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

* Bush admits torture to gain information regarding the anthrax attacks

Posted by DXer on May 29, 2009

Eartha Jane Melzer of the Michigan Messenger writes (5-29-09) …

Bush & Cheney

  • Former President George W. Bush, in a nearly 90-minute-long unscripted address to the local economic development club in this down-trodden southwest Michigan city (Benton Harbor), said Thursday evening he was honored to have served during “some unusual times,” making repeated references to the challenges he faced as commander in chief amid the “fog of war.”
  • … the former president spoke indirectly of his administration’s authorization of the use of torture against detainees captured during the War on Terror, avoiding the words “torture” and “abuse.”
  • “You have to make tough decisions,” Bush said. “They’ve captured a guy who murdered 3,000 citizens … that affected me … They come in and say he may have more information
  •  …and we had an anthrax attack … and they say he may have more information. What do you do?“
  • Bush was firm and defended his record as president: “I will tell you that the information gained saved lives.”

read the entire article at … http://michiganmessenger.com/19945/bush-on-his-presidency-there-is-such-a-thing-as-the-fog-of-war

LMW COMMENT

It sure seems like former President Bush has admitted torturing a prisoner to gain information about the anthrax attacks.

How can this be reconciled with the FBI’s determination, very early on, that the anthrax used in the attacks came from a U.S. lab? Or the FBI’s current insistence that USAMRIID scientist Dr. Bruce Ivins was the sole perpetrator of the 2001 attacks?

What Bush (and Cheney) were doing, in my view, was trying desperately to tie the anthrax attacks to Saddam Hussein, in order to add another justification for invading Iraq.

If this is true, Bush and Cheney tortured, not to save lives, but to justify a war of choice that has so far killed over 4,ooo Americans and many tens of thousands of Iraqis, while advancing no discernible national interest.

CC - front cover - small

Questions that cry out to be answered.

Who was tortured in connection with the anthrax attacks?

Who did the torturing? (FBI Director Meuller has said the FBI did not torture anyone)

What questions were asked? What information was gained?

Was the information obtained by torture shared with the FBI (assuming it wasn’t them doing the torturing)? 

What was done with that information?

In my new novel CASE CLOSED, I present a fictional scenario to explain why the FBI failed to solve the 2001 anthrax case. My theory is that the FBI failed to solve the case because they were told not to. Who would have the power to squelch an FBI investigation in a mass murder carried out in a terrorist fashion? Why?

3 Responses to “* Bush admits torture to gain information regarding the anthrax attacks”

  1. DXer said

    Although KSM might be the more obvious choice, the case of the astonishing Aafia Siddiqui, with its bewildering welter of conflicting claims about mistreatment, illustrates the “fog of war” mentioned by President Bush. What, if any, information was obtained from or about Aafia Siddiqui as the result of mistreatment of a detainee? What mistreatment in fact occurred and what information about anthrax was gained?

    An indictment filed on September 2, 2008 alleges:

    “On or about July 17, 2008, AAFIA SIDDIQUI, the defendant, was detained by the Afghan National Police in Ghazni, Afghanistan.

    “At that time, a number of items were in SIDDIQUI’S possession, including various documents, various chemicals, and a computer thumb drive, among other things.

    “Among the documents in the possession of AAFIA SIDDIQUI, the defendant, were handwritten notes that referred to a “mass casualty attack” and that listed various locations in the United States, including Plum Island, the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty, Wall Street, and the Brooklyn Bridge. In addition, certain notes referred to the construction of ‘dirty bombs,’ chemical and biological weapons, and other explosives. These notes also discussed mortality rates associated with certain of these weapons and explosives. Other notes referred to various ways to attack “enemies,” including by destroying reconnaissance drones, using underwater bombs, and using gliders.
    The computer thumb drive in the possession of AAFIA SIDDIQUI, the defendant, contained various electronic documents. a number of these documents consisted of correspondence that referred to specific ‘ cells’ and ‘attacks’ by certain ‘cells.’ Other documents referred to ‘enemies,’ including the United States, and discussed recruitment and training.”

    By way of some background, when various non-pilot hijackers purchased their tickets in late May 2001 and June 2001, they listed the phone number of Al-Baluchi, the future husband of Brandeis PhD Aafia Siddiqui, as their contact number. He was in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Later in June 2001, other hijackers listed al Hawsawi. Al-Hawsawi’s was KSM’s assistant. KSM says it was al-Hawsawi’s computer that had the anthrax spraydrying documents. Al-Hawsawi was also in Dubai. In the formal charges, the Department of Defense alleges that Al Hawsawi and Al-Baluchi both assisted the non-pilot hijackers by buying clothes, food, lodging, rental cars, traveler’s checks and making travel arrangements. Al-Baluchi (Ali Abdul Aziz Ali) returned to Karachi from Dubai on June 26, 2001.

    Al-Baluchi told KSM, who was his uncle, that he was willing to do anything to help the Planes Operation. KSM advised him to apply for a visa. In late August 2001, he applied for travel to the US on September 4, 2001 but his visa was rejected. With his plan to enter the US thwarted, on September 10, 2001, al-Baluchi flew from Dubai, United Arab Emirates to Karachi. If his travel visa for travel to the US had been accepted, what would have been his role? He later married Aafia Siddiqui, a Brandeis PhD, in the spring of 2003, shortly before his capture. Al-Hawsawi had taken over for KSM upon KSM’s capture a couple months earlier. Had al-Baluchi known Aafia Siddiqui prior to 9/11?
    Did the lovely and pious Aafia have foreknowledge of 9/11? Is it true she met anthrax planning head Atef in June 2001 in Liberia? Aafia’s attorney once said she could prove Aafia was in the US in June 2001. Aafia’s family, however, prevailed upon the attorney not to subpoena Aafia’s credit card records as she had planned.

    Aafia left the US for Pakistan in a hurry on September 19, 2001, booking the first available flight.

    In early November 2005, an Assistant United States Attorney said in his opening argument in the prosecution of Uzair Paracha, that an unnamed woman, if asked would “help carry out a deadly Anthrax attack against the United States.’” It earlier had been reported that the defendant, Uzair Paracha, had agreed to help KSM and an operative in connection with some ID documents. The AUSA was referring to Al Qaeda supporter Aafia Siddiqui. One ACLU lawyer representing the family described the doe-eyed Aafia as a soccer mom driving a Volvo.

    In early 2002, Aafia Siddiqui had opened up the Post Office box that was to be used in connection with the documents. In January 2002, she was still married to her husband when she came back to the US, interviewed at SUNY and John Hopkins, and opened up a PO Box in Maryland for operative Majid Khan. She filed for divorce from her husband in 2002 — her divorce came through in August 2002.

    At the Paracha trial, an employee at the Gaithersburg post office, testified that Aafia Siddiqui opened a PO box for Majid Khan on December 30, 2002. Uzair Paracha had never met Aafia but he told detectives that he believed she was the kind of person who would be willing to receive anthrax at a PO Box. The jury saw that as evidence that he was willing to help dangerous terrorists. His family lawyer sees it as evidence that he was talking about things he knew nothing about.

    In a statement to the court, Majid Khan said that he wanted to come to the US because he had a plan to attack gas stations in Baltimore. However, Uzair told detectives that he suspected that Khan, al-Baluch and his father were planning some sort of attack involving chemical weapons. He said al-Baluchi and his father had been meeting in Karachi with an 80-year-old chemistry professor whom he said was helping al-Qaeda develop chemical weapons. Later he recanted everything he had said about chemical weapons. The jury didn’t credit his recantation.

    Aafia studied for a time at the University of Houston in 1990-91 after moving to Houston in 1990. (Her brother lived and worked in the Houston area beginning in 2001). Aafia Siddiqui then transferred to MIT and went on to Brandeis to get her PhD in neuroscience. The Wall Street Journal has reported that according to witnesses discussed in a UN dossier, Aafia Siddiqui reportedly met with Al Qaeda’s military commander, Atef, in Liberia in June 2001. There is a difference of opinion as to whether the key witness is credible. Although he drove the woman around, perhaps the man’s desire for a visa to the US influenced his recollection when he saw Aafia’s picture in the paper. Aafia’s attorney emphasizes that witness identifications are inherently unreliable.

    In Maryland, Aafia visited a cousin in Gaithersburg and helped Majid Khan in connection with possible attacks by opening a mailbox in his and her name. Her family argues that it is her husband, Mohammed Ahmad Khan, who has made her look guilty — for example, by using her e-mail account to buy night goggles and a book on how to make explosives. According to one report, Aafia left for Pakistan on September 19 and so was not in the country at the time of the second mailing. She returned from Pakistan with her husband in January 2002. She had 3 children. In 2009, her ex-husband broke his silence to convincingly argue that Aafia and her family have been lying. Prosecutors similarly argued to the court that she had been faking mental illness.

    Aafia and her ex-husband, a Harvard-trained anesthesiologist at last report living in Karachi, were officers of Institute of Islamic Research and Teaching Inc. In the mid-1990s, she worked for the United Islamic Organization (”UIO”), an education and relief organization. Her mother was President and her sister also volunteered. Through the group, for example, Siddiqui raised money for Bosnian refugees and the widows and orphans from that conflict. The organization was founded in Zambia in 1974 by Ismat Siddiqui. Its head office is in Karachi, Pakistan and on paper hds branches in the United States, Canada, and Saudi Arabia. Perhaps the reality is as the family’s first attorney described to me: Aafia’s father set up the charity as something for the mom to do, who ran it out of her home. Any branch offices were run out of residences. In addition, Siddiqui was found to be active with the Al-Kifah Refugee Center, the Boston branch of an Islamic charity that was ostensibly raising funds for Bosnian orphans. Federal prosecutors allege it is a front for Al Qaeda associated with the Blind Sheikh.

    In April 2003, Aafia’s mom, Ismat, said she last saw her daughter on March 30, 2003 before Aafia left in a minicab along with her three children to go to the capital Islamabad. She was going to visit a friend and uncle. She called her mom from the train station — she did not have money for plane tickets. (Rail by far is the easiest and most efficient means of traveling to Islamabad, far in the north). She never made it to see her uncle. Pakistani government officials tried to calm her fears — telling her to be “patient and not rely on media reports” about Aafia’s fate. The authorities have denied having Siddiqui in custody.

    “Rest assured, my daughter has nothing to do with al-Qaeda or any other organization,” Ismat said. In April 2003, when reporting the disappearance, she said neither Khan nor any member of his family had been in touch since she vanished. She claims Aafia’s husband abused her, a charge that the husband’s brother and father denied.

    Ismat Siddiqui, Aafia’s mother, reports that a stranger came to her house and told her that her daughter was safe and that she should not raise a “hue and cry” for her release. She says he told her not “make too much noise about Aafia if you want her to return safely.” He also threatened her that if she made the matter public, her daughter would meet the “same fate as Asif Bhuja met.” (Bhuja was a suspect in the murder of Danny Pearl but was found dead when police arrived to question him; Saud Memon, the man who owned the property where Pearl was kept, was later reported to have been involved in financing Al Qaeda’s anthrax efforts and years after being captured was left for dead on his family’s doorstep.)

    A family member in the US hired an attorney who inquired of the FBI as to Aafia’s whereabouts but the FBI reported that they did not have her in custody. Aafia Siddiqui’s family has long-standing ties with the family of Pakistan religious affairs minister Mohammed Ijaz ul-Haq. Ul-Haq’s late father — Gen. Zia ul-Haq — gave Izmat Siddiqui, Aafia’s mother, a government post after he seized power in 1977 and set up a new court system to enforce sharia. The religious affairs minister Ijaz ul-Haq told The New Yorker that his family respected Aafia’s mother because she “is a religious scholar.”

    An Interior Ministry spokesman confirmed in late May 2004 that Dr. Aafia Siddiqui, allegedly involved in terrorist activities, had been arrested in 2003 from Karachi and handed over to the US authorities. Just three days later on May 26, 2004, Director Mueller and Attorney General Ashcroft, who was advised on national security and counterintelligence matters by the former US Attorney Jeffrey Taylor of Amerithrax fame, held a press conference announcing she was an Al Qaeda operative and they were looking for her. (That was a surprising announcement given that some officials were suggesting the ISI or CIA already had her in custody for over a year).

    In October 2008, a Pakistani news account relays Aafia’s description of her whereabouts for 5 years:

    “She remembers being given an injection and when she came to she was in a cell. She said she was being brainwashed by men who spoke perfect English. They could be Afghan or others. She did not think they were Pakistanis. She said she was being forced to admit things she had allegedly done. She was made to sign statements, some of which included information on phone calls she was said to have made. She also stated that she had been tortured but she provided no details. She was told by her captors that if she did not co-operate, her children would suffer. Her account of the five years she had been missing remained incoherent, unsequenced and extremely vague. Her visitors did not press her hard but they returned unsatisfied with what they had been told. She said she did not know where her children were. Her son, allegedly arrested with her in Ghazni, has since been returned to Pakistan. She was vague about her other two children and it was not clear if they had been with her during her captivity.”

    Her Uncle provides a detailed and fascinating account that does not seem inconsistent.

    In the Fall of 2003, Fowzia left her position at John Hopkins in neurology to return to Pakistan. Fowzia’s phone reportedly was wiretapped under an NSA program codenamed “Stellar Wind.” In the Spring, she inquired of a government official as to Aafia’s whereabouts and was told she had already been released and should go home and wait for a call — but the call never came. The Pakistan Interior Minister has said: “You will be astonished to know about the activities of Dr Aafia (Siddiqui).”

    In 1995, Aafia wrote this:

    “Pakistani govt. has officially joined the gang of our typical contemporary govts. of Muslim countries. I mean Egypt, Algeria, Tunisia and the likes of them… Here’s what I read in this Friday’s issue of the “Muslim News,” something that was confirmed a few days earlier by some articles in local papers like The Boston Globe and the New York Times etc: “BENAZIR ASKS FOR THE WEST’S HELP AGAINST ‘EXTREMISM’. Benazir Bhutto, Pakistan’s prime minister, called on the west to help eradicate religious opposition. She said that Pakistan is a “moderate” Islamic country and it is the first defense line against “terrorism,” and hence needs international support. She added that the arrest of Ramzi Yousef and giving him to the United States is a simple proof. [Ramzi Yousef was the mentor of al-Baluchi, Aafia’s future husband].

    “That was before she became a house frau,” the family’s ACLU attorney pointed out to me. But is it accurate to suggest that just because someone has primary responsibility for child care that they suddenly are no longer political?

    In December 2008, Aafia’s former husband made an impassioned plea for information relating to his children and their welfare.The ACLU Attorney Lamoreaux advised me that she knows of no basis to the suggestion, first made by a Southern Florida television station, that Aafia knew “Jafar the Pilot.” (The civil rights attorney who represented Muhammad reports that although the Pakistan press has said she was a member of the “Chemical Wire Group.”

    In an early US News & World Report, attorney Lamoreaux is quoted as saying that Siddiqui doesn’t fit the profile. “A woman with children, wearing a hijab, driving a Volvo,” scoffs Lamoreaux. “Is that how al Qaeda is recruiting, now, at playgrounds?” The story noted “The FBI says the information from those early investigations is classified.” Lamoreaux adds: “The FBI often fans sparks into flames. But it looks to me like Khalid Shaikh Mohammed knew enough about her to know her name. It wasn’t Jane Doe or Jane Smith. That does strike me as odd.”

    The ACLU in a February 2004 publication called “Sanctioned Bias: Racial Profiling Since 9/11” described Aafia’s brother first encounter with the FBI. Muhammad A. Siddiqui is an architect in Houston and father of two young children. When his mom and sister called him to say the FBI had questioned him, he called ACLU attorney Annette Lamoreaux. It was a Monday evening when two FBI agents came to visit. “I’d be happy to talk to you, but I’d like to have my attorney present.” Borrowing a page from your favorite television show, one of the FBI agents suggested he didn’t need an attorney. He said that asking for an attorney only made him look guilty. The FBI agent again said that he wanted to speak to him now, greatly emphasizing the word “now.”

    Following the advice of his civil rights attorney, he repeated: “I’d be happy to talk to you, but I’d like to have my attorney present.” In response to the FBI’s continuing pressure, he called Attorney Lamoreaux on his cell phone. She told the FBI agent that the agent could call her office during the day and set up an appointment. He screamed at Lamoreaux that Siddiqui did not have a right to counsel (as he was not in custody). Repeating her earlier suggestion that the agent call her on Monday, she told the agent “and you are to leave the house immediately.” The FBI agent handed the cell phone back to Siddiqui. Muhammad did not feel comfortable telling the agents to leave and so he kept politely repeating his attorney’s advice. “Turn off that cell phone!” the agent demanded.

    Mr. Siddiqui reasonably refused, at least wanting to permit his attorney to serve as a witness to the questioning. From Siddiqui’s point of view, at least, the FBI agent pulled back his coat to reveal a gun. Siddiqui repeats that he was afraid — his children were inside and his wife, Dr. Lubna Khawaja, a busy doctor who worked at the local medical center, was not at home.

    “I do this all the time. As soon as there is a lawyer in the picture, they have to play by the rules,” Lamoreaux explains. (Attorney Lamoreaux apparently did not realize that President Bush was playing by rules that had never been approved by or disclosed to the United States public.)

    The agents — thwarted — turned away. One of them said upon leaving: “We will talk to you. We are watching you. Don’t leave town.”

    When the agent called on Monday, Attorney Lamoreaux suggested that they meet on Thursday when Siddiqui was free from work and child care responsibilities. The agent insisted on meeting that day and said he would stand outside of Siddiqui’s home until he came out and spoke to them. At the 15 minute meeting held that day at Lamoreaux’s office, the agent confirmed he had never been a criminal target. Mr. Siddiqui says, “Once there was counsel involved, attitudes changed dramatically. Laws started to mean something.” Before 9/11, Mr. Siddiqui had lived in Detroit and Ann Arbor, Michigan, where his wife was an MD. Aafia Siddiqui is associated with the Ann Arbor addresses, perhaps as the result of visits.

    A Boston blogger recently arrested in mid-November 2008 was a big supporter of Aafia Siddiqui. He apparently travelled from Boston to NYC for her bail hearing. He allegedly used as code words “school” and authorities got nervous.

    Let’s hope that Senator Leahy and his colleagues place a priority on ascertaining the truth and reestablishing this country’s values.

  2. DXer said

    Among the supporters of these militant islamists were people like US scientist Ali Al-Timimi and Pakistan scientist Rauf Ahmad who blended into society and were available to act when another part of the network requested it.

    Indeed, Ali Al-Timimi’s original webpage by supporters explained that in 1996 for two months he was the assistant to the man who would later serve as President Bush’s White House Chief of Staff, Andrew Card.

    So while Bush refers to a “fog of war”, he must have one heck of a hangover.

    Two letters — one typed and an earlier handwritten one — written by a scientist named Rauf Ahmad detailed his efforts to obtain a pathogenic strain of anthrax. He attended conferences on anthrax and dangerous pathogens such as one in September 2000 at the University of Plymouth co-sponsored by DERA, the UK Defense Evaluation and Research Agency. A handwritten letter from 1999 is written on the letterhead of the oldest microbiology society in Great Britain. The 1999 documents seized in Afghanistan by US forces by Rauf describe 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; a conference he attended on dangerous pathogens cosponsored by UK’s Porton Down and Society for Applied Microbiology, and the need for vaccination and containment. Rauf had arranged to take a lengthy post-doc leave from his employer and was grousing that what the employer would be paying during that 12-month period was inadequate. Malaysian Yazid Sufaat — whereabouts now unknown — in 2001 told his wife he was working for a Taliban medical brigade, got the job instead of Rauf.

    I once uploaded a scanned copy of a typed memo reporting on a lab visit, which included tour of a BioLevel 3 facility, where there were 1000s of pathogenic samples. The memo mentioned the pending paperwork relating to export of the pathogens. The documents were provided to me by the Defense Intelligence Agency (”DIA”) under the Freedom of Information Act. I also have uploaded a copy of earlier correspondence between Rauf Ahmad and Dr. Zawahiri from before the lab visit described in the typed memo. The handwritten letter was reporting on a different, earlier visit where the anthrax had been nonpathogenic. Finally, on the same linked page, there are handwritten notes about the plan to use non-governmental-organizations (NGOs), technical institutes and medical labs as cover for aspects of the work, and training requirements for the various personnel at the lab in Afghanistan. Ayman codenamed his project to weaponize anthrax Zabadi or “Curdled Milk.”

    Taliban supporter Al-Timimi was a graduate student in the same building where famed Russian bioweapon Ken Alibek and former USAMRIID head Charles Bailey worked at George Mason University. The three worked at the secure facility at Discovery Hall at the Prince William 2 campus. Dr. Alibek and Dr. Bailey headed a biodefense program funded by Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (”DARPA”). Al-Timimi had a top security clearance and had worked for SRA International doing mathematical support work for the Navy. In 2000 and 2001, Timimi was a graduate student in computational sciences. His field was bioinformatics. Al-Timimi tended to travel to give speeches on interpretation of the koran only during semester breaks. Al-Timimi spoke in very moderate, measured tones in the UK, Canada, and Australia — once even in China. He spoke against feminism, about the unfavorable treatment of islam in the secular media, about signs of the coming day of judgment, the correct interpretation of the koran and hadiths, and the destruction of the Buddha statutes by the Taliban. Locally, he spoke regularly at the Falls Church center that also housed offices of the charity, the Muslim World League. Timimi was associated with the charity Islamic Assembly of North America (”IANA”), based in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The group had a spin-off in Syracuse, NY focused on Iraq, called Help The Needy. Ali’s colleague from the small DC-based Society for Adherence to the Sunnah, Idris Palmer, served as Vice-President. Al-Timimi’s speeches are widely distributed on the internet and tend to focus on religious rather than political issues.

    A district court judge would say that Al-Timimi’s later speeches tended to favor violent jihad. After 9/11, they reportedly were removed from the website of the Center he had founded. The night of 9/11, he got in a heated debate with some colleagues. He said while islamically impermissible, the targeting of civilians was not impermissible where they were used as a shield. Others thought that it was reckless to say that so soon after the 9/11 attack when emotions were so inflamed. Years earlier, the blind sheik’s son, Mohammed Abdel-Rahman was scheduled to come from Afghanistan to speak at the IANA 1993 conference alongside Ali Al-Timimi and former EIJ member Gamal Sultan. Al-Timimi was scheduled to speak alongside the blind sheik’s son again in 1996, the year Bin Laden issued his Declaration of War against the United States. In July and August 2001, Ali was scheduled to speak in Toronto and London alongside “911 imam” Anwar Awlaki and unindicted WTC 1993 “unindicted co-conspirator” Bilal Philips.

  3. DXer said

    Ironically, torture figured into the motive of the anthrax mailings. In March 1999, attorney al-Zayat was representing defendants in a massive prosecution of jihadists in Cairo. He told the press that Ayman Zawahiri would use weaponized anthrax against US targets because of the continued extradition pressure and torture faced by Egyptian Islamic Jihad members. Two senior EIJ leaders then on trial were saying the same thing to the press and in confessions. Senator Leahy, one of my favorite Senators, was targeted in Fall 2001 precisely because of this issue of torture. The folks connected to the WTC 1993 prosecution overseen by Judge Mukasey were responsible.

    One of the targets of the anthrax letters, Senate Leahy, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, would not support Attorney General nominee Michael Mukasey because Mukasey hasn’t taken a firm enough stand against torture. Leahy said: “No American should need a classified briefing to determine whether waterboarding is torture.” Separately, Patrick Leahy was very dissatisfied with the briefing the former US Attorney General Gonzales had promised to give him on why he had been sent mailed anthrax. He repeatedly criticized Gonzales for allowing waterboarding.

    After the assassination of Anwar Sadat, Cairo attorney Montasser al-Zayat first met blind sheik Abdel-Rahman after Montasser had been tortured for 12 hours. He was near a mental breakdown. Abdel-Rahman came over to where he was huddled in a corner of a cell, bent over and whispered: “Rely on God; don’t be defeated.” Mohammed had spoken the words in the Koran. Al- Zayat would become one of Sheik Omar’s most trusted legal advisers and a lawyer on the defense team of El Sayyid Nosair. Nosair was the Egyptian who served as Abdel-Rahman’s bodyguard and was tried in New York in 1990 for the murder of Rabbi Meir Kahane.

    US Postal employee Sattar, who had been the blind sheik’s spokesman after his 1993 arrest, in a 1999 Frontline interview spoke of the role of appropriations and torture in fueling the islamist rage:

    “this is the same old story happening again, and again, and again. American government don’t get it. The American government [is] deceiving the American people. They’re not telling them what’s really going on. You can kill Osama bin Laden today or tomorrow. You can arrest him and put him on trial in New York or in Washington.”

    “Tomorrow you will get somebody else, his name probably will be different, Abdullah, or Muhammad. It’s not going to end. Until you, take a hard, and a good look at your policies in the Islamic world and the Muslim world, as long as you’re supporting dictators like Mubarak as long as you are giving aid to regimes that [are worse] to their people than Saddam Hussein, things will get ugly, and you cannot control the emotion of people when you are tortured in Egyptian prison by an American trained Egyptian officer. He is torturing you, and he is bragging that he was in the United States getting his training, when the equipment that he is using is American made.”

    The founder of Egyptian Islamic Jihad Kamal Habib (who wrote for the quarterly magazine of the US charity Islamic Assembly of North America) told scholar Fawaz Gerges:

    “The prison years also radicalized al-shabab [young men] and set them on another violent journey. The torture left deep physical and psychological scars on jihadists and fueled their thirst for vengeance. Look at my hands — still spotted with the scars from cigarette burns nineteen years later. For days on end we were brutalized — our faces bloodied, our bodies broken with electrical shocks and other devices. The torturers aimed at breaking our souls and brainwashing us. They wanted to humiliate us and force us to betray the closest members of our cells.

    I spent sleepless nights listening to the screams of young men echoing from torture chambers. A degrading, dehumanizing experience. I cannot convey to you the rage felt by al-shabab who were tortured after Sadat’s assassination.”

    While Kamal Habib wrote for the jihad-supporting Assirat, Al-Timimi was on the Board of Advisers.

    In a videotape that circulated in the summer of 2001, Zawahiri said “In Egypt they put a lot of people in jails — some sentenced to be hanged. And in the Egyptian jails, there is a lot of killing and torture. All this happens under the supervision of America. America has a CIA station as well as an FBI office and a huge embassy in Egypt, and it closely follows what happens in that country. Therefore, America is responsible for everything that happens.”

    An August 29, 2001 opinion column on Islamway, the second most read site for english speaking muslims, illustrates that the role of “Leahy Law” was known by educated islamists:

    “There is an intolerable contradiction between America’s professed policy of opposition to state-sponsored terrorism, exemplified by the Leahy Law, and the U.S. Congress’ continuing sponsorship of Israeli violence against Palestinians.” The article cited “References: CIFP 2001. “Limitations on Assistance to Security Forces: ‘The Leahy Law’” 4/9/01 (Washington, DC: Center for International Foreign Policy) Center for International Foreign Policy Accessed 8/28/01.Hocksteader, Lee 2001.

    The next day, in the same publication, there was an article describing the 21-page document released in Ottawa on August 29, 2001, in which the CSIS claimed that Canadian detainee Jaballah had contacts with the Egyptian Islamic Jihad leader Shehata and sought to deport Jaballah. Shehata was in charge of EIJ’s Civilian Branch and in charge of “special operations.” It would be seven more years — not until February 2008 — before the Canadian government for the first time revealed that after coming to Canada in 1996, Jaballah would contact Ayman regularly on Ayman’s Inmarsat satellite phone.

    “They [Senators Daschle and Leahy] represent something to him,” says James Fitzgerald of the FBI Academy’s Behavioral Analysis Unit. “Whatever agenda he’s operating under, these people meant something to him.” To more fully appreciate why Leahy — a human rights advocate and liberal democrat — might have been targeted as a symbol, it is important to know that Senator Leahy has been the head of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Foreign Operations, the panel in charge of aid to Egypt and Israel. In addition to the Senate majority leader, anthrax was mailed to the position symbolic of the 50 billion in appropriations that has been given to Israel since 1947 (and the equally substantial $2 billion annually in aid that has been keeping Mubarak in power in Egypt and the militant islamists out of power).

    Within a couple weeks after September 11, a report in the Washington Post and then throughout the muslim world explained that the President sought a waiver that would allow military assistance to once-shunned nations. The militant islamists who had already been reeling from the extradition of 70 “brothers”, would now be facing much more of the same. President Bush asked Congress for authority to waive all existing restrictions on U.S. military assistance and exports for the next five years to any country where the aid would help the fight against international terrorism. The waiver would include those nations who were currently unable to receive U.S. military aid because of their sponsorship of terrorism (such as Syria and Iran) or because of their nuclear weapons programs (such as Pakistan).

    In late September 2001, the Washington Post quoted Leahy: “We all want to be helpful, and I will listen to what they have in mind.” The article noted that he was chairman of both the Senate Judiciary Committee and the Appropriations foreign operations subcommittee, which were considering the legislation. “But we also want to be convinced that what is being proposed is sound, measured and necessary and not merely impulsive,” said Leahy. “Moral leadership in defense of democracy and human rights is vital to what we stand for in the world. Acts of terrorism are violations of human rights. Now is the time to show what sets us apart from those who attack us,” he said.

    The options being considered in response to the September 11 attacks in New York and Washington included potential cooperation with virtually every Middle Eastern and South and Central Asian nation near Afghanistan. “Either you are with us or you are with the terrorists” would be the only test for foreign aid. The “Leahy Law” plays a key role in the secret “rendering” of Egyptian Islamic Jihad (Al Qaeda) operatives to countries like Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Algeria where they are allegedly tortured. Richard Clarke, counterterrorism czar during the Clinton Administration, has quoted Vice-President Gore saying: “Of course it’s a violation of international law, that’s why it’s a covert action. The guy is a terrorist. Go grab his ass.” Although humanitarian in its intent, the Leahy Law permits continued appropriations to military and security units who conduct torture in the event of “extraordinary circumstances.”

    In an interview broadcast on al-Jazeera television on October 7, 2001 (October 6 in the US) — about when the second letter saying “Death to America’” and “Death to Israel” was mailed — Ayman Zawahiri echoed a familiar refrain sounded by Bin Laden: “O people of the U.S., can you ask yourselves a question: Why all this enmity for the United States and Israel? *** Your government supports the corrupt governments in our countries.”

    A month after 9/11, late at night, a charter flight from Cairo touched down at the Baku airport. An Egyptian, arrested by the Azerbaijan authorities on suspicions of having played a part in the September 11 attack, was brought on board. His name was kept secret. That same night the plane set off in the opposite direction. Much of the Amerithrax story has happened at night with no witnesses, with the rendering of University of Karachi microbiology student Saeed Mohammed merely one example. Zawahiri claims that there is a US intelligence bureau inside the headquarters of the Egyptian State Security Investigation Department that receives daily reports on the number of detainees and those detainees who are released. At the time Ayman Zawahiri was getting his biological weapons program in full swing, his own brother Mohammed was picked up in the United Arab Emirates. He was secretly rendered to Egyptian security forces and sentenced to death rendered in the 1999 Albanian returnees case.

    Throughout 2001, the Egyptian islamists were wracked by extraditions and renditions. CIA Director Tenet once publicly testified that there had been 70 renditions prior to 9/11. At the same time a Canadian judge was finding that Mahmoud Mahjoub was a member of the Vanguards of Conquest and would be denied bail, Bosnian authorities announced on October 6, 2001 they had handed over three Egyptians to Cairo who had been arrested in July. In Uruguay, a court authorized the extradition to Egypt of a man wanted in Egypt for his alleged role in the 1997 Luxor attack. Ahmed Agiza, the leader of the Vanguards of Conquest (which can be viewed as an offshoot of Jihad), was handed over by Sweden in December 2001.

    One islamist, a Hamas supporter, summarized why the anthrax was sent in an ode “To Anthrax” on November 1, 2001: “O, anthrax, despite, your wretchedness, you have sewn horror in the heart of the lady of arrogance, of tyranny, of boastfulness!” In an interview that appeared in the Pakistani paper, Dawn, on November 10, 2001, Bin Laden explained that “The American Congress endorses all government measures, and this proves that [all of] America is responsible for the atrocities perpetrated against Muslims.”

    At a December 2002 conference held by “Accuracy in Media,” former State Department analyst Kenneth Dillon noted that Egyptian Islamic Jihad (EIJ), the key component of al Qaeda under Dr. Ayman Zawahiri, head of al Qaeda’s biowarfare program, likely targeted Senator Leahy because of his role as head of a panel of the Senate Appropriations Committee that had developed the so-called “Leahy Law” in 1998. Dillon explained, “According to the wording of the Leahy Law, the U.S. Government was authorized to ‘render’ suspected foreign nationals to the government of a foreign country, even when there was a possibility that they would be tortured, in ‘exceptional circumstances.’ When the Leahy Law was applied to send EIJ members captured in the Balkans back to Egypt, Zawahiri fiercely denounced the United States. So Leahy was a high-priority target.”

    That aid goes to the core of Al Qaeda’s complaint against the United States. (The portion going to Egypt and Israel constituted, by far, the largest portion of US foreign aid, and most of that is for military and security purposes.) Pakistan is a grudging ally in the “war against terrorism” largely due to the US Aid it now receives in exchange for that cooperation. The press in Pakistan newspapers regularly reported on protests arguing that FBI’s reported 12 agents in Pakistan in 2002 were an affront to its sovereignty. There was a tall man, an Urdu-speaking man, and a woman — all chain-smokers — who along with their colleagues were doing very important work in an unsupportive, even hostile, environment. The US agents — whether CIA or FBI or US Army — caused quite a stir in Pakistan along with the Pakistani security and intelligence officials who accompanied them. In mid-March 2003, Washington waived sanctions imposed in 1999 paving the way for release in economic aid to Pakistan. Billions more would be sent to Egypt, Israel and other countries involved in the “war against terrorism.”

    The commentators who suggest that Al Qaeda would have had no motivation to send weaponized anthrax to Senators Daschle and Leahy as symbolic targets — because they are liberal — are mistaken. The main goal of Dr. Zawahiri is to topple President Mubarak. He views the US aid as the chief obstacle and is indifferent to this country’s labels of conservative and liberal.

    Zawahiri likely was surprised that the plainly worded message of the letters accompanying the anthrax was not deemed clear. Perhaps the talking heads would not have been so quick to infer an opposite meaning if no message had been expressed using words at all. Perhaps the public the sender had relied only on what KSM describes as the language of war — the death delivered by the letters — the pundits would not have been so misdirected. But why was Al Qaeda evasive on the question of responsibility for the anthrax mailings, dismissing the issue with a snicker, and falsely claiming that Al Qaeda did not know anything about anthrax? Simple. Bin Laden denied responsibility for 9/11 until it was beyond reasonable dispute. On September 16, 2001, he said: “The US is pointing the finger at me but I categorically state that I have not done this. I am residing in Afghanistan. I have taken an oath of allegiance (to Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar) which does not allow me to do such things from Afghanistan.” Before that, Ayman had denied the 1998 embassy bombings too. On August 20, 1998, coincidentally on the day of strikes on camps in Afghanistan and Sudan, Ayman al-Zawahiri contacted The News, a Pakistani English-language daily, and said on behalf of Bin Laden that “Bin Laden calls on Moslem Ummah to continue Jihad against Jews and Americans to liberate their holy places. In the meanwhile, he denies any involvement in the Nairobi and Dar es Salaam bombings.” To Ayman, “war is deception.”

    The targeted Senators have another connection pertinent to the Egyptian militants. The United States and other countries exchange evidence for counterterrorism cases under the legal framework of a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (”MLAT”). Egypt is signatory of such a treaty that was ratified by the United States Senate in late 2000. For example, when the Fall 2001 rendition of Vanguards of Conquest leader Agizah was criticized, the US explained that it was relying on the MLAT. In the prosecution of Post Office worker Ahmed Abdel Sattar, the MLAT was described. Sattar’s attorney Michael Tigar, at trial in December 2004 explained: “Now, that might be classified, it’s true, but we have now found out and our research has just revealed that on, that the State Department has reported that it intends to use and relies on the mutual legal assistance treaty between the United States and Egypt signed May 3, 1998, in Cairo, and finally ratified by the United States Senate on October 18th, 2000. The State Department issued a press report about this treaty on November 29th, 2001 and I have a copy here.” He explained that “Article IV of the treaty provides that requests under the treaty can be made orally as well as under the formal written procedures required by the treaty, that those requests can include requests for testimony, documents, and even for the transfer to the United States if the treaty conditions are met.”

    Vanguards of Conquest spokesman Al-Sirri was a co-defendant in the case against post office worker Sattar. In the late 1990s Sattar and he often spoke in conversations intercepted by the FBI. Al-Sirri’s fellow EIJ cell members in London were subject to process under those treaties at the time of the anthrax mailings. Those London cell members had been responsible for the faxing of the claim of responsibility which stated the motive for the 1998 embassy bombings. A group calling itself the “Islamic Army for the Liberation of the Holy Places” took credit for the bombings listing as among their demands “the release of the Muslims detained in the United State[s] first and foremost Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman (the spiritual guide of the Gama’a Islamiya) who is jailed in the United States.” As reason for the bombings, in addition to the rendition recent EIJ members to Cairo and the detention of Blind Sheik Abdel-Rahman, the faxes pointed to the detention of Al-Timimi’s religious mentor, dissident Saudi Sheik al-Hawali.

    Blin Laden’s sheik Al-Hawali — the subject of the 1998 declaration of war — was the mentor of GMU bioinformatics student Al-Timimi who spoke in London in August 2001 alongside 911 Imam Awlaki (also from Falls Church) and unindicted WTC 1993 conspirator Bilal Philips. Al-Timimi was in contact with Saudi sheik Al-Hawali in 2002 and arranged to hand deliver a message to all members of Congress he had drafted in al-Hawali’s name on the first anniversary of the anthrax mailings to Senator Leahy and Daschle.

    The Amerithrax Task Force imagines that Ft. Detrick anthrax researcher Bruce Ivins targeted Leahy and Daschle because they were Catholics who voted pro-choice in opposition to the beliefs of the Catholic Church. That is utter hooey. The affidavit regarding Dr. Ivins further explains:

    “On September 26, 2001, in an email to a friend, Dr. Ivins writes: “The news media has been saying that some members of Congress and members of the ACLU oppose many of the Justice Department proposals for combating terrorism, saying that they are unconstitutional and infringe too much on civil liberties. Many people don’t know it but the official ACLU position to oppose all metal detectors in airports and schools and other public buildings. It’s interesting that we may now be living in a time when our biggest threat to civil liberties and freedom doesn’t come from the government but from enemies of the government. Osama Bin Laden has just decreed death to all Jews and all Americans, but I guess that doesn’t mean a lot to the ACLU. Maybe I should move to Canada…”

    This, too, was not a motive to send lethal anthrax through the mail. Ivins’ reference to Bin Laden’s decree was evidence he read the newspapers or watched television. It was not evidence of the murder of innocents.

    This week former President Bush referred to the “fog of war” in mentioniing anthrax and he has an important point. Once there are revelations about what the Administration did in our name comes out we will be able to write the history and better understand what happened and why it happened. Senator Leahy will be having hearings next week on the misuse of the State Secret doctrine in hiding actions for political rather than national security reasons. But while the hearings likely will focus on NSA wiretapping, Senator Leahy should realize that as both Bush and Cheney have explained, what they did on treatment of detainees and wiretapping was linked in significant part to the anthrax letters. It is the actual link that is shocking.

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