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

* Keith Olbermann: anthrax, silicon, Iraq … government scientist conveniently changes his mind

Posted by DXer on May 22, 2009


Keith Olbermann

Keith Olbermann on Countdown …watch the Olbermann video at …



The original government position was that silicon was added to the anthrax by the person who prepared the powder for mailing.

SInce Iraq was one of 3 countries with that capability (the U.S. and Russia are the others), the silicon addition allowed suspicion to fall on Iraq and add another plank in the case for invading Iraq in the Bush/Cheney war of choice. See Colin Powell at the U.N. waving a vial of anthrax and warning that Iraq had bioweapons and the ability to deliver them to the eastern shores of the U.S.

Now, however, Dr. Bruce Ivins has been identified by the FBI as the sole perpetrator, and there seems to be a concensus that Ivins did not have the capability or wherewithall to add silicon.


Suddenly, the government scientist has changed his view. How convenient.


4 Responses to “* Keith Olbermann: anthrax, silicon, Iraq … government scientist conveniently changes his mind”

  1. DXer said

    Even before her testy exchange with Ben-Veniste, Condoleeza Rice addressed these bioterrorism issues in 1999 in “Introductory Remarks” in The New Terror: Facing The Threat Of Biological and Chemical Warfare. She wrote:

    “One Sunday in November 1998, ‘Meet the Press’ viewers watched as Secretary of Defense William Cohen told that Iraq’s Saddam Hussein was trying to develop a massive biological and chemical weapons (BCW) capability. Cohen set a familiar yellow bag of Domino sugar in front of him, and noted that just that amount of anthrax could effectively poison the water supply of the City of New York.”

    Shame on KSM for implying it was his idea.

    “Cohen wanted to garner public support for air strikes against Hussein in retaliaton for his refusal to permit UN inspections of suspected production sites for BCW. Cohen did something else, entirely, however — he reminded the people of their vulnerability to biological and chemical attacks, a vulnerability that today seems absolute.”

    Secretary Rice continued:

    “To date, there has been more heat than light on the subject of the BCW threat. It is all too early to let one’s imagination run so far and so fast that the standard problems of security appear insurmountable.”

    She explained:

    “In a democracy such as ours, there is no substitute for open and honest dialog about the impact of what we do on our laws and our values. Without that, no leader can pursue a coherent strategy confident of the support of the people.”

    “No one would suggest the US become ‘Fortress America’ in order diminish the BCW threat, no matter how grave… Yet, improved intelligence in countering the threat does raise uncomfortable questions.”

    She noted: “The human assets likely to be involved in BCW intelligence may be even more unsavory. Can we stomach those associations?”

    Regardless whether the United States was willing to stomach the associations, Ayman Zawahiri had already sent operatives to infiltrate US and UK biodefense establishment.

    Hey, Condi. Who were you and Andrew Card associating with regarding BCW intelligence?

  2. DXer said

    Ben-Veniste has a new book THE EMPEROR’S NEW CLOTHES that I recommend you read. Keith Olberman should have him on his show.

    BEN-VENISTE: Isn’t it a fact, Dr. Rice, that the August 6 PDB warned against possible attacks in this country? And I ask you whether you recall the title of that PDB? RICE: I believe the title was, “Bin Laden Determined to Attack Inside the United States.” Now, the… BEN-VENISTE: Thank you. RICE: No, Mr. Ben-Veniste… BEN-VENISTE: I will get into the… RICE: I would like to finish my point here. BEN-VENISTE: I didn’t know there was a point. RICE: Given that — you asked me whether or not it warned of attacks. BEN-VENISTE: I asked you what the title was. RICE: You said, did it not warn of attacks. It did not warn of attacks inside the United States. It was historical information based on old reporting. There was no new threat information. And it did not, in fact, warn of any coming attacks inside the United States.

    That PDB, according to Al-Timimi’s attorney, referenced Al-Timimi. GWU Professor Turley says that his client “was referenced in the August 6, 2001 Presidential Daily Briefing (“Bin Laden Determined to Strike in US”) as one of seventy individuals regarding whom the FBI is conducting full field investigations on a national basis.”

    Dr. Al-Timimi’s counsel summarizes:

    “we know Dr. Al-Timimi:
    * was referenced in the August 6, 2001 Presidential Daily Briefing (“Bin Laden Determined to Strike in US”) as one of seventy individuals regarding whom the FBI is conducting full field investigations on a national basis;
    * was described to his brother by the FBI within days of the 9-11 attacks as an immediate suspect in the Al Qaeda conspiracy;
    * was contacted by the FBI only nine days after 9-11 and asked about the attacks and its perpetrators;
    * was considered an anthrax weapons suspect;
    * was described during his trial by FBI agent John Wyman as having “extensive ties” with the “broader al-Qaeda network”;
    * was described in the indictment and superseding indictment as being associated with terrorists seeking harm to the United States;
    * was a participant in dozens of international overseas calls to individuals known to have been under suspicion of Al-Qaeda ties like Al-Hawali; and
    The conversation with [Bin Laden’s sheik] Al-Hawali on September 19, 2001 was central to the indictment and raised at trial.”

    Al-Timimi’s defense counsel describes his coordination with 911 imam Aulaqi and says “The 9-11 Report indicates that Special Agent Ammerman interviewed [911 imam] Al-Aulaqi just before or shortly after his October 2002 visit to Dr. Al-Timimi’s home to discuss the attacks and his efforts to reach out to the U.S. government.”

    [IANA head] Bassem Khafagi was questioned about Dr. Al-Timimi before 9-11 in Jordan, purportedly at the behest of American intelligence. [redacted ] He was specifically asked about Dr. Al-Timimi’s connection to Bin Laden prior to Dr. Al-Timimi’s arrest. He was later interviewed by the FBI about Dr. Al-Timimi. Clearly, such early investigations go directly to the allegations of Dr. Al-Timimi’s connections to terrorists and Bin Laden — [redacted]”

    But there is another PDB even more pertinent relating specifically to anthrax that has not yet been declassified and made public that Ben-Veniste should be asked about.

    In February 2001, the CIA briefed the President in a Presidential Daily Brief (”PDB”) on “Bin Laden’s Interest in Biological and Radiological Weapons” in a still-classified briefing memorandum. Like the PDB on Bin Laden’s threat to use planes to free the blind sheik, the February 2001 PDB illustrated Richard Clarke’s suggestion that most intelligence is open source. The PDB likely will be found to address the detention of Mahmoud Mahjoub, his status in the Vanguards of Conquest/Egyptian Islamic Jihad, and threats of revenge relating to the conviction and sentencing of senior militant Egyptians.

    In late January 2001, the Immigration Minister in Canada and the Justice Minister received an anthrax threat in the form of anthrax hoax letters. The letters were sent upon the announcement of bail hearing for a detained Egyptian Islamic Jihad leader Mahmoud Mahjoub. Mahjoub had managed Bin Laden’s farm in Sudan. Minister Caplan had signed the security certificate authorizing Mahjoub’s detention. After arriving in Canada in 1996, Mahjoub had continued to be in contact with high level militants, including his former supervisor, an Iraqi reputed to be Bin Laden’s chief procurer of weapons of mass destruction. There was little about Ayman’s plan to use anthrax against US targets in retaliation for rendering of EIJ leaders that was not available to anyone paying attention.

    On October 5, 2001, Mahjoub’s bail was denied. Someone then rushed to carry out the earlier threat. They mailed a finely powdered anthrax to the two United States Senators they deemed most responsible for the rendition of Egyptian Islamic Jihad leaders and appropriations to Egypt and Israel.

    The scientist referenced by the August 6, 2001 PDB had been the former assistant to the White House Chief of Staff in 1996. Given the Administration’s desire to invade Iraq, the Administration was strongly motivated to avoid embarrassment that would result if it was discovered that through its negligence someone actively working with Bin Laden’s sheik and the 911 imam was working just feet from the inventors of the method to concentrate anthrax using silicon dioxide. Al-Timimi’s father worked at the Iraqi embassy and so there certainly was a puzzle.

    President-Elect Obama now needs to ask for CIA’s February 2001 PDB to President Bush on the planned use of anthrax in retaliation of rendering and detention of IG and EIJ leaders. Amerithrax would be seen with entirely new eyes.

  3. DXer said

    You recently had a 58 year old bitten by what apparently was a brown recluse spider in your area. (He died of a blood clot as the result of being immobile for months after discontinuing his blood thinner — not as a result of the bite as such). The lesions you saw nearly 30 years ago were consistent with the bite of a brown recluse spider — talk of dripping notwithstanding. The FBI did investigate the destruction of the ISU inventory. People in positions of authority like Dr. Cheville report that it was not known to have Ames. The inventory was destroyed, they report, because of the expense of National Guard which had prompted by the national press.

    A more fruitful approach would be to call
    (1) “Reba” again and enlist her help,
    (2) the individual who you say is from Faisalbad who received the package who likely could simply explain what the package was,
    (3) Postal Inspector Richter, or
    (4) Thomas Bunn, the manager of the related USDA lab who was formerly from USAMRIID and did vaccine research and ask if the lab had Ames.

    Otherwise, we need to await uploading of the inventory of Ames and the shipping records which would show whether Dr. Ivins shipped USDA Iowa, which as I recall did vaccine research, virulent Ames from flask 1029. (As you’ve noted, ISU professors and students also worked at the USDA BL-3 Ag lab which did sampling of anthrax from meat carcasses).

    When the Inspector said “We know who you are!” it was because you had been posting the story at FreeRepublic and at least some inspectors and agents had access to the internet.

    As you know, I agree that there is a discrepancy that needs to be resolved between what you have heard from the Postal Inspector and the WSJ interpretation of the mailing label. That is why you need to call John.

    ISU Professor JD is very approachable and forthright and would be glad to talk to you even if Professor Cheville, as I recall, needed convincing to talk to me by the new Dean of the Vet school. Professor JD had a prototype of a US Army funded device that concentrated anthrax by a factor of 10. He was helping the Idaho inventor with testing. It was called the Microbial Vac. The co-author and colleague of the scientist advising on the statistics was arrested as a material witness the day and minute Ali Al-Timimi’s residence was searched (after KSM was captured and began talking). The co-author, colleague and former mentor of the arrested scientist tells me that his friend is an animal geneticist/food researcher who was expert at mixing with silica and using a spray dryer; the distinguished scientist was very concerned for his friend because they had lost touch and he had abruptly left his PhD research position in Idaho to go work for the Al-Timimi’s charity IANA.) He had left Idaho in August 2002 when the FBI began investigating Al-Timimi’s friend Sami Al-Hussayen. The US Army funded device Microbial Vac was tested in the mid-west in the summer of 2001.

    I called the arrested scientist (who had since been released) once to ask about the matter. He thanked me for my concern but he said too much was going on and he couldn’t talk. The day of his arrest, 100 agents had come and simultaneously interviewed 150 people as part of OPERATION IMMINENT HORIZON. My conjecture is that he was referring to what he perceived as ongoing surveillance. (There has been extensive surveillance including the extension 30 warrants on just one target during the 2002-early 2003 period. His home detention with an electronic bracelet (and conditions) were loosened when they did not ask him any questions.

    • DXer said

      I referred to the lesion as being 30 years ago when I should have said 20 years ago. But let me get back to the story about the US Army-funded device that concentrates anthrax by a factor of 10 given that the prototype was in the possession of the ISU professor who then was tasked with figuring out how much radiation it would take to kill dry powdered anthrax.

      Oh, before I do, did I mention Ali Al-Timimi was the former assistant to the White House Chief of Staff?

      By way of some background, in 2000, Al-Timimi’s charity IANA announced that it had signed a cooperative agreement with the Cairo based publisher and distributor Dar Al-Manar Al-Jadeed. “Jointly they will publish in Cairo and distribute around the world the quarterly Al-Manar Al-Jadeed magazine.” The editor in chief is the well-known writer, [G]amal Sultan.” Al-Manar Al-Jadeed magazine was published in Arabic and available online. It discusses strategy and tactics in promoting Salafism. In early 2001, the IANA website announced that the Help The Needy website was open. Help The Needy was its Syracuse-area based spin-off/dba run by Bassem Khafagi’s business partner Rafil Dhafir. Bassem Khafagi was Al-Timimi’s good friend and Dr. Khafagi’s personal papers were found in Al-Timimi’s home where they were being kept for safekeeping.

      Thus, there had been a close connection between (1) Ann Arbor, MI (2) Syracuse, NY, (3) DC-Falls Church, VA, (4) Moscow, Idaho-Pullman, Washington, (5) and Cairo, Egypt.

      On February 26, 2003, at the same time the FBI was searching the townhome of PhD candidate and Ken Alibek colleague Ali Timimi, searches and arrests moved forward elsewhere. In Moscow, Idaho, FBI agents interviewed Nabil Albaloushi (they searched his apartment at the same time they searched the apartment of Sami al-Hussayen, who they had woken from bed at 4:00 a.m. (6:00 a.m. EST) Albaloushi was a PhD candidate expert in drying foodstuffs. His thesis in 2003 was 350 pages filled with charts of drying coefficients. “About me there is nothing suspicious,” Albaloushi told a reporter while the agents were still in his home. “I live in this country, my children were born in this country, I love this country.” In Syracuse, they arrested an animal geneticist and food researcher as a material witness.

      Probers exploring a possible terror connection focused on Sami Omar Al-Hussayen, a 34-year-old computer scientist and doctoral candidate who was researching cyber-intrusion techniques at the University of Idaho in Moscow. On February 25, 2003, computer expert Sami a-Hussayen’s brother in Canada, asked him about where to give a charitable contribution pursuant to Muslim religious obligations. According to an electronic intercept read into the Court record at Sami al-Hussayen’s trial. (Al-Hussayen was acquitted and other remaining charges were dropped): “There’s this organization called Help The Needy. They are IANA’s organization for the needy.” Al-Hussayen noted that the group had been around for close to a decade. As explained in a Spokesman Review trial blog, his brother noted that Help the Needy sends relief to Iraq, and asked, “Maybe they are an organization that has issues nowadays?” to which Al Hussayen answered “I don’t think so, since this is a relief organization and a registered organization. As I said, it is 9 to 10 years old and has branches in Britain and Australia.” He added, “The most important is for the organization to be clean, without any question marks on it. In addition, it was not listed on the list (of) organizations that were supporting terrorism. This is the most important thing. You don’t want to be in trouble.”

      Less than 24 hours later, Al-Hussayen was arrested, and Syracuse, NY Help The Needy’s director and three others had been jailed. In the predawn hours of February 26, 2003, in several coordinated raids, a computer graduate Al-Hussayen was arrested by FBI agents in Idaho and agents in and around Syracuse arrested three of the four suspects in the Help the Needy case. In March 2004, Hussayen was indicted on additional charges relating to support for a terrorist group by reason of being the sole administrator of a website that urged suicide attacks. He was acquitted of most charges in late Spring of 2004. The government agreed to drop the remaining charges, with the result that he would be deported rather than imprisoned. Sami al-Hussayen, an Idaho PhD student, provided funding and internet services for the Islamic Assembly of North America. From 1995 to 2002, IANA received $3 million in support from sources related to Sami al-Hussayen. Sami served on the IANA Board of Trustees. Interceptions showed a very close link between IANA’s al-Hussayen and Bin Laden’s sheik, Sheikh al-Hawali, to include the setting up of web sites, the providing of vehicles for extended communication, and telephone contact with intermediaries of Sheikh al-Hawali. Al-Hussayen had al-Hawali’s phone number upon the search of his belongings upon his arrest. IANA was characterized in a press release by the Saudi Arabian Embassy in the District of Columbia as following the beliefs of the Muslim Brotherhood. IANA was the only American Muslim organization to be individually promoted on the Azzam website, the leading English-language Al Qaeda website.

      The Syracuse charity run by an oncologist, “Help The Needy,” was an IANA spin-off. The doctor, Rafil Dhafir, was the IANA Vice-President. The President of HTN, in name only, was Dhafir’s medical technologist. The Vice-President was Ali-Al-Timimi’s colleague and co-founder of the Society for the Adherence to the Sunnah in Washington, D.C.

      Al Qaeda recruiter and Bosnian fighter Sheik Abu Abdel Aziz Barbaros had spoken at the 1993, 1994 and 1995 annual IANA conferences, as did IANA lecturers Dr. Dhafir from Syracuse and Ali and Al Timimi, from Washington, D.C. Sheik Abu Abdel Aziz Barbaros from Bosnia told an interviewer in 1994 that he had first arrived in Afghanistan in 1984 and had then begun his “journey with Jihad.” The January 2000 edition of Assirat carried an editorial titled “In the Land of Ice Cream” by “Abdallah Abd’ al Aziz.” Two writers for Assirat in Pittsburgh had once shared a Portland, Oregon address with Bin Laden’s secretary Wadih El-Hage.

      The stated purpose of the “Help the Needy” charity in Syracuse, NY was to help the “starving children and muslims of Iraq.” Some years ago, two Chicago-area charities — the Global Relief Foundation and the Benevolence International Foundation — received checks totaling $42,000 from Help the Needy. Global Relief returned the favor, contributing $18,000 to Help the Needy. “Help the Needy” is not a sleeper cell, and it won’t carry out murderous attacks on the United States,” said Rita Katz, director of the SITE Institute, a counterterrorism think tank in Washington. “But its friends are capable of mounting such attacks,” she asserts.

      The respected Dr. Rafil Dhafir, 55, a founder of Help the Needy, was practicing in upstate Rome and had been a member of the medical staff at Rome Memorial Hospital since 1982. Four men were accused of conspiring to violate U.S. sanctions against Iraq by transferring cash to unidentified people in Baghdad without a license. Former Washington State University animal geneticist and nutrition researcher Ismail Diab was charged and released as a material witness. After the government failed to take Dr. Diab’s deposition for nearly 3 months, the judge removed the electronic monitoring and curfew requirements.

      The charity allegedly diverted at least $4 million to Iraq, out of $5.6 million that passed through its accounts since 1995. Prosecutors said that only a small portion of the funds they could trace were used to feed Iraqis. But the indictment provides no evidence of links to terror and no suggestion the money went to Saddam or his regime. Prosecutors said they don’t know where the money went. “At most, it’s a technical violation in not applying for a license,” the charity’s executive director explained.

      Dr. Dhafir was jailed without bail after he talked in an email about his imagined daughter’s upcoming wedding. (The Buffalo case demonstrated that the CIA has this thing about weddings; in his defense, he would argue that code was being used to prevent Saddam’s regime from seizing relief intended for charity as it entered the country). Authorities took away his medical license, and threw him in prison without bail. His detention without bail was the subject of protests. In mid-November 2003, 100 rallied for his freedom. His lawyer explained that to get a permit would cause the Saddam regime to seize money intended for needy muslims in Iraq. The repeated denial of his bail has rested on his representing a risk of flight because of money and connections abroad — never on the basis of any connections to terrorist activities. The prosecutor suggested he might drive across the frozen St. Lawrence river into Canada.

      There is a wonderful website is We should have such dedicated and well-meaning supporters in our life. Another well-done website titled “Free Rafil Dhafir.” The site describes “Operation Imminent Horizon”:

      Operation Imminent Horizon

      “On February 26th of this year (2003) federal authorities attacked our Muslim community (Syracuse, NY) as part of an operation code named ‘Imminent Horizon’. Its purpose ABC News (March 5, 2003) reported was to “disrupt and rattle” potential terrorist operations ahead of the invasion of Iraq. Deemed as a risk by Attorney General Ashcroft were Dr. Rafil Dhafir, an USA citizen, and 150 predominantly Muslim families that had made donations to Dr. Dhafir’s charity Help the Needy. Help the Needy provided humanitarian aid to Iraq. The February 26th raid was the largest interrogation of Muslims in America undertaken by federal agents at one time.
      ABC news said that; “it’s called “shaking the tree,” – creating doubts, trying to rattle potential terrorists.” This paper reported that up to 150 Muslim families (‘Up 150 questioned, Dr. Denied Bail’, March 1, 2003, Renee Gadoua) were asked obtrusive and inappropriate questions. Nothing fell from those interrogations or from Dr. Rafil Dhafir who still sits in jail denied bail. All the bluster and innuendo of terrorism as implied by Attorney General Ashcroft on the day of Dr. Dhafir’s arrest has not materialized.”

      John O’ Brien and John Mariani of the Syracuse Post-Standard provided the details of the investigation in Syracuse. In early 1999, at a Fleet Bank in Upstate New York, someone was depositing between $9,000 and $9,900 into a particular account almost daily. With $10,000 being the limit for reporting, someone took notice. An investigation in some federal agency was opened. But it was not until three years later, that Dr. Rafil Dhafir, driving a tan 2001 Lexus was pulled over by federal investigators and a state trooper. It was just after 6 a.m. and the doctor was on his way to work from his home in a suburb of Syracuse to his practice in Rome, NY. Meanwhile, others who had worked with the “Help The Needy” charity opened their doors to be greeted with investigators with search and arrest warrants. 200 deposits had been made in Zagha’s account over three years, totaling nearly $2 million drawn from a Help the Needy account

      By the end of the day, 146 muslims would be interrogated by offices from over a half dozen agencies. The charge at the center of it all? The men did not have a permit to provide money to the starving children of Iraq.

      In March 2002, federal agents began intercepting e-mails to and from Dhafir’s home Time Warner Road Runner account under a federal search warrant. In May 2002, for the next four months, they began intercepting faxes pursuant to a warrant. Eight e-mails, most of them to or from Dhafir, provided ambiguous evidence that some of the money raised by the charity may not have gone to the charity’s stated purpose. For example, in May 2002 emails suggested that up to $50,000 had been funneled to Al Wahaidy’s family through Help the Needy accounts. In July 2002, emails indicated that other money — $500 per month — was going to other individuals in Jarwan’s family. In media reports, the individuals were described with the loaded term “operatives.” But, at bottom, the charity was doing what it said it was doing — providing money to individuals in Iraq.

      After intercepting the August e-mail, FBI agents rummaged through Help the Needy’s trash after it left the charity’s East Brighton Avenue office and found donation receipts from 1994, 1995 and 1996. Agent Lee Pugh would explain that agents didn’t need a search warrant to go through the trash. Under the law, it’s considered abandoned material once it leaves someone’s office or home. Some donation receipts from the mid-1990s listed Islamic Assembly of North America’s tax exempt number even though the IANA was not designated a charitable organization for IRS purposes until 1999. Similar receipts agents dug out of the trash, for 1996 and 2002, showed Help the Needy used Somali Relief Network’s employer ID bearing and saying donations were tax deductible.

      In August and September 2002, FBI agents listened in on four meetings at Help the Needy’s Syracuse office. Another warrant permitted the agents to spy on a meeting of Help the Needy’s trustees in a hotel room in Washington, D.C., August 31. Dr. Dhafir is on the tape saying he didn’t want other people at the trustee meetings because of “sensitive issues such as where the money goes, who gets it and how much we get.” The same sort of comment, however, is made, for example, at those law firms where they do not share information about what others are making to avoid hurt feelings and unproductive competitive feelings.

      For those keeping score: Help the Needy activists were helping the widows and orphans in Iraq. The agents were snooping on those efforts and coming up with nothing beyond the charity’s guarantee that “that all of your donation dollars go directly to the needy in Iraq” (and the hard reality that to get a permit would be to allow Saddam’s regime to take the money and thwart the charitable purpose).

      In October 2002, investigators obtained a warrant to copy the contents of an envelope Dhafir mailed to himself from Egypt to the hospital at Rome. It contained two ledgers — one for the relief account and another for a private account. The ledger relating to the relief account detailed more than $3.9 million was spent from February 1996 to September 2002. Two of the people identified in the ledger and e-mails were individuals who Help the Needy had been paying — and both were in Iraq. That is just where you would expect them to be. In January 2003, investigators intercepted an overnight envelope at Kennedy International Airport in New York City that Dr. Dhafir addressed to Zagha Trading Establishment in Amman, Jordan. The packet was forwarded to postal inspectors in Syracuse for inspection. Pursuant to a search warrant, agents found a sealed business envelope containing a $200,000 Oneida Savings Bank cashier’s check payable to “M. Zagha Trading Est.”. Officials suspect $2.73 million in bank checks bought with Help the Needy money reached Zagha this way. Maher Zagha, 34, went to college in Central New York and was living in Amman, Jordan.

      Agents got 29 search warrants in all. The e-mail search warrants had to be renewed every 30 days. But what was the crime investigated? Not having a permit to provide for the needy? That’s morally wrong but invading the country based on ambiguous or falsified evidence morally compelled? Over the last year of the investigation, there were 12 investigators from eight law enforcement agencies working full-time on the case. Clearly, investigators had to suspect that $2.73 million was going to fund terrorism rather than provide for the needy. But where’s the beef? Where’s the proof? It’s not of special moment that the funds went in a circuitous course — first going to Amman, Jordan. Why hadn’t Magya been located and extradited so he can testify where the money went?

      Undeterred by any gaps in proof, and knowing they had solid evidence of various technical violations, on February 26, 2003, 110 officers from the various agencies massed. The got their assignments the day before. The plan was to interview 150 people the same day, many of whom were donors. The massive raid coincidentally was scheduled for the Tenth Year Anniversary of the World Trade Center bombing. The agents asked the donors whether they were told their money would be going to a militant Islamic group or to help starving widows and children. They were not otherwise asked questions about their religion, the US Attorney said. “It was to establish they were defrauded and for no other reason,” he said. “It’s not because we’re interested in their religion. We’re not running around just interviewing people in the Islamic community for no reason.” (In contrast, a post by a supporter of Dr. Dhafir reports that questions asked included: “Do you celebrate Christmas?, How often to do pray?, Where do you pray? Do you have family in the Middle East?”) So what was the real reason for all this investigative interest?

      Dhafir and Help the Needy sought to “promote a strain of Islam known as Salafism” in Iraq, the affidavit filed by an IRS agent said. Some have described Salafism as a form of Islam followed by Osama bin Laden. After the arrests, Assistant U.S. Attorney Brenda Sannes told the federal magistrate in a letter that investigators intercepted “a disturbing series of apparently coded e-mails” from Dhafir recently about “some currently unknown plan” involving someone in Iraq who had received $358,000 from Help the Needy between August 2000 and September [of 2002]. She wrote “It is not believed that these e-mails refer to relief efforts by HTN since Dhafir has communicated openly in e-mails about possibly aiding relief efforts in Iraq in the event of a war.”

      Jarwan, the charity’s executive director, has academic degrees in nuclear and radiological engineering, Prosecutor West said, adding: “This man knows how to use and has access to this material.” On the question of bail, the prosecutor urged the court to consider reports that terrorists were planning to detonate a “dirty bomb” designed to spread radioactive material. “I reject that because he holds advanced degrees or reads radical material, he’s a danger,” the magistrate ruled. Prosecutors have said they know of no link between Help the Needy and terrorists. His attorney forcefully argued that it was irresponsible of West to present Jarwan’s education as evidence he posed a threat. “It just raises the level of prejudice,” he said. “It will be difficult to get a fair trial when there are those implicit suggestions that he’s a terrorist because he has a degree.”

      “There are many common threads” between the Syracuse and Idaho cases, said Terry Derden, first assistant U.S. attorney in Idaho. Michael Olmsted, one of the prosecutors in the Syracuse case, would not comment on any possible connections. Ismail Diab, arrested as a material witness, has a Ph.D. in animal genetics and worked as a nutrition researcher at Washington State University before he moved to Syracuse, the government said. (8 miles from Pullman, it has joint programs with the university there). He was released on bail.

      Among 500 pages eventually unsealed was this quote from the transcript at the hotel in Washington, D.C.

      “To us it is the issue of feeding and rescue. It is a good idea. But that’s not the major goal. Our major goal is the issue of Al-Dawah (Islamic mission work) so that people get back to the right path that makes Allah happy for their benefit in life and after life. To us that’s most important. Is the change (as a result of the expected U.S. invasions) going to allow (us) to do that? Even under the cover of charity, that’s the most important question.”
      The “Help The Needy” work sounded a lot like the President Bush’s faith-based initiative.

      Dr. Dhafir faced nearly three dozen counts of tax and health care fraud. The jury found him guilty in February 2005. He has top-flight appellate counsel (the complicated briefs are online) who now estimates he has about a one-third prospect of success on appeal. Based on questioning at oral argument, I predict his appeal will succeed and his conviction will be reversed or at least remanded for resentencing.

      The Washington Post reported a few years back that the authorities were wiretapping Dr. Dhafir while talking to a supporter (who coincidentally is my friend and lives a few houses down from me). I, for one, would like to truly believe that authorities had left no stone unturned. But as to an Ivins Theory, all I’ve seen is a nonsense theory as to motivation about a college sorority, an absence of any physical evidence directed to the individual rather than the flask, and affidavits submitted by agents who had 18 months and 3 years experience respectively. Given the compartmentalization on the Task Force, I have no reason to thing those investigators are privy to the more relevant facts. The FBI counterterrorism chief has written to say that while Amerithrax is indeed a “mess,” he still thinks that it is important to keep the truth from the public. From where I sit, however, it is not acceptable to have Amerithrax botched because we have seen the Administration sometimes kept its secrets for political rather than legitimate law enforcement or intelligence purposes.

      Oh, did I mention Ali Al-Timimi was the former assistant to the White House Chief of Staff?

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