. As it turned out, only a small number of repositories -- fewer than 20 -- ever had access to the virulent strain. The search might have been narrowed down to a single repository if the FBI had not allowed an Agriculture Department facility at Iowa State to destroy through incineration the specimens that constituted the "family tree" of the Ames strain (which had originally been found in 1932 in Ames, Iowa).
Next, an analysis at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff found that the DNA of the anthrax used in the attacks was indistinguishable from an Ames strain sample provided by the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Disease at Fort Detrick, Md. At this point, the White House spokesman Ari Fleischer commented that the "evidence is increasingly looking like" the anthrax-laced letters came from a domestic source.
This assumption is premature. The virulent strain of the Ames virus is also found abroad.
David Franz, who headed the biological-research program at Fort Detrick between 1987 and 1998, said that when the Army wanted to conduct defensive experiment on the Ames strain, it had to obtain the "information" from a British military lab that did experiments with Ames anthrax in the powdered form. Evidently, the virulent Ames strain had been sent from the U.S. to Britain, and, after the U.S. destroyed its stockpiles in the 1970s, samples had to be obtained from the British facility at Porton Downs, specifically from the Center for Applied Microbiology and Research (CAMR). Martin Hugh-Jones, a scientist at Louisiana State University who received a sample from CAMR in the 1990s, recalls that it was marked "October, 1932." So the matching sample traces not only to the U.S. but to Britain.
The security of the British anthrax bacteria is complicated by its privatization. In 1993, at the time it was supplying the virulent Ames strain sample, CAMR was partly privatized by the British government through a marketing agreement with Porton Products Ltd. in which Porton sold all its anthrax vaccine. Porton Products was owned by Speywood Holdings Ltd., which, in turn, was owned by I&F Holdings NV, a Netherlands Antilles corporate shell owned by Fuad El-Hibri, a Lebanese Arab with joint German-U.S. citizenship; his father, Ibrihim El-Hibri; and possibly other undisclosed investors.
Prior to his taking over this biotech company, Fuad El-Hibri had worked in the mergers-and-acquisitions department of Citibank in Jedda, Saudi Arabia, where he specialized in arranging investments for large Saudi investors. Saudi Arabia then was interested in obtaining an anthrax vaccine to counter Saddam Hussein's biological warfare capabilities. But the U.S. would not provide it.
So when Mr. El-Hibri took over the British biotech lab, he reorganized its bio-terrorism defense business, and arranged deliveries of biotech defense products to Saudi Arabia. Mr. El-Hibri was unavailable for comment, but the ownership is a matter of record and he has not made a secret of his involvement in bio-warfare research. Indeed, he testified before Congress in 1999: "I participated in the marketing and distribution of substantial quantities of two bio-defense vaccines -- botulinum Type A and anthrax."
Even more intriguing, Mr. El-Hibri's interest in anthrax vaccines did not stop with his deal with CAMR. In 1998, he arranged a leveraged buyout of the Michigan Biological Products Institute. MBPI, which originally had been owned by the state of Michigan, held the exclusive contract for providing the U.S. government with anthrax vaccine. While its vaccine worked well against the Vollum strain of anthrax (used by Russia), it was more problematic against the Ames strain. So it had conducted tests with the virulent Ames strain on guinea pigs, mice and monkeys with mixed results. BioPort's spokeperson confirmed that it had access to the virulent Ames strain for testing on animals. To take over MBPI, Mr. El-Hibri became an American citizen, and gave retired Adm. William J. Crowe Jr., a former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, a large block of stock in Intervac, one of the corporations involved in the maneuver. The controlling shareholder was the same I&F Holdings used to take control of the British biotech lab, CAMR. He then renamed the company BioPort. BioPort, which controlled America's anthrax vaccine, was apparently of some interests to scientists in Afghanistan since an environmental assessment report of its planned laboratory renovations was turned up in the house of a Pakistani scientist in Kabul.
So far, the offshore availability of anthrax has been overshadowed by the search for a domestic lone wolf. Since the lethal bacteria could have been stolen from either a foreign or domestic lab, weaponized in a stealthed bio-warfare facility overseas and sent in ziplock bags to the person mailing the letters, The investigative focus needs to be widened.
Friday, February 08, 2002
By Steven Milloy
President Bush proposes to spend $5.9 billion on bioterrorism preparedness in the fiscal year 2003 federal budget. It's an important line item, given the anthrax attacks and the CIA's congressional testimony this week that Al Qaeda is regrouping and "was pursuing a sophisticated biological weapons research program."
Though the proposal represents a 300 percent increase in funding for bioterrorism preparedness, it only typifies Big Government's problem-solving calculus — just spend more money.
Will the proposed spending really make us safer? Or is it a nice payday for the hard-lobbying bioterror industry and good political cover for the President? And should we really have to pay more for security from bioterror?
While spending $650 million to stockpile antibiotics and smallpox vaccine makes sense, the benefit to the public of the other proposed spending is less clear.
The bioterror budget includes $518 million for hospitals to improve infrastructure, planning and training exercises. Another $400 million is for states to "assess" and "strengthen" their bioterror response capabilities.
While these expenditures may seem reasonable, they are only vaguely defined in the budget document. One might wonder whether hospitals and states will use the money for purposes other than improving bioterrorism response.
Hospitals will receive money, among other things, to increase capacity. Does this improve bioterrorism preparedness or just save hospitals from spending their own money on new construction? Why build more general capacity for bioterror? This wouldn't have made a difference last fall and scenarios of mass bioterror are unlikely.
How can we be sure states don't reallocate bioterrorism funds, as they've done with their settlements from the tobacco industry? Those funds were supposed to be used for youth-smoking prevention programs, but have been used instead for highway construction and other purposes — no doubt useful, but hardly the intended purpose.
The National Institutes of Health is slated to get $187 million for a new research facility on its luxurious main campus in Bethesda, Md. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is getting $184 million for construction.
Are you feeling safer yet?
Assuming these expenditures somehow would improve preparedness, why can't they come from existing public-health budgets?
President Bush wants to give $697 million to the CDC for its Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion program, the primary vehicle through which our federal lifestyle police provide instruction concerning "proper diet, exercise and tobacco-use reduction."
Couldn't we forego at least some federal nannying for a year in favor of bioterrorism preparedness?
There's more flab over at the CDC's $156 million Environmental Health program. Much of this money is being wasted on quixotic efforts to link "environmental hazards and chronic diseases" — largely hypothetical phenomena evading proof despite 30 years of intense research efforts.
Almost the entire budget for bioterrorism could be funded by reducing, if not shutting down the federal government’s failed "war on cancer."
President Bush proposes increase spending on cancer research by $629 million, to a record $5.5 billion. This is in addition to the $40 billion-plus of taxpayer money already spent on the cancer research since 1971.
You don't have to take my word about the utter futility of this research. I recommend a visit to the Web site of the National Institutes of Health where the painfully slim progress in the federal government's war on cancer is presented.
The 1970s saw the development of cures for childhood leukemia and testicular cancer, according to the NIH. Since then, no new cures have been developed by taxpayer-funded research.
By all means, let's throw even more taxpayer money down this rat hole.
Why not step back from the cancer stalemate, take a deep breath and re-evaluate? In the meantime, taxpayer money that would otherwise likely be wasted on futile research could be spent improving bioterrorism preparedness.
Even the Washington Post — whose central government-loving editors rarely see a federal program they don't think should be expanded — are concerned about the proposed bioterrorism budget.
The Post noted in an editorial this week that the research budget for the National Institute for Allergic and Infectious Diseases is slated to increase from $36 million to $441 million — an 1,100 percent increase in a single year.
The Post politely warned this "rush to mobilize the research enterprise...must not translate into a flood of less than rigorous research" — that is, junk science — and that "the potential lurks in this bioterrorism bonanza for catastrophic waste." Indeed.
Taxpayers spend enough on public health and should not be expected to spend even more for security from bioterrorism. The federal government should economize before asking taxpayers for more. Who knows, perhaps some belt-tightening might even force the feds to ensure that money spent on bioterrorism isn't wasted.
Steven Milloy is the publisher of JunkScience.com, an adjunct scholar at the Cato Institute and the author of Junk Science Judo: Self-defense Against Health Scares and Scams (Cato Institute, 2001).
Does a rash of mysterious deaths around the world lead to Memphis?
by Rebekah Gleaves
It sounds like a mystery for Mulder and Scully. A string of scientists working on similar projects all over the world are found dead. A mysterious Russian with ties to biological warfare tells tales of threats that boggle the mind. A Tennessee driver-testing center employee is burned to death after being implicated in a license-selling scandal. And the United States government pushes states to adopt a doomsday law that dramatically reduces civil rights.
Chock-full of conspiracy theories and a surprising amount of verifiable data, it’s a story that’s got Web sites and talk-radio callers churning with speculations. And the theories stem from events right here in Memphis.
Formula For Death
Late on November 16, 2001, Dr. Don C. Wiley, a prominent Harvard-based microbiologist, went missing in Memphis. After attending a banquet for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital at The Peabody hotel, Wiley -- one of the world’s top biochemists and rumored to be headed toward a Nobel Prize -- disappeared without a trace. Four hours after he left the Peabody, Wiley’s rented white Mitsubishi Galant was found abandoned with a full tank of gas and the keys in the ignition, pointed west on the Hernando DeSoto bridge into Arkansas.
A month later his body was found snagged on a tree 320 miles downstream in a sidewater of the Mississippi River near Vidalia, Louisiana. Bloated from the water and rendered unrecognizable by exposure to the elements, Wiley’s body was nonetheless easy to identify because his wallet and identification were still in his pants pocket.
Across the Atlantic in a rural village near Wiltshire, England, a seemingly unrelated death occurred a week after Wiley’s disappearance. Vladimir Pasechnik died of a stroke on November 23rd in the yard behind his house. Pasechnik, a Russian who defected to England in 1989, was once in charge of the Institute of Ultra Pure Biochemical Preparations, first in St. Petersburg and later in Leningrad. Pasechnik and his comrades developed and perfected potential biological weapons such as anthrax, Ebola, Marburg virus (similar to Ebola), plague, Q fever, and smallpox, eventually creating strains of these viruses stronger than any scientists had ever imagined possible.
On December 10, 2001, back in the United States, Dr. Robert M. Schwartz was found stabbed to death in his rural Loudoun County, Virginia, home. Authorities speculated at the time that Schwartz might have interrupted a burglary in process. However, investigators found no signs of forced entry and nothing seemed to be missing from the home. Schwartz, who lived alone, was a founding member of the Virginia Biotechnology Association and executive director of research and development at Virginia’s Center for Innovative Technology. He was extremely well respected in the field of biophysics and considered something of an expert on DNA sequencing.
Two days later and a few hundred miles south, Dr. Benito Que was found comatose on a Miami street near the University of Miami Medical School laboratory where he worked. Que died of injuries Miami police initially suspected were the result of a mugging. Later Que’s death was determined to be “natural”-- the result of a heart attack. Que was a cell biologist involved in research on infectious diseases and worked in the hematology department of the medical school.
On December 14th, two days after Que’s death, Dr. Set Van Nguyen was found dead in Geelong, Australia. Nguyen had worked as a scientist in the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization’s animal-diseases facility for 15 years. Earlier last year two scientists at that facility were written up in the esteemed science journal Nature for their work in genetic manipulation and DNA sequencing. Specifically, the two had created a virulent form of mousepox.
“Australian scientists, Dr. Ron Jackson and Dr. Ian Ramshaw, accidentally created an astonishingly virulent strain of mousepox, a cousin of smallpox, among laboratory mice. They realised that if similar genetic manipulation was carried out on smallpox, an unstoppable killer could be unleashed” read the Nature article on the scientists.
According to the Victoria police department, Nguyen died after entering a refrigerated storage facility. “He did not know the room was full of deadly gas which had leaked from a liquid nitrogen cooling system. Unable to breathe, Mr. Nguyen collapsed and died” reads the official report.
Then, in January 2002, Ivan Glebov and Alexi Brushlinski -- both members of the Russian Academy of Science -- were killed. The Russian daily newspaper Pravda reported that Glebov died as the result of a bandit attack and simply says that Brushlinski was killed in Moscow.
On February 9th, Pravda reported the death of Victor Korshunov, head of the microbiology sub-faculty of the Russian State Medical University. Korshunov died of massive head trauma. His body was found February 8th at the entrance of his Moscow house.
Less than a week later, on February 12th, the body of Ian Langford, a senior fellow at the University of East Anglia’s Center for Social and Economic Research, was found in his blood-spattered and ransacked Norwich, England, home. The Times of London reported the following day that police and emergency technicians discovered Langford naked from the waist down and partly wedged under a chair. Coroners were unable to determine the exact cause of Langford’s death. Langford was described by The Times as being one of Europe’s leading experts on the links between human health and environmental risk.
In less than four months, then, nine of the world’s top microbiologists were dead. All had been doing research that had connections with the creation and prevention of biological warfare. But there is more to the story.
On October 4, 2001, a Siberian Airlines flight from Tel Aviv, Israel, to Novosibirsk, Siberia, was shot down over the Black Sea by an “errant” Ukrainian surface-to-air missile, killing everyone on board. The highly publicized crash rattled the 9/11-shaken nerves of people everywhere, but, according to conspiracy theorists, none were rattled more than the Israeli science community. Many in Israel believe the flight carried four or five microbiologists headed to work in one of the 50-plus scientific laboratories in Novosibirsk.
Just before the Black Sea crash, Israeli journalists were claiming that two Israeli microbiologists had been murdered by terrorists. After the crash, these same journalists claimed that Avishai Berkman, Amiramp Eldor, and Yaacov Matzner -- flight manifests confirm they were on the plane -- were top microbiologists in Israel. These journalists say that the men were the head of hematology at a major hospital, the director of Tel Aviv’s public-health department, and the director of the Hebrew University’s school of medicine, respectively. However, the names and the titles don’t match.
Then on November 24, 2001, a Swissair flight from Berlin to Zurich crashed during its landing approach. Twenty-four of the 33 people on board were killed, including the head of the hematology department at Israel’s Ichilov Hospital and directors of the Tel Aviv public-health department and the Hebrew University school of medicine.
Meanwhile, back in Memphis, on February 10th the burned-beyond-recognition corpse of Katherine Smith, a driver-testing center employee, was found in her car on U.S. 72 near Fayette County. Smith was scheduled to testify before a federal magistrate the following day against five Middle Eastern men who allegedly paid her $1,000 each for fraudulently issued Tennessee driver’s licenses.
What does it all mean? Is it a worldwide conspiracy? It sounds like a plotline from The X-Files, but these are the facts, and they’ve got conspiracy theorists all over the globe buzzing.
“As a talk-radio host you get these conspiracy types all the time. I like to say to them, ‘Sir, you are being misled,’” says Lowell Ponte, host of radio’s The Lowell Ponte Show (www.talkamerica.com/lowell/) and a frequent contributor to FrontPage Magazine (www.frontpagemag.com), a news site edited by controversial writer David Horowitz.
But when he heard about the dead scientists and the driver’s-license scheme, Ponte says he realized that maybe the conspiracy theorists were onto something this time. So he read up on the issues and penned a column titled “Terror in Tennessee: The Middle East echoes in America’s Heartland.” In the column, Ponte discusses the mysterious deaths of Wiley and Smith and speculates on the possible links to global terrorism. Ponte ends the column by writing, “Reasonable people would say that any prudent look at such fatal coincidences should lead us to support President George W. Bush’s life-and-death, open-and-clandestine war against terrorism. Those with a more ‘liberal’ imagination prefer to believe that Denial really is just a river flowing past Memphis, Tennessee.”
Ponte told the Flyer that he wrote that column after reading about the Katherine Smith case in several national newspapers and reading about the dead microbiologists on some Web sites devoted to traditional news and some devoted to conspiracy theories.
“When you have two people -- both of whom are involved in activities that are significant to terrorists -- who die in the same community during a short period of time, you have to at least entertain the idea that the [events] are related,” said Ponte.
London-based author Ian Gurney also became interested in the scientists’ deaths while doing research for his next book. The book is about biological warfare and is tentatively titled The Spawn of the Devil.
“I was doing research for my book and it seemed like every week I would receive a news alert about another microbiologist dying,” Gurney told the Flyer. “The story was all over the place but no one had really connected the deaths yet.”
So Gurney began researching the various deaths himself and saw a common theme -- all were working on projects related to biological warfare. Considering the post-9/11 climate worldwide, he thought these links were more than just coincidental.
“I don’t believe that much in coincidence,” said Gurney. “Most people in America, like most people in my country, tend to only scan the news for about 30 minutes. That’s all we can take before we have to go make a cup of tea. We don’t usually get into the stories behind the stories. The news doesn’t usually get in depth.”
Gurney took it upon himself to visit the Web sites of major newspapers all over the world. Reading articles and obituaries, he pieced together a web of deaths -- some natural, some violent -- that he believes are related to current advancements in biological weapons. Gurney began publishing articles on the connections on his Web site (www.caspro.com), and his stories were soon picked up or modified by other sites like FrontPage Magazine and the conspiracy-theory-heavy site Rense.com (www.rense.com) run by talk-radio host Jeff Rense.
“The news doesn’t really go in depth,” said Gurney. “The majority of people in your country and in mine are being treated like mushrooms. We’re being kept in the dark and having bullshit heaped over us. If there is a conspiracy and we don’t pay attention to the signs, they’re going to get away with it.”
Conspiracy theory or not, there is an unmistakable and frightening connection between one of the dead scientists and a man referred to by London newspaper News of the World as “The Third Horseman of the Apocalypse.”
Vladimir Pasechnik, the Soviet scientist who died in England last fall, and Dr. Ken Alibek, the scientist formerly known as Kanatjan Alibekov, worked together at Biopreparat -- the Soviet germ-warfare laboratory. Alibekov defected to the United States in 1992, changed his name, and made the talk-show circuit. After September 11th, many Americans saw Alibek sharing his views on cable and network news. His life begun anew, Alibek now spends his days in a tiny office at George Mason University, near Washington, D.C., trying to undo the horrors he spent the first part of his scientific career creating.
In the 1970s and 1980s, Pasechnik and Alibekov were the top two scientists at Biopreparat, but they were hardly the only scientists there. According to U.S. Senator Sam Nunn, at its height Biopreparat employed as many as 70,000 scientists and technicians -- many of whom worked solely on creating biological weapons of mass destruction.
“Through our program, we stockpiled hundreds of tons of anthrax, plague, and smallpox for our use against the West,” Alibek told News of the World in October. “What went on in our labs was one of the most closely guarded secrets of the Cold War.”
But when the Soviet Union collapsed, funding for Biopreparat disappeared with it, and the previously employed scientists began selling their services to the highest bidders. According to Alibek: “Many went to Europe and Asia or have simply dropped out of sight. I’ve heard that several went to Iraq and North Korea.”
Of Pasechnik, Alibek says this: “He was behind some of our best work, devising a machine that turns viruses into a fine powder. It had been a huge breakthrough because it complemented another project, using cruise missiles to fly low over enemy territory, spraying out clouds of disease.”
Originally trained as a doctor, Alibek says he is holding himself accountable to the Hippocratic oath he ignored for so long. In July 2001, well before the September attacks, Alibek told New Scientist magazine that he was devoting his time to enhancing “innate immunity” in the respiratory tract.
“Our objective is to develop an inhaler containing micro-encapsulated cytokines to prevent degradation and toxicity. The inhaler could be used to treat people before a biological weapons attack and after they are exposed,” Alibek told New Scientist.
In a Frontline interview that aired October 13, 1998, on PBS, Alibek said that scientists at Biopreparat had specifically selected smallpox as a biological weapon because it was highly contagious and because it was a “dead” virus -- meaning in the future most people would not be vaccinated against it. When asked if the Russians would have vaccinated their citizens against smallpox before unleashing it, Alibek was grim.
“In my opinion,” he told Frontline, “nobody cared what would happen to the Russians because this weapon would be used just in case of a total war.”
That’s just what U.S. government officials feared early last summer when representatives from several major departments met to stage a mini-war. Alibek was not the only person in the United States to realize that we need to develop a defense against biological weapons and these officials wanted a test to see if the U.S. could withstand a major biological attack.
They called their fake war “Dark Winter.” In the exercise, smallpox is discovered in Oklahoma and Georgia. State governments had to try and consolidate efforts with the federal government to ensure that the disease was not spread. The participants hoped to determine how each department would respond in a crisis situation. The results were grim.
“We, all in the room, were humbled by what we did not know and could not do and were convinced of the urgent need to better prepare our nation against this gruesome threat,” Margaret Hamburg, M.D., said in her July 23, 2001, testimony before the House Committee on Government Reform, following the Dark Winter exercise.
Hamburg participated in the exercise as the secretary of health and human services. Many Americans may be familiar with her name because, like Alibek, she appeared on many cable and network news shows following the September 11th and anthrax attacks last fall. Hamburg had previously been the New York City health commissioner when the World Trade Center was bombed in 1993 and also was an assistant secretary in the federal department of health and human services.
Hamburg also told the committee, “People should not be exchanging business cards on the first day of a crisis.”
Frank Keating, the current governor of Oklahoma, played himself in the exercise. Keating was also governor of Oklahoma in April 1995 when the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building was bombed. Emergency response groups now look to Oklahoma’s response as the model of governmental efficiency during a crisis situation.
In his testimony before the House committee, Keating placed particular emphasis on the need to be open with the public and media and encouraged the committee to “resist the urge to federalize everything.”
Likewise, Senator Sam Nunn, who played the role of U.S. president, realized that both the nation as a whole and the individual states were ill-prepared to cope with biological warfare.
“In the evolution of warfare,” said Nunn, “arrows were countered with shields; swords with armor; guns with tanks; and now biological weapons must be countered with medicines, vaccines, and surveillance systems.”
All of the participants testified that the U.S. would have a long way to go before it would be ready to handle a biological attack. They all also testified that several legal hurdles currently stand in the way of officials, hurdles they believe need to be removed in advance.
After the results of Dark Winter, and particularly after the September 11th attacks, federal policymakers decided that it was time to overcome these legal hurdles. A panel composed of law professors from Georgetown University and medical professors from Johns Hopkins University worked together to create a law to address the problems. After only 18 days of discussion, the Model Emergency Health Powers Act (MEHPA) was finished.
The act has since been introduced in every state legislature, where “Model” is replaced with the state’s name. In Tennessee, TEHPA (House Bill 2271/Senate Bill 2392) is currently being reviewed in committee.
However, nationwide left- and right-wingers alike are sounding off on MEHPA-based laws in Web chat rooms and bulletin boards. At issue are the vast and truly frightening powers the laws bestow upon state governors and their appointees.
Under MEHPA, and Tennessee’s TEHPA, a governor or his appointee, after declaring a “public health emergency,” has the power to take a number of actions. In the event of such an emergency, MEHPA allows each state to transform into something that would shock even George Orwell. The Model Emergency Health Powers Act allows officials to require an individual to be vaccinated. Anyone who refuses vaccination could be charged with a felony and forcibly quarantined. Likewise, it allows officials to require individuals to receive specific medical treatment or also be charged with a felony and quarantined. The state would also be allowed to seize any property, including real estate, deemed necessary to handle the emergency, and the property could be destroyed or retained without any compensation for the owner.
During a “public health emergency,” officials would be able to draft a person or business into state service and to impose rationing, price controls, quotas, and transportation controls. Any preexisting law thought to interfere with handling the emergency would be suspended. State governments would also be able to control the availability and distribution of medicines and vaccines and would be permitted to collect specimens from and perform tests on living persons.
Regardless of whether or not a connection exists between the dead microbiologists, between Don Wiley’s and Katherine Smith’s deaths, or between the events of September 11th and the anthrax attacks, the federal and state governments seem now at least to be aware of the threat of biological attack. What remains to be seen is how Americans will respond. And the links -- real or imagined -- between the rash of mysterious deaths? That’s a mystery even Mulder and Scully couldn’t solve.
on Wed, Apr. 03, 2002
KSU scientists target bioterrorism, proposing aerial spraying to kill anthrax spores, better irradiation of mail
School enlists in war
Kent State researchers
hope for federal aid for counterterrorism projects
About five years before anthrax spilled from letters and envelopes last fall, a Kent State University professor was dreaming up an airborne way to wipe out large amounts of the deadly spores quickly.
Why not spray some kind of neutralizing agent from a low-flying airplane? After all, Mitch Fadem reasoned, aerial spraying is used to kill disease-carrying mosquitoes and other pests.
Now, Fadem hopes to attract $1 million in federal funding to boost his studies, which sound like the stuff of a Tom Clancy novel.
The 50-year-old toxicologist envisions tests with a military transport airplane flying over a remote area of southern Canada and spraying a chemical compound on simulated anthrax.
``Since we've already been attacked'' by terrorists, Fadem said, ``we know that this kind of thing can happen. It's no longer, `This thing might happen.' ''
These days, interest in counterterrorism research is high, and military and university scientists are scrambling for the money available to fund it. Already this year, the federal government has nearly tripled -- to nearly $1.5 billion -- the amount it plans to spend on counterterrorism research and development, said Kei Koizumi of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Washington, D.C.
While much of that money will be spent in government laboratories, Koizumi said, some will go to university researchers like Fadem. And, Koizumi said, the pot of federal money might grow to $2.8 billion for the next fiscal year, which begins in October.
Counterterrorism research ``is now on the agenda'' more than ever, Koizumi said. But the downside ``is that if you're a scientist and your work is in no way security- or counterterrorism-related, the funding situation doesn't look so good.''
Air Force Reserve work
Fadem's notion of neutralizing anthrax by zapping it from the air grew out of his work as a biomedical toxicologist in the Air Force Reserve's 910th Airlift Wing at the Youngstown Air Reserve Station in Trumbull County, not far from Fadem's office at Kent State's Trumbull campus.
The 910th has the military's only full-time aerial spray unit that uses C-130 airplanes, rather than helicopters, to wipe out pests. In 1989, after Hurricane Hugo came ashore in South Carolina, the unit sprayed millions of acres of mosquito-breeding areas along the East Coast. The planes also are used to spray weedkiller on government property.
Fadem, a captain in the reserve, thought about using the aerial spraying equipment -- big tanks and nozzles attached to the C-130s -- to decontaminate an area exposed to chemical or biological agents.
This was before anthrax and biological warfare became part of the national vocabulary.
``I've been telling people for a long time it (bioterrorism) is going to happen here,'' Fadem said. ``The climate was right. I knew how open the United States was and how easy it would be to get the materials.''
In his lab, Fadem has sprayed a chemical compound on various materials to determine the concentration that would kill the anthrax spores without harming people or damaging buildings.
With his test results and encouragement from a federal agency that bankrolls high-tech military projects, Fadem plans to apply for $1 million in federal money for his proposed aerial spraying tests.
Irradiation at Kent State
While Fadem is focusing on using chemicals to fight bioterrorism, two other Kent State researchers, Christopher Woolverton and Carlos Vargas, are concentrating on killing anthrax via irradiation.
Making use of technology that has long been used to sterilize medical, dental and household products, Woolverton and Vargas are irradiating mail -- using beams of electrons to kill bacterial spores. They are tinkering with the concentration of radiation needed to decontaminate the mail.
The problem, Woolverton said, is that with too little radiation, ``you don't get any killing'' of the spores, and with too high a level, ``you destroy important things in the mail, like credit cards, floppy disks and other electronic media.... Pieces of mail have even caught on fire.''
Woolverton and Vargas soon will publish a paper that says far smaller amounts of radiation are needed to kill anthrax than is commonly believed.
The two have had a big advantage in doing their research: Kent State is co-owner of an electron-beam irradiation facility -- NEOBeam Alliance Ltd. -- in Middlefield in Geauga County.
Manual and training site
Woolverton and Vargas, who is director of the electron-beam program for the university, plan to propose to the government that it pay for the creation of an operations manual for postal workers telling them how to properly irradiate various types of mail.
A grander idea -- if the government goes along with it -- would have Kent State building a facility where postal workers and others would be trained in e-beam procedures. Such a facility would need workers, Woolverton said, meaning the technology would lead to the creation of jobs.
Luanne Daigneault, a spokeswoman for the Postal Service who works in the Akron district, said the agency has bought eight ``e-beam'' machines: Four are to be installed in Washington, and the other four are to be put in another location yet to be announced.
The only mail the Postal Service is irradiating is that bound for certain Washington ZIP codes.
In addition to killing anthrax, Woolverton also is developing a way to vastly speed up the detection of the spores and other bioterrorism threats.
Working with researchers at the Northeastern Ohio Universities College of Medicine and Kent State's Liquid Crystal Institute, Woolverton is using liquid crystal display technology -- which is used in watches and computer monitors -- to make credit-card-size ``microbial bio-sensors.'' These sensors, using liquid crystals, can detect a microorganism in five minutes, he said.
Two proposals have been submitted to the U.S. Department of Defense asking for money for more testing of the bio-sensors. About $1.5 million is needed, Woolverton said.
A Bellevue, Wash., company, MicroDiagnosis Inc., has licensed the technology from Kent State.
Woolverton said scientists obviously like the attention their counterterrorism work is getting, but it's unfortunate that it took the events of last fall to generate that interest. ``I think we were caught off guard in October'' when anthrax began arriving in the mail, he said. ``A lot of people are still smarting from that and saying we need to solve these problems.''
Katie Byard can be reached at 330-996-3781 or firstname.lastname@example.org
G.I.'s Search Afghan Caves, Finding Trove of Material
By DEXTER FILKINS
BAGRAM AIR BASE, Afghanistan, April 6 — A team of American soldiers completed a sweep today of a large cave network believed to have been used recently by Al Qaeda and Taliban fighters, carrying away photos, dossiers and vials containing an unidentified white powder.
Some 500 troops from the Army's 101st Airborne Division arrived here this afternoon after the five-day mission, which took them into the subterranean complex in Khost Province near the border with Pakistan. The men said they had ventured into more than 15 caves, some of them hundreds of feet deep, complete with bedrooms, warehouses and even iron-barred jail cells. After cleaning out the caves, the men used C-4 explosives and antitank missiles to seal them.
When the soldiers ran out of ordnance, they marked the caves they could not destroy and brought their coordinates back to base. Apache helicopters were to go back later to finish the caves off.
"Some of the stuff looked pretty old, but the locals said Osama bin Laden had been there," said Capt. Lou Bauer, 29, of Windsor, N.Y.
The search of the caves appeared to represent a new phase in the American operation in Afghanistan. After the end of the large American operation last month in the Shah-i-Kot Valley, where hundreds of Taliban and Al Qaeda fighters were thought to have been killed, American troops appear to be moving toward smaller operations against targets that are more dispersed.
In a statement today, Gen. Tommy R. Franks, the chief commander in the war here, said that American forces had no large-scale operations against Taliban and Al Qaeda forces planned soon. There are some 6,500 American troops in Afghanistan, as well as the first members of a 1,700-man British commando brigade.
The operation into the caves also appears to represent a shift for the American troops, who left unsearched many of the caves used by Taliban and fighters in the Tora Bora region last December.
The American soldiers said they had destroyed the caves so they could not be used again by Taliban and Al Qaeda fighters who might be trying to re-enter Afghanistan.
The caves, many of them fortified during the American-backed war against the Soviet Union in the 1980's, lie just a few miles from the border with Pakistan, where hundreds of Taliban and Al Qaeda fighters are believed to have fled in the past few months. The caves lie in a region called Zhwara, about 30 miles from the Shah-i-Kot Valley, from which many Taliban and Al Qaeda fighters were thought to have escaped.
So far, Pakistan is off-limits to American troops, and American and Afghan officials worry that the fugitive fighters appear to be planning guerrilla attacks from their Pakistani sanctuaries. Although Pakistani officials insist that the 12,000 soldiers they have deployed in the border region are keeping a lookout for Taliban and Al Qaeda fighters, there have been persistent reports that these fighters are regrouping in the largely ungoverned area.
Lounging near the airstrip of this old Soviet base, the American soldiers said it appeared that the caves had been used recently by Taliban and Al Qaeda fighters. In addition to destroying several hundred rounds of mortar shells and bullets, the men said they had carted off five bags filled with documents.
Included in the haul were dozens of what appeared to be personnel files of Al Qaeda and Taliban fighters, complete with mug shots and write-ups of each one.
The men in the photographs appeared to be of Middle Eastern origin, the Americans said, and much of the writing in the documents appeared to be in Arabic.
There were several signs that Al Qaeda or Taliban fighters had been in the caves fairly recently, the soldiers said.
One soldier said he found what appeared to be a relatively new box of 155-millimeter howitzer shells. Another said he found a body in a small mausoleum that appeared to have been recently entombed. One soldier found a copy of USA Today dated May 17, 2001.
The most intriguing discovery were dozens of vials filled with white powder.
The soldiers said they were not sure what the substance was; some speculated that it might be anthrax, others that it could be heroin or cocaine.
"I'm not sure what it was, maybe drugs," said Sgt. First Class Chuck Nye, one of the soldiers who took part in the cave searches.
The soldiers said they also searched an abandoned village, called Shodiaka. They said the village appeared to have been recently abandoned, and they found some of the same white powder stored in clay jars there.
denied to postal worker described as U.S. contact for terrorists
By LARRY NEUMEISTER
NEW YORK (AP) -- A judge denied bail Friday to a postal worker accused of aiding a terrorist organization linked to al-Qaida.
During the bail hearing, Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Bianco said the government has a "mountain of proof" against the Staten Island postal worker, including hundreds of secretly taped telephone conversations with leaders of the terrorist organization Islamic Group.
Bianco said Ahmed Abdel Sattar, 42, joined with New York civil rights lawyer Lynne Stewart and two others in a conspiracy to help Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman communicate with the terrorist group. Stewart was arrested Tuesday.
Abdel-Rahman, described as the U.S. leader of the Islamic Group, is serving a life sentence after being convicted in 1995 of seditious conspiracy in a plot to blow up five New York landmarks.
Prosecutors say the Islamic Group is an Egyptian-based international terrorist group dedicated to overthrowing Egypt's secular government and opposing others who do not share its radical interpretation of Islamic law.
Bianco described Sattar as the "point man of this worldwide terrorist organization in the United States."
U.S. District Judge John G. Koeltl rejected a $2 million bail package prepared by Sattar's defense lawyer, Kenneth Paul, who said many of his client's friends had called to offer their homes as collateral.
Paul said Sattar, an Egyptian, entered the United States in 1985, became a citizen in 1989, joined the postal service a year later and married his wife. Sattar had not left the country since 1992, when he briefly went to Egypt after his father died, the lawyer said.
He called his client a "hard working individual, a family man."
After bail was denied, Sattar's wife and four children left the courtroom in tears.
"I know my husband better than anybody. All the stuff they said is not true," Lisa Sattar said.
What's the FBI Doing About Anthrax Attacks?
Phil Brennan - newsmax.com
Let's start with this disclosure: One of my sons now works for American Media (AMI) in Boca Raton, Fla. In September of 2001, he was working in AMI's headquarters for Lasertech International (now Vertis Inc.), a subcontractor which handles production of AMI's many publications.
It was then that the building came under an attack of deadly anthrax, which killed one of AMI's photo editors, Bob Stevens, a longtime friend of mine, and almost killed Ernie Blanco, the mailroom boss and another old friend of mine.
Obviously, I have more than a passing interest in the matter I'm about to discuss.
OK, with that out of the way, let's take a look at the anthrax attack and the FBI's goofy way of looking at the case.
About a week before Sept. 11, 2001, a letter arrived at AMI. It ended up in the offices of the Sun, one of AMI's tabloids. People at the Sun who saw it said it was a "weird love letter to Jennifer Lopez." Inside the letter was a "soapy, powdery substance" and a cheap Star of David charm.
The letter, which had been taken to the Sun by Ernie Blanco, was passed around the office for its amusement value and ended up on Bob Stevens' desk, where he appears to have inhaled the powdery substance. Stevens then threw the letter away in the trash.
When Stevens died a few days later, his death was diagnosed as having been caused by inhalation of a deadly strain of anthrax. Within days, the FBI was on the scene, the building was found to be thoroughly contaminated by anthrax spores, it was locked up, a fence was built around it, and it sits there empty today.
In the beginning it was logical to assume that, in light of the events of 9-11, the anthrax attack on AMI and then on other victims was the work of terrorists – perhaps the same people who were behind 9-11.
Because the letter that appears to have been the source of the anthrax at AMI no longer existed, a vital piece of evidence was lost. That the letter was the source is indicated by the fact that the trail of anthrax spores in the AMI building matches the exact route it took from the mailroom to the Sun tabloid office.
In the aftermath of the AMI attack, other anthrax-laden letters began to pop up.
According to ABC News, all told there were 17 cases of infections. Those felled by inhalation:
* Florida: Robert Stevens, photo editor at American Media Inc. in Boca Raton, died of inhalation anthrax.
* Washington: Two postal workers – Joseph Curseen Jr. and Thomas Morris Jr. – died of inhalation anthrax. Both worked at the Brentwood mail processing center.
* New York: Kathy Nguyen, hospital supply room worker, died of inhalation anthrax.
* Washington: Two other Brentwood workers, also inhalation anthrax.
* Washington area: State Department mailroom employee, inhalation anthrax.
* Florida: Ernesto Blanco, who worked in same building as Robert Stevens, diagnosed with inhalation anthrax; released from hospital on Oct. 24.
* New Jersey: Two Hamilton Township postal workers, inhalation anthrax.
Those afflicted by cutaneous (skin) infection:
* New York: NBC Nightly News, female assistant to anchor Tom Brokaw; ABC News, infant son of producer; CBS News, female assistant to anchor Dan Rather; New York Post employee
* New Jersey: West Trenton postal worker; Hamilton Township mail processing employee; Hamilton Township bookkeeper
There were four suspected cases.
Two in New York:
* New York Post employee, suspected case of cutaneous anthrax
* ABC employee, suspected case of cutaneous anthrax
Two in New Jersey:
* Hamilton Township mail processing employee, suspected case of cutaneous anthrax
* Camden County postal worker, suspected case of cutaneous anthrax
Spores also were found in the workplace mail bin for a New Jersey bookkeeper who had skin anthrax. The bacteria spores also showed up overseas: on letters sent to several locations in Pakistan and on at least one mailbag at the U.S. Embassy in Vilnius, Lithuania.
In the FBI investigation that has been ongoing since October 2001, there has been no progress in identifying the source of the anthrax attacks. Nor has the bureau been able to find the equipment used to weaponize the anthrax spores.
According to investigative journalist Albert Jay Epstein, the bureau has not come close to solving the anthrax mystery.
It has not scientifically narrowed down the source of the anthrax used in the attacks.
It has not located the equipment used to prepare the weaponized anthrax.
It has not found the copier that reproduced some of the messages in the letters.
It has not found the perpetrators.
It has not pinpointed the country of origin of the attack.
But it has concentrated on finding an American source rather than a foreign one. In effect, the bureau has put all its investigative eggs into one basket: the notion that the attacks were the work of a "lone wolf" mad bomber suspect right here in the good old USA.
In a press conference, the FBI announced its "linguistic and behavioral assessment" of "the person" purportedly responsible. It was, they said "highly probable, bordering on certainty," that a single "adult male" had prepared and mailed all the contaminated letters at issue.
This man "probably has a scientific background," "may work in a laboratory," and is familiar with the area around Trenton, N.J. – where some of the envelopes were postmarked.
The man, they said, suffers a pronounced psychosocial deformity: "He lacks the personal skills necessary to confront others" and "if he is involved in a personal relationship, it will likely be of a self-serving nature."
Moreover, crucially, the suspect appears to be an American. "We're certainly looking in that direction right now, as far as someone being domestic," said James R. Fitzgerald, head of the FBI's Behavioral Analysis Unit.
This is the same FBI that decided that poor Richard Jewell was behind the Atlanta Olympic Park bombing. They just knew it was him.
It wasn't, of course.
The process of creating and weaponizing deadly inhalation anthrax spores is highly sophisticated. Some say that the spores involved in the attacks had all the earmarks of having been produced in some government's facility, since the job would have been beyond the capability of a lone wolf working alone in some dark basement lab.
According to The Weekly Standard's opinion editor, David Tell, "In order to produce inhalation anthrax, bacterial spore-particles must be small Enough – no more than a couple or three microns wide – to reach a victim's lower respiratory mucosa. And for decades, until very recently, scientists believed that the mechanical milling required to produce such fine dust artificially would also produce a charge of static electricity sufficient to bind anthrax spores together into oversized, harmless clumps.
"To prevent this from happening – to keep the spores separate, 'floaty,' and therefore deadly – bioweapons specialists in the United States and elsewhere went to considerable lengths to identify a chemical additive that would, like throwing a sheet of Bounce into your clothes dryer, remove the static. It has been widely reported, but never confirmed, that American scientists eventually settled on silica. It has been just as widely reported, and more or less confirmed, that the Soviet and Iraqi biowarfare programs each at some point used a substance called bentonite, instead."
Thus Iraq is ruled out. Right?
Writes Tell: "Before they were kicked out of Iraq for good, U.N. weapons inspectors concluded that Saddam's military biologists were no longer relying on mechanical milling machines to render dried-out paste-colonies of anthracis bacteria into fine dust, but had instead refined a spray drying technique that produced the dust in a single step. And the suspected key ingredient in this Iraqi innovation, interestingly enough: pharmaceutical-grade silica, a common industrial drying agent."
Moreover, Tell explains, silica, or silicon dioxide, is simple quartz or sand, the most abundant solid material on earth. "Bentonite" is the generic term for a class of natural or processed clays derived from volcanic ash, all of which are themselves mineral compounds of silica – and not all of which necessarily contain aluminum.
In other words: Trace amounts of silica in an anthrax powder are consistent with the presence of bentonite. And the absence of aluminum from that powder is not enough to exculpate any foreign germ-warfare factory thought to have used bentonite in the past.
There's much more, and it's far too complex for my non-technical, all-thumbs mind to grasp. Take a look at David Tell's piece in the April 29 issue of The Weekly Standard for the whole story in precise detail. It's a masterful piece of analysis.
Now back to AMI.
When AMI bought the National Enquirer, the Globe, the Star and a myriad of other publications, it paid a reported $6 million for the three-story building. AMI then spent about $14 million renovating it. There are millions of dollars worth of now useless high-tech equipment, voluminous research files that took years to compile, furniture, etc., inside – stuff that can never again be used.
The building is not habitable and will never be unless it is decontaminated, if it can be. The cost of decontamination would be massive. Note what it took to decontaminate the Hart Senate Office building in Washington – twice.
If the anthrax attack was the work of terrorists – and despite the FBI's very dubious lone-wolf theory, there is every reason to believe it was – AMI was their first domestic U.S. target. Yet AMI has been left without any help whatsoever from the federal government, which is supposed to protect its citizens and enterprises when they are subjected to attacks from foreign sources.
To me, that's unfair. I don't care what you think of the Enquirer or the Globe or any of the AMI tabloids. They are American enterprises staffed by our fellow Americans, and were most probably attacked precisely because they are Americans.
They deserve better than they've gotten from their government, which is nothing but antibiotics (Cipro) that made most of them, including my son, sick.
Phil Brennan is a veteran journalist who writes for NewsMax.com. He is editor & publisher of Wednesday on the Web (http://www.pvbr.com) and was Washington columnist for National Review magazine in the 1960s. He also served as a staff aide for the House Republican Policy Committee and helped handle the Washington public relations operation for the Alaska Statehood Committee which won statehood for Alaska. He is a trustee of the Lincoln Heritage Institute.
to Face With a Terrorist
Government Worker Recalls Mohamed Atta Seeking Funds Before Sept. 11
By Brian Ross - ABC News
— Four of the hijackers who attacked
America on Sept. 11 tried to get government loans to finance their plots,
including ringleader Mohamed Atta, who sought $650,000 to modify a crop-duster,
a government loan officer told ABCNEWS.
First Atta, then Marwan Al-Shehhi, Ahmed Alghamdi and Fayez Rashid Ahmed Hassan al Qadi Banihammad, all of whom died in the September attacks, tried to get loans from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Johnelle Bryant told ABCNEWS, speaking out to the public for the first time.
It was Atta who was the most persistent, and the most frightening, Bryant said in an exclusive, extensive interview in which she recounted how Atta railed against her when the loan was denied, asking her how she would like to see the destruction of Washington, D.C., and monuments there, which he observed in a picture on the wall of her Florida office.
Bryant recalled how Atta sat across from her with his "very scary" black eyes for more than an hour.
"His eyes, he had very scary-looking eyes. His eyes were black," she remembered. "How could somebody be that evil, be that close to me, and I didn't recognize it?"
Only after seeing Atta's picture in the newspaper did she realize who the man sitting inches away from her was, and alert the FBI of the interaction.
"I think it's very vital that the Americans realize that when these people come to the United States, they don't have a big 'T' on their forehead," she said, telling her story to ABCNEWS in defiance of direct orders from the USDA's Washington headquarters.
"They don't look like what you think a terrorist would look like," said Bryant.
"I had terrorists in my office, and I helped them," she said. "I gave them information unknowingly … And I'm afraid that there probably will be a next time, unless it's stopped from the ground-floor level by an American."
Financing for an Immigrant's Dream
According to Bryant, who has worked at the government agency for 16 years, Atta arrived in her office sometime between the end of April and the middle of May 2000, inquiring about a loan to finance an aircraft.
"At first, he refused to speak with me," said Bryant, remembering that Atta called her "but a female." Bryant explained that she was the manager, but he still refused to conduct business with her. Ultimately, she said, "I told him that if he was interested in getting a farm-service agency loan in my servicing area, then he would need to deal with me."
Throughout the interview, he continued to refer to Bryant as "but a female," and Bryant said, "He would say it with disgust."
During the initial applicant interview, Bryant was taking notes. "I wrote his name down, and I spelled it A-T-T-A-H, and he told me, 'No, A-T-T-A, as in Atta boy!' "
He said he had just arrived in the United States from Afghanistan "to start his dream, which was to go flight school and get his pilot's license, and work both as a charter pilot and a crop duster too," she said. He was seeking $650,000 for a crop-dusting business.
"He wanted to finance a twin-engine six-passenger aircraft … and remove the seats," said Bryant. "He said he was an engineer, and he wanted to build a chemical tank that would fit inside the aircraft and take up every available square inch of the aircraft except for where the pilot would be sitting."
When Bryant explained that there was an application process, Atta became "very agitated." He thought the loan would be in cash, and that he would have no trouble obtaining it to purchase an aircraft.
He also remarked about the lack of security in the building, pointing specifically to a safe behind Bryant's desk. "He asked me what would prevent him from going behind my desk and cutting my throat and making off with the millions of dollars in that safe," said Bryant, who explained that there was no money in the safe because loans are never given in cash, and also that she was trained in karate.
"He wanted to know how, once he became settled down in the United States, how he could take that kind of training," she says.
Bryant turned him down for the loan because as a non-U.S. citizen he did not meet the basic eligibility requirements and because the program is intended for actual farming purposes. But she referred him to other government agencies and to a bank downstairs.
He asked questions about whether his plans to be out of the country for a few weeks would interfere with his eligibility for a loan. "I think he said he needed to go to Madrid, and somewhere in Germany, and then there was a third country," said Bryant.
Being turned down for the loan altered the hijackers' plans. According to law enforcement officials, packing twin-engine planes with explosive chemicals, making it a flying bomb, had been the terrorists' plan since the mid-1990s. When Atta reported to his group that he could not get a loan to buy smaller planes, the plan was switched to hijacking passenger jets, according to what Abu Zabaydah, a top lieutenant of Osama bin Laden, has told American interrogators since his capture.
So in the fall of 2000, the hijackers who had been learning to fly small planes began to seek simulator training in the large jets they would fly into the World Trade Center and Pentagon.
Familiar Places, Unfamiliar Names
Before leaving Bryant's office, Atta became fixated with an aerial photo of Washington that was hanging on her office wall.
"He just said that it was one of the prettiest, the best he'd ever seen of Washington," she said, remembering that he was impressed with the panoramic view that captured all the monuments and buildings in one photograph, pointing specifically to the Pentagon and the White House.
"He pulled out a wad of cash," she said, "and started throwing money on my desk. He wanted that picture really bad."
Bryant indicated that the picture was not for sale, and he threw more money down.
"His look on his face became very bitter at that point," Bryant remembers. "I believe he said, 'How would America like it if another country destroyed that city and some of the monuments in it,' like the cities in his country had been destroyed?"
Atta also expressed an interest in visiting New York, specifically the World Trade Center, and asked Bryant about security there. He inquired about other American cities, including Phoenix, Los Angeles, Seattle and Chicago. Prompted by a souvenir she had on her desk, he also expressed interest in the Dallas Cowboys' football stadium, mentioning that the team was "America's team" and the stadium had a "hole in the roof."
Atta also talked about life in his country. "He mentioned al Qaeda, he mentioned Osama bin Laden," said Bryant. "I didn't know who Osama bin Laden was … He could have been a character on Star Wars for all I knew."
He boasted about the role that they would one day play. "He said this man would someday be known as the world's greatest leader," she said.
Bryant and Atta shook hands on his way out. "I told him I wished him luck with his endeavor," remembered Bryant.
‘How Could I Have Known?’
Bryant never thought to report her strange encounter because she thought she was just helping a new immigrant learn about the country.
"I felt that he was trying to make the cultural leap from the country that he came from, with all the violence, as compared to the United States," she says. "I was attempting, in every manner I could, to help him make his relocation into our country as easy for him as I could make it."
His questions about American cities, she assumed, were because he had moved to a new country and he wanted to find out about the major cities.
"How could I have known? I couldn't have known, prior to Sept. 11. I don't think anyone else would have either, if they'd been in my shoes that day," she says. "Should I have picked up the telephone and called someone? You can't ask me that more often than I have asked myself that … I don't know how I could possibly expect myself to have recognized what that man was. And yet sometimes I haven't forgiven myself."
But that wasn't the only time she saw Atta. He returned again, slightly disguised with glasses. He claimed to be an accountant for Marwan Al-Shehhi, who was with him, and said he wanted $500,000 to buy land for a sugar-cane farm.
Ahmed Alghamdi and Fayez Rashid Ahmed Hassan al Qadi Banihammad also came separately seeking loans, but were less successful in speaking with people.
Bryant hopes her story will serve as a warning to all Americans.
"The American people, the public, need to be aware that if these men can walk into my office, they can walk into your office, they can walk into anyone's office," she says.
"If they watch this interview and they see the type of questions that Atta asked me on my first encounter with that man, and then someone walks into another American's office and behaves in the same manner, then perhaps they will recognize a terrorist, and perhaps they will pick up the phone and make the call that I didn't make."
Copyright © 2002 ABC News Internet Ventures.
to Face With Atta
Excerpts From Government Worker's Interview Recalling Encounter With 9/11 Hijacker
June 6, 2002 - ABC News
— Government loan officer Johnelle Bryant says she was face to face with Mohamed Atta, believed to be the ringleader of the Sept. 11hijackers, for hours as he requested money apparently intended to finance a terrorist plot. Here are excerpts of Brian Ross' interviewwith Bryant.
JOHNELLE BRYANT: I'm a formal manager at, for a farm service agency. It's a agency, part of the United States Department of Agriculture. And my main office is located in Homestead, Florida. But my servicing area includes: Dade County, Broward County, and Palm Beach County, and, and Monroe County.
BRIAN ROSS: And, and what is it you do actually. Is it like a, a bank sort of, or?
JOHNELLE BRYANT: It's similar. Only, it's guaranteed, it's government financed loans for agriculture, for farming, type operations. We make real estate operating loans.
BRIAN ROSS: And so, it's open to any American Citizen to come, and?
JOHNELLE BRYANT: Yes, sir. As long as they are farmers, and they do have experience farming. And they're family-size farmers. And they're unable to obtain credit elsewhere.
BRIAN ROSS: And how long have you been at the office in, in Homestead?
JOHNELLE BRYANT: Two years. I started in Homestead, January of 2000. But I have been with my agency for 16 years.
BRIAN ROSS: And, when did you first meet someone who you say is Mohamed Atta? What happened?
JOHNELLE BRYANT: I met him somewhere between the end of April, around the third week of April to the third week of May of 2000.
BRIAN ROSS: Somewhere in that…
JOHNELLE BRYANT: Somewhere in that general area. I can't pinpoint it down any more than that.
BRIAN ROSS: And tell me what happened?
JOHNELLE BRYANT: He came to my agency to finance an aircraft. A, a crop-duster.
BRIAN ROSS: That's what he told you.
JOHNELLE BRYANT: That's what he told me. Yes, sir.
BRIAN ROSS: What, what'd he say?
JOHNELLE BRYANT: It, it wasn't actually a crop-duster in itself that he was wanting to finance. He wanted to finance a twin-engine, six-passenger aircraft, that he could use as both a charter flights, and remove the, the seats. And he said he was an engineer, and he wanted to build a chemical tank that would fit inside the aircraft, and take up every available square inch of the aircraft, except for where the pilot would be sitting. And run the spray nozzles along the wind span. And use it as both a crop-duster plane, and as a charter plane.
BRIAN ROSS: And when he came, did he, what name did he give you?
JOHNELLE BRYANT: Mohamed Atta. And I was taking notes. We typically take notes of a, it's considered an initial applicant interview. And while taking notes, I, I wrote his name down. And I spelled it A-T-T-A-H, and he told me, "No, A-T-T-A, as in 'Atta boy!'"
BRIAN ROSS: Atta boy.
JOHNELLE BRYANT: Atta boy.
BRIAN ROSS: And did he tell you where he lived?
JOHNELLE BRYANT: Yes. We, we, actually discussed his background and what he was doing in the United States.
BRIAN ROSS: What, what'd he say?
JOHNELLE BRYANT: Before we really started talking about the loan.
BRIAN ROSS: Mm-hmm.
JOHNELLE BRYANT: And he told me that he was originally from Egypt, I believe. But that he had actually moved here from Afghanistan. And, I believe, he told me that he moved from Egypt to Afghanistan, having to do with some kind of political pressure. But I don't, I don't remember exactly what it was. He also mentioned that he had an engineering degree and had gone to school in Germany. Because when we were talking about the aircraft, and the chemical tank, he was wanting to put in the aircraft, I, I mentioned that a tank of that size wouldn't fit through the door. And he said that he was a, an engineer, and that he knew how to solve those problems.
He told me that he had sold all of his belongings at home, to move to the United States to start his dream, which was to go to flight school, and, and get his pilot's license, and work both as a charter pilot, and a, a crop duster, too.
BRIAN ROSS: How did he know to come to you for a loan?
JOHNELLE BRYANT: Oh. He told me that he had purchased a book from, off the cable TV, that advertised how to get, how to obtain a free grants, or loans from the government. And he had said that he had paid $40 for it. And that it, it explained to him our agency, and our loan limits. Actually we have a guaranteed loan limit of $750,000. And he was asking for $650,000.
JOHNELLE BRYANT: He also thought that he, all he had to do to obtain the money, was to actually just come to my office, tell me what he wanted the loan for, and that he would obtain the cash, without any kind of application processing, whatsoever. And he, when I explained to him about the application process, he became very agitated. And he said that that's not what the book said. That the book said that I, I come to your agency and that I could get up to $750,000 in, in loan. And he also thought that the loan was going to be cash.
BRIAN ROSS: So he believed the TV commercial. Free money from the government.
JOHNELLE BRYANT: He actually believed, yes. He actually believed that he could walk into the office and say that he needed $650,000 to purchase an aircraft with. And that I would give him $650,000 in cash.
BRIAN ROSS: So he must have been very disappointed.
JOHNELLE BRYANT: Yes, sir. He was. What, what kind of compounded that was the fact that our agency, we have a very large, very old safe. A great big black safe. And it happened to be in my office.
Yes. And he, he asked me what would, and he asked this in a rhetorically. After explaining what kind of security they had in his, in his country, he asked me what would prevent him without the, with any visual, audio security equipment, behind my desk and in my office with that safe sitting there. He asked me what would prevent him from going behind my desk and cutting my throat, and making off with the millions of dollars of cash in that safe. And, I told him that, well I kind of laughed. I mean I didn't laugh at him. But I chuckled a little bit about it. And I thought well, for one thing. I told him for one thing, there's, there's no cash in that safe. And then I explained to him about the evidence of indebtedness. And then, and he asked about, well, when you get a loan, you get cash. You get money. And you make loans so you have money. And I said, well, we do make loans, sir. However. The loans in this country come typically in two forms. You get a U.S. Treasury check, which is similar to a income tax return check. Or, it's, it's wired to your account. So it's electronic funds transfer. But we never handle cash. There's absolutely no cash in that safe. And so then he asked me what the second thing was that would prevent him from coming behind my desk. And you've got to understand that when he said this, he said it in a rhetorical manner, as compared to the lack of security in my office, versus what he was accustomed to, at, at home. And…
BRIAN ROSS: But, he said, "What would prevent me from cutting your throat?"
JOHNELLE BRYANT: "Coming behind your desk and cutting your throat and making, and making off with all the cash in that safe because you don't have any security in your office." And so I told him, "No, there's no cash in, in the safe, number one. And I told him number two, my, my training would prevent him from coming behind the desk and cutting my throat." And he asked me, and he kind of, he kind of, stepped back. And he said, "So you've had military training?" I said, "Oh, no, sir, I've never been in the military." And he, he mentioned something about that he understood that the United States allowed women in the armed forces now. But that he didn't understand, he didn't actually realize that, that they, they were given combat training. I said, "No, no I've never been in the military." And so then he asked me what kind of training that I had. And I told him that I took about six months of karate training. Koname Ru, karate training. And he asked what karate was. He asked if that was similar to tae kwon do. I said yes, it is, it's just a type of martial arts training. And he was very surprised that a woman would have that kind of training. And he was very interested in that kind of training. And he wanted to know how, once he became settled down, in, in the United States, how he could take that kind of training. And I told him that, just look it up in the Yellow Pages.
BRIAN ROSS: And what did he describe, how did he describe the business he wanted to start?
JOHNELLE BRYANT: A combination charter airplanes and crop duster.
BRIAN ROSS: And he wanted the money …
JOHNELLE BRYANT: To purchase the aircraft.
BRIAN ROSS: And how much did he want?
JOHNELLE BRYANT: Six hundred and fifty thousand dollars.
BRIAN ROSS: And what kind of aircraft did he want to buy?
JOHNELLE BRYANT: He, he actually wanted to purchase a six-passenger, twin-engine airplane, that he could pull the back seats out, and build a special made chemical tank to put, put into, into the aircraft to hold the chemicals for crop-dusting, and yet remove that when he, when he needed to, and replace the seats for, in, for charter type, plane.
BRIAN ROSS: So he wanted the plane where he could put a huge tank in the back.
JOHNELLE BRYANT: Yes, sir. Yes, sir. And, and he mentioned that he could get a larger tank in a twin-engine plane than what he could, than the chemical capacity of a regular crop-duster plane, which he said that he could use it, to stay up in the air longer while he's spraying sugar cane, out in the Broward County area.
BRIAN ROSS: And what did you think of that when he told you he had this plan?
JOHNELLE BRYANT: I didn't think it would work. Because crop-dusters are very agile, and they fly under high wires. And my, my stepfather actually had a single-engine, four-seater plane, that I used to go up with him, on occasion. And, it's, they don't have near the agility of a crop-duster plane. So, any kind of, I didn't think they would, that what he was suggesting would work. I thought it was a very creative idea, on, on his part.
BRIAN ROSS: And you asked him about the size of the tank? About whether it would fit?
JOHNELLE BRYANT: He, he I didn't really ask him about the size. He informed, he offered that information to me. He said that he wanted to pull the back seats out and build a tank that would take up all the space of the back seat. And take up all the space, except for where the pilot sat. And that way, when he went out to spray, he wouldn't have to land and reload. He could just continue spraying, which, I, it didn't make sense. But I had, I mean, prior to 9-1-1 I had no idea what else he would be wanting to do with the airplane.
BRIAN ROSS: And did you tell him that you didn't think it made much sense?
JOHNELLE BRYANT: Yes, sir. I told him that I didn't think that it, he would be able to use the same aircraft for, for both crop- dusting and, and as a charter plane.
BRIAN ROSS: What'd he say?
JOHNELLE BRYANT: He seemed to assure me that he, he was an engineer, and that it most certainly would. He was very sure about that.
BRIAN ROSS: So he told you he had studied this, or he knew what he was talking about?
JOHNELLE BRYANT: Yeah. Evidently he had put a lot of thought into it, yes. Yes, sir. Yes, sir. He, he, the entire time he was in my office, his, his emotions kept going up and down, and up and down. At one point in time, when I told him that he, we were unable to finance the type of operation he was interested in, he, he kind of jumped back in his chair, and he started accusing me of discriminating against him because he was not a United States citizen. And he was from a foreign country. And so I tried to talk to him very nicely, and calm him back down. And, when we were, we discussed several things. And while I was discussing things with him, one of the reasons for discussing it was to keep him calm, so that he would relax. I was attempting, in every manner I could, to help him make his, his relocation into our country as easy for him as I could make it.
BRIAN ROSS: So he asked you about the picture over your wall…
JOHNELLE BRYANT: Yes.
BRIAN ROSS: …Over your desk?
JOHNELLE BRYANT: Yes, when he had asked me about what my qualifications were to hold my position, um, I told him that I, I used to work in Washington, D.C., in the national office as well, and um, he, he saw this picture, which was a going-away gift to me from uh, the people that I worked with in Washington, and he asked me if the autograph at the bottom of it were famous members of parliament. I told him that actually they're really close friends of mine that I worked with while in Washington, D.C., and I explained to him that we don't actually have a parliament, that uh, we have a House of Representatives and senators.
He actually tried to purchase the picture from me and he, he pulled out a wad of cash about that thick around and started throwing money on my desk. He wanted that picture really bad. He said that it was a beautiful picture of Washington, D.C., and um, I explained to him that it was a gift and that it was not for sale. And at that point he just more money down on the desk. And, I, I, I told him that, I said, "You don't understand. It's a gift. Thi-this picture is not for sale, not for anything." And so then he said that um,…
BRIAN ROSS: Why did he want it so badly did he say?
JOHNELLE BRYANT: He just said that it was one of the prettiest, one of the, the best he'd ever see of Washington. Ah, with the panoramic view, it does catch all the buildings and um, all the monuments in, in one photograph.
BRIAN ROSS: Did he ask about them?
JOHNELLE BRYANT: Yes. Uh, he, he asked, when I was in Washington how many of, how many places did I get to go visit. And I told him that um, I had, had visited most of the Smithsonians and he asked me which building I worked in and, and my, the USDA building is part of that picture. And I should him the USDA building and he, he started, he said that he wanted to go to Washington um, as a tourist, to Washington, D.C., and, and visit it. And he said he wanted to go visit some ah, places across the nation too, but one specifically was asking me about Washington, D.C., which to him as a tourist he was concerned that he wouldn't be allowed any of the buildings. Um, and since he was not a, a U.S. citizen and I told him that there wouldn't be a problem with that, that there is security inside of most of the buildings, but there's, it would be like I, a metal detector similar to, to an airport where they search baggage.
BRIAN ROSS: When he, when he looked at this aerial view, did he ask about any specific buildings or where things were?
JOHNELLE BRYANT: Mm-hmm. Uh-huh, he asked about the Pentagon and the White House and I pointed them out. Um.
BRIAN ROSS: He asked about the Pentagon?
JOHNELLE BRYANT: Yes, sir, he did. And he asked about the White House and, and the Capital, um, which this, the photograph encompasses all that as well as all the Smithsonians and the monuments too.
BRIAN ROSS: And you showed them.
JOHNELLE BRYANT: Right, in fact, he picked out where the Pentagon was, himself.
BRIAN ROSS: In addition to his interest in Washington, Pentagon, the White House, the Capitol, were there other areas of the United States he seemed interested in?
JOHNELLE BRYANT: Yes, sir. When he told me that um, he was more excited about moving to the United States and that he, there were places he wanted to see such as Washington, D.C. He also told me he wanted to go to New York and visit the World Trade Center.
BRIAN ROSS: That's what he said?
JOHNELLE BRYANT: Yes, sir. And he asked me if I'd ever been there. And I told him that I had, it had been a couple of years, but yes, I had been there and that, um, if he goes to uh, to New York that I recommend him going to the top to the obs-, observing deck and, if he went, to be sure and go right at sunset because you can take pictures off the top of it at sunset and it's beautiful pictures because that's, that's what I had done. And he asked me again if he would have any problems getting there. Um, and he would say, "Yeah, in his country ah, someone such as myself while I was visiting the country, I wouldn't be allowed to something like that." And, I told him again that I, to my knowledge he as a visitor, um, as long as he had an ID with him that he could go just about anywhere he wanted to. And he asked about the security to get it and I told him it was like at an airport, it was uh, uh, metal detector and most likely they search bags and that's, that's what he would, he would come across in the United States.
BRIAN ROSS: And, what were the cities he seemed to be interested in?
JOHNELLE BRYANT: Um, Chicago, L.A. and Seattle, and it seems like he mentioned Phoenix because Phoenix is another city that I had only been to as a um, as a layover, changing planes.
BRIAN ROSS: So he didn't mention any specific location.
JOHNELLE BRYANT: No sir, just. When, when he asked me about the cities and when he found out I'd either been there, I had not been there or had not been outside the airport, he didn't mention anything else. Um, and I kept thinking that if I was in his shoes and I had just moved to a new country, I'd sold all my belongings to move to a new country and start a new life, I would want to go the major cities of that country and get some idea of the, my surroundings, the geographical makeup of the cities and, and that's what I thought he was doing.
BRIAN ROSS: So you thought he was essentially asking you for some travel tips: where to go in …
JOHNELLE BRYANT: Right.
BRIAN ROSS: In the United States.
BRIAN ROSS: Right. Did he talk about his own political beliefs, heroes?
JOHNELLE BRYANT: Uh, yes he did. When he, when he asked me about leaving Washington, D.C., and asked if I'd been banished, um, and I tried to tell him that I hadn't, he, he started talking about um, an organization that uh, back in his country, and he kept referring to his country and I can only assume now that he was referring to Afghanistan. At the time I didn't know if he meant Egypt or Afghanistan, um, that [SIGH] uh, they had an organization in, and he, I couldn't understand, he got really emotional when he talked about it, like really excited about it. And, um, he said that they, they could use people. In other words, that they could use people, um, as, as members. They could use memberships from Americans, um. …
BRIAN ROSS: In his ... [OVERLAP] [INAUDIBLE]
JOHNELLE BRYANT: In this organization, um. With, with the type of background that I, that I had, working with Washington and all this stuff, and he, and when he would mention it, he, his accent came out and I didn't have a clue what he was talking about prior to Sept. 11. I'd never heard of Osama bin Laden. I'd never heard of al Qaeda. I'm sure I'd read about it at one point or time in the paper, but it, it wasn't something that I discussed.
BRIAN ROSS: Did he give you a name?
JOHNELLE BRYANT: Yes, he um, I know now that he talking about al Qaeda, but the way pronounced it, it sounded like he was talking about a woman's name. He kept saying uh, it sound like, Akeda, Akeda, "Surely you've heard. Surely you know, Akeda." And I went, "Oh yeah, yeah, yeah right." [LAUGHS] I mean, I didn't know what he was talking about.
BRIAN ROSS: But he mentioned.
JOHNELLE BRYANT: Yes, he mentioned it.
BRIAN ROSS: Al Qaeda.
JOHNELLE BRYANT: He, he mentioned Al Qaeda. He mentioned Osama bin Laden. And …
BRIAN ROSS: He mentioned Osama bin Laden?
JOHNELLE BRYANT: Yes, sir. And when he, when he mentioned it. I didn't have a clue what he was talking about and, and…
BRIAN ROSS: You'd never heard of Osama bin Laden at that point?
JOHNELLE BRYANT: Not that I'd re-, remember. This was prior, this was nearly 18 months give or take prior to Sept. 11, so no, I didn't know who Osama bin Laden was. Um, to me, it was, you know, he could have been a character on Star Wars for all I knew.
BRIAN ROSS: Could have been Obi-Wan Kenobi.
JOHNELLE BRYANT: Could have been Obi-Wan Kenobi for all I knew.
BRIAN ROSS: But he mentioned Osama bin Laden to you.
JOHNELLE BRYANT: Yeah, he said, he mentioned that um, this man would someday be known as the world's greatest leader. I didn't know who he was talking about.
Bryant on Mohamed Atta's appearance:
JOHNELLE BRYANT: Very intense. His eyes. He had very scary-looking eyes. His eyes were black. So black that he was sitting, probably closer to me, when he sat across from my desk, for about an hour, he was sitting closer to me than perhaps you are. And his, his iris was almost he same color as his pupil. And when I was sitting there speaking with him and making eye contact with him, I had a difficult time seeing the difference between his iris and his pupil, which in itself gave him the appearance of being very, very scary. And then of course with his accent, he, he came across as being very intimidating. He had a, an unusual habit of, when he'd ask a question, and then he was listening to your response, he pressed his lips together. And, actually, the picture that came out in the newspaper, that's exactly what that man looked like. Except for the newspaper does not really show how black that his eyes actually were.
BRIAN ROSS: What were you thinking as you looked at it? Looked at those pictures, and thought back to the man who you had so kindly tried to help.
JOHNELLE BRYANT: How could someone be so evil? How could somebody be that evil, be that close to me, and I didn't recognize it? But I think prior to Sept. 11, most Americans, I know I couldn't, I can't speak for most Americans, but I could not comprehend. It, it's just a matter of just comprehending someone intentionally taking a commercial jetliner full of human beings, innocent human beings, as far as the terrorists were concerned, and, and using that to kill other innocent human beings. Those people were sick, beyond belief. But the scary thing is, is that they look like you and I. Not necessarily as, as, as an American, but they just look like people. They don't, they don't look like an evil monster.
to stop longtime terrorist haunts U.S.
Amid a new war, case a reminder of difficulty in capturing enemies; 'The operator on the ground'
By Scott Shane
June 9, 2002
Failed manhunt for '80s terrorist still haunts U.S.
Outraged by the slaughter of American citizens, the president stood before television cameras outside the White House and declared war on terrorism, vowing to stop the shadowy extremists who claimed to kill for Islam.
"Terrorists and those who support them, especially governments, have been put on notice," he said. "We're committed to winning this war and wiping this scourge from the face of the Earth."
That was in 1986. The president was not George W. Bush but Ronald Reagan. And the most wanted terrorist was not Saudi millionaire Osama bin Laden, but a son of Lebanese slums named Imad Fayez Mugniyah.
Sixteen years later, Mugniyah is alive, at large and still an important player in the global infrastructure of terror.
The failed manhunt for Mugniyah, of the Lebanese Shiite group Hezbollah, is a cautionary tale as Congress considers how the CIA, FBI and other agencies can better protect the nation against terrorism. As months pass and the administration is unable to make good on President Bush's pledge to hunt down bin Laden, the Mugniyah story is a reminder of how difficult it can be to capture or kill even the most lethal enemies of America.
"It shows how hard it is to get one individual," said Nancy Soderberg, who had responsibility for terrorism as a top National Security Council official in the Clinton administration. "He's managed to elude serious and repeated attempts to catch him."
Others say the United States' failure to punish Mugniyah emboldened other terrorists, paving the way for the Sept. 11 attacks.
"Policy-makers here hoped it would all go away," said Marius Deeb, a professor of Mideast studies at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies in Washington. "We had illusions. And in a way, bin Laden built on that."
At 39, Mugniyah has been sought for half his life by U.S. and Israeli security agencies, and the United States is offering a $25 million reward for his capture, the same as for bin Laden. Though he has never achieved the celebrity status of bin Laden, until Sept. 11 he was implicated in the deaths of more Americans than any other terrorist.
The U.S. government holds Mugniyah responsible for planning or executing a long list of atrocities in Lebanon: the 1983 bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Beirut, which killed 63, including 17 Americans; the bombing the same year of the Marine barracks in Beirut, killing 241 troops; the 1984 torture and murder of William Buckley, the CIA's station chief in Lebanon; the 1989 kidnapping and killing of U.S. Marine Col. William R. Higgins; and the taking of many other hostages.
In addition, Mugniyah was secretly indicted in 1985 in organizing the hijacking that year of TWA Flight 847, which resulted in the beating and killing of Robert Stethem, a young Navy diver from Maryland whose body was thrown on the tarmac in Beirut. Stethem's family was recently awarded a $321 million judgment against Iran, the chief financial and political sponsor of Hezbollah.
Within Hezbollah, or "Party of God," there are a few higher-ranking spiritual and political leaders. But Mugniyah "is the operator on the ground," said Deeb, of Johns Hopkins. "He's the guy in Hezbollah who tells everyone else what to do."
Biography a mystery
No bin Laden-style pronouncements and videotapes exist to reveal Mugniyah's biography or personality. Sources give his nickname as "the Hyena" and say he has had plastic surgery to change his appearance. One recent report, scoffed at by most experts, says he has abandoned terror to study Islam in Iran.
It is not easy to separate fact from myth in assessing Mugniyah, of whom only two or three photographs are known. "I wouldn't trust anyone who says they know exactly what Imad Mugniyah thinks unless they're reading from an NSA transcript of his telephone calls," said a former government counter-terrorism analyst, referring to the eavesdropping National Security Agency.
What is known suggests that Mugniyah was a kind of wunderkind of terror. Born in 1962 in the impoverished South Lebanon village of Tayr Dibba, he moved with his family to Beirut's southern suburbs, long a center of Shiite radicalism. As a teen-ager, Mugniyah served in the elite Force 17 commando unit of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, who was based in Lebanon during the 1970s.
In 1982, Arafat moved the Palestine Liberation Organization to Tunisia after Israel invaded Lebanon. But Mugniyah evidently stayed behind and took a leading role in Hezbollah as it took shape in the early 1980s. Barely into his 20s, he helped pioneer the suicide attacks that have since become the chief tactic of terror.
Since 1983, Mugniyah seems to have had personal motives for his terrorism. His brother-in-law, Mustafa Badreddin, a Hezbollah explosives expert, was among 17 prisoners held for years in Kuwait - and freed in advance of Iraq's 1990 invasion. Mugniyah told Western hostages in Beirut that they had been kidnapped partly to bargain for Badreddin's freedom.
In addition, according to Israeli publications, one of Mugniyah's brothers, Jihad Mugniyah, was killed by a car bomb in Beirut in 1985 for which Hezbollah publicly blamed the CIA. In 1994, another car bomb, attributed to Israeli agents and possibly aimed at Imad Mugniyah, killed another brother, Fuad.
Lesson for bin Laden
In a sense, Mugniyah and Hezbollah proved that terrorism could work. The United States withdrew its peacekeeping force from Lebanon after the 1983 attacks - a fact bin Laden has gloated over in statements calling for jihad, or holy war, to drive U.S. troops out of Saudi Arabia.
"Where was this false courage of yours when the explosion in Beirut took place in 1983?" bin Laden wrote in a mocking 1996 "Declaration of War Against the Americans." "You were turned into scattered pits and pieces at that time ... the extent of your impotence and your weaknesses became very clear."
Active through 1990s
As bin Laden's profile rose in the 1990s, Mugniyah - who is five years younger - did not retire. He is accused of extending the reach of Mideast terror to Argentina, where he is alleged to have organized bombings of the Israeli Embassy in 1992 and a Jewish community center in 1994 in which 116 people died.
Some analysts believe he also had a hand in planning the Khobar Towers bombing that killed 19 Americans in Saudi Arabia in 1996, though the attack was carried out by Saudi nationals.
In January, according to Israeli officials, Mugniyah surfaced again, helping organize a major arms shipment from Iran to the Palestinian Authority aboard the ship Karine A, which was intercepted by Israeli forces. A few weeks later, Israeli Defense Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer told journalists that, in his opinion, Mugniyah is "worse than bin Laden."
Oliver "Buck" Revell, a former associate deputy director of the FBI, told Congress last fall that the failure to stop Mugniyah, "the leading terrorist against America," had grave consequences.
"He was directly responsible for the attacks against our personnel and facilities in Lebanon, and yet he and his organization have never been punished for their crimes against our nation," Revell said. "This example was not lost on the founders of al-Qaida. ... [Bin Laden] learned from Mugniyah that America was not likely to fight back."
Opinions differ on why Mugniyah has never been captured. Magnus Ranstorp, deputy director of the Center for the Study of Terrorism and Political Violence at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, said U.S. intelligence and law enforcement officials "have made every conceivable effort" to stop him.
"Your CIA has been hunting him relentlessly for 15 years," Ranstorp said. "He's a professional. He's invisible."
A huge challenge
Former government officials insist that while little was publicly reported, enormous efforts were made to track down Mugniyah. But as the case of bin Laden shows, it can be a daunting challenge even to find a well-protected terrorist, and Mugniyah is widely reported to use multiple identities and frequently alter his appearance.
While bin Laden was harbored by the rickety Taliban regime in Afghanistan, Mugniyah has far more powerful states as protectors.
"Mugniyah is a very big fish," said Deeb. "But the bigger fish who look after him are Iran and Syria."
Friendlier governments, too, have sometimes failed to cooperate in the U.S. manhunt.
In 1986, U.S. authorities got word that Mugniyah was traveling to France and asked for help in apprehending him. But French authorities, worried about the fate of four French hostages in Lebanon, chose not to make the arrest, U.S. officials have said.
In 1995, FBI agents tracking the terrorist learned that a jet with Mugniyah aboard was about to stop in Jidda, Saudi Arabia, for refueling. An FBI team was dispatched to intercept him. But Saudi authorities refused to let the FBI plane land, and he escaped again.
The next year, U.S. intelligence got word that Mugniyah was aboard a merchant ship in the Persian Gulf, and the Navy and Marines quickly organized a force to seize him. But the plan was aborted at the last minute, when new intelligence indicated he was not on board after all.
"We were ready to pounce if we'd had the chance to get him," said Soderberg, the former NSC official. She insists that though a decade had passed since his biggest strikes against Americans, the Clinton administration put substantial efforts into catching him: "He was very much in our cross hairs."
In his recently published memoir, See No Evil, former CIA officer Robert Baer says he once proposed getting at Mugniyah by abducting the terrorist's family. Baer, who recruited agents in Lebanon, never believed the idea would be seriously considered and was amazed to learn that Oliver L. North, the Reagan administration NSC aide and an Iran-contra figure, circulated it on the White House e-mail system.
Later, Baer writes, he did look into hiring someone to blow Mugniyah up. But nothing came of the scheme because of the risk of harming innocent bystanders.
Suggestions of alliance
Now, some terrorism experts are haunted by suggestions of a possible alliance between past and present most-wanted terrorists.
Mugniyah and bin Laden have met at least once, in 1994 in Sudan, said Ali A. Mohamed, a former Army sergeant who worked for bin Laden's al-Qaida terror network. Mohamed testified in court in 2000 that he arranged security for the meeting and that Hezbollah operatives had provided explosives training to al-Qaida.
In recent months, al-Qaida members fleeing Afghanistan have sought refuge in the southern suburbs of Beirut, Mugniyah's home turf, said Matthew A. Levitt, a former FBI counter-terrorism analyst who works at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
Theology may place limits on the cooperation: Mugniyah's Hezbollah is Shiite, while bin Laden and his followers are Sunni Muslims. But they are united by their enmity toward Israel and the United States.
"There's been a marriage of convenience between al-Qaida and Mugniyah for training and other purposes," said Ranstorp, of St. Andrews, who considers the alliance very worrisome.
"That's the ultimate nightmare - the globalization of terrorism," he said.
Copyright © 2002, The Baltimore Sun
Nabs 'Dirty Bomb' Suspect
Mon Jun 10, 3:48 PM ET
By TED BRIDIS, Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON (AP) - The U.S. government has arrested an American citizen accused of conspiring with al-Qaida terrorists to build and detonate a radioactive "dirty" bomb in this country, possibly in the nation's capital.
Attorney General John Ashcroft said that Abdullah Al Muhajir, a former Chicago street gang member who also goes by the name of Jose Padilla, was in the custody of the U.S. military and was being treated as an enemy combatant.
A Justice Department official said that under U.S. legal rules, Muhajir can be held indefinitely an as enemy soldier. But there are no plans to impose a military tribunal or otherwise press U.S. criminal charges against Muhajir, said this official, discussing the case only on grounds of anonymity.
Lt. Col. Rivers Johnson, a Pentagon spokesman, said Muhajir would not be eligible for trial by a military tribunal set up under Defense Department rules issued in March because those tribunals are for alleged terrorists who are not U.S. citizens.
Ashcroft, who was in Moscow on other business, made the announcement through a television hookup. He said Muhajir, who converted to Islam, was arrested May 8 as he flew from Pakistan into Chicago's O'Hare International Airport. The 31-year-old is a native of New York City who moved to Chicago at age 4.
"We have disrupted an unfolding terrorist plot to attack the United States by exploding a radioactive dirty bomb," he said, adding that the government's suspicions about Muhajir's plans came from "multiple, independent, corroborating sources."
In a picture-taking session with visiting Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, President Bush said in response to a question: "We have a man detained who is a threat to the country and that, thanks to the vigilance of our intelligence-gathering and law enforcement, he is now off the street, where he should be."
Deputy Attorney General Larry Thompson, asked at a news conference here whether authorities had identified any co-conspirators in the United States, replied, "We're not going to comment on that."
FBI ( news - web sites) Director Robert Mueller said, "Our principal interest is in preventing future terrorist attacks. This instance is an example of prevention."
Another senior administration official speaking on condition of anonymity said Muhajir was trained by al-Qaida in Afghanistan and Pakistan to wire explosives and to research radioactive dispersal devices. He was not believed to have had a bomb at the time of his apprehension.
"We have no information that suggests this advanced beyond planning stages," said White House press secretary Ari Fleischer.
Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, appearing at a news conference with Thompson and Mueller, said officials could not say with certainty that the nation's capital was the likely target, although he said Muhajir "did indicate knowledge of the Washington, D.C. area."
A "dirty bomb" would not result in a nuclear explosion, but experts say such a device could release relatively small amounts of radiation over several city blocks. Its most devastating effect would be in the panic it likely would cause. For that reason, it has been called an ideal terrorist weapon.
Muhajir was taken Monday morning to a high-security Navy brig in Charleston, S.C., said Johnson, who also said that Muhajir was transferred from Justice Department custody in New York City.
Muhajir had a lawyer in New York but his access to a lawyer probably will be severely restricted now that he is in military custody, Johnson said. He said the alleged al-Qaida operative was being held separately from other prisoners at the brig.
Ashcroft said Muhajir had served prison time in the United States in the early 1990s, then traveled to Afghanistan and Pakistan during 2001 and met with al-Qaida officials. Ashcroft said Muhajir "trained with the enemy, including studying how to wire explosive devices and researching radiological dispersion devices."
Ashcroft said al-Qaida apparently believed that Muhajir would be permitted to travel freely within the United States because of his U.S. citizenship and because he carried a U.S. passport.
A government official who asked not to be named publicly said the intelligence that led to Muhajir's arrest came from captured al-Qaida leader Abu Zubaydah during recent interrogations.
This official said Muhajir is a former Chicago street gang member who converted to Islam after serving time in the United States, and met with an al-Qaida leader in 2001, before returning to the United States.
Said Ashcroft: "We have acted with legal authority both under the laws of war and clear Supreme Court precedent, which establishes that the military may detain a United States citizen who has joined the enemy and has entered our country to carry out hostile acts."
Muhajir discussed several terrorist plans with Abu Zubaydah, the bin Laden lieutenant now in U.S. custody, according to a U.S. official.
Muhajir first met with Abu Zubaydah in Afghanistan in 2001, and traveled to Pakistan at Abu Zubaydah's request, the official said, adding that he was one of a group that traveled with Abu Zubaydah to several locations in Pakistan.
Muhajir and another unidentified associate researched dirty bombs in Lahore, Pakistan, the official said.
"The radiological device plan articulated by (Muhajir) Padilla and his associate was in the planning stages, and no specific time was set to occur," the official said.
At Abu Zubaydah's behest, he also traveled to Karachi, Pakistan, to meet with several senior al-Qaida operatives, to discuss the plan, the official said. Muhajir also was interested in plans to bomb hotel rooms and gas stations in the United States, the official said.
It was unclear whether any of these meetings took place after Sept. 11.
Bush, based on recommendations from Ashcroft and White House counsel Al Gonzales, designated the suspect as a combatant in papers signed late Sunday. That designation allowed the Defense Department to take custody of Muhajir from the Justice Department.
"Based on the facts in this case and the importance of protecting sources who helped us get him, the determination was made that DOD is best for his detention," an official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. This official said the administration does not know how close the suspect was to obtaining a so-called "dirty bomb."
- Updated 11:09 PM ET
Threat of 'dirty bomb' softened
By Kevin Johnson and Toni Locy, USA TODAY
WASHINGTON — Attorney General John Ashcroft on Monday overstated the potential threat posed by "dirty bomb" suspect Abdullah Al Muhajir, Bush administration and law enforcement officials said Tuesday. Ashcroft's remarks annoyed the White House and led the administration to soften the government's descriptions of the alleged plot. "I don't think there was actually a plot beyond some fairly loose talk and (Al Muhajir's) coming in here obviously to plan further deeds," Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz told CBS on Tuesday.
His comments echoed those Monday of FBI Director Robert Mueller and Deputy Attorney General Larry Thompson. They backed away from Ashcroft's descriptions of the alleged plot but emphasized that Al Muhajir was dangerous and that his arrest was a victory against terrorism.
When he announced Al Muhajir's May 8 arrest, Ashcroft said authorities had "disrupted an unfolding terrorist plot to attack the United States by exploding a radioactive 'dirty bomb.' " His 14-paragraph statement mentioned radiation or dirty bombs five times, and said Al Muhajir was being detained by the military "for the safety of all Americans."
Ashcroft's ominous tone surprised the White House and law enforcement officials here and abroad, including some who had tracked Al Muhajir to meetings with al-Qaeda officials in Pakistan. Authorities say the evidence against Al Muhajir, 31, indicates he was interested in many scenarios involving explosives, and radioactive materials was one possibility. They say that the former Chicago gang member once known as Jose Padilla was up to no good, but that any plans involving radiation were not as mature as Ashcroft suggested.
Administration sources say the White House emphatically told Ashcroft that it was dissatisfied with his description of the alleged plot.
Publicly the White House defended Ashcroft, saying he was technically correct. "There's always a tendency at times like this (that) the initial reports immediately lurch to the worst-case scenario," administration spokesman Ari Fleischer said. Justice Department spokesman Mark Corallo said Al Muhajir "was definitely planning an attack." Ashcroft was traveling in Hungary on Tuesday.
Despite their private concern that Ashcroft overstated the alleged plot, White House officials cited Al Muhajir's arrest as evidence that Congress should quickly pass President Bush's plan for a homeland security department.
Monday's announcement came a day before a New York judge heard a request by Al Muhajir's attorney, Donna Newman, to try to force officials to charge her client or release him. U.S. District Judge Michael Mukasey on Tuesday denied prosecutors' requests to hold the hearing in secret, citing Ashcroft's remarks about the arrest. Newman wants a civilian court to decide whether Al Muhajir is being held lawfully.
Contributing: Judy Keen in Washington; Jack Kelley in Islamabad, Pakistan
passenger's rash sets off a smallpox scare
Man's remark about hives causes alarm on S.F.-Memphis flight
Henry K. Lee, Chronicle Staff Writer
Wednesday, June 12, 2002
©2002 San Francisco Chronicle.
Health authorities converged on a Northwest Airlines flight from San Francisco to Memphis after a passenger remarked that a rash on his neck might be a result of smallpox, officials said today.
The 40-year-old man Memphis man, whose name was not released, was checked by paramedics, who determined that he did not have smallpox, a deadly, contagious virus that causes a high fever and a rash that scars its survivors.
It was simply a case of the hives, and maybe some sunburn, authorities concluded.
Nevertheless, the incident made for a good in-flight scare amid the backdrop of recent "air rage" and anthrax cases.
The man's statements prompted hurried calls from the plane to the Mayo Clinic for advice, authorities said.
"His remark was absolutely not intended to be disruptive to the flight," George Bolds, an FBI supervisory special agent in Memphis, said today. "But everybody kind of got raised up over the possibility that somehow this might be a situation involving infectious disease. It was not."
Northwest Flight 256 left San Francisco International Airport at 1:45 p.m. Tuesday with five crew members and 109 passengers aboard the Airbus A320.
During the flight, a young couple noticed that the man sitting next to them had a rash on his neck, Bolds said. The man said he was returning from the Philippines and that he might have caught something there.
"The passenger was overheard making passing, off-the-cuff remarks that he may have smallpox," said Northwest spokesman Kurt Ebenhoch. The flight crew immediately alerted the pilots, who in turn radioed the Northwest communication center.
A nurse on board the plane examined the man, and the pilots made contact with the Mayo Clinic, which in turn notified the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.
"Out of an abundance of caution, they radioed ahead with the message that they might have an infectious disease-stricken passenger on board," Bolds said.
The plane landed in Memphis at 7:20 p.m., at which point paramedics and emergency management officials converged on the scene. Medical officials determined that the man had hives and released him.
"We went into full defensive mode, I guess you could call it," said Clint Buchanan, director of the Memphis/Shelby Emergency Management Agency. "It was brought under control pretty rapidly. Nobody jumped out and ran around the plane or anything like that."
Ebenhoch said the plane was not quarantined and that passengers left without incident.
"We certainly regret the unnecessary worry that this passenger's unfortunate remarks caused," Ebenhoch said.
Mike McCarron, San Francisco airport spokesman, said of Memphis authorities,
"It may look like overkill now, but they assumed the worst-case scenario to make sure there wasn't anything wrong."
E-mail Henry K. Lee at email@example.com.
Conspiracy Theory Grips French: Sept. 11 as Right-Wing U.S. Plot
By ALAN RIDING
PARIS, June 21 — Even before the fires were extinguished at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, conspiracy theories began flooding the Internet. A few quickly spilled out of Web sites and were widely circulated by e-mail before fading into oblivion. One, however, has taken on a life of its own in France. It was turned into a book that has become the publishing sensation of the spring.
In the book, "L'Effroyable Imposture," or "The Horrifying Fraud," Thierry Meyssan challenges the entire official version of the Sept. 11 attacks.
He claims the Pentagon was not hit by a plane, but by a guided missile fired on orders of far right-wingers inside the United States government. Further, he says, the planes that struck the World Trade Center were not flown by associates of Osama bin Laden, but were programmed by the same government people to fly into the twin towers.
What really interests him, though, is what he sees as the conspiracy behind these actions. He contends that it was organized by right-wing elements inside the government who were planning a coup unless President Bush agreed to increase military spending and go to war against Afghanistan and Iraq to promote the conspirators' oil interests.
To achieve their goals, the theory goes, they blamed Osama bin Laden for Sept. 11 and later broadened their targets to include the "axis of evil," centered on Iraq.
The 235-page book has been universally ridiculed by the French news media, while its arguments have been dismantled point by point in "L'Effroyable Mensonge," or "The Horrifying Lie," a new book by two French journalists.
A Pentagon spokesman said, "There was no official reaction because we figured it was so stupid."
Yet in the past three months, Mr. Meyssan's book has sold more than 200,000 copies in France, placing it at the top of best-seller lists for several weeks. Foreign rights have also been sold in 16 countries (a Spanish version is already on sale), and Mr. Meyssan traveled to Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates in April to present his arguments at a local university.
The book's French publisher, Éditions Carnot, said it would release an English version in the United States in July.
Mr. Meyssan said in an interview that he was surprised his book had so far provoked no major debate, but he was convinced that his message was being heard.
"Two-thirds of the hits on our Web site come from the United States," he said. "I'm not saying all my readers agree with me, but they recognize that the official American version of the attacks is idiotic. If we can't believe the official version, where do we stand?"
It is nonetheless puzzling why so many of the French have been willing to pay the equivalent of $17 for "The Horrifying Fraud." Is it a symptom of latent anti-Americanism? Is it a reflection of the French public's famous distrust of its own government and mainstream newspapers? Or has the French love of logic been tickled by the apparent Cartesian neatness of a conspiracy theory?
Certainly, after Sept. 11, some leftist intellectuals suggested that the United States had invited the attacks through its support for Israel. Others recalled that Islamic militants had been financed and armed by the United States to fight the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in the 1980's. Yet, in this case, Libération and Le Monde, left-of-center newspapers with no love for the Bush administration, have led the assault on Mr. Meyssan's book.
"The pseudotheories of `The Horrifying Fraud' feed off the paranoid anti-Americanism that is one of the permanent components of the French political caldron," Gérard Dupuy wrote in an editorial in Libération. Edwy Plenel, news editor at Le Monde, wrote: "It is very grave to encourage the idea that something which is real is in fact fictional. It is the beginning of totalitarianism."
Guillaume Dasquié and Jean Guisnel, the authors of "The Horrifying Lie," favor a different explanation for the book's success. They write of France's "profound social and political sickness," which leads people to embrace the idea "that they are victims of plots, that the truth is hidden from them, that they should not believe official versions, but rather that they should demystify all expressions of power, whatever they might be."
Still, even if some French are susceptible to conspiracy theories, few had heard of the book until March 16, when Mr. Meyssan appeared on a popular Saturday evening television program on France 2, a government-owned but independently run channel. In the program, Mr. Meyssan was allowed to expound his theory without being challenged by the host. In the two weeks that followed, his book sold 100,000 copies.
Mr. Meyssan himself seems an unlikely purveyor of tall stories. A 44-year-old former theology student, he dabbled in leftist politics before forming a political research company, Réseau Voltaire, or Voltaire Network, in 1994.
The company's Web site (www .reseauvoltaire.com) adopted specific causes, like fighting homophobia and opposing Jean-Marie Le Pen's far-right National Front. Its investigative methods seemed thorough and objective.
In person too, Mr. Meyssan, a slim, wiry man with short hair and penetrating eyes, comes over as both serious and rational.
French journalists who had given some credibility to his Web site were all the more surprised, then, to find him building a vast conspiracy theory around the fact that photographs of the Sept. 11 attack showed no airplane parts in or near the smoldering gap in the Pentagon. This became the departure point for his book.
The line of reasoning that follows is a case study in how a conspiracy theory can be built around contradictions in official statements, unnamed "experts" and "professional pilots," unverified published facts, references to past United States policy in Cuba and Afghanistan, use of technical information, "revelations" about secret oil-industry maneuvers and, above all, rhetorical questions intended to sow doubts. At the end of each chapter, Mr. Meyssan presents his speculation as fact.
To gather his evidence, he worked mainly from articles, statements and speculation found on the Internet. He did not travel to the United States to interview any witnesses. Indeed, he dismisses the accounts of witnesses to the crash of the American Airlines Boeing 757 into the Pentagon.
"Far from believing their depositions, the quality of these witnesses only underlines the importance of the means deployed by the United States Army to pervert the truth," he said.
His "truth" is that no Muslims took part in the attacks "because the Koran forbids suicide." To his original claim that the Pentagon was bombed from the inside, he has now added his conviction that the building was struck by an air-to-ground missile fired by the United States Air Force. "This type of missile, seen from the side, would easily remind one of a small civilian airplane," he said.
In response, Mr. Dasquié and Mr. Guisnel said they traveled to Washington and interviewed 18 witnesses to the Pentagon crash.
They also have named experts explaining how the Boeing 757 could disappear inside the crater caused by the impact. Further, they identify several people mentioned only by their initials in Mr. Meyssan's acknowledgments, including a French Army officer currently on trial for treason and a middle-ranking intelligence officer.
The book has proved to be a windfall for Mr. Meyssan's publisher. More accustomed to publishing marginal books on subjects like the "false" American moon landing in 1969 and the latest "truth" about U.F.O.'s, Éditions Carnot can now boast of its first best seller.
Further, confident that this conspiracy theory will endure, Mr. Meyssan and Carnot have just published a 192-page annex, with new documents, photographs and theories. They call it "Le Pentagate."
Copyright 2002 The New York Times Company
settles with CNN; sues Atlanta newspapers, former employer
By LEONARD PALLATS
January 29, 1997?
Associated Press Writer
ATLANTA (AP) - Richard Jewell, the security guard cleared as a suspect in the Olympic Park bombing, has settled his complaint against CNN over the network's coverage of the attack.
The settlement Tuesday came on the same day Jewell sued The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and the college where he once worked as a guard. He accused them of libel in stories linking him to the July 27 bombing that killed one person and injured 111 others. Neither CNN nor Jewell's lawyers would discuss their dispute except to say the settlement involved cash.
``CNN continues to believe that its coverage was a fair and accurate review of the events that unfolded following the Centennial Olympic Park explosion,'' the Atlanta-based network said.
Jewell told Atlanta radio station WGST that he was very satisfied with the CNN settlement. Of the lawsuit, Jewell said he's ``doing it so this won't happen to anybody else.''
``I want them to get the story 100 percent before they put it out,'' he said.
The lawsuit also names as defendants a total of nine reporters, columnists and editors, along with Piedmont College President Ray Cleere and a former school spokesman.
Roger Kintzel, publisher of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, defended the newspaper's coverage. ``We believe the charges are without foundation and that we will prevail in court,'' he said.
The suit, which seeks unspecified damages, claims Jewell was falsely portrayed as a man with ``a bizarre employment history and an aberrant personality'' who probably was guilty of placing the bomb.
The newspaper stories quoted Cleere as describing Jewell as a ``badge-wearing zealot'' who ``would write epic police reports for minor infractions,'' the lawsuit said.
Last month, Jewell reached a settlement with NBC over comments anchor Tom Brokaw made on the air shortly after the bombing. The Wall Street Journal reported that the settlement was worth $500,000.
Jewell, a former sheriff's officer in north Georgia, was working as a security guard in the park when the bomb exploded. He was praised as a hero for spotting the knapsack that contained the bomb and helping to clear the area before the blast.
But three days later, a story in the newspaper described him as a suspect. The FBI never formally acknowledged that Jewell was a suspect and he was later cleared.
Dr. Strangelove Disarms America
By Nicholas Stix
A Different Drummer [August, 2002]
Where some see a crisis, others see an opportunity. Last fall, five victims were murdered by anthrax-laced letters, but according to recent reports in such diverse sources as the socialist New York Times and neo-conservative weekly standard, the feds now have dozens, even hundreds of potential suspects. But not according to Barbara Hatch Rosenberg, whom I have dubbed the Dr. Strangelove of the American Left, far and away the most quoted "scientist" in anthrax stories. Rosenberg, who neither teaches nor conducts research, is a tenured, activist professor of environmental science at New York State's performing arts college at Purchase, and the chairwoman of the Marxist Federation of American Scientists (FAS) Working Group on Biological Weapons. Since last fall, Rosenberg has insisted that the FBI knows exactly who the anthrax terrorist is, and that he is a "home-grown" (read: right-wing, Christian, white male) terrorist, not an Al Qaeda operative. Immediately following the anthrax attacks, Rosenberg began using them to try and force the federal government to sign on to biowarfare protocols that would undermine American sovereignty, and make America more vulnerable than ever to terrorist attacks.
In spite of (or because of) her extremist politics and lack of biowarfare expertise, Rosenberg has been quoted and cited by CNN, Reuters, the Associated Press, ABC News, CBS News, Time, Newsweek, the New York Times, Washington Post, Washington Times, New Yorker, Village Voice, Hartford Courant, Baltimore Sun, South Florida Sun-Sentinel and American Prospect. Abroad, she has enjoyed fawning treatment by the BBC, Britain's The Guardian and Scotsman newspapers, the German TV newsmagazine, The Monitor, and on web sites as far away as the Zambia-based Dispatch (which several news reports have erroneously placed in Zimbabwe).
In the December 14, 2001 New York Times, reporter William J. Broad misrepresented Rosenberg as an "expert," and led with her in his anthrax story:
"F.B.I. agents yesterday questioned a leading
"They wanted to know whether I had ideas
In the February 27-March 5, New York-based Village Voice, columnist James Ridgeway reported that Rosenberg "says the FBI has likely known the identity of the anthrax perp since October...., and quoted her as saying, "Clearly they don't want to name anyone until they have sufficient evidence to make a conviction. On the other hand, considering the small number of people they have to interview and that they've had five months to do it in -- this is purely conjecture -- they may be reluctant to pursue this guy because he may know too much."
In the course of speaking with countless journalists, Rosenberg has frequently changed her story. To one audience she insists the "fact" that the anthrax terrorist was just seeking to spread fear, rather than kill anyone (what about the five people he murdered?!), "proves that he is an American; to another audience, the "fact" that he tried to kill as many people as possible, "proves" that he is ... an American! Rosenberg has only been consistent, in ignoring evidence pointing to foreign terrorists, such as the skin inflammations that 911 terrorist leader Mohammed Atta suffered on his hands -- possibly from handling anthrax spores -- and for which he had sought treatment, and several secret meetings Atta had in Europe with Iraqi intelligence officers.
On January 6, the Baltimore Sun's Scott Shane quoted Rosenberg as saying that the terrorist may have initiated an attack, in order to warn the public of the dangers of bioterrorism. Shane dubbed this the "bioevangelist theory." Rosenberg "says such a notion was occasionally aired jokingly in the small circle of those who worried about biological terror prior to Sept. 11. 'There have been a number of occasions when we've said in frustration, "What we need is a biological weapons attack to wake the country up.'"
So, Rosenberg and her comrades were hoping for an anthrax attack, in order to alert the public to the danger of otherwise non-existent attacks, for which they would then blame the American government.
One moment Rosenberg claims that she has put together a "profile" of the killer entirely on her own, and the next, she insists that she has worked closely with the FBI, and knows that the anthrax killer was a specific scientist working on a germ warfare program, and acting with federal authorization.
As David Tell wrote on April 29 for the New York Post and the weekly standard, "Rosenberg claims the FBI has known the anthrax killer's precise identity for months already ... [A]ccording to an account ... [she] offered on BBC Two's flagship Newsnight telecast March 14, the suspect is a former federal bioweapons scientist now doing contract work for the CIA. Last fall, you see, the man's Langley masters supposedly decided they'd like to field-test what would happen if billions of lethal anthrax spores were sent through the regular mail, and 'it was left to him to decide exactly how to carry it out.' The loosely supervised madman then used his assignment to launch an attack on the media and Senate 'for his own motives.' And, this truth being obviously too hot to handle, the FBI is now trying very hard not to discover it."
David Tell noted that Rosenberg's academic title notwithstanding, she doesn't understand anthrax, genetic research, biological warfare or the evidence at hand, and "[her] sensational pronouncements betray ... a surprisingly unscientific, even Oliver Stone-scale, incaution about the 'facts' at her disposal."
And yet, the media here and abroad treat Rosenberg's pronouncements as authoritative. In January, she was interviewed on the German TV newsmagazine, The Monitor (my translation):
"Microbiologist [sic] Barbara Hatch
The Monitor's producers embellished on Rosenberg's embellishments. Immediately after discussing her charges, The Monitor "reported" that,
"The FBI now has a new, hot clue. And
Barbara Hatch Rosenberg is the only person to make that claim before or since the Monitor interview. The Monitor producers' claim of independent corroboration was designed to enhance both their credibility and Rosenberg's.
Indeed, far from getting her "mad CIA scientist" story from FBI sources, Rosenberg stole the idea from Chris Carter's brilliant but little-watched TV show, Millennium (1996-1999).
Rosenberg assumes the terrorist got his hands on the Ames strain at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute for Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) at Fort Detrick, in Frederick, Maryland. But since 1997, when a new federal law mandated that all such transactions be recorded with the Centers for Disease Control, Fort Detrick, following scientific protocol, has shared Ames strain anthrax spores with researchers at seven institutions in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom. The Canadian and British scientists have since shared the Ames strain with colleagues at other, unreported locations, and it's anyone's guess how many institutions received Ames spores from USAMRIID prior to 1997. And the Iraqis have long had weaponized anthrax.
The best analysis I have seen of the method behind Barbara Hatch Rosenberg's particular brand of madness, came from Cliff Kincaid of America's Survival, on March 20:
"The [February 25] Washington Times story
"Interestingly, the Federation of American
"The Times neglected to mention that [the
"Near the end of Rosenberg's own report, she
"That's her way of attacking the Bush
And that's exactly what Rosenberg wants.
In the June 26 Hartford Courant, Dave Altimari and Jack Dolan reported that "[Dr. Steven J.] Hatfill's name came up during a [June 18] meeting between Barbara Hatch Rosenberg ... staff members of Sens. Patrick J. Leahy, D-Vt., and Thomas A. Daschle ..." and FBI agents.
"For months, Rosenberg has been publicly prodding the FBI to take a closer look at Hatfill."
Immediately following the June 18 meeting, a slew of articles appeared in the American and even African media strongly suggesting that Dr. Steven J. Hatfill was the anthrax terrorist.
Steven J. Hatfill, a brilliant, flamboyant, American scientist who has for years warned of the dangers of bioterrorism, is a protege of William C. Patrick III, the scientist who ran the U.S. offensive biowarfare program that President Richard Nixon shut down over 30 years ago. Hatfill has consented to four FBI searches of his home and property, and most recently invited the Bureau -- amid FBI press leaks to the media -- to search his premises on June 25. None of the searches turned up anything. Using journalistic and political proxies, Rosenberg has cost Hatfill his security clearance, and hunted him from job to job, seeking to make it impossible for him to work.
Rosenberg, who has no evidence to support her accusations, has persecuted Hatfill, and sought his arrest because he is a patriotic defender of America's biowarfare defense program, which she seeks to destroy; to distract the public and authorities' attention from hunting down the real, presumably foreign terrorists; and last, but not least, as political revenge. Hatfill earned his medical degree in then-Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) during the late 1970s and early 1980s. Having also trained and served in Rhodesian and American special forces, Hatfill fought against the guerillas who eventually toppled Rhodesia's white, apartheid regime. Communist dictator Robert Mugabe, in power since1980, has destroyed the nation, and is now deliberately starving up to half of its 12 million citizens. Rosenberg supports Mugabe.
In 1992, Dr. Meryl Nass, a longtime Rosenberg associate, published an article on the anthrax outbreak on black-owned farms in late 1970s' Rhodesia. The outbreak initially affected livestock, and eventually over 10,000 blacks, predominantly with skin anthrax; 182 people died. Despite lacking any evidence to support her charge of a military anthrax attack, Nass claimed that the outbreak was a case of germ warfare carried out by the white, Rhodesian Army's elite Selous Scouts unit. (Reportedly, Hatfill served in the Selous Scouts.) The article was not published in a scientific journal. More recently, Barbara Hatch Rosenberg has gotten New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof to suggest, in his July 2 and July 12 columns, that Hatfill (whom Kristof refers to as "Mr. Z") worked on the "anthrax outbreak" in Rhodesia, and to call on the F.B.I. to arrest Hatfill:
"Have you examined whether Mr. Z has
On July 3, Hatfill's attorney, Thomas C. Carter, told me that his client, who is in a state of shock, does not want to talk to the press:
"My client doesn't want to do anything, right
If Steven J. Hatfill does not recover from the shock of the ambush he is enduring, he may soon find himself unable to speak even with his attorney.
Originally published in Middle American News.
on the News - Fair Comment
Manufacture Cloud of Suspicion Over Hatfill
Just point and click. Those two steps, and a long e-mail "cc" list, apparently are all that it takes to spread a hoax around the world today. It works like a computer virus, and with consequences no less dangerous.
Just ask Dr. Steven J. Hatfill.
Readers of Insight and her sister daily, the Washington Times, know Hatfill through his attempts over the years to warn the public of America's lack of readiness against biowarfare attacks. However, the mainstream liberal press ignored Hatfill — until late June, that is.
Since then Hatfill has gained international notoriety with a slew of stories in Time magazine, the American Prospect, the Baltimore Sun, the Hartford Courant, the Washington Post, the Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Sun-Sentinel and on Websites as far away as Zambia. The stories played up FBI searches of Hatfill's home and a refrigerated storage locker he rents — implying that he is the anthrax terrorist who killed five people last fall with contaminated mail. On July 2, New York Times columnist Nicholas D. Kristof referred to Hatfill as "Mr. Z" and strongly suggested that the FBI should jail him as the anthrax terrorist.
"If Mr. Z were an Arab national, he would have been imprisoned long ago. … It's time for the FBI to make a move: Either it should go after him more aggressively, sifting thoroughly through his past and picking up loose threads, or it should seek to exculpate him and remove this cloud of suspicion."
Why would the FBI need to "exculpate" someone on whom it has nothing? The only cloud of "suspicion" hanging over Hatfill's head is the one manufactured by the media, who have let Dr. Barbara Hatch Rosenberg lead them around by the nose.
Rosenberg blames the U.S. government for last fall's anthrax attacks. She long has called on the United States to sign on to biowarfare protocols that would permit international inspectors to visit our biodefense installations.
In a sympathetic portrait in the March 18 New Yorker, Nicholas Lemann wrote that "Rosenberg believes that the American bioweapons program, which won't allow itself to be monitored, may not be in strict compliance with the [1972 Biological Weapons] convention. If the perpetrator of the anthrax attacks is who she thinks it is, that would put the American program in a bad light, and it would prove that she was right to demand that the program be monitored."
Rosenberg has provided no evidence to support her charges. Meanwhile, as Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Affairs John Bolton has argued, her prescription would allow rogue nations such as Iraq, North Korea, Iran, Libya and Syria to learn through protocol inspections about U.S. defensive programs and develop their own offensive programs.
Journalists usually refer to Rosenberg as a "microbiologist" and "State University of New York professor." Officially, she is a professor of environmental science at a performing-arts college, but she neither has conducted scientific research nor taught in years. And she has little biowarfare expertise. Working with the far-left Federation of American Scientists, Rosenberg is a taxpayer-supported, full-time activist.
Immediately after last fall's anthrax attacks, Rosenberg began claiming that the terrorist was an American scientist from within the biodefense establishment. However, her stories diverged wildly depending on her audience. In the European version, the terrorist was a CIA agent/contract scientist who acted on agency orders as part of a deadly germ-warfare experiment. Unbeknownst to European reporters, they were getting a plotline from the brilliant but little-watched TV show Millennium (1996-99).
In the American version, the terrorist was a "bioevangelist" (The Sun's Scott Shane) who sought not to harm anyone, but to warn the public of the dangers of biowarfare.
In setting up an American scientist to take the fall for the killings, Rosenberg may have seen an opportunity to discredit the U.S. biowarfare-defense program, get the Bush administration to sign on to international biowarfare protocols that would give our enemies access to our biodefense secrets and exact political revenge on Hatfill.
In seeking to convince readers of Hatfill's guilt in last fall's attacks, Kristof and the other journalists claimed that in the late 1970s, Rhodesian special forces attacked black-owned farms with anthrax, and sought to link Hatfill to these "attacks."
No one ever has provided any evidence showing that the Rhodesian army carried out anthrax attacks, much less that Hatfill participated in them. Kristof and company merely are regurgitating a tainted 1992 article by longtime Rosenberg associate Meryl Nass. The Nass report purported to explain the 1978-80 anthrax outbreak that affected 10,000 black farmers, predominantly with cutaneous anthrax, killing 182. In her "explanation," Nass leaped from one politically loaded speculation to another without any evidence.
The flamboyant, brilliant Hatfill earned his medical degree in Rhodesia in the late 1970s and early 1980s while serving in U.S. and Rhodesian special forces. In Rhodesia, he fought against communist guerrillas. One must recall that in Rhodesia — now named Zimbabwe, and ruled since 1980 by genocidal communist Robert Mugabe — the choice was never between apartheid and freedom, but rather between white or black apartheid.
Hatfill's attorney, Thomas C. Carter, told me, "My client doesn't want to do anything, right now. … He's really upset that his name continues to be mentioned, and he's decided that the best approach is to ignore everything and to try and stay as much removed from it as he can. He might change his mind at some point in the future and participate in something but, right now, he doesn't."
If Hatfill doesn't engage the campaign against him in a hurry, he soon may find himself sharing a cell with the likes of José Padilla.
Nicholas Stix is a free-lance writer based in New York who contributes to the New York Post and Middle American News.
House: Anthrax Test Kits Not Reliable
WASHINGTON – The White House on Monday issued a memo warning federal and state agencies that anthrax field tests were flawed and should not be used to determine possible exposure to the deadly pathogen that killed four people during an outbreak last fall.
In a memo from the Bush administration's Office of Science and Technology Policy, officials cautioned that tests which provide rapid preliminary results of suspect powders found in buildings or other spaces are not reliable. It advises federal agencies to halt purchases and cancel pending contracts with companies that produce them.
"Field testing solely using commercially available polymerase chain reaction or handheld immunoassays for the detection of Bacillus anthracis is not recommended and should not be used ..." John H. Marburger III, director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, wrote in the memo.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta and the Federal Bureau of Investigation launched a study of the field tests that found discrepancies in the levels of sensitivity and detection and that certain conditions interfered with test results.
Senior administration officials also said concerns existed surrounding claims made by the test kit manufacturers that could be considered deceptive. For example, one company said its kits could detect what could have been construed as minuscule amounts of anthrax, a claim that officials say could be misleading.
The U.S. Navy biological defense program first created the field tests in 1996 and they have been available commercially for about two years, according to Calvin Chue, a research scientist with the Johns Hopkins Center for Civilian Biodefense Strategies in Baltimore.
"It is about time that the White House gave guidance in this area," said Chue.
The rapid field tests, which can cost as much as $100, work similarly to a home pregnancy test. A surface is swabbed and placed in a liquid. That liquid is then squirted onto a paper strip laced with antibodies that will react with organisms. The appearance of a line denotes a positive test while the absence of a line is considered negative.
One company that produces the kits, New Horizons Diagnostic Corp. of Columbia, Md., describes its SMART-II test on its Web site as taking less than 20 seconds of technician time and as proven technology that is "Desert Storm-tested." Calls to the company were not immediately returned.
Chue said it has been known for at least four years that the rapid field tests are not reliable because of their low threshold of sensitivity. Designed to detect the spore-forming bacteria Bacillus anthracis, it also detects other forms of bacillus-type organisms. The presence of other chemicals can also compromise the test, Chue said.
The White House instead wants federal and state agencies to use what it considers the "gold standard" of test methods, the microbiological culture. The administration is urging agencies to send their suspect powders to a CDC-approved laboratory for the test that can grow anthrax spores in a specially prepared soy-based medium within six hours with a final determination available in 24 hours.
Still, Chue stressed that the rapid field tests could be useful when used in tandem with more sensitive antibody tests and microbiological cultures.
The Bush White House has been looking for more advanced methods for detecting and defeating biological agents that could be used in weapons of mass destruction or disseminated in highly populated areas.
Bush Tours Argonne Lab
President Bush on Monday visited the Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois, where he was given a tour of equipment that applies light 1 million times brighter than an X-ray, which has a beam that can identify an agent like anthrax in less than three minutes and ultimately help create an antidote for the toxin.
Anthrax become a national concern in October after anthrax-laden letters were sent through the U.S. mail to NBC News, the New York Post and Senate plurality leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D., in Washington. Anthrax spores were also found at America Media Inc. in Boca Raton, Fla., other news outlets and numerous postal facilities and government offices in Washington, New York and New Jersey.
Hundreds of postal workers, congressional staffers and office workers were placed on regimes of the antibiotic Cipro as a preventive measure during the height of the fall outbreak.
As a result, 17 people were diagnosed with anthrax infection and four people died of the severe, inhaled form. Two cases of infection, including one woman who died, have mystified federal investigators who have no clue where the victims came into contact with the pathogen.
Since then, law enforcement and emergency response personnel have used the test kits when reports of white powder feared to be anthrax has been discovered in buildings around Washington and across the country.
Copyright 2002 by United Press International.
Steven Hatfill's Statement
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
A statement read Sunday by Dr. Steven Hatfill, a bioweapons expert under scrutiny for the anthrax attacks:
Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. My name is Steve Hatfill. I'm a medical doctor and a biomedical scientist.
I am a loyal American, and I love my country. I have had nothing to do in any way, shape or form with the mailing of these anthrax letters, and it is extremely wrong for anyone to contend or suggest that I have.
I've devoted much of my professional career to safeguarding men, women and children from the scourge of different types of disease, from leukemia to infectious disease. I am extremely proud of my service with the government and my efforts to help safeguard public health and protect our country against the scourge of offensive biological warfare.
I am appalled at the terrible acts of biological terrorism that have caused death, disease and havoc in this great country starting last fall. But I am just as appalled that my experience, knowledge, dedication and service relative to defending the United States against biological warfare has been turned against me in connection with the search for the anthrax killer.
Last fall, two investigators from the FBI came by my office. The interview was cordial and short, and the agents explained that polygraphs were being conducted on a wide range of scientists in connection with the anthrax letters. They asked if I would consent to a polygraph concerning this incident, and I immediately agreed. The short interview was over.
Later, I went down to the Washington field office and an onsite polygraph was administered. After reviewing the polygraph charts in private, the polygraph examiner told me that I had passed and that he believed I had nothing to do with the anthrax letters.
The FBI told me they believed I had nothing to do with this incident of terrorism. In due course, following an additional debriefing, the FBI confirmed to me and to my former counsel, Tom Carter, that I was not a suspect in this case. I assumed that my involvement in the investigation was over.
In February, I received a phone call from a reporter all but accusing me of mailing the anthrax letters. He wanted to know precise details about a certain classified project on which I had previously worked, and I hung the phone up on him in mid sentence.
I immediately reported this event to my supervisor as an improper solicitation of classified information. Two days later, I was told by a former medical school colleague that the reporter had phoned him and all but accused me of mailing the anthrax letters.
I know this reporter thereafter telephoned Science Applications International Corporation, my employer at the time, and I know shortly that thereafter SAIC laid me off.
I was devastated by the loss of my job in March, although I can understand why it occurred. Upon leaving SAIC, I took a job with Louisiana State University to work with a consortium group of universities on important federally and Justice-funded programs for biological warfare defense.
Ironically, I was called back to SAIC on numerous occasions to assist with projects I started as well as to help with new projects. SAIC eventually had to contract for my continued services through Louisiana State University.
According to The Frederick (Md.) News-Post of June 27, 2002, in June 2002 a woman named Barbara Hatch Rosenberg, who affiliates herself with the Federation of American Scientists, saw fit to discuss me as a suspect in the anthrax case in a meeting with FBI agents and Senate staffers. I don't know Dr. Rosenberg. I have never met her, I have never spoken or corresponded with this woman. And to my knowledge, she is ignorant of my work and background except in the very broadest of terms.
The only thing I know about her views is that she and I apparently differ on whether the United States should sign onto a proposed modification of the international biological weapons convention. This was something I opposed to safeguard American industry, and I believe she favored.
I am at a complete loss to explain her reported hostility and accusations. I don't know this woman at all.
In any event, within several days after Dr. Rosenberg's reported comments in Congress, the FBI called me again at home. I was asked if these agents could look at my apartment and swab the walls for anthrax spores. I was surprised at the request. Anthrax is a deadly inhalational disease.
Like all researchers, working at Building 1412 at Fort Detrick previously, I had received a limited number of anthrax vaccinations. This is required for all researchers. However, a yearly booster is required to maintain immunity. I have last been inoculated in my records beginning in 99, and since December 2000, I am as susceptible to anthrax as any of you.
So I was surprised at the notion that I might have brought anthrax to my home, and would have been even amused if it was not for the fact that this matter is so grave and serious.
In addition, I have two cleaning ladies with their own keys that come and go and clean. I don't know when they come there, just that things look a lot better when they leave.
Nevertheless, I agreed to the FBI's request without hesitation. I also volunteered to have the FBI search my car and a small, unrefrigerated storage area in Florida where I keep some books, a few paintings and some other personal effects.
The FBI agents promised me that the search would be quiet, private and very low-key. It did not turn out that way.
Within minutes of my signing the release to have my residence and property searched, television cameras, satellite TV trucks, overhead helicopters were all swarming around my apartment block. The FBI agents arrived in a huge truck with hazardous-materials technicians fully garbed in protective space suits. In fact, I had previously helped train one of the FBI agents who searched my apartment.
Responding to my surprise and dismay, the agent in charge apologized to me, saying that the request for this swabbing and search had come from very, very high up.
A written and televised media frenzy ensued and continues, with journalists, columnists and others writing, stating and repeating combinations of defamatory speculation, innuendo and other accusations about me. Several have urged the FBI to step up its investigation of me.
And indeed, last week, the FBI executed a search warrant on my residence. This happened one day after my attorneys had left a message on the lead FBI investigator's voice mail confirming my continued readiness to answer questions and otherwise cooperate.
My girlfriend's home was also searched. She was manhandled by the FBI upon their entry, not immediately shown the search warrant. Her apartment was wrecked, while FBI agents screamed at her that I had killed five people and that her life would never be the same again. She was terrified by their conduct, put into isolation for interrogation for eight hours. I was horrified. The search was another media event.
The next day I was put on paid leave from my new job at Louisiana State University. This is very painful to me, though once again I understand the circumstances in which my employers find themselves in light of these actions taken against me.
As a scientist in the field of biological warfare defense, I have never had any reservations whatsoever about helping the anthrax investigation in any way that I could. It's true that my research expertise in biology, for example, the Ebola virus, the Marburg virus, and monkeypox, and not bacteriology, as in the case of the anthrax organism.
It's also true that I have never, ever worked with anthrax in my life. It's a separate field from the research I was performing at Fort Detrick.
But if I could be of assistance, I was happy to help. This is the price, I think, that scientists in this field are happy to pay. And this price is more than offset by the satisfaction I think we all gain in doing work that we believe is important for the security of our country.
All Americans value the freedom of speech and the freedom of the press, and I believe this is essential for our continued way of life. But with this freedom comes responsibility. That responsibility has been abdicated here by some in the media and some in the government.
I am appalled at the anthrax terrorist incident, and I wish the authorities godspeed in catching the culprits or culprit. I do not object to being considered a subject of interest by the authorities because of my knowledge and background in the field of biological warfare defense. But I do object to an investigation characterized, as this one has been, by outrageous official statements, calculated leaks to the media, and causing a feeding frenzy operating to my great prejudice.
I especially object to having my character assassinated by reference to events from my past which bear absolutely no relationship to the question of who the anthrax killer is.
After eight months of one of the most intensive public and private investigations in American history, no one, no one has come up with a shred of evidence that I had anything to do with the anthrax letters. I have never worked with anthrax. I know nothing about this matter.
As a substitute, the press and now the public have been offered events from my past going back 20 or more years, as if this were critical to the matter at hand. In fact, it is not.
It is a smoke screen calculated to obscure the fact that there is no evidence that I, the currently designated fall guy, have anything to do with the anthrax letters.
No more than any of you, I do not claim to have lived a perfect life. Like yourselves, there are things I would probably do or say differently than I did 10 or 20 or more years ago. Modern information-retrieval technology, coupled with sufficient motivation, can lead to anyone's life and work being picked apart for every error, wrinkle, failed memory or inconsistency. Mine can; so can yours.
Does any of this get us to the anthrax killers? If I am a subject of interest, I'm also a human being. I have a life. I have, or I had, a job. I need to earn a living. I have a family, and until recently, I had a reputation, a career and a bright professional future.
I acknowledge the right of the authorities and the press to satisfy themselves as to whether I am the anthrax mailer. This does not however, give them the right to smear me and gratuitously make a wasteland of my life in the process. I will not be railroaded.
I am a loyal American. I am extremely proud of the work I have done for the United States and for my country and her people. I expect to be treated as such by the representatives of my government and those who report its work.
Thank you very much, ladies and
Copyright 2002 The Associated Press
denies anthrax link
Man at centre of investigation says FBI has ruined his life
Duncan Campbell, Los Angeles
The former army scientist at the centre of the FBI investigation into the anthrax attacks that killed five people in the US made a vigorous and emotional public denial last night of any involvement.
Dr Steven Hatfill claimed that the FBI investigators and the media had made a "wasteland" of his life but had not come up with a shred of evidence linking him to the anthrax letters mailed to American politicians last year.
Dr Hatfill went public in Alexandria, Virginia, in a passionate denial of any link to the anthrax. He said his life and career had been ruined by the investigation.
"I am a loyal American and I love my country," Dr Hatfill said in a prepared statement to a gathering of the media. "I have had nothing to do in any way, shape or form with the mailing of these anthrax letters. I have never ever worked with anthrax in my life - I will not be railroaded."
He attacked the "outrageous official statements" about him and the "calculated leaks" to the media. "No one has come up with a shred of evidence," he said, accusing the FBI and the media of character assassination. "I am the currently designated fall guy."
It was claimed yesterday that the British security service MI5 had been in contact with Porton Down, the Ministry of Defence's germ warfare research centre in Wiltshire, to find out about Dr Hatfill's movements during a two-week visit last November.
The Sunday Times said that Dr Hatfill's expenses to Britain were paid by the Foreign Office, and that he trained at the centre as a UN bio-weapons inspector so that he could be on call to go to Iraq.
Dr Hatfill said that his girlfriend's home had been raided by the FBI and that an agent had screamed at her that her boyfriend "had killed five people". He blamed another scientist, Dr Barbara Hatch Rosenberg, for implicating him when she addressed Senate staffers and the FBI about the attacks earlier this summer.
Dr Hatfill has come under greater scrutiny than anyone else in the FBI's anthrax investigation. The FBI have searched his apartment on two occasions - with the second search being given extensive news coverage. Since February, Dr Hatfill has lost one job and been suspended from another.
Dr Hatfill graduated from Southwestern College in Winfield, Kansas and then worked in rural health care in the then Zaire. There is confusion as to some aspects of his subsequent career. Although he has claimed that he was a member of the US special forces from 1975 to 1977, the US army has denied this. Army records indicate that he took part in a special forces training course but dropped out of it.
Dr Hatfill moved to England in 1994 and his CV claims that he became a member of the Royal Society of Medicine. But a spokeswoman for the society told the New York Times last week that they had no record of him being a member. He has also claimed to have a PhD from Rhodes University in South Africa but has since removed this claim, saying there had been a misunderstanding.
Yesterday Dr Hatfill said: "I do not claim to have lived a perfect life." He suffered like many people, he said, of a "failed memory". But the inconsistencies in his past had been used as a "smokescreen" in his case. "I went from being someone with pride in my work, pride in my profession, to being made into the biggest criminal of the 21st century for something I never touched," Dr Hatfill told the Washington Post in a separate interview. "My life is destroyed."
The FBI has always declined to say that Dr Hatfill is a suspect and stressed it is interviewing around 30 "persons of interest" with similar backgrounds to the doctor's in an effort to find a possible source of the attacks.
Guardian Unlimited © Guardian Newspapers Limited 2002
By JACK DOLAN
August 12 2002
ALEXANDRIA, Va. -- The man at the center of the FBI probe of last fall's anthrax attacks launched a public campaign this weekend proclaiming his innocence and trying to quell what he described as a humiliating "feeding frenzy" for information about his personal life.
But if Dr. Steven J. Hatfill is more troubled by recent invasions of his privacy than by the evidence that led to two high-profile FBI searches of his apartment this summer, as he contends, he might want to stay off eBay for a while.
A suit to protect against chemical contamination, a vest with loops to attach 40 rocket-propelled grenades, and a "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine" technical manual are among the personal items neighbors scavenged from a trash bin as the physician and former Army biowarfare researcher moved out of his apartment last week.
One neighbor was particularly optimistic about the potential novelty value of an expired Visa card signed, "Dr. Steven J. Hatfill, M.D."
"Who knows, something like this here could be valuable on eBay if things don't turn out right for him," he said.
Such is life for the man federal officials say is just one of dozens of scientists under scrutiny because they had access to the strain of anthrax used in the attacks and the knowledge to use it as a weapon. So far, Hatfill is the only one who has been publicly served with a search warrant in connection with the investigation.
Hatfill, reading from a two-page prepared statement before a throng of microphones and cameras outside his lawyer's office on Sunday, called himself the "designated fall guy" for a struggling federal investigation.
"After eight months of one of the most intensive public and private investigations in American history, no one - no one - has come up with a shred of evidence that I had anything to do with the anthrax letters," Hatfill said.
Hatfill claimed that he never handled anthrax and didn't have access to the labs where it was kept during his two years working at Fort Detrick, the Army's premier biowarfare research lab in Frederick, Md. He also said that while he had been immunized against anthrax and many other pathogens found at Fort Detrick, he claimed that he hadn't had an annual booster shot since 1999.
Hatfill answered no questions after reading his statement. His lawyer, Victor Glasberg, refused to discuss the colorful background that has fanned interest in Hatfill as a possible suspect. Nor would Glasberg discuss why Hatfill lost his security clearance last year. Neither would talk about allegations that Hatfill embellished the resume he used to get work with the government in 1997.
That resume reportedly claimed that he had been a member of the U.S. military's special forces and had a doctoral degree from a South African university. Neither is true.
"I do not claim to have lived a perfect life. Like yourselves, there are things I would do or say differently than I did 10, 20 or more years ago," Hatfill said.
Hatfill also did not discuss boasts he has made about serving with elite units of the white minority government army in Rhodesia - later Zimbabwe - during a civil war against black rebels while he attended medical school there. Accusations that the white government unleashed anthrax on black villages during the war in the late 1970s have lingered for decades, but have never been proved.
While Hatfill's name has only been in the public domain since a search of his apartment in late June attracted intense publicity, a small band of defense industry insiders told the FBI last October that he matched their theoretical profile of the killer. The same people shared information about Hatfill with Barbara Hatch Rosenberg, a scientist who monitors bioweapons for the Federation of American Scientists.
Without naming Hatfill, Rosenberg has published on the Internet profiles of an alleged suspect that match his career closely. Rosenberg also discussed Hatfill - again without using his name, she said - with staffers from the offices of Sen. Tom Daschle and Sen. Patrick Leahy, where anthrax-tainted letters arrived last October. The first highly publicized search of Hatfill's apartment this summer came one week after that discussion.
"I don't know Dr. Rosenberg," Hatfill said on Sunday. "The only thing I know about her views is that she and I apparently differed on whether the United States should sign on to a proposed modification of the International Biological Weapons Convention. This was something I opposed and believe she favored. I am at a loss to explain her reported hostility and accusations."
Rosenberg could not be reached for comment Sunday evening.
Hatfill and Glasberg also accused the FBI of damaging the scientist's reputation by improperly leaking information about Hatfill to the news media, even though he has never been officially named a suspect.
Glasberg said he was called recently by a network television official who said they had obtained a copy of a bioterrorism novel that Hatfill had been working on and was stored on a computer seized by federal agents during one of this summer's searches. Glasberg said nobody other than federal investigators could have had access to that novel.
Hatfill said the FBI promised that the summer's first search - which was done without a warrant because Hatfill consented - would be "private, quiet and low key." Instead, the FBI arrived in a huge truck with agents clad in "space suits" with television news helicopters swirling overhead.
Following the second high-profile search of Hatfill's apartment last week, Lousiana State University officials delayed by 30 days the start of Hatfill's duties to begin training police, firefighters and other emergency officials on how to respond to chemical and biological attacks. The delay, which LSU officials termed a suspension, would be with pay.
Glasberg said Hatfill hopes he'll be able to assume the duties at LSU, which come with a reported $150,000 annual salary, when the suspension expires.
That's better than the scavengers are likely to do with the relics pulled from the rubble of what Hatfill has called his "wasteland" of a life. Even they concede that their collection, which includes a 30-pound dumbbell, a Purple Heart medal and a rug with the CIA emblem emblazoned on a field of blue will be most valuable as conversation pieces.
But Hatfill friend and media adviser Patrick Clawson, a former CNN reporter who now works as a salesman for the radio network that produces Oliver North's show, said the scavenged property reveals more about the neighbors than about Hatfill.
"Steve lectured on biowarfare, he probably used the suits as props. And it's not unusual for anyone in our social circle to collect military paraphernalia," Clawson said. "But the character of those people, that's just obscene. "
Copyright 2002, Hartford Courant
Schram: When the only evidence is barking dogs
Wednesday, August 14, 2002
By MARTIN SCHRAM, Scripps Howard News Service
Never has there been a more clear-cut case of how a hyperactive nose for news can get journalists injudiciously out in front of the story they are covering.
We are talking, of course, about the FBI's hunt for America's anthrax killer.
For months, FBI investigators had no answers and the reporters who cover the investigators had no story. But now, everywhere you turn, you cannot miss seeing Dr. Steven J. Hatfill. Faster than you can say, "Whatever Happened to Richard Jewell?" this once-anonymous bio-weapons research scientist is suddenly at the center of the media spotlight that shines upon the FBI's hunt for the anthrax murderer.
But we need to keep telling ourselves: There is no reported hard evidence linking this man to that crime.
Many months ago, Hatfill, who formerly worked in the U.S. Army bioweapons labs at Ft. Detrick, Md., had voluntarily let FBI agents search his Frederick, Md., house and belongings without a court order.
A few weeks ago, the FBI, fresh out of leads, brought in some low-tech assistance: bloodhounds. They gave these dogs packets containing the scents of those anthrax-contaminated letters that were mailed to Sens. Tom Daschle and Patrick Leahy. Then they took the dogs to various locations linked to a dozen individuals who have been previously investigated by the FBI agents.
According to Newsweek, which first sniffed out this scoop, the bloodhounds had no reaction at the initial sites — until they were brought to Hatfill's Maryland apartment. "They went crazy," one law enforcement source told Newsweek. The bloodhounds reportedly immediately began barking and jumping at the apartment. The dogs were reported to have reacted the same way when taken to the Washington, D.C., apartment of Hatfill's girlfriend, and also to a Denny's restaurant in Louisiana where he'd eaten the day before. Also, Hatfill had been seen carrying boxes out to the dumpster; but when the dogs stopped barking, the agents reportedly found nothing incriminating in it.
Now we are hearing on TV and reading in print all about the imperfections of this fellow. Hatfill is "flamboyant and arrogant, with a penchant for exaggerating his achievements," Newsweek reported. Also, when he applied for a job at the CIA he was turned down because he failed a lie detector test. Also, he had a number of lady friends, which led one colleague to give him a memorable nickname: "The Warren Beatty of science."
When MSNBC's legal expert Dan Abrams did his report on Newsweek's scoop, he began by asking whether a bloodhound's nose could help in "identifying the suspect behind the anthrax attacks..." He said Newsweek's story showed "the FBI has some intriguing results from an experiment that could help point to a suspect."
If there is a clicking sound that you begin to hear as you read all of this, it may be because your brain is trying to access its file slugged "Richard Jewell." He's the Georgia fellow who was reported to be the prime suspect in the Olympics bombing in Atlanta; he'd had proximity to the site, and in a flash we were reading all about his job problems and personal shortcomings. But law enforcement eventually cleared him and he went around collecting from the news media that had so wronged him.
Click, click. Last November, in Chester, Pa., a Pakistani-born city budget official was observed carrying a mysterious liquid out of the house; agents pounced and unearthed the evidence that the man's dishwasher had been stopped up.
Click, click. An Egyptian man was seen delivering a mysterious brown envelope; agents snuck a peek and discovered it was his insurance papers. Newsweek, to its credit, noted both of these incidents.
The other day, Hatfill called a press conference to deny any involvement in the anthrax case. His lawyer said he'd voluntarily let the agents search his place months ago and had taken a polygraph test, adding: "He ...was told that the results were all favorable and that he was not a suspect in the case."
Perhaps reporters ought to be at least as thorough in questioning their law enforcement sources. For instance, bloodhounds are the only dogs that can provide evidence that is admissible in courts. If calling in the bloodhounds was such a fine idea (and it apparently was): Why did the FBI not bring in the dogs months ago, before evidence could disappear and trails could grow cold? After all, you don't have to be Sherlock Holmes to spot the clue of the dog that barked.
But we all have to keep telling
ourselves that there are times when the story must speak for itself: And
so far, all we have are barking dogs.
Martin Schram writes political analysis for Scripps Howard News Service.
leaks threaten innocent people and criminal investigations
It appears the FBI has forgotten lessons learned six years ago after it turned a hero into a villain during the investigation of the Centennial Olympic Park bombing.
Despite having virtually no evidence of wrongdoing, the FBI leaked information about a potential suspect which eventually led to the public castigation of Richard Jewell, a security guard who first noticed the bomb and helped move dozens of people out of danger. Jewell would eventually be cleared but not before being viciously ridiculed and having his entire life permanently altered.
It's been almost a year into the FBI's investigation of a similarly high profile case and again leaks to the media have singled out an individual whom federal law enforcement officials won't even describe as a suspect.
Though investigators reportedly have no physical evidence linking him to last year's anthrax-by-mail attacks, Dr. Steven J. Hatfill has been the subject of intense public scrutiny after detailed information about the investigation into his background was leaked to national news outlets.
According to news reports, law enforcement officials have described Hatfill, a biowarfare expert, as a ''person of interest,'' not a criminal suspect and said he is one of about 30 people being scrutinized. However, he is the only one whose name has emerged publicly during the 11-month investigation.
Highly publicized searches of Hatfill's Frederick, Md., apartment have been conducted on two different occasions and included testing for anthrax residue. Not long after FBI and Postal Service agents began their second search on Aug. 1, news helicopters arrived at the scene and hovered over Hatfill's apartment complex as investigators scoured the area.
Other details about the investigation of Hatfill have surfaced in the press, such as a copy of a novel he wrote about a bioterror attack that he stored on his computer and a 1999 report he commissioned while working for a defense contractor that examined how anthrax might be sent through the mail. Also, it has been revealed that Hatfill once lived in Harare, Zimbabwe -- near the suburb of Greendale. Some of the anthrax letters contained a return address of a nonexistent Greendale School in New Jersey.
On Sunday, Hatfill decided to openly declare his innocence after what he called ''outrageous public statements'' and ''calculated leaks to the media'' by investigators.
There seems to be little question that intriguing circumstances in Hatfill's past warrant continued examination by the FBI. The agency would be remiss if it didn't explore these issues further. However, the fact remains that Hatfill has not be charged with any crime, and the investigation has not yielded enough evidence to even declare him an official suspect. The flood of leaks about his identity and details from his past not only damage the reputation of a here-to-fore innocent man, but they also endanger the ongoing investigation into a crime that left five people dead.
The parallels between the FBI's handling of Richard Jewell and Steven Hatfill are becoming painfully obvious. In both instances, investigators were under intense public and official pressure to find those responsible for these deadly acts. Whether calculated or not, leaks about a potential suspect in each case did help give the appearance progress was being made by investigators.
No one is sure what the future will hold for Hatfill or the anthrax investigation. It's hard to tell whether we are even an inch closer to solving this crime. But, one thing is certain: If the FBI follows this pattern of conducting investigations with such slipshod secrecy, it stands to reason innocent people will continue to have their lives upended, and justice will be no closer at hand.
Published in the Athens Banner-Herald on Wednesday, August 14, 2002.
and Anthrax: Another TWA 800 in the Making?
Phil Brennan, NewsMax.com
The FBI's anthrax probe is looking like a repeat of its bungled "investigation" into the crash of TWA Flight 800.
The bureau locked itself into a theory that an exploding fuel tank caused the crash. It strained to ignore hundreds of credible eyewitness accounts that showed that in all probability a missile had destroyed the aircraft in midflight.
In the fruitless attempt to locate the perpetrators of the anthrax attacks that took place in the U.S. after the Sept. 11 hijackings, the FBI is once again ignoring evidence that conflicts with its predetermined and wrongheaded theory of who was behind this biowarfare.
The FBI's almost year-long investigation of the anthrax attacks that killed five Americans is all but stalled, with the only new information being that the deadly spores were newly made, and not from old batches as originally thought.
And by fixating on the theory that the perpetrator was a lone wolf, mad bomber-type who probably worked in a government biowarfare laboratory, the bureau has scampered down a blind alley, ignoring or discounting out-of-hand evidence that indicates the anthrax-through-mail attacks may well have been the work of foreign terrorists.
In pursuit of this theory the bureau has zeroed in on a respected scientist. With no credible evidence it has all but accused Dr. Steven Hatfill of mailing the deadly anthrax letters, and it has leaked damaging information to the media about the man – all the while saying he is not a suspect.
The Florida Connection
A meticulous examination of the anthrax case has led NewsMax.com to conclude that the most likely answer to the puzzle can be found by taking a careful look at the first target of the attack: American Media Inc. (AMI) in Boca Raton, Fla. It has all the elements needed to piece together a credible account of what took place there and supply numerous clues as to the identities of the attackers.
We begin this first of a six-part series with a recapitulation of what is known about that tragic incident which cost the life of one innocent victim and almost killed another.
On Oct. 2, 2001, Bob Stevens, a 63-year-old photo editor at the Sun, an AMI tabloid, awoke in his Lantana home around 2:30 a.m. He was so disoriented that he tried to get up and get dressed to go to work, alerting his wife that something was terribly wrong with her husband.
The couple had returned early from a vacation in North Carolina because Stevens had begun to feel ill on Sept. 30. Now, two days later, he was feverish and in a confused mental state.
His wife bundled him in their car and drove him to the emergency room at the JFK Medical Center in nearby Atlantis. At the hospital, he soon lost consciousness. Confused by the symptoms, the medical staff scrambled to diagnose and treat his strange illness.
The first tentative diagnosis was classic meningitis, but a specialist in infectious disease noted that Stevens’ spinal fluid specimen contained unusual bacteria that are not the typical cause of meningitis. Ominously, the bacteria he was looking at had not been seen clinically in the United States in almost 25 years.
Within 48 hours, more tests at specialized laboratories confirmed his suspicions that he was dealing with a case of inhalation anthrax, the first such case in the U.S. in a quarter-century. Stevens went into a coma and died Oct. 5, apparently the first victim of anthrax spores sent through the U.S. mail.
On Oct. 1, the day before Stevens was hospitalized, Ernesto Blanco, 73, an American Media Inc. mailroom employee, was hospitalized in Miami with what was thought to be pneumonia.
On Oct. 7 the federal Centers for Disease Control, called in as a result of the Stevens case, sealed off the AMI building because test samples revealed anthrax spores on Stevens' computer keyboard and in Blanco’s nasal passages.
The next day Blanco’s family was told he had tested positive for anthrax exposure. He did not yet, however, show signs of having an anthrax infection.
Aware that some of the Sept. 11 hijackers had lived nearby, the FBI checked places where they had stayed and found no traces of anthrax. It concluded that the AMI case was an isolated case of "foul play."
Quickly Proved Wrong
On Oct. 10 the FBI announced that a third AMI employee has tested positive for anthrax exposure. The case was now a full-blown criminal investigation.
The next day they reported finding additional anthrax spores in the AMI mailroom. The third AMI employee to test positive for anthrax exposure, Stephanie Dailey, 36, said she was at home, taking antibiotics and feeling well.
By Oct. 13, five more AMI employees tested positive for the presence of anthrax bacteria. The employees were put on antibiotics, and authorities reported that they were not expected to develop the disease.
That same day, health officials announced that Ernesto Blanco was suffering from inhalation anthrax. In the meantime, anthrax-laced letters had begun to turn up in Washington and New York. Blanco was finally released from the hospital, miraculously cured of the usually fatal disease after 23 days at death’s door.
By the end of October the anthrax death toll had risen to four with the death of New York City hospital worker Kathy Nguyen, 61. Significantly, she had worked in a medical supply room in the basement of Manhattan Eye, Ear and Throat Hospital, in an area that once housed a mailroom.
According to ABC News, all told there were 17 cases of infections nationwide. Those felled by inhalation were:
Florida: Robert Stevens, photo editor at American Media Inc. in Boca Raton, died of inhalation anthrax.
Washington: Postal workers Joseph Curseen Jr. and Thomas Morris Jr. died of inhalation anthrax. Both worked at the Brentwood mail processing center.
New York: Kathy Nguyen, hospital supply room worker, died of inhalation anthrax.
Washington: Two other Brentwood workers, also inhalation anthrax.
Washington area: State Department mailroom employee, inhalation anthrax.
Florida: Ernesto Blanco, who worked in same building as Robert Stevens, diagnosed with inhalation anthrax; released from hospital on Oct. 24.
New Jersey: Two Hamilton Township postal workers, inhalation anthrax.
Those afflicted by cutaneous (skin) infection:
New York: "NBC Nightly News," assistant to anchorman Tom Brokaw; ABC News, infant son of producer; CBS News, female assistant to anchorman Dan Rather; New York Post employee.
New Jersey: West Trenton postal worker; Hamilton Township mail processing employee; Hamilton Township bookkeeper.
There were four suspected cases:
Two in New York: a New York Post employee suspected case of cutaneous anthrax, and an ABC employee, suspected case of cutaneous anthrax.
Two in New Jersey: a Hamilton Township mail processing employee suspected case of cutaneous anthrax, and a Camden County postal worker suspected case of cutaneous anthrax.
Also in Pakistan
Spores were also found in the workplace mail bin for a New Jersey bookkeeper who had skin anthrax. The bacteria spores also showed up overseas: on letters sent to several locations in Pakistan and on at least one mailbag at the U.S. embassy in Vilnius, Lithuania.
An Environmental Protection Agency sampling of the three-story AMI building revealed that of 462 swab samples taken in late October and early November from floors, desks and air ducts, 84 came back positive. The EPA sampling found the first floor held the most spores, specifically near the mailroom, library and security area.
Investigators assumed the bacteria showed up in a letter or letters, but no piece of tainted mail was ever found.
Spores also were found on 10 carpet samples from the second-floor carpet and in eight spots on the third floor, where Stevens worked.
Significantly, anthrax spores were also found in the post office in Boca Raton that serviced AMI.
On Nov. 2, FBI director Robert Mueller admitted that after weeks of investigation, the government had no idea who was behind the anthrax attacks. He appealed to the public for help.
But a mere seven days later, on Nov. 9, the bureau said it was becoming more and more convinced that the person behind the anthrax attacks was a lone wolf within the United States who had no links to terrorist groups but was an "opportunist" using the Sept. 11 hijackings to vent his rage.
A mere two months after the AMI attack, with abundant evidence suggesting a terrorist link, which will be revealed in coming installments of this series, the FBI turned its back on the AMI terrorist connection and began its hopeless journey down the blind alley.
Phil Brennan, NewsMax.com
Editor's note: See part one in this series, FBI and Anthrax: Another TWA 800 in the Making?
By now, there should be no dispute
as to where the anthrax that killed Bob Stevens and nearly killed Ernesto
Blanco came from. If you follow the spores found by the EPA in the
samplings it took at the AMI building, even the most obtuse investigator
Begin at the Boca Raton, Fla., post office that serviced AMI. Anthrax spores matching those found at AMI were found there.
Once in the AMI building, the mail was sorted. Either because the letter was addressed to the Sun tabloid, or because Blanco determined that it should go to the Sun even if addressed to the National Enquirer, he put it on his cart and began his regular route.
That route is marked by a trail
of anthrax spores. It begins at the mail room, wends its way up to the
second floor and ends up at the Sun offices on the third floor, where it
is given to a Sun employee. Anthrax spores found on Bob Stevens' computer
This much is known and beyond dispute. The source of the anthrax that killed Stevens and infected Blanco was a piece of mail. What can’t be pinned down is where the letter came from.
'Weird Love Letter to Jennifer Lopez'
On its Web site, Newsweek magazine reported that on Sept. 4 AMI received a "weird love letter to Jennifer Lopez" containing a "soapy" powder and a star of David, addressed to the singer-actress c/o The Sun tabloids.
That report is the only source of information concerning the date of receipt of the letter, or that it was addressed to Lopez specifically in care of the Sun.
Inside the Lopez letter was a "soapy, powdery substance" and a cheap Star of David charm, Sun employees confirmed. Knowledgeable sources told NewsMax.com that the letter, which Blanco had taken to the Sun, was opened by one of the editors in the absence of an editorial assistant who would have ordinarily opened it.
The editor looked at it and then tossed it into a wastepaper basket. Another Sun staffer, who NewsMax.com was told had a daughter who is a Lopez fan, retrieved it, found the contents amusing but of no interest to his daughter, and passed it around to other staff members, according to our sources.
The last person to touch the letter, they told NewsMax.com, was probably Bob Stevens.
At the time the AMI editorial director, Steve Coz told reporters that because his eyesight was faulty, Stevens held the envelope close to his face and probably inhaled the deadly spores. Stevens, or somebody else, threw the letter away. It was never recovered, leaving forever open the question of its being the source.
Coz’s account of Stevens' bad eyesight and his tendency to hold written material close to his face was confirmed by one of his best friends, who told NewsMax.com that Stevens read material that way.
Because the letter that may well
have been the source of the anthrax at AMI no longer existed, a vital piece
of evidence was lost. That a letter was the source is indicated by
the fact that the trail of anthrax spores in the AMI building matches the
exact route it
The incident made little or no impression on the Sun staff at the time. Wacko mail frequently comes to the tabloid and is sometimes passed around. Few paid any attention to the letter, and only a couple of Sun employees even recalled that specific piece of mail.
FBI's Strange Reaction
Moreover, the FBI, which dismissed the letter out of hand and denied it had any significance, for reasons not disclosed asked AMI not to go into detail about it with the media or anyone else. The whole thing just vanished from the investigative radar screen.
The Newsweek report that the Lopez letter arrived Sept. 4th, seven days before the events of the terrorist hijacking attacks, would have assumed enormous significance had the letter been kept. It would seem to point the finger of guilt directly at the 9-11 hijackers, most of whom lurked nearby until leaving for their deadly rendezvous with the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
Next: AMI’s sinister
Phil Brennan, NewsMax.com
Editor's note: See part one in this series, FBI and Anthrax: Another TWA 800 in the Making? Part two: FBI Ignored Letter in Anthrax Probe.
BOCA RATON, Fla. – One of the most intriguing aspects of the FBI’s anthrax investigation is the bureau’s apparent uninterest in the presence of al-Qaeda's Sept. 11 terrorists in the immediate vicinity of American Media Inc. (AMI) headquarters.
The bureau seems to reject out of hand the idea that these terrorists may well have been the source of the attack on AMI that killed one employee, almost killed another and sickened a third.
Yet there are a number of reasons why this theory could prove to be the answer to a puzzle the FBI has been unable to solve despite the most massive investigation in the bureau’s history.
Here, according to government documents, are the 13 terrorists who were in Florida before Sept. 11.
* Waleed M. Alshehri
* Wail M. Alshehri
* Mohamed Atta; aliases include Mehan Atta, Mohammad El Amir, Muhammad Atta, Mohamed El Sayed, Mohamed Elsayed, Muhammad Muhammad Al Amir Awag Al Sayyid Atta, and Muhammad Muhammad Al-Amir Awad Al Sayad
* Abdulaziz Alomari
* Marwan Al-Shehhi; aliases
Marwan Yusif Muhammad Rashid Al-Shehi, Marwan Yusif Muhammad Rashid Lakrab
* Fayez Rashid Ahmed Hassan
Al Qadi Banihammad Alias; aliases Fayez Ahmad, Banihammad Fayez Abu Dhabi
Banihammad, Fayez Rashid Ahmed, Banihammad Fayez, Rasid Ahmed Hassen Alqadi,
Abu Dhabi Banihammad Ahmed Fayez, and Faez
* Ahmed Alghamdi, alias Ahmed Salah Alghamdi
* Hamza Alghamdi, aliases Hamza Al-Ghamdi, Hamza Ghamdi, Hamzah Alghamdi, and Hamza Alghamdi Saleh
* Mohand Alshehri, aliases Mohammed Alshehhi, Mohamd Alshehri, and Mohald Alshehri
* Saeed Alghamdi, aliases Abdul Rahman Saed Alghamdi, Ali S. Alghamdi, Al-Gamdi, Saad M.S. Al Ghamdi, Sadda Al Ghamdi, Saheed Al-Ghamdi, Seed Al Ghamdi,
* Ahmed Ibrahim A. Al Haznawi, alias Ahmed Alhaznawi
* Ahmed Alnami, aliases Ali Ahmed Alnami, Ahmed A. Al-Nami, and Ahmed Al-Nawi
* Ziad Samir Jarrah, aliases Zaid Jarrahi, Zaid Samr Jarrah, Ziad S. Jarrah, Ziad Jarrah Jarrat, and Ziad Samir Jarrahi.
(He Probably Voted Too)
At least 15 of the 19 Sept. 11 hijackers had Florida connections. Of the 19, three were in the country on expired visas, including Satam Al Suqami, who had a Florida driver's license listing a Boynton Beach address. Boynton Beach is a few miles north of Boca Raton and AMI.
In the summer, five suspected
hijackers on the two planes that crashed into the World Trade Center –
Mohamed Atta, Marwan Al-Shehhi, Wail M. Alshehri, Waleed M. Alshehri and
Satam Al Suqami – bought one-month memberships at Woolard's gyms.
According to news reports five
of the hijackers who seized United Airlines Flight 175, which crashed into
the South Tower of the World Trade Center, spent time in Florida. One was
Marwan Al-Shehhi, Atta's roommate. A few days before 9-11, they both
Four of the hijackers on United Airlines Flight 93, which crashed in Pennsylvania, also lived in Florida for several months. Two shared a condominium in Delray Beach. They left suddenly Labor Day weekend, the same weekend a group of suspected hijackers living in Vero Beach disappeared.
Seven of the hijackers got Florida driver's licenses or state identification cards. Investigators believe the hijackers were in Florida because of its numerous flight training schools, all of which have mainly foreigners as students.
Three of the hijackers, Saeed Alghamdi, Ahmed Alnami and Hamza al Ghamdi, lived for several months in the Delray Racquet Club, a condominium complex a couple of miles from AMI’s headquarters.
None seemed to have jobs, but several were said to be airplane mechanics, students or tourists. Some said they worked for the Saudi government-owned Saudi Arabian Airlines, a claim the Saudi government denied.
In April, Atta was stopped by a Broward Country sheriff deputy, according to the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel. Atta could not produce a driver's license.
Following normal procedure, the newspaper reported, the deputy wrote him a ticket. Atta never paid, and deputies never learned that Atta was on a U.S. government "watch list" of people tied to terrorism.
Although none of the hijackers had jobs, some paid as much as $10,000 each for flight lessons. Condos in the Delray Beach complex rented for up to $3,000 a month.
What seemed most important to them was their privacy.
For three months in the summer of 2001, Charlie Lisa's home in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea, about 20 miles south of Boca Raton, was occupied by two of the hijackers, Amad Al Haznawi, 20, and Ziad Samir Jarrah, 26, who moved out in late August.
Landlady Married to Sun's Editor
Several of the hijackers rented an apartment from a real estate agent who is the wife of the Sun’s editor, Mike Irish.
Four of the hijackers who attacked America on Sept. 11 tried to get government loans to finance their plots, including ringleader Mohamed Atta, who sought $650,000 to modify a crop duster, Johnelle Bryant, a U.S. Department of Agriculture loan officer, told ABC News.
Terrorists Wanted to Be on Taxpayers' Dole
First Atta, then Marwan Al-Shehhi, Ahmed Alghamdi and Fayez Rashid Ahmed Hassan al Qadi Banihammad, all of whom died in the September attacks, tried to get loans from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Bryant said.
In April or May of 2000, Atta paid a visit to Bryant, who described him as "most persistent and frightening."
According to Bryant, employed at the government agency for 16 years, Atta arrived in her office sometime between the end of April and the middle of May 2000, inquiring about a loan to finance an aircraft.
"At first, he refused to speak with me," Bryant told ABC. She remembered that Atta called her "but a female." Bryant explained that she was the manager, but he still refused to conduct business with her.
Ultimately, she said, "I told him that if he was interested in getting a farm-service agency loan in my servicing area, then he would need to deal with me."
During the initial applicant interview, Bryant was taking notes. "I wrote his name down, and I spelled it A-T-T-A-H, and he told me, 'No, A-T-T-A, as in Atta boy!'"
He said he had just arrived in
the United States from Afghanistan "to start his dream, which was to go
flight school and get his pilot's license, and work both as a charter pilot
and a crop duster too," she said. He was seeking $650,000 for a crop-dusting
"He wanted to finance a twin-engine
six-passenger aircraft … and remove the seats," said Bryant. "He said he
was an engineer, and he wanted to build a chemical tank that would fit
inside the aircraft and take up every available square inch of the aircraft
Possible Link to Iraqi Bioterrorism
This last takes on significance in view of a U.N. inspection report that Iraq's most effective bioweapons platform was a helicopter-borne aerosol generator that worked like an insecticide disseminator (perhaps this was intended for domestic use or against Iranian troops close to the Iraqi border). The disseminator was successfully field tested.
Iraq was also known to have field-tested anthrax not only in aerial bombs but also in sprayers of the kind used in crop dusting attached to helicopters, fighter aircraft and possibly unmanned drones.
The point is that AMI’s neighborhood
was crawling with these people. To overlook that fact, or play it down,
is to overlook or play down the possibility that they may well have had
a hand in the anthrax attack on AMI. And there is evidence that this was
Note to FBI: Hijacker Had Anthrax
There is, for example, the extraordinary
account by a Florida doctor revealed by the New York Times, which reported
that the physician believes a man he treated in June had skin anthrax.
That man was one of the Sept. 11 hijackers, suggesting a link
According to the Times, two men
identified themselves as pilots when they came to the emergency room of
Holy Cross Hospital in Fort Lauderdale in June 2001. One, Dr. Christos
Tsonas recalled, had an ugly, dark lesion on his leg that he claimed he
In the wake of 9-11, however, when federal investigators found the medicine among the possessions of one of the hijackers, Ahmed Alhaznawi, Dr. Tsonas reviewed the case and arrived at a new diagnosis. The lesion, he told the Times, "was consistent with cutaneous (skin) anthrax."
In a memo prepared by experts
at the Johns Hopkins Center for Civilian Biodefense Strategies, and circulated
among top government officials the group, which interviewed Dr. Tsonas,
concluded that the anthrax diagnosis "raises the possibility that the
Assistant FBI Director John Collingwood played down the possible anthrax connection.
"This was fully investigated and
widely vetted among multiple agencies several months ago," he said in a
written statement. "Exhaustive testing did not support that anthrax
was present anywhere the hijackers had been. While we always welcome new
Alhaznawi died on United Airlines
Flight 93, which crashed in Pennsylvania. Federal officials believe the
man who accompanied him to the hospital in June was another hijacker, Ziad
al-Jarrah, thought to have taken over the controls of United Flight 93,
Law enforcement officials told the Times that in addition to interviewing Dr. Tsonas in October and again in November, they thoroughly explored any connection between the hijackers and anthrax. They said the FBI scoured the cars, apartments and personal effects of the hijackers for evidence of the germ, but found none.
Dr. Tsonas' comments add to what
the Times called "a tantalizing array of circumstantial evidence." As already
noted, some of the hijackers, including Alhaznawi, lived and attended flight
school near American Media Inc. in Boca Raton, where the first victim of
In addition, the Times reported, in October a pharmacist in Delray Beach said he had told the FBI that two of the hijackers, Mohamad Atta and Marwan al-Shehhi, came into the pharmacy looking for something to treat irritations on Atta's hands.
If the hijackers did have anthrax, they would probably have needed an accomplice to mail the tainted letters, bioterrorism experts knowledgeable about the case told the Times.
Dr. Tsonas told the Times he believed that the hijackers probably did have anthrax.
'Too Many Coincidences'
"What were they doing looking at crop dusters?" he asked, echoing experts' fears that the hijackers might have wanted to spread lethal germs. "There are too many coincidences."
AMI’s Steve Coz suspected a connection, particularly to Atta.
"We know Mohamed Atta was within three miles of the [American Media] building. We know he was within a mile of Bob Stevens' house. We know that the FBI is now going to local pharmacies to see if he did in fact get Cipro. We know that he showed up at a pharmacy with red hands.
"There are people in this area who have very direct recollection of seeing him. He worked out in a gym where some of our employees were."
The FBI continues to say it has not made a direct connection between the terrorists and the anthrax cases.
Speaking on ABC's "Good Morning America," Coz also noted that Atta had lived only a few miles from the company building. He said the circumstances of the outbreak left little doubt.
"If you just look at the incredible coincidences, you cannot arrive at any other conclusion in my mind other than that this is a bioterrorist attack," he said.
AMI Chief Executive David Pecker told CNN he thought his company was targeted because of its name.
'First Bioterrorism Attack in the U.S.'
"I think this is an attack against America. The World Trade Center was attacked, the Pentagon was attacked, and American Media was attacked, and I think this was the first bioterrorism attack in the United States," Pecker said.
"If you just look at the incredible coincidences, you cannot arrive at any other conclusion in my mind other than that this is a bioterrorist attack."
Despite the FBI’s insistence that it could find no connection between the hijackers and the anthrax attack on AMI, the indisputable fact remains that the area around AMI headquarters had a large concentration of hijackers whose actions showed their determination to harm the United States and its citizens. To cavalierly reject the idea that they could have been responsible for the anthrax attack on AMI and the subsequent attacks makes no sense at all.
The fact that no traces of anthrax
were found in the hijackers’ apartments or cars proves nothing. The weaponizing
of the anthrax spores could have easily been done at a different location
and by an unknown ally of the hijackers who mailed the AMI letter and
Next: anthrax, a
missing blender and the Iraqi connection.
FBI Overlooks Iraq's Connection to Anthrax Attacks
Phil Brennan, NewsMax.com
Editor's note: Part one of series: FBI and Anthrax: Another TWA 800 in the Making? Part two: FBI Ignored Letter in Anthrax Probe. Part three: FBI Rejects Link Between Anthrax, 9-11 Terrorists.
BOCA RATON, Fla. – Plenty of evidence implicates Iraq in the anthrax attacks on America. But the FBI doesn't seem interested.
Creating, or weaponizing, deadly
inhalation anthrax spores is a highly sophisticated process. Some say that
the spores involved in the attacks had all the earmarks of having been
produced in some government's facility because the job would have been
According to the Weekly Standard's
opinion editor, David Tell: "In order to produce inhalation anthrax, bacterial
spore-particles must be small enough – no more than a couple or three microns
wide – to reach a victim's lower respiratory mucosa. And for
"To prevent this from happening – to keep the spores separate, 'floaty,' and therefore deadly – bioweapons specialists in the United States and elsewhere went to considerable lengths to identify a chemical additive that would, like throwing a sheet of Bounce into your clothes dryer, remove the static.
"It has been widely reported,
but never confirmed, that American scientists eventually settled on silica.
It has been just as widely reported, and more or less confirmed, that the
Soviet and Iraqi biowarfare programs each at some point used a substance
Thus Iraq is ruled out. Right?
Writes Tell: "Before they were
kicked out of Iraq for good, U.N. weapons inspectors concluded that Saddam's
military biologists were no longer relying on mechanical milling machines
to render dried-out paste-colonies of anthracis bacteria into fine dust,
Moreover, Tell explains that Silica, or silicon dioxide, is simple quartz or sand, the most abundant solid material on Earth. "Bentonite" is the generic term for a class of natural or processed clays derived from volcanic ash, all of which are themselves mineral compounds of silica – and not all of which necessarily contain aluminum.
In other words: Trace amounts
of silica in an anthrax powder are consistent with the presence of bentonite.
And the absence of aluminum from that powder is not enough to exculpate
any foreign germ-warfare factory thought to have used bentonite in the
Tell is far from alone in believing that the anthrax used in the AMI and subsequentt attacks originated in Iraq.
Most convincing is the contention of Dr. Khidhir Hamza, a former top official in Iraq's program on weapons of mass destruction. He disagrees with the FBI's domestic terrorism hunch.
'This Is Saddam'
"This is Iraq," Hamza told CNBC. "This is Iraq's work.
"Nobody [else] has the expertise outside the U.S. and outside the major powers who work on germ warfare. Nobody has the expertise and has any motive to attack the U.S. except Saddam to do this. This is Iraq. This is Saddam."
The Iraqi weapons expert told CNBC that his homeland had developed the capability to weaponize anthrax even before he defected to the U.S. seven years ago, and continues to maintain that capability.
"I have absolutely no doubt," he said. "Iraq worked actually even before the Gulf War on perfecting the process of getting anthrax in the particle size needed in powder form to disseminate the way it is being disseminated now."
After linking the Iraqi dictator to the U.S. anthrax attacks, the man familiar with Saddam's secret doomsday strategy said he thought the anthrax contamination of America's postal system was just the opening salvo in Saddam's bioterror war on the U.S.
"Probaby this is the first wave," Dr. Hamza told CNBC. "I'm not trying to frighten everybody in this, but probably this is the first wave."
What’s Known About Iraq’s Bioweapons
According to an analysis by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, U.N. documents from UNSCOM disclosed the following:
Iraq's anthrax surplus: Iraq developed several biological weapons agents, according to U.N. documents: anthrax, aflatoxin (causes liver cancer), clostridium botulinum toxin, clostridium perfringens spores, ricin, and wheat smut (for destroying crops).
In its final report to the Security
Council, UNSCOM determined that Iraq had not accounted for 520 kilograms
of yeast extract growth medium specifically for anthrax. This amount of
growth medium is sufficient for the production of 26,000 liters of anthrax
Iraq's planned storage capacity for all its biological agents reached 80,000 to 100,000 liters.
Weaponized anthrax in Iraq: Anthrax
spores were not developed for laboratory use alone, but were weaponized
on a large scale by Iraq. UNSCOM inspectors found traces of anthrax spores
in seven warheads from long-range al-Hussein missiles, with
About 200 biological aerial bombs were additionally produced. However, according to the U.N., Iraq's most effective biological weapons platform was a helicopter-borne aerosol generator that worked like an insecticide disseminator (perhaps intended for domestic use or against Iranian troops close to the Iraqi border).
The disseminator was successfully field tested. Dispersal research for biological weapons was conducted by Salman Pak Technical Research Center. Iraq engaged in genetic engineering research to produce antibiotic resistant strains of anthrax spores.
The success of this research is unknown.
Iraq possessed drying technologies for biological weapons: The Iraqis began working with drying technologies as early as 1974 to extend the shelf-life of these biological weapons.
Iraq conducted drying studies for anthrax in 1989-90. Nonetheless, it formally denied having a drying capability in documents it submitted to the U.N. Security Council dated February 1999.
According to Baghdad's National
Monitoring Directorate, Iraq was blocked from importing a special spray
dryer for anthrax from a Danish company, Niro Atomizer. Claiming that its
biological weapons were kept only in a wet slurry form, and thereby
Butler wrote that Iraq was trying
to refine its crude anthrax "to the more potent, longer-living form of
dry, small particles," but UNSCOM was not able to ascertain what level
of proficiency had been achieved. Butler's former weapons inspectors told
Assessing Iraqi Connection to the U.S. Anthrax Attacks
Before 1995, when Iraq first admitted
that it possessed an active biological weapons program, it is highly unlikely
that Baghdad would have shared any details of its highly secretive program
with any external terrorist group. From 1995 through 1998, when
After 1998, with U.N. inspectors removed, Iraqi cooperation with international terrorist groups in the biological field cannot be ruled out. Salman Pak, outside of Baghdad, has been a notorious training ground for terrorists for years.
Iraqi defectors have reported that "Islamicists" trained on a Boeing 707 in Salman Pak during 2000 (William Safire, New York Times, Oct. 22, 2001).
As noted, Salman Pak had also been one of the main Iraqi biological weapons centers as well. Thus, equipping international terrorists with biological agents and training them could be accomplished in one location.
Iraq could have supplied weapons-grade
anthrax powder to international terrorist groups. Iraq probably possesses
large amounts of anthrax growth medium for continuing production. Though
the Soviet Union developed an antibiotic-resistant anthrax
The anthrax used in the U.S. is responsive to antibiotic treatment. According to ABC News, the additive that Iraq characteristically put into its dried anthrax, bentonite, was found by a Maryland laboratory in the anthrax sent to Senate plurality leader Tom Daschle. Still, a White House official called this determination "an opinionated analysis."
Iraq has an interest in employing
international bioterrorism. Iraq has no means of deterring a massive American-led
attack on Baghdad. Using international terrorist cells planted in the U.S.,
Iraq could be sending a message that it possesses the ability to
In this context, it is important to note that UNSCOM discovered the involvement of Iraq's Special Security Organization in its bioweapons program. This is the military unit that protects Saddam Hussein.
Biological weapons are potentially as destructive as small nuclear weapons. During the period of U.N. weapons inspections in Iraq, Hussein demonstrated more determination to hide his bioweapons capability than all of his other non-conventional and missile programs.
Biological weapons are Hussein's preferred weapons, in the near term. But these are political weapons, useful against the enemies of the Iraqi regime: Aflatoxin does not work on the battlefield but rather causes liver cancer over many years.
Butler told the Jerusalem Center last year that Tariq Aziz, Iraq's prime minister, admitted privately that Iraq's biological weapons were for "the Zionist entity."
It is premature to conclude at this point that Iraq stands behind the anthrax attacks in the United States. But the evidence from the U.N. weapons inspections of the 1990s makes Iraq a prime suspect.
Should Iraq become a target of the U.S. war on terrorism and Hussein feels his regime threatened, adequate domestic preparations need to be made in the U.S. and Israel in the event that Iraq decides to retaliate with bioweapons. Even if U.S. officials decide that Iraq is not the source of the anthrax attack, but nonetheless Iraq is attacked for other reasons, a biological response by Iraq cannot be ruled out.
Iraq's Link to Atta
The Czech government has confirmed
meetings between Sept. 11 hijacker Mohammed Atta and a top Iraqi intelligence
official in Prague last June. Reports that Osama bin Laden was able to
buy anthrax from a factory in the Czech Republic add further
In spite of previous denials that
the meeting ever took place, and deep doubts by the CIA and FBI, the White
House later backed claims that Atta secretly met five months earlier with
an Iraqi agent in Prague, a possible indication that Hussein's regime was
Some knowledgeable sources have suggested that Atta was given anthrax during that meeting.
A new and startling piece of information has now been brought to light by David Tell. Writing in the Weekly Standard on July 17, Tell revealed that a Pakistani named Syed Athar Abbas had agreed to plead guilty to check-kiting charges.
"Abbas, it appears, "from on or
about June 7, 2001, through on or about July 10, 2001," defrauded two banks,
a Wells Fargo branch in Woodland Hills, California, and a Fleet Bank branch
in Fort Lee, New Jersey, of slightly more than $100,000 – by
So what did he have to do with anthrax? A lot.
Tell reports that the FBI, "pursuing
some thus far undisclosed lead, originally went looking for Abbas – in
the first few days after September 11 – at his presumed address on the
top floor of a commercial building in Fort Lee." That city, Tell notes,
The bureau couldn’t find Abbas.
His former landlord told the FBI that the man had suddenly abandoned his
Fort Lee lease more than a month before – and had disappeared without a
trace. It turned out he’d gone home to Pakistan to care for his dying father.
He is. Thanks to a reporter named Rocco Parascandola, who covers law enforcement and the courts for Newsday in New York, we know why he’s a big deal.
On Dec. 27, Parascandola noticed something very interesting about Abbas. When the FBI first sought to interview Abbas back in September, it did not discover that he was a run-of-the-mill check-kiting scam artist. What it did learn was Abbas was "an abruptly vanished fugitive who, using an alias, had recently "arranged to pay $100,000 in cash" – roughly the amount he'd stolen from Wells Fargo and Fleet – for the purchase and shipment of a "fine-food particulate mixer," a "sophisticated machine used commercially" to do various things you wouldn't expect an outfit called Computers Dot Com to do.
Such as "mix chemicals," for example," Tell writes.
Parascandola reported that it's been established Abbas did take possession of this machine at the "Computers Dot Com" offices in Fort Lee last summer, but had the thing "immediately transported elsewhere" before leaving for Pakistan.
Federal investigators "have not
been able to locate the industrial food mixer" in question, which problem
continues to be of some "concern," he reported. All the more so because,
despite his guilty plea and promise of restitution to the banks he bilked,
"The $100,000 particulate mixer
Parascandola describes, incidentally, is the exact same technology commonly
employed by major food and pharmaceutical manufacturers to process fluid-form
organic and inorganic compounds into powder: first to dry those compounds;
next to grind the resulting mixture into tiny specks of dust, as small
as a single micron in diameter; then to coat those dust specks with a chemical
additive, if necessary, to maximize their motility or 'floatiness'; and
finally to aerate the stuff for
Now this is dynamite, but it seems
that the FBI is ignoring another explosive piece to the anthrax puzzle.
Writes Tell: "I know of no hard evidence to suggest that Syed Athar Abbas
is 'the' anthrax terrorist – or any kind of anthrax terrorist, for that
Next: the FBI and
Dr. Hatfill: another Richard Jewell case?
The Crucifixion of Steven Hatfill
Phil Brennan, NewsMax.com
Editor's note: This is the last of the series. Part one: FBI and Anthrax: Another TWA 800 in the Making? Part two: FBI Ignored Letter in Anthrax Probe. Part three: FBI Rejects Link Between Anthrax, 9-11 Terrorists. Part four: FBI Overlooks Iraq's Connection to Anthrax Attacks. Part five: The FBI and Dr. Hatfill – A New Richard Jewell Case?
"Reporters bang on Steven J. Hatfill's door at all hours," the Washington Post reported Aug. 11. "An Internet Web site labels him Steven 'Mengele' Hatfill, Nazi swine. Cable talk shows routinely discuss whether he is last fall's anthrax mailer. And twice, the FBI has very publicly swept into Hatfill's Frederick apartment."
And that’s only part of the story of the harassment of Dr. Steven Hatfill by the FBI and their media lapdogs who have swallowed every crumb of misinformation fed to them by Dr. Barbara Hatch Rosenberg and her left-wing colleagues and by an out-of-control and pitifully incompetent Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Almost oblivious of the fact that they are in effect charging Dr. Hatfill with wantonly murdering five innocent fellow Americans, the media have swarmed around him like angry bees, dredging up incidents in his distant past to justify their continuing attacks.
(On Aug. 11, Hatfill met with the media in front of his lawyer’s office and read a statement that indicted the FBI and its media toadies for their attempts to crucify him.)
What is the case against Hatfill? According to the Associated Press, there is none. "Investigators probing last fall's anthrax attacks have no physical evidence linking Dr. Steven J. Hatfill to the crime, but they are not prepared to clear him, a law enforcement official said Monday [Aug. 12]," according to AP.
AP reported that an unnamed (of course) "U.S. law enforcement official said Monday that Hatfill has been straightforwardly answering questions from investigators but a number of intriguing items from his past make them unwilling to declare him cleared of any suspicion."
"Investigators continue to be frustrated by the absence of physical clues linking anyone to the mailings," the official told the AP. He said that the Bureau has searched Hatfill's apartment in Frederick, Md., twice, as well as his car, a storage locker in Florida and the home of his girlfriend.
AP summarized the reasons why the bureau would not let go:
The anthrax letters contained a return address of a nonexistent Greendale School in New Jersey. Hatfill once lived in Harare, Zimbabwe, where there is a school named for Courtney Selous, the namesake of the Selous Scouts, who fought the communist terrorists who were murdering white farmers, their wives, children and their black farmworkers.
Because there is no "Greendale School," the FBI and its media stooges now claim that the school is "informally" known as the Greendale school. It doesn’t say by whom.
Investigative journalist Nicholas Stix took the trouble the rest of the media couldn’t bother themselves with. He contacted people in Zimbabwe and asked if anyone knew about the so-called Greendale school. Here are two answers he got:
"There was [and still is] only one school in the neighbourhood. In my day, it was called Courtney Selous primary school. ... I checked on a NGO website which listed all the name changes which the government is proposing presently and discovered that the school is, indeed, still called Courtney Selous [after a famous 'White Hunter,' Frederick Courtney Selous, who featured prominently in early Rhodesian pioneer history]. Although the school is located in Greendale, it has never been known as 'Greendale School.' No other schools have ever been built in the area."
"There isn't and never has been a Greendale School. There is a suburb in Harare called Greendale. The schools in that area were Courteney Selous School, which is a school for junior kids. The only other schools in that area were for high school, i.e Oriel Boys, Oriel Girls and Chisipite. There is a school that is called Greengrove but is not in the school zone in the area mentioned although it is fairly close."
There are Greendale schools all over the place, 16 in the U.S. alone. Here are several in North America:
4381 King Street
Greendale High School and Greendale
13092 McGuffie Road
Greendale School, Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada
Even more interesting is a fact unearthed by researcher Richard Smith concerning a Greenbrook School located near the sites where the anthrax letters were mailed in New Jersey. Writes Smith:
"The mail box with anthrax spores in it is at the corner of Nassau and Bank in Princeton. It is in the downtown Princeton commercial district right across the street from Princeton University. Nassau St. is also NJ Route 27 which goes north east to Franklin Park, NJ and Kendall Park, NJ. The Greenbrook School is about 1/4 mile off of Route 27 about 10 to 15 miles from the mail box. The main Princeton Post Office is only a couple blocks from this mailbox. It was one of the four post NJ offices that also had anthrax spores …"
Please note that the anthrax letters sent last fall to Sens. Tom Daschle, D-S.D., and Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., both carried the same return address:
Franklin Park, where the Greenbrook school is located!
On his computer, officials found the draft of a novel about a bioterrorism attack. The draft is a couple of years old. It has nothing to do with anthrax.
In 1999, while working for a defense contractor, Hatfill commissioned a report looking at how anthrax might be sent through the mail. That report suggested there would be about 2.5 grams of anthrax in an envelope — and, except for the AMI letter that was thrown away, that's what was in last fall's mailings.
Hatfill did not work on the report and wasn’t alone in authorizing the study. The work was done by bioterrorism expert William Patrick III. Under instructions from the CIA, Hatfill and another scientist, Joseph Soukup, commissioned a study of a hypothetical anthrax attack in February 1999 as employees of defense contractor Science Applications International Corp., according to Ben Haddad, spokesman for the San Diego company.
In the wake of Hatfill’s press conference, the FBI flatly denied it had leaked information to the media, which in the days following continued to report data that could only have come from the bureau:
Details about the FBI’s use of bloodhounds by exposing the dogs to gauze rubbed on the anthrax letter envelopes, which were miraculously cleansed of all traces of anthrax spores allegedly without eliminating the sender’s scent, were widely reported in the media.
The dogs were said to have visibly reacted when in the presence of Hatfill, two girlfriends, and places where Hatfill and the women had been. Hatfill’s lawyer, by the way, described the bloodhound "evidence" as "bogus" and challenged reporters to check with bloodhound experts on the possibility of an almost year-old scent from envelopes exposed to a cleaning procedure being a valid one.
Allegations that Dr. Hatfill had failed a lie detector test given a month before the anthrax mailings. The tests had nothing to do with the anthrax matter.
In addition, on the occasions of both the FBI searches of Hatfill’s apartment, the media were present in large numbers, having been alerted by someone involved in the investigation.
NewsMax.com has no way of knowing what evidence the FBI has that allegedly connects Hatfill to the anthrax atrocity. The FBI says it has nothing to conclusively link him to the mailings, and it insists he is not a suspect but remains just "a person of interest," as are a number of others the bureau is looking at.
If that is so, how can the government be presenting evidence about Hatfill to a federal grand jury, as the New York Times columnist and Dr. Rosenberg ally Nicholas Kristof reported Aug. 12, if he’s not a suspect?
The much more reliable Susan Schmidt of the Washington Post denies that any grand jury has been empanelled in the Hatfill matter. She wrote, "No grand jury has begun hearing evidence, according to people close to the investigation, and interviews with Hatfill have yielded little."
The media campaign against Dr. Hatfill, fed by leaks deliberately calculated to justify continuing the assault on him, raises the possibility that the government will persuade a grand jury to indict him even if it has no physical evidence. That would meet the 9-11 deadline the bureau’s top officials have established for clearing the case.
An indictment would result in a lengthy proceeding stretching out for months if not years, thus taking the pressure off the FBI for a long time. As has been often noted, a good prosecutor could get a grand jury to indict a ham sandwich.
On August 11, Hatfill and his attorney Victor M. Glasberg of Alexandria, Va., sat down with a Washington Post reporter and gave their version of allegations against Hatfill.
"I went from being someone with pride in my work, pride in my profession, to being made into the biggest criminal of the 21st century, for something I never touched," Hatfill told the Post. "What I've been trying to contribute, my work, is finished. My life is destroyed."
"Hatfill hasn't been charged," the Post noted. Despite that, his lawyer told the Post: "Steve's life has been devastated by a drumbeat of innuendo, implication and speculation. We have a frightening public attack on an individual who, guilty or not, should not be exposed to this type of public opprobrium based on speculation."
Glasberg told the Post that Hatfill had no motive to commit bioterror. He added that Hatfill was not disgruntled or unhappy. "He was totally satisfied that this was an all-out effort to move the [bioterror] program forward," Glasberg said. "You're going to find no expression of frustration."
According to Hatfill and Glasberg:
Hatfill never worked with anthrax or had access to the bacteria. At Fort Detrick, "there's bacteriology research and there's virology research," Glasberg said.
"They each have their separate labs. They each have separate decontamination chambers. The lab Steve had access to dealt with viral diseases. ... The two were separate and didn't mix. ... He never worked with anthrax at Fort Detrick. He's a viral guy. That [anthrax] is a bacteria."
Chuck Dasey, a spokesman for Fort Detrick, confirmed Hatfill's work history. "It's true he didn't work on anthrax and was never issued vials of anthrax," Dasey said. He said Hatfill was assigned to the virology division as a research associate. Dasey later said it was possible that Hatfill might have had some access to anthrax.
One by one Glasberg ticked off the allegations against Hatfill and refuted them.
That he had unfettered access to the Army bioresearch lab at Fort Detrick after his grant ended in 1999. He did not, Glasberg said. "After he stopped working there, he had to be escorted, like everybody," Glasberg said. Dasey confirmed that.
That he had been given a booster vaccine for anthrax. He was not, Glasberg said. His last anthrax vaccination was in December 1998, and he has not received a shot since then, making him as vulnerable as anyone else, Glasberg said.
That he removed cabinets from Fort Detrick that could be used to culture anthrax and carried them to his car. The fact is that the cabinets, weighing more than 350 pounds, were moved by truck to a training site for a military exercise and then blown up, Glasberg revealed. This whopper was among Rosenberg’s allegations.
That the "Greendale School" listed as a return address on the anthrax mailings is in Harare, Zimbabwe, near Hatfill's medical school. "To the best of our knowledge, there isn't any Greendale School," Glasberg said. "There is a subdivision near Harare called Greendale, but there are Greendales everywhere."
That Hatfill was disgruntled at losing his security clearance. At Fort Detrick, Hatfill never had nor needed security clearance, Glasberg and Dasey said. Once at Science Applications International, he got low-level security clearance for one project. When he was detailed to work for the CIA on another project, a CIA lie detector test was ambiguous when he was asked about his days in Africa, Glasberg said. His clearance was revoked pending an appeal.
Virtually none of Hatfill's work at Science Applications International required a clearance, Glasberg told the Post, but the company used its revocation as a reason to fire Hatfill in February. He said the company has since offered Hatfill settlement payments, which he rejected, and more work, which he accepted.
In May, Esteban Rodriguez, a supervisor at the Defense Intelligence Agency, wrote a letter lauding Hatfill's "unsurpassed technical expertise, unique resourcefulness, total dedication and consummate professionalism" in helping the military prepare for possible biowarfare in Afghanistan.
In June, still with no anthrax suspect in sight, Barbara Hatch Rosenberg met with the staff of Sens. Daschle, Leahy and Charles Grassley, R-Iowa. Rosenberg is a biological weapons expert from Federation of American Scientists and had published two scathing letters attacking the FBI's lack of results. Rosenberg said she has been careful never to mention Hatfill's name, but several media reported that his name was raised in the meeting, which the FBI also attended.
Several days later, agents asked for and received Hatfill's permission to search his apartment. "They cart out 23 bags of stuff from his apartment," Glasberg said. "They swab the walls for anthrax. And if they came up with something, we don't know about it. An agent told Steve, 'This is on instruction from on high.'"
Next, the agents asked Hatfill to take a second lie detector test. Glasberg wanted to know why, and advised against it. He said the FBI called Hatfill on July 31 and wanted to talk. Glasberg called the agent and left a message offering to schedule a meeting. The next day, the second search occurred.
Glasberg said Hatfill's father received a phone call from a reporter the night before the search, warning him that "something significant" was about to happen. The day of the search, Hatfill hired another Alexandria lawyer, Jonathan Shapiro. Shapiro called Assistant U.S. Attorney Kenneth Kohl to introduce himself, Glasberg said, and not long after, Shapiro received a call from a reporter.
'Without Any Regard to Consequences'
Channing Phillips, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office in Washington, said his office was not speaking to reporters about Hatfill. Glasberg said, "It's just absolutely clear this stuff is being leaked to the press for the purpose of giving their investigation high profile, to demonstrate the FBI is on the case, without any regard to the consequences to this man."
Hatfill found a new job at Louisiana State University, teaching federal agents and police how to handle bioterror, for $150,000 annually. But after the second search, LSU put him on paid leave for 30 days.
At Science Applications International and LSU, Glasberg said, Hatfill has been laid off because they were in "the difficult position of having to contend with unproved, defamatory allegations against someone who's becoming increasingly visible."
Glasberg compared the case to that of Richard Jewell, the Atlanta security guard who was a suspect in the 1996 Olympic Park bombing and who became a household name even though he had done nothing wrong. "One would think that incidents like Richard Jewell," Glasberg said, "would alert the authorities to the importance of proceeding fairly and discreetly in these investigations."
The FBI says it could find no traces of anthrax on Hatfill, or his apartment or car, or anyplace he’s been known to have been. Yet it refuses to eliminate him as a "person of interest" even though it has used the absence of anthrax traces in its cars or anywhere it had been to eliminate the 9-11 terrorists in Florida as suspects.
Assistant FBI Director John Collingwood played down the possible anthrax connection to the terrorists in a written statement "This was fully investigated and widely vetted among multiple agencies several months ago. Exhaustive testing did not support that anthrax was present anywhere the hijackers had been. While we always welcome new information, nothing new has, in fact, developed."
All Other Leads Ignored
With all of the furor surrounding the Hatfill case, all other investigative leads have been ignored, including the fact that a case far more solid than the one against Hatfill can be made. The bureau has steadfastly ignored, for unexplained reasons, the strong possibility that the anthrax-letter culprits were foreign terrorists with ties to Iraq and the 9-11 hijackers who all but surrounded the AMI headquarters before Sept. 11.
Take, for instance that high-tech fine-food particulate mixer capable of weaponizing anthrax that David Tell wrote about. The bureau apprehended the Pakistani national who bought the mixer, jailed him for kiting checks and reportedly never applied heavy pressure on the man to reveal where the blender went after it left his hands. That mixer is still out there in the hands of unknown parties, available to create more anthrax atrocities.
The case has revealed the FBI to be a bumbling bureaucracy that leaks like a sieve – a bureaucracy subject to political pressures that operates under an agenda yet to be revealed. The FBI is not only driven by media pressures generated by Dr. Rosenberg and her allies, but by its obvious leaking of information to trusted reporters it increases the media pressure on itself.
While Dr. Hatfill may turn out to be the guilty party, which given the absence of any physical evidence is unlikely, the FBI’s handling of the matter is an atrocious assault on the doctrine that a man is innocent until proven guilty. Using a stream of unfavorable information about Hatfill, information unrelated to the case, the bureau has created a picture of a guilty man and all but indicted him on the pages of America’s newspapers.
Finally there is this: Hatfill is a fierce patriot who has taken positions at odds with those held by Rosenberg, her leftist science colleagues and the liberal media. He is identifiably a patriot, a gun fancier (he belong to an informal skeet shooting club), and a political conservative, which makes him a prime target of this left-wing crowd. After all, he is said to have fought against the murderous communist terrorists in Rhodesia, which in the eyes of the liberals somehow makes him a racist.
They don’t bother to notice what has happened in that sad nation now known as Zimbabwe under its dictatorial President Robert Mugabe. Mugabe has unleashed terrorism against white farmers who just happen to be the major source of food for an oppressed population facing mass starvation as a result of his policies.
As we said in Part One of this series, in all likelihood the answer to the anthrax mailing puzzle lies in Boca Raton, Fla., the home of American Media, the first victim of this act of terrorism. Nothing we have seen changes that opinion.
There is a mass of circumstantial evidence tying the terrorists to the anthrax attack on AMI, but absolutely none tying the anthrax letters to Hatfill or any other domestic source. The FBI set off on its blind alley excursion by concocting a "profile" of the alleged lone-wolf anthrax mailer that was, in effect, based not on solid scientific methods but upon its collective imagination. Remember the FBI’s Unabomber profile that was comically off the mark by about 180 degrees?
The abrupt resignation of Assistant FBI Director Dale Watson, who oversaw the anthrax investigation, might be a hopeful sign that the whole Hatfill matter is unraveling.
One of Watson's deputies, Tim Caruso, who has also played a key role in the anthrax letters investigation, is on his way out, due to leave next month, and John Collingwood, the FBI's longtime head of congressional and public affairs, has said he’ll be leaving next month to go to work at MBNA Corp., a credit card issuer, where former FBI Director Louis Freeh and several other former top FBI officials work.
In a bizarre coincidence, until recently, MBNA was headquartered around the corner and down the block from - guess what – AMI’s headquarters in Boca Raton, now shut down because it is infested with anthrax spores.
From all appearances, after all, this is a replay of the Richard Jewell case and another FBI TWA Flight 800 abomination in which the bureau not only ignored, but actually sought to cover up, a mass of eyewitness testimony pointing clearly to a missile attack on the aircraft.
If the investigation of the attack on AMI and the killing of Bob Stevens had been left in the capable hands of the Boca Raton Police Department and the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office, they probably would have wrapped up the case by now. Unlike the FBI, both tend to rely on common sense and hard evidence rather than imaginative profiles and the conspiratorial fantasies of politically motivated left-wing academics and their liberal media stooges.
SAUDI ARABIA'S FIRST ENGLISH LANGUAGE DAILY
media spotlights one anthrax suspect, another is too hot to touch
WASHINGTON, 16 August — America’s mainstream press finds some stories too hot to handle. One of the most egregious examples of this is its coverage of the hunt for the perpetrator of the post-Sept. 11 anthrax letters — a matter of concern to all Americans. After an initial flurry of reports, the media inexplicably ignored the FBI’s laborious search for the person who last fall mailed anthrax-laced letters to news organizations and the Capitol Hill offices of Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle and Sen. Patrick J. Leahy.
Did the US media merely lose interest after the government failed to find an Iraqi or Al-Qaeda connection, and therefore could not link the postal terrorism to Sept. 11? Or was the press warned off the sensitive subject? After months of silence, in August the subject of the anthrax attacks once again hit the newspapers and network TV stations. The scientist in the spotlight, however, may be little more than a hapless "fall guy".
Five people died and more than a dozen more were made seriously ill from exposure to the deadly Ames variety of anthrax. Americans across the country feared opening their mail. It’s a safe bet that, had a Muslim — or Arab — American scientist been the prime suspect, press coverage would have been unrelenting.Apparently journalists’ interests weren’t sufficiently aroused by the FBI profile of a disgruntled American bioweapons scientist who may have launched the lethal attack merely to help his career and increase government funding in his area of expertise. This homegrown terrorist murdered innocents, sowed fear across the US, and the rest of the world, and created chaos in the US Postal Service, but for 10 months he stayed out of the news.
The still-unknown culprit also sought to throw suspicions on Muslim or Arab terrorists. First there was the timing of the letters — days after the Sept. 11 attack. The first anthrax letters, as well as some hoax letters, were mailed Sept. 18 to 25. The first public report of an anthrax case in Florida was not until Oct. 4. Then there was the text: The letters clearly intended to imply the writer was of Middle Eastern origin and included deliberate misspellings (the letters suggested taking "penacilin"), a Star of David, as well as threats to Israel, Chicago’s Sears Tower, and President George W. Bush. Someone obviously hoped to focus attention on an Arab scapegoat. The perpetrator added to the already terrible woes of Arabs and Muslims living in the US post-Sept. 11.
The letters could very well have sparked internment camps for Arab Americans, who already faced backlash from the Sept. 11 terror attacks. The US might have launched a military attack on Iraq, as rumors circulated that Saddam Hussain was to blame for the anthrax attacks. Fortunately, early on federal investigators discounted the Arab terrorist theory — although plenty of outsiders still can’t give it up.
The FBI narrowed its search for the terrorist to 200 scientists who had worked with the US anthrax program in the last five years. The investigation focused on Fort Detrick’s Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases in Maryland, the military’s premier bioterrorism complex, and one of only four laboratories with the capability for weaponizing anthrax. Only 50 scientists had access to the Ames strain found in all the letter samples, and perhaps only 30 knew the particular technique used to weaponize the anthrax used in the letters, a technique developed in Ft. Detrick by Bill Patrick. The FBI interviewed former and current bioterrorism scientists, and conducted polygraph tests and home searches. A Feb. 26 New York Times article cast suspicion on a Somali Muslim student at an unnamed Midwestern university. It was soon confirmed, however, that the student could not have had any knowledge of Patrick’s weaponization technique.
This August — nearly a year after the anthrax attack — the story hit the front pages again. The FBI’s second highly visible examination of Steven J. Hatfill’s apartment was conducted with reporters, cameras and a news helicopter hovering overhead.
Although Hatfill once worked at the Fort Detrick lab, his lawyer, Victor Glasberg, said the scientist "did not do anthrax work. Steve has never worked with anthrax." After a series of anthrax hoaxes, including a package that "coincidentally" arrived at B’nai B’rith headquarters in Washington while a terrorism seminar was under way nearby, Hatfill in 1999 did commission William Patrick to write a report on how anthrax could be sent through the mail.
"Steve’s life has been devastated by a drumbeat of innuendo, implication and speculation," according to an Aug. 11 Washington Post interview. Hatfill lost one job and was suspended from another. He told CNN reporters the same day that he is a loyal American and had nothing to do with the deadly anthrax mailings. But his is the only name that has appeared in print recently.
Internet articles claim the government is afraid to arrest the anthrax culprit because he knows too much about US bioweapons. Is Hatfill the bioterrorist or is he a stooge? Is the government protecting one of its own? Are the media and the government using Dr. Hatfill to take the fall for another twisted scientist?
Before the investigation of Dr. Hatfill captured national headlines, another insider scientist had come under FBI scrutiny without much media fanfare. It was easy to miss the few stories published in January 2002 about Lt. Col. Philip Zack, who, like Hatfill, also had access to a well-equipped laboratory with lax security. Zack, moreover, actually worked with military-grade anthrax at Fort Detrick.
Dr. Zack left Fort Detrick in December 1991 amid allegations of unprofessional conduct. The Jewish scientist and others were accused of harassing their co-worker, Dr. Ayaad Assaad, until the Egyptian-born American scientist quit, according to an article in Connecticut’s The Hartford Courant, the country’s oldest newspaper in continuous publication. Dr. Assaad sued the Army, claiming discrimination after Zack’s badgering.
Although Dr. Zack was let go, he returned frequently to visit friends, and used the Fort Detrick laboratories for "off-the-books" work after hours. After reports of missing biological specimens — including anthrax, Ebola and the simian AIDs virus — came to light, as well as reports of unauthorized research, a review of surveillance camera tapes recorded Dr. Zack entering the lab late on the night of Jan. 23, 1992, according to The Hartford Courant report. He was let in that night by Marian Rippy, a lab pathologist and close friend of Zack’s, although she now says she has no memory of the evening. She did say that Zack occasionally visited and that other friends let him in.
Inexplicably, the national press ignored these documented unauthorized visits to a top-secret government lab embroiled in the anthrax attacks. Did journalists fear being labeled anti-Semitic for casting suspicions on a Jewish scientist?
Soon after the 9/11 attack, a long, typed anonymous letter was sent to Quantico Marine Base accusing the long-suffering Assaad, Zack’s victim in 1991, of plotting terrorism. This letter was received before the anthrax letters or disease were reported. The timing of the note makes its author a serious suspect in the anthrax attacks. The sender also displayed considerable knowledge of Dr. Assaad, his work, his personal life and a remarkable premonition of the upcoming bioterrorism attack. After interviewing Assaad on Oct. 2, 2001, the FBI decided the letter was a hoax. While major newspapers noted that an anonymous letter had accused Dr. Assaad of bioterrorism, none followed up on it after his innocence was established. Zack’s name never surfaced again as one of the 30 suspects. When the Washington Report asked Barbara Hatch Rosenberg, Ph.D., a biological arms control expert at the State University of New York, if the allegations regarding Dr. David Hatfill now took the heat off Lt. Col. Philip Zack, she replied, "Zack has NEVER been under suspicion as perpetrator of the anthrax attack."
It is hard to believe that, with his connection to Fort Detrick, Dr. Zack is not one of the 20 to 50 scientists under intense investigation.
When asked if Hatfill was part of the group that ganged up on Dr. Ayaad Assaad, Dr. Rosenberg answered, "Hatfill was NOT one of the persecutors of Assaad." She is convinced that the FBI knows who sent the anthrax letters but isn’t arresting him because he knows too much about US secret biological weapons research and production. But she isn’t naming names. Neither is Dr. Assaad, who did not return calls from the Washington Report. Another person not naming names is New York Times reporter Nicholas D. Kristof. In a series of articles published on July 2, 12, and 19, however, he called the anthrax perpetrator "Mr. Z" (not "Mr. H"). Kristof’s description of "Mr. Z" sounds very much more like Dr. Zack than Dr. Hatfill.
The New York Times journalist reported that "Mr. Z" was caught with a girlfriend after hours in Fort Detrick. According to Kristof, "Mr. Z" talked about the importance of his field and his own status in it, and often used the B’nai B’rith attack as an example of how anthrax attacks might happen. He also "had a penchant for dropping Arab names" when he discussed the possibility of anthrax attacks.
Is the anthrax culprit, or "Mr. Z," actually Dr. Zack or Dr. Hatfill, or another undisclosed scientist? Is Dr. Hatfill being framed while Dr. Zack stays out of the spotlight? Will the investigation simply peter out without an arrest? Are the US government and the media engaging in a shameful cover-up?
It remains to be seen whether the anthrax story will share the fate of the one-day wonders hidden on the back pages of America’s mainstream newspapers — whose publishers shy away from articles they fear may bring a spate of hate mail, charges of "anti-Semitism," or threats to end advertising or subscriptions.
(Delinda Hanley is the news editor of the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs.)
Copyright © 2001 ArabNews
death adds to conspiracy plot
Evening News 24
THE death of a leading scientist in Norwich is at a centre of a bizarre conspiracy theory linking him with the deaths of eleven other boffins around the world.
Ian Langford, 40, a leader and senior researcher in the field of environmental risk at the UEA, was found naked from the waist down and wedged under a chair in his blood spattered home in Marlborough Road last February.
Far-fetched theorists are citing Dr Langford as a possible victim of a strange global conspiracy to kill leading bio-scientists, who were all said to be involved in bioterror and germ warfare, mostly in the United States but also in Russia, Australia and the UK.
In the four months after last year's anthrax scares in the United States, 11 bio-scientists, including Dr Langford, have died in unusual circumstances and the theory holds that the dead men were killed because of involvement in the scares.
No inquest was held into the death of Mr Langford and police were satisfied that there were no suspicious circumstances.
It was found that the researcher died of natural causes, believed to have been organ failure.
He was said to have drunk up to a litre of spirits a day and the bloodstains around his home were thought to have been caused by him falling over several times.
The conspiracy tales have gained such currency that statisticians and journalists have started looking into the individual cases.
Articles have already been published both in Britain and the US trying to debunk suggestions of a massive conspiracy involving the deaths of many people only very loosely connected to the field.
A Chartered Statistician and fellow of the Royal Statistical Society, Dr Langford gained a first class honours degree in environmental sciences at UEA before starting his PhD into childhood leukaemia and infection. He had previously advised the World Health Organisation on public health issues.
His colleagues at the UEA have poured scorn on the conspiracy theory.
A spokeswoman for at the university said: "This is nonsense. None of Ian's colleagues believes in this conspiracy theory.
"Ian's sadly early death was from natural causes. If there had been any suggestion that this was not the case, there would have been an inquest."
The conspiracy was first aired by Ian Gurney, author of a book that uses clues from the Bible to calculate that Judgement Day will occur in or about the year 2023.
After September 11 he entered a news alert request into a website asking to be notified whenever there was news with the key word "microbiologist". A trickle of names and odd deaths popped up on his computer.
He compiled what he had learnt from these scattered accounts into an article that he sent to a number of websites.
Mr Gurney wrote: "Over the past few weeks, several world-acclaimed scientific researchers specialising in infectious diseases and biological agents such as anthrax, as well as DNA sequencing, have been found dead or have gone missing."
The article quickly gained currency on websites that regularly throw up bizarre conspiracy theories, particularly linked to September 11.
Whereas the sponsorship of the anthrax attacks remain a mystery, the attacker presumably gained knowledge about the vulnerabilities of the United States. What would a hostile state, especially one intent on developing a deterrent against an American attack (or an American reprisal for 9/11), have learned?
A hostile state would have determined that:
1) The US postal system is an effective delivery system for an anonymous biological attack. Letters carrying dry anthrax spores can be mailed to targeted buildings in America from any place in the world. So a hostile state would not need to possess intercontinental missiles or bombers to make such a threat credible.
2) Anthrax can paralyze parts of the American economy, even if does not inflict mass casualties, by closing down vital buildings and communication links.
The first anthrax delivery to American Media in Florida demonstrated that when anthrax is not identified by a warning letter, it is not likely to be immediately identified or contained. (The time that elapsed between its delivery and its identification is known to the attacker.)
The second anthrax delivery in September to NBC and the New York Post demonstrated that when warning letters are included a media frenzy can be induced.
The third anthrax delivery of anthrax to the offices of Senators Daschle and Leahy was in a weaponized form that turned into an aerosol. It demonstrated that key government buildings can be totally immobilized and that their decontamination requires several months.
Further, these two letters containing weaponized anthrax demonstrated that the processing of mail in sorting centers produces cross-contamination. A post office facility as far away as Wallingford, Conn. reported a cluster of 3 million anthrax spores on its ceiling. From these disruptions, a hostile state could extrapolate the damage caused by a mass mailing of weaponized anthrax to a wide range of buildings, with and without warning letters, including the paralysis of the postal system in the United States.
3) The probes with warning letters
also demonstrated that, even when anthrax was immediately identified, medical
defenses could not be counted on. The only available vaccine required injections
over several months to be completely effective and the distribution of
4) The attacks also demonstrated that the US did not have the means to identify their source.
Eleven months after Robert Stevens was murdered by anthrax in Florida, the FBI still had not fully searched the initial crime scene for the delivery vehicle. Instead, the entire building was shut down and quarantined. Only in late August 2002 did the FBI re-enter the building to continue the search.
On August 30th, 2002, the AP reported "Clad in white protective suits, investigators set up devices inside the quarantined former headquarters of the National Enquirer yesterday to take samples and search for clues in last fall's anthrax attack."
By using the Ames strain, which originally had been cultured in America, and then sent to both American and foreign research labs, the attacker also led the FBI to focus its investigation on the possibility of American rather than foreign perpetrators. The FBI was not able to find the laboratory used to grow the billions of spores from a sample of the Ames strain. This facility also had to sequentially filter these to produce a uniform size as minute as one micron (a length one-millionth of a meter) and treat the spores through a material science technology, such as coating or vacuum-freezing, so that they would become a lethal aerosol. The perpetrator might therefore assume that he would have a cloak of deniability if not anonymity, in future attacks.
U.S. sent Iraq germs in mid-'80s
By DOUGLAS TURNER
News Washington Bureau Chief
WASHINGTON - American research companies, with the approval of two previous presidential administrations, provided Iraq biological cultures that could be used for biological weapons, according to testimony to a U.S. Senate committee eight years ago.
West Nile Virus, E. coli, anthrax and botulism were among the potentially fatal biological cultures that a U.S. company sent under U.S. Commerce Department licenses after 1985, when Ronald Reagan was president, according to the Senate testimony.
The Commerce Department under the first Bush administration also authorized eight shipments of cultures that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention later classified as having "biological warfare significance."
Between 1985 and 1989, the Senate testimony shows, Iraq received at least 72 U.S. shipments of clones, germs and chemicals ranging from substances that could destroy wheat crops, give children and animals the bone-deforming disease rickets, to a nerve gas rated a million times more lethal than Sarin.
Disclosures about such shipments in the late 1980s not only highlight questions about old policies but pose new ones, such as how well the American military forces would be protected against such an arsenal - if one exists - should the United States invade Iraq.
Testimony on these shipments was offered in 1994 to the Senate Banking Committee headed by then-Sens. Donald Riegle Jr., D-Mich., and Alfonse M. D'Amato, R-N.Y., who were critics of the policy. The testimony, which occurred during hearings that were held about the poor health of some returning Gulf War veterans, was brought to the attention of The Buffalo News by associates of Riegle.
The committee oversees the work of the U.S. Export Administration of the Commerce Department, which licensed the shipments of the dangerous biological agents.
"Saddam (Hussein) took full advantage of the arrangement," Riegle said in an interview with The News late last week. "They seemed to give him anything he wanted. Even so, it's right out of a science fiction movie as to why we would send this kind of stuff to anybody."
The new Bush administration, he said, claims Hussein is adding to his bioweapons capability.
"If that's the case, then the issue needs discussion and clarity," Riegle said. "But it's not something anybody wants to talk about."
The shipments were sent to Iraq in the late 1980s, when that country was engaged in a war with Iran, and Presidents Reagan and George Bush were trying to diminish the influence of a nation that took Americans hostages a decade earlier and was still aiding anti-Israeli terrorists.
"Iraq was considered an ally of the U.S. in the 1980s," said Nancy Wysocki, vice president for public relations for one of the U.S. organizations that provided the materials to Hussein's regime.
"All these (shipments) were properly licensed by the government, otherwise they would not have been sent," said Wysocki, who works for American Type Culture Collection, Manassas, Va., a nonprofit bioinformatics firm.
The shipments not only raise serious questions about the wisdom of former administrations, Riegle said, but also questions about what steps the Defense Department is taking to protect American military personnel against Saddam's biological arsenal in the event of an invasion.
Riegle said there are 100,000 names on a national registry of gulf veterans who have reported illnesses they believe stem from their tours of duty there.
"Some of these people, who went over there as young able-bodied Americans, are now desperately ill," he said. "Some of them have died."
"One of the obvious questions for today is: How has our Defense Department adjusted to this threat to our own troops?" he said. "How might this potential war proceed differently so that we don't have the same outcome?
"How would our troops be protected? What kind of sensors do we have now? In the Gulf War, the battlefield sensors went off tens of thousands of times. The Defense Department says they were false alarms."
U.S. bioinformatics firms in the 1980s received requests from a wide variety of Iraqi agencies, all claiming the materials were intended for civilian research purposes.
The congressional testimony from 1994 cites an American Type shipment in 1985 to the Iraq Ministry of Higher Education of a substance that resembles tuberculosis and influenza and causes enlargement of the liver and spleen. It can also infect the brain, lungs, heart and spinal column. The substance is called histoplasma capsulatum.
American Type also provided clones used in the development of germs that would kill plants. The material went to the Iraq Atomic Energy Commission, which the U.S. government says is a front for Saddam's military.
An organization called the State Company for Drug Industries received a pneumonia virus, and E. coli, salmonella and staphylcoccus in August 1987 under U.S. license, according to the Senate testimony. The country's Ministry of Trade got 33 batches of deadly germs, including anthrax and botulism in 1988.
Ten months after the first President Bush was inaugurated in 1988, an unnamed U.S. firm sent eight substances, including the germ that causes strep throat, to Iraq's University of Basrah.
An unnamed office in Basrah, Iraq, got "West Nile Fever Virus" from an unnamed U.S. company in 1985, the Senate testimony shows.
While there is no proof that the recent outbreak of West Nile virus in the United States stemmed from anything Iraq did, Riegle said, "You have to ask yourself, might there be a connection?"
Researchers at the Center for Strategic and International Studies said American companies were not the only ones that sent anthrax cultures to Iraq. British firms sold cultures to the University of Baghdad that were transferred to the Iraqi military, the Center for Strategic and International Studies said. The Swiss also sent cultures.
The data on American shipments of deadly biological agents to Iraq was developed for the Senate Banking Committee in the winter of 1994 by the panel's chief investigator, James Tuite, and other staffers, and entered into the committee record May 25, 1994.
The committee was trying to establish that thousands of service personnel were harmed by exposure to Iraqi chemical weapons during the Gulf War, particularly following a U.S. air attack on a munitions dump - a theory that the Defense Department and much of official Washington have always downplayed.
Bureau assistant Diana Moore and News researcher Andrew Bailey contributed to this article.