CASE CLOSED … what really happened in the 2001 anthrax attacks?

* DXer: documents in the possession of Ayman Zawahiri and his associates illustrate the dangers of scientific openness

Posted by DXer on May 17, 2009

DXer said (5-17-09)

The Defense Intelligence Agency provided me various documents and citations in the possession Ayman Zawahiri and his associates, including a number relating to selective culture medium, in order to share with you the dangers of scientific openness.

The Al-Qaida documents were discovered by U.S. forces in Afghanistan in Fall 2001. The subject was addressed in correspondence between Ayman Zawahiri and his military commander Mohammed Atef in the Spring of 1999. Vice President Cheney was briefed in December 2001. He explained to the CIA and FBI at the time that it was critical that they fully cooperate in order to determine whether there was any connection between these documents and the anthrax mailings in the US.

As the FBI WMD Chief explained in August 2008, the silica could have been in the culture medium.

The fact, as Dr. Michaels explained, that it was absorbed in the spore coats, points to this use in the culture medium suggested by the FBI.

Selected Document References:

Darlow, HM, and Pride, NB. (1969). Serological diagnosis of anthrax. Lancet

Doi, H, et al. (1996). Hepatitis C virus (HCV) subtype prevalence in Chiang Mai,
Thailand, and identification of novel subtypes of HCV major type 6. J. Clin. Microbiol.

Green, DM, and Jamieson, WM. (1958). Anthrax and bone-meal fertilizer. Lancet ii:153-

Hobbs, G, Roberts, TA, and Walker, PD. (1965). Some observations on OS variants of
Clostridium botulinum type E. J. Appl. Bacteriol. 28(1):147-152.

Mangold, T, and Goldberg, J. (1999). Plague Wars: The Terrifying Reality of Biological
Warfare. MacMillan, Great Britain.

Morris, EJ. (1955). A selective medium for Bacillus anthracis. J. Gen. Microbiol.

Pearce, TW, and Powell, EO. (1951). A selective medium for Bacillus anthracis. J. Gen.
Microbiol. 5:387-390

Roberts, TA. (1965). Sporulation of Clostridium botulinum type E in different culture
media. J. Appl. Bacteriol 28(1):142-146.

Roberts, TA, and Ingram, M. (1965). The resistance of spores of Clostridium botulinum
type E to heat and radiation. J. Appl. Bacteriol. 28:125.

Semple, AB, and Hobday, TL. (1959). Control of anthrax: Suggestions based on survey
of imported hides. Lancet ii (3 October): 507-508

Stanley, JL, and Smith H (1961). Purification of factor I and recognition of a third factor
of the anthrax toxin. J. Gen. Microbiol. 26:49-66.

Thorne, CB, and Belton, FC. (1957). An agar-diffusion method for titrating Bacillus
anthracis immunizing antigen and its application to a study of antigen production. J. Gen.
Microbiol. 17:505-516.

Wang, CH, et al. (1996). Immune response to hepatitis A virus capsid proteins after
infection. J. Clin. Microbiol. 34(3):707-713.

Selected Supplementary References from Handwritten Notes Recovered on Site:

Ajl, SJ, Kadis, S, and Montie, TC. (1970) Microbial Toxins. Academic Press, New York.

Anderson, RM, and May, RM. (1991). Infectious Diseases of Humans: Dynamics and
Control. Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Batty, I and Walker, PD. (1965). Colonial morphology and fluorescent labelled antibody
staining in the identification of species of the genus Clostridium. J. Appl. Bacteriol.

Brachman, PS, Plotkin, SA, Bumford, FH, and Atchison, MM. (1960). An epidemic of
inhalation anthrax: The first in the twentieth century. II. Epidemiology. Am. J. Hyg. 72:6-

Clarke, R. (1968). We All Fall Down: The Prospects of Biological and Chemical
Warfare. Penguin Books, London.

Hodgkiss, W, and Ordal, ZJ. (1966). The morphology of the spore of some strains of
Clostridium botulinum type E. J. Bacteriol. 91:2031-2036.

Keppie, J, Cocking, EC, Witt, K, and Smith, H. (1960). The chemical basis of the
virulence of Pasteurella pestis. III. An immunogenic product obtained from Past. pestis
that protects both guinea pigs and mice. Br. J. Exp. Pathol. 41:577-585.

Knisley, RF. (1966). Selective medium for Bacillus anthracis. J. Gen. Microbiol. 13:456.

Knisely, RF, Swaney, LM, and Friedlander, H. (1964). Selective media for the isolation
of Pasteurella pestis. J. Bacteriol. 88:491-496.

Miller, JK. Human anthrax in New York state. N.Z. Med. J. 61:2046-2053.

Murphy, S, Hay, A, and Rose, S. (1986). No Fire, No Thunder: The Threat of Chemical
and Biological Weapons. Pluto Press, London.
Proceedings of the Conference on Airborne Infection. (1961). Bacteriol. Rev. 25:173-

Riemann, H. (1969). Botulism Types A, B, and F in Foodborne Infections and
Intoxications. Edited by H Rieman. Academic Press, New York.

Roberts, B. (1993). Biological Weapons: Weapons of the Future. Significant Issues
Series XV(1). Center for Strategic and International Studies. Washington, DC.

Rothschild, JH. (1964). Tomorrow’s Weapons. McGraw-Hill, New York.

Smith, H (1988). The development of studies on the determinants of bacterial
pathogenicity. J. Comp. Pathol. 98:253-73.

Walgate, R. (1990). Miracle of Menace? Biotechnology and the Third World. The Panas
Institute, London.

William, P, and Wallace, D. (1989). Unit 731: The Japanese Army’s Secret of Secrets.
Hodder and Stoughton, London.

World Health Organization (1970) Expert Committee on Plague, 4th Report. World
Health Org. Tech. Rep. Ser. (no. 447).

10 Responses to “* DXer: documents in the possession of Ayman Zawahiri and his associates illustrate the dangers of scientific openness”

  1. DXer said

    Plum Island, Home to Government Disease Research, to be Auctioned
    Laboratory Equipment‎ – 23 minutes ago
    Anthrax and other deadly germs were part of the scientific work undertaken on the island, the former director of the facility reportedly said in 2010. But other …

    Plum Island has 840 acres of uncut forests, undeveloped beaches, an historic lighthouse, and beautiful views of the Hamptons a short row across the sound.

    But when it goes up for auction soon, it will also come with some history: as host to one of the U.S.’ foremost 20thcentury biological research facilities, the Plum Island Animal Disease Center.

    The Department of Homeland Security decided to move the disease-research operations to a new facility in Kansas and sell the island in 2009. Now the U.S. General Services Administration is preparing to put the whole island on the block – even as battles about it swirl in Congress.


    Officials have said that former biological testing of dangerous diseases had been scaled back. However, the decision to move the lab was based on the U.S. Government Accountability Office saying that the island was vulnerable to a terrorist attack in the wake of 9/11.


    Dr. Ayman Zawahiri had a document on Plum Island among the papers seized. Hey, Dr. Ayman, why don’t you retire from this pointless killing innocents gig and retire to a nice historic lighthouse?

  2. DXer said

    The bibliography provided by Dr. Relman and his co-author in this SCIENCE article would identify any artilces Zawahiri had researched about botulinum.

  3. DXer said

    Yazid, why was Dr. Zawahiri reading up on clostridium botulinum? If the United States obtained the extradition of Yazid, the CIA and FBI would be in a better position to make it a priority in questioning.

    Botulin toxin produced by C. botulinum is often believed to be a potential bioweapon as it is so potent that it takes about 75 nanograms to kill a person (LD50 of 1 ng/kg,[25] assuming an average person weighs ~75 kg); 1 kilogram of it would be enough to kill the entire human population. For comparative purposes, a quarter of a typical grain of sand’s weight (350 ng) of botulinum toxin would constitute a lethal dose for humans. Clostridium botulinum is a soil bacterium. The spores can survive in most environments and are very hard to kill.

    see, .e.g.,

    Hobbs, G, Roberts, TA, and Walker, PD. (1965). Some observations on OS variants of
    Clostridium botulinum type E. J. Appl. Bacteriol. 28(1):147-152.

    Roberts, TA. (1965). Sporulation of Clostridium botulinum type E in different culture
    media. J. Appl. Bacteriol 28(1):142-146.

    Roberts, TA, and Ingram, M. (1965). The resistance of spores of Clostridium botulinum
    type E to heat and radiation. J. Appl. Bacteriol. 28:125.

    Batty, I and Walker, PD. (1965). Colonial morphology and fluorescent labelled antibody
    staining in the identification of species of the genus Clostridium. J. Appl. Bacteriol.

    Hodgkiss, W, and Ordal, ZJ. (1966). The morphology of the spore of some strains of
    Clostridium botulinum type E. J. Bacteriol. 91:2031-2036.

    Riemann, H. (1969). Botulism Types A, B, and F in Foodborne Infections and
    Intoxications. Edited by H Rieman. Academic Press, New York.

    William, P, and Wallace, D. (1989). Unit 731: The Japanese Army’s Secret of Secrets.
    Hodder and Stoughton, London.

  4. DXer said

    2009 – Jihadists and Weapons of Mass Destruction By Gary Ackerman, Jeremy Tamsett

    Written for professionals and policymakers working at the forefront of counterterrorism efforts, this exceptionally authoritative and comprehensive work covers weapons of mass destruction as jihadist terrorists have used them historically and are likely to use to use them in the future. Leading international experts examine terrorist ideology, strategy, and target selection. They describe chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear weapons, and discuss how terrorists might acquire or manufacture them. They also address detection, prevention, and attack mitigation techniques. Devoid of sensationalism, this multidimensional evaluation adds a heightened level of sophistication to our understanding of terrorism.

    More details

    [Note: I have deleted page numbers because of difficulty in formatting; any formatting errors are mine]

    Jihadists and Weapons of Mass Destruction: A Growing Threat
    By Gary Ackerman, Jeremy Tamsett
    Contributor Gary Ackerman, Jeremy Tamsett
    Edition: illustrated
    Published by CRC Press, 2009
    ISBN 1420069640, 9781420069648
    494 pages
    Jihadists and Weapons of Mass Destruction By Gary Ackerman, Jeremy Tamsett

    Jihadist Ideology and Strategy and the Possible Employment
    jihadist , CBRN weapons , Islamic Obedience to Divinity? The Psychology of Jihadist

    Usama bin Ladin , scorched earth , mimesis
    Jihadist Tactics and Targeting

    Ayman al-Zawahiri , Voice of Jihad , Aum Shinrikyo
    Jihadist Capabilities and the Diffusion of Knowledge

    CBRN , Hizballah , Mirsad-

    chemical weapons , Aum Shinrikyo , nerve agents
    Jihadists and Biological and Toxin Weapons

    biological weapons , ricin , bioterrorism
    Radiological Weapons and Jihadist Terrorism

    radiological weapons , dirty bomb , radioisotopes
    Jihadists and Nuclear Weapons


    jihad , plutonium , chemical weapons
    Calibrating Its Potential

    deterrence , Thomas Schelling , Counterterrorism
    Global and National Efforts to Prevent Jihadist Access

    Proliferation Security Initiative , Chemical Weapons Convention , A.Q. Khan
    Mitigation as Counterterrorism

    Hurricane Katrina , Homeland Security , Jacob Shapiro


    MIPT , McDonald’s , Correlates of War
    Trends and Emerging

    Delphi Method , expert elicitation , Scott Armstrong

    counterterrorism , wicked problem , Patrick Roberts

    Ansar al-Islam , Pankisi Gorge , Jamaah Islamiyah

    Appendix B Selected Jihadist Statements and Discussion on WMD

    Al-Qaeda , Selected Quotes , rt d


    dar al-Islam , defensive jihad , dar al-harb
    Jihadist Ideology and the Potential Employment of CBRN Weapons

    Dirty Bombs

    al-Jazira , Islam , Imperial Hubris

    Jihad , plutonium , radioactive
    Randall S Murch and Jeremy Tamsett

    intelligence cycle , IMINT , SIGINT
    Essentials for Success Against Jihadists and WMD

    intelligence analysts , intel , threat space

    Homeland Security , Hurricane Katrina , Jacob Shapiro
    The Future of Jihadists and

    Delphi Method , expert elicitation , December 12
    Future of Jihadists and WMD Delphi Study

    Delphi , WMD attack , weapon type


  5. DXer said

    I agree with you Ike. Then the policy problem becomes even more acute when millions of dollars in government grants — and pork-fueled government decision-making — are involved.

    As explained by Mark A. Gabriel, PhD, who once taught at Al-Azhar in Egypt, Ayman Zawahiri has written a booklet on covert operations in Arabic that is published online. (Note to self: why do Romulans speak English?) In Journey Into The Mind Of An Islamist Terrorist, Gabriel discusses a booklet Zawahiri wrote titled COVERT OPERATIONS. If you want to know how Zawahiri views deceit on such issues as battle plans and intelligence gathering and how he would go about infiltrating US biodefense, read his own words online.

    Gabriel explains:

         “Ayman al-Zawahiri leads a busy terrorist organization, and he must solve practical problems. For example, he may want some Al-Qaeda members to blend in and live in the United States. If these men wore full beards and went to ultraconservative mosques to pray, they they would arouse suspicion and get put on a watch list. Instead, al-Zawahiri would want these operatives to go undercover and blend into society. However, these devout Muslims will not go undercover unless they believe they have permission to do so from the teachings of Islam. As a result, al-Zawahiri wrote a booklet titled COVERT OPERATIONS, which goes deep into Islamic teaching and history to describe how deceit can be a tool in Muslim life.”

         The entire book by al-Zawahiri is posted in the Arabic language website for al-Tawheed Jihad (The Pulpit of Monotheism and Jihad). Zawahiri concluded that “hiding one’s faith and being secretive was allowed especially in time of fear from prosecution of the infidels.” Indeed, his student group in Cairo in the 1970s was known as the “shaven beards.” (Ayman’s friend, the founder of Egyptian Islamic Jihad, was the lead writer for microbiologist Al-Timimi’s charity.)

         Al-Zawahiri discussed two specific ways Muhammad used deceit in battle: (1) keeping battle plans secret, and (2) spying. The author writes: “Al-Zawahiri specifically gave radicals permission not to pray in the mosque or attend Friday sermons if it would compromise their position.” He noted that Al-Zawahiri sealed his argument with a very important quote from Ibn Taymiyyah (who was quoted by Al-Timimi upon his indictment). Ever the practical man, Muhammad approved lying in three circumstances (1) during war, (2) to reconcile between two feuding parties, and (3) to a spouse in order to please her.

  6. Ike Solem said

    Unfortunately, the Defense Intelligence Agency, the CIA, DARPA and their private contractors seem to have inadvertently (I hope) done more to promote the spread of biological warfare technology than to inhibit it. Here, we are talking about two projects:

    1) Project Jefferson, a plan by the Defense Intelligence Agency to reproduce a genetically modified strain of the anthrax bacterium developed by Russian scientists in the early 1990s, in order to determine whether or not the agent was resistant to the licensed U.S. anthrax vaccine.

    2) Project Clear Vision, a project by Battelle Memorial Institute, under contract to the CIA, to reconstruct and test a Soviet-designed biological bomblet so as to assess its dissemination characteristics.

    The rationale for doing this is pretty thin – do you need to hit yourself in the head with a hammer in order to be sure it hurts? This kind of research spreads knowledge, classified or not. You have to train technicians to do it, don’t you? Why do that, when you have a pretty good idea what the consequences will be beforehand?

    The fact is, if this stuff is kept secret it can go on festering for years – when the light of day would cause it all to evaporate. Efforts to hide the true nature of the 10/9 anthrax preparations fall into that category.

    Imagine if someone had dumped a larger quantity of that material into a NY subway at rush hour – thousands of people could easily have died. The sacking of the original FBI team and the replacement with Richard Lambert and the “lone wolf” theory of Steven Hatfill also smells rotten. Who doubts that they would have declared ‘case closed’ had Hatfill committed suicide under pressure?

    That’s why the entire episode needs to be subjected to a serious Congressional investigation. People cannot be allowed to get away with this kind of thing, and then pawn the blame off onto innocent third parties.

  7. DXer said

    “Yes, such knowledge can be put to evil uses – but claiming that it must be kept secret is ridiculous.”

    That’s correct. That’s not what the authors contend in their Science article. That’s why the citations have been listed and copies are available online or at your local library. The authors in their Science article discuss the issue of what should be kept secret and I won’t repeat that policy issue here or attempt to draw the line. The selective medium articles I mentioned — the full-text is available online — discuss, growing anthrax in soil while avoiding contamination from other bacteria such as subtilus.

    I agree with you that

    “We can be pretty sure that the technical expertise needed to launch the fall 2001 anthrax attacks came out of one of those ‘biological threat assessment’ programs, probably one designed to mimic Soviet ‘advances’ in aerosolized anthrax preparations. Not exactly “making us safer”, is it?”

    I agree with Richard Ebright’s point that proliferation of such know-how and labs increase the risk of access to that know-how.

  8. Ike Solem said

    Well, that’s the two-edged nature of scientific research. Keep in mind that the entire reason that selective culture media for anthrax were developed was so that veterinarians and doctors could rapidly assess for the presence or absence of anthrax in cattle herds, and so on. It was, in other words, a key development in the struggle against infectious disease – and not just for anthrax.

    Today, there are more rapid tests – but selective media is still a basic tool in the medical struggle against infectious disease (and is also widely used in the food and drug industry to test for contamination).

    Likewise, a doctor must become an expert in poisons and their effects, in order to treat them. Yes, such knowledge can be put to evil uses – but claiming that it must be kept secret is ridiculous. The papers listed above, for example, would do very little to aid anyone in the development of a potent anthrax weapon, anymore than a list of public papers on nuclear technology from 1950-1980 would help much in nuclear weapons development. In both the biowarfare and nuclear weapons cases, the real threat is the classified information developed by the leading national weapons researchers – that’s what needs to stay top secret and not be released, i.e. the dimensions of nuclear weapons explosives, etc.

    If you really want to oppose the spread of biological weaponry, the first thing to do is to sign on to international treaties that include inspection protocols. At the very least, that would include a cancellation of all ‘biological threat assessments’, see this:

    We can be pretty sure that the technical expertise needed to launch the fall 2001 anthrax attacks came out of one of those ‘biological threat assessment’ programs, probably one designed to mimic Soviet ‘advances’ in aerosolized anthrax preparations. Not exactly “making us safer”, is it?

    Enough is enough.

  9. DXer said

    Anyone who would like the same 100+ pages of material, should go to this link for precise instructions on submitting the FOIA (which lists all these articles and notes). The draft FOIA is provided is the supplement that can be found here.

    Tell the FOIA officer you want the same handwritten and typed correspondence to and from Zawahiri as well as the articles listed in the draft FOIA.

    The packet is already prepared by DIA personnel and I do not expect them to charge you for it.

    You should also ask them to update the request with any and all responsive documents.

    Public health. Understanding threats to scientific openness.
    Petro JB, Relman DA.
    Science. 2003 Dec 12;302(5652):1898.

  10. DXer said

    DXer on Zawahiri’s Infiltration of US Biodefense

    In the Spring 1999, Ayman Zawahiri recruited Pakistan scientist Rauf Ahmad who then went to various dangerous pathogens conferences in the West attended by USAMRIID scientist Bruce Ivins. (In fact, Bruce Ivins was in charge of planning the one held in 2001.)

    George Tenet in his May 2007 In the Center of the Storm says: “Al-Qa’ida spared no effort in its attempt to obtain biological weapons. In 1999, al-Zawahiri recruited Pakistani national Rauf Ahmad, to set up a small lab in Khandahar, Afghanistan, to house the biological weapons effort. In December 2001, a sharp WMD analyst at CIA found the initial lead on which we would pull and, ultimately, unravel the al-Qa’ida anthrax networks. We were able to identify Rauf Ahmad from letters he had written to Ayman al-Zawahiri. … We located Rauf Ahmad’s lab in Afghanistan. We identified the building in Khandahar where Sufaat claimed he isolated anthrax. We mounted operations that resulted in the arrests and detentions of anthrax operatives in several countries.”

    Rauf Ahmad was a member of Society for Applied Microbiology (“SFAM”) members. In 1999, a scientist from Porton Down had reported to sfam members on a conference in Taos, New Mexico in August that included a talk by Tim Read, (TIGR, Rockville, USA) and concerned the whole genome sequencing of the Bacillus anthracis Ames strain. The Ames strain may have been a mystery to many after the Fall 2001 mailings, but not to motivated Society for Applied Microbiology (“SFAM”) members, one of whom was part of Ayman Zawahiri’s “Project Zabadi.”

    As described by Dr. Peter Turnbull’s Conference report for SFAM on “the First European Dangerous Pathogens Conference” (held in Winchester), at the September 1999 conference, the lecture theater only averaged about 75 at peak times by his head count. There had been a problem of defining “dangerous pathogen” and a “disappointing representation from important institutions in the world of hazard levels 3 and 4 organisms.” Papers included a summary of plague in Madagascar and another on the outbreak management of hemorrhagic fevers. Dr Paul Keim of Northern Arizona University presented a paper on multilocus VNTR typing, for example, of Bacillus anthracis and Yersinia pestis. There were more than the usual no-show presenters and fill-in speakers. In his report, Dr. Turnbull looked forward to a second, fully international conference in 2000 focused on the ever increasing problems surrounding hazard levels 3 and 4 organisms and aimed at international agreement on the related issues. University of Maryland researcher Milton Leitenberg reports that the conferences described in the correspondence had been in July and September 1999.

    The Sunday at the start of the Organization of the Dangerous Pathogens meeting in September 2000, which the SFAM director confirmed to me that Rauf Ahmad also attended, was gloomy. Planning had proved even more difficult than the International Conference on anthrax also held at the University of Plymouth, in September 1998. The overseas delegates included a sizable contingent from Russia. The organizers needed to address many thorny issues regarding who could attend. One of the scientists in attendance was Rauf Ahmad. The Washington Post reports: “The tall, thin and bespectacled scientist held a doctorate in microbiology but specialized in food production, according to U.S. officials familiar with the case.” Les Baillie the head of the biodefense technologies group at Porton Down ran the scientific program. Many of the delegates took an evening cruise round Plymouth harbor. The cold kept most from staying out on the deck. Later attendees visited the National Marine Aquarium — with a reception in view of a large tankful of sharks. Addresses include presentations on plagues of antiquity, showing how dangerous infectious diseases had a profound that they changed the course of history. Titles include “Magna pestilencia – Black Breath, Black Rats, Black Death”, “From Flanders to Glanders,” as well as talks on influenza, typhoid and cholera. The conference was co-sponsored by DERA, the UK Defence Evaluation and Research Agency.

    Les Baillie of Porton Down gave a presentation titled, “Bacillus anthracis: a bug with attitude!” He argued that anthrax was a likely pathogen to be used by terrorists. As described at the time by Phil Hanna of University of Michigan Medical School on the SFAM webpage, Baillie “presented a comprehensive overview of this model pathogen, describing its unique biology and specialized molecular mechanisms for pathogenesis and high virulence. He went on to describe modern approaches to exploit new bioinformatics for the development of potential medical counter measures to this deadly pathogen.” Bioinformatics was the field that Ali Al-Timimi, who had a security clearance for some government work and who had done work for the Navy, would enter by 2000 at George Mason University in Virginia. Despite the cold and the sharks, amidst all the camaraderie and bonhomie no one suspected that despite the best efforts, a predator was on board — on a coldly calculated mission to obtain a pathogenic anthrax strain. The conference organizer Peter Turnbull had received funding from the British defense ministry but not from public health authorities, who thought anthrax too obscure to warrant the funding. By 2001, sponsorship of the conference was assumed by USAMRIID. USAMRIID scientist Bruce Ivins had started planning the conference held in Annapolis, Maryland in June 2001 three years earlier, immediately upon his return from the September 1998 conference.

    According to the Pakistan press, Rauf Ahmad was picked up in December 2001 by the CIA in Karachi. The most recent of the correspondence reportedly dates back to the summer and fall of 1999. Even if Rauf Ahmad cooperated with the CIA, he apparently could only confirm the depth of Zawahiri’s interest in weaponizing anthrax and provided no “smoking gun” concerning the identity of those responsible for the anthrax mailings in the Fall 2001. His only connection with SFAM was a member of the society — he was not an employee. The Pakistan ISI, according to the Washington Post article in October 2006, stopped cooperating in regard to Rauf Ahmad in 2003.

    I have uploaded scanned copies of some 1999 documents seized in Afghanistan by US forces describing the author’s visit to the special confidential room at the BL-3 facility where 1000s of pathogenic cultures were kept; his consultation with other scientists on some of technical problems associated with weaponizing anthrax; the bioreactor and laminar flows to be used in Al Qaeda’s anthrax lab; and the need for vaccination and containment. He explained that the lab director noted that he would have to take a short training course at the BL-3 lab for handling dangerous pathogens. Rauf Ahmad noted that his employer’s offer of pay during a 12-month post-doc sabbatical was wholly inadequate and was looking to Ayman to make up the difference. After an unacceptably low pay for the first 8 months, there would be no pay for last 4 months and there would be a service break. He had noted that he only had a limited time to avail himself of the post-doc sabbatical. I also have uploaded a handwritten copy of earlier correspondence from before the lab visit described in the typed memo. The Defense Intelligence Agency provided the documents to me, along with 100+ pages more, pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”). 90 of the 100 pages are the photocopies of journal articles and disease handbook excerpts.

    The Post, in an exclusive groundbreaking investigative report, recounts that the FBI’s New York office took the lead U.S. role — and its agents worked closely with the CIA and bureau officials in Pakistan in interrogating Rauf. Though not formally charged with any crimes, Rauf agreed to questioning. While the US media focused on the spectacle of bloodhounds alerting to Dr. Steve Hatfill and the draining of Maryland ponds, this former Al Qaeda anthrax operative provided useful leads. But problems began when the U.S. officials sought to pursue criminal charges, including possible indictment and prosecution in the United States. In earlier cases, such as the othopedic surgeon Dr. Amer Aziz who treated Bin Laden in the Fall of 2001, the Pakistani government angered the Pakistani public when it sought to prosecute professionals for alleged ties to al-Qaeda. In the case of Amer Aziz, hundreds of doctors, engineers and lawyers took to the streets to demand his release. In 2003, the Pakistanis shut off U.S. access to Rauf. By then, I had noticed the reporting of his arrest in a press article about the raid of a compound of doctors named Khawaja and published it on my website. According to Pakistani officials, there was not enough evidence showing that he actually succeeded in providing al-Qaeda with something useful. Since then, the Post reports, Rauf has been allowed to return to his normal life. Attempts by the Post to contact Rauf in Lahore were unsuccessful. Initially the government agency had said an interview would be possible but then backpedaled.

    “He was detained for questioning, and later the courts determined there was not sufficient evidence to continue detaining him,” Pakistan’s information minister told the Post. “If there was evidence that proved his role beyond a shadow of a doubt, we would have acted on it. But that kind of evidence was not available.” Yazid Sufaat got the job handling things at the lab instead of Rauf Ahmad. More importantly, Zawahiri, if keeping with his past experience, would have kept things strictly compartmentalized — leaving the Amerithrax Task Force much to do.

    When I made contact with the man who I believe was this scientist Rauf Ahmad, he provided me his resume and graciously offering to answer any further inquires. He said he was looking forward to an “optimistic exchange” (as I was also). After I indicated that I had the correspondence with Zawahiri, he did not respond to any questions. Journalists should interview Dr. Ahmad to get his side of the story — just as they should interview Yazid Sufaat.

    This past year, USAMRIID released some emails by Bruce Ivins discussing the difficulties of planning the Fourth International Conference on Anthrax in Annapolis. The first of the emails was from September 1998, upon his return from the conference at Plymouth. In June 2001, the good ship anthrax sailed in Annapolis, Maryland, the “sailing capital of the world.” The 4th International Conference on Anthrax was held at St. John’s College in historic Annapolis, Maryland, June 10 – 13, 2001. The conference was organized by the US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases and managed by the American Society for Microbiology. The 74-foot classic wooden schooner was named WOODWIND. Martin Hugh-Jones had convened the conference along with Peter Turnbull, the Porton Down scientist who had led the UK conferences attended by Ayman Zawahiri’s scientist, Rauf Ahmad. Reports of livestock and national park outbreaks were followed by a summary by Dr. Turnbull. Other anthrax notables who spoke included senior USAMRIID scientist Dr. Ezzell, who had one of the first looks at the Daschle product, and Dr. Paul Keim, who would play a key role in the genetic investigation.

    Other talks focused on cell structure and function such as the S-layer, exosporium, and germination. Theresa Koehler from the Houston Medical School gave a talk titled “The Expanding B. anthracis Toolbox” while Timothy Read from The Institute of Genome Research summarized research on The B. Anthracis Genome. Houston Medical School, the UK’s biodefense facility Porton Down, and Pasteur Institute each fielded three presenters. UK scientists presented on the characteristics of the exosporium of “the highly virulent Ames strain.” Researchers from Columbus, Ohio and Biological Defense Research Directorate (BDRD) of the Navy Medical Research Institute in Bethesda, assisted by Porton Down scientists from the UK, demonstrated that inoculated mice survived a challenge with b.anthracis spores. Researchers used b.anthracis containing a plasmid with a mutated lethal factor. The mice were “immunized via gene gun inoculation with eucaryotic expression plasmids encoding either the protective antigen (PA), a mutated form of lethal factor (LF) or a combination of the two.” Dr. Phil Hanna from University of Michigan was there and presented, as he had been in the UK at the conference attending with Rauf Ahmad.

    A Kazakhstan Ministry of Health scientist presented on the re-emergence of anthrax in Kazakhstan. Upon the break-up of the Soviet Union the first job offer Ken Alibek fielded was the position of Minister of Health in Kazakhstan. He protested when he realized that his new employer’s job description shifted to “you know the job,” and he realized that they just wanted to do what the Soviets had been secretly doing in an illegal and massive bioweapons program he had supervised as its First Deputy. After the KGB asked to meet with him, he asked to schedule the meeting in two weeks, so that he might visit his parents, and then found a secret expedited way of coming to the United States.

    Pakistan Rauf Ahmad had been the predator looking for the Ames strain and consulting on weaponization techniques at the UK conference. Did the Amerithrax perp attend this conference or work on any of the research presented? Ali Al-Timimi had a high security clearance for mathematical support work for the Navy. Why? When? What did his work involve? In January 2002, FBI Assistant Director Van Harp told the 40,000 members of the American Society for Microbiology that it was “very likely that one or more of you know this individual.”

    Delivering the James Smart Lecture, entitled “Global Terrorism: are we meeting the challenge?” at the headquarters of the City of London Police, Ms. Manningham-Buller, the head of MI5, said: “Western security services have uncovered networks of individuals, sympathetic to the aims of al-Qa’ida, that blend into society, individuals who live normal, routine lives until called upon for specific tasks by another part of the network.” Milton Leitenberg wrote in a chapter on evolving threats in Wenger and Wollenmann’s 2007 Bioterrorism: Confronting A Complex Threat: “If it should turn out, as is currently assumed, that the Amerithrax perpetrator came from within the US government’s own biodefense program, with access to strains, laboratories, people and knowledge, then all previous conceptions about the significance of the events would be substantially altered.” He observes that “Al-Qaeda has actively recruited educated college graduates and … specifically sought individuals with particular knowledge and training. … Such recruiting patterns do not automatically translate into either an interest or capability in bioweapons, but they would be a key advantage should the interests of such a group turn in that direction, as Al-Zawahiri’s [1999] memorandum quoted above suggests they may.”

    Codename Zabadi: The Infiltration Of US Biodefense

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