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

* Lew’s interview for Ron Klein’s radio show

Posted by DXer on June 3, 2009

Ron Klein

Ron Klein

Last night, I taped a 20 minute radio interview with Ron Klein for his internet radio show. The interview ranged over many topics: my management background and entrepreneurial experiences, including self-publishing and POD publishing of my three novels, THE HERETIC, A GOOD CONVICTION, and CASE CLOSED.

Ron is on air weekly at 10:00 am Monday morning (U.S. East Coast time)   

you can listen live to my interview with Ron Klein at …  

Mon, Jul 13 10:00 am ET

Wed, Jul 15 5:00 am ET

I am also hopeful of getting a copy of the interview which I can post here.

Learn more about Ron Klein and his fascinating life at …


5 Responses to “* Lew’s interview for Ron Klein’s radio show”

  1. Ike Solem said

    Wow, I was wondering how fast that story would spread – but why would Al Qaeda threaten biological attack?

    It’s a “Washington Times Exclusive”:

    “EXCLUSIVE: Al Qaeda eyes bio attack from Mexico, seeks white militias as allies”

    It does not fit with Al Qaeda’s stated objective, i.e. establishment of a Islamic state based out of Medina and Mecca based on “moral authority”. People who use bioweapons lose moral authority in a hurry.

    Take it from Ed Regis, “The Biology of Doom: The History of America’s Secret Germ Warfare Project”

    The true reason why biological warfare had never been waged had less to do with such tactical considerations as the boomerang effect, its unpredictability, or a visceral sense of moral repugnance. The reason was that biological weapons lacked the single most important ingredient of any effective weapon, an immediate display of overwhelming power and brute strength…

    High explosives provided an obvious display of force. Nuclear weapons provided a show of force that approached the level of omnipotence. Biological weapons were just the opposite: they were secret, silent, invisible and slow…”

    I think this fits into a PR campaign intended to convince the public and government leaders to keep dumping billions into bogus “Project Bioshield” contracts.

    Look at the watimes story:

    The officials, who spoke only on the condition they not be named because of the sensitive nature of their work, stressed that there is no credible information that al Qaeda has acquired the capabilities to carry out a mass biological attack although its members have clearly sought the expertise.

    Only a credulous fool would believe this garbage. My guess is that these “anonymous counter-terrorism experts” are just PR folks for the FBI, the DOE and HHS.

    Didn’t we see the same thing with Iraq’s “anthrax stocks”? Al Qaeda access to biological weapons is even less dubious.

    • DXer said


      You think access by Al Qaeda to biological weapons is even less dubious? Is it that you think Al-Timimi did not have the access to the ATCC depository? Or is it that you think he did not have access to know-how to weaponize it? Is it that you think he was not coordinating with the 911 imam? Coordinating with Bin Laden’s sheik? Urging young men to go to Afghanistan and fight? When documents relating to bioweapons landed in the maildrop he shared with Ken Alibek and the former USAMRIID Commander, do you think Ali averted his eyes?

      Is it that you think the USG did not in fact find virulent anthrax in Afghanistan?

      Did you not read Rauf Ahmad’s memo to Ayman Zawahiri listing the equipment that was then purchased?

      Is it that you think it is really hard to create a dry aerosol? Just because you can’t do it?

      Is it that you think they did not find the specifications for aerosolizing anthrax on Al-Hawsawi’s computer?

      Is it that you think Yazid Sufaat did not have two anthrax lab techs assisting him?

      Is it that you are unaware that Zawahiri had a scientist attending the Porton Down conferences for years? Including the ones attended by Bruce Ivins?

      It’s not Al Qaeda threatening biological attack, by the way. It’s a guy talking about it. By way of analogy, Rush Limbaugh is not head of GOP. In fact, this Salafist lecturer has a website and you could email him to get his insights on the fall 2001 mailings if you like.

      Juan Cole has a new book out, Engaging the Muslim World (March 17, 2009) that looks to be very good — both authoritative and very readable. He has a passage about some of the learning relating to warning before attack but I’ve misplaced my notes. From Ann Arbor, his book’s discussion on Qutb is valuable background. Religious sanction is very important to Zawahiri and the intellectuals, while they have robust debates and differences, are guided by some of the same writers such as Qutb. Indeed, understanding Qutb may be more important than Zawahiri in understanding Amerithrax.

      Whatever conflicting guidance there is under the koran and hadiths, warning of a biological attack is required and it violates the koran and hadiths to kill the elderly, women or children.

      The Koran and hadiths provide extensive guidance on the honorable conduct of warfare. One of the leading non-muslim expert on the subject was Princeton’s Bernard Lewis. In a September 27, 2001 Op Ed in the Wall Street Journal, the 87 year-old historian explained the use of biochemical weapons by Al Qaeda: “the laws of jihad categorically preclude wanton and indiscriminate slaughter. The warriors in the holy war are urged not to harm noncombatants, women and children, ‘unless they attack you first.’

      Even such questions as missile and chemical warfare are addressed, the first in relation to mangonels and catapults, the other to the use of poison-tipped arrows and poisoning enemy water supplies. Here the jurists differ– some permit, some restrict, some forbid these forms of warfare. A point on which they insist is the need for a clear declaration of war before beginning hostilities, and for proper warning before resuming hostilities after a truce. As Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman once said in the context of criticizing Sadat’s peace with Israel: “Believers govern according to God’s laws and do not change or replace a single letter or word of them.”

      In an essay “Islam and Terrorism,” Bilal Philips, a key religious mentor of GMU microbiology grad Ali Al-Timimi, explained the principles of islamic jurisprudence of islamic warfare:

      “Islam opposes any form of indiscriminate violence. The Quran states: “Anyone who has killed another except in retaliation, it is as if he has killed the whole of humankind.” [Quran Surah #32 Verse #5] There are strict rules regulating how war may be conducted. Prophet Muhammad forbade the killing of women, children, and old people and the destruction of Churches and Synagogues or farms. Of course, if women, children or the elderly bear arms they may be killed in self-defense.”

      “Defending Islam and the Muslim community is a primary aspect of the physical jihad which involves taking up arms against an enemy. God states in the Quran “Permission to fight has been given to those who have been attacked because they are wronged. And indeed, Allah is Most Powerful.” [Quran Surah #22 Verse #39] and “Fight in the cause of Allah against those who fight against you, but do not transgress the limits. Indeed Allah does not love transgressors.” [Quran Surah #2 Verse #190].

      As Ali Al Timimi once explained: “Modern warfare did not exist during those times when they wrote those classical books of fiqh.” The old principles therefore must be relied upon to guide the issue in new times.

      Spokesman al-Kuwaiti was giving a plain warning in the Fall 2001 threat letter — not disclosed until 2006 — that the green light had been given for US -bio attack (1) from folks that were US-based, (2) above suspicion, and (3) with access to US and UK government and intelligence information.

      “The Truth about the New Crusade: A Ruling on the Killing of Women and Children of the Non-Believers,” Ramzi bin al-Shibh, argues that “the sanctity of women, children, and the elderly is not absolute” and concludes that “in killing Americans who are ordinarily off limits, Muslims should not exceed four million noncombatants, or render more than ten million of them homeless.” Spokesman Abu Ghaith used the same figure in June 2002 in arguing in favor of the moral right to use biological or chemical weapons.

      A book commemorating the September 11 “raid” was published by Majallat al-Ansar and consisted of four essays. It addresses the importance that any attack comply with the laws of Sharia. “Some people see fit to raise the issue of Islamic principles of warfare. They claim that the raid does not observe those principles and that Sharia errors occurred. Some ‘modern’ legal scholars see the raid as a violation of the Sharia.” The book continued: “Everyone knows that the groups in the traditionalist mujahid movement are more committed than anyone else to Sharia in their actions. After all, their actions can cost them their dearest possession after their faith — their souls.” While purporting not to want to get entangled in a discussion of the legal technicalities, the author then addressed at length why the attack on the World Trade Center and Pentagon was justified under the laws of sharia.

      Vince Cannistraro, a former chief of CIA counter-terrorist operations, discussed the requirement of warning under the laws of jihad on NPR in connection with the Al Qaeda audiotape by Bin Laden that aired shortly before the November 2004 election. In the case of anthrax, Ayman Zawahiri likely considers that the warning required under the laws of jihad has been given. And, yes, unfortunately, while this fellow cannot be said to be an Al Qaeda spokesman, such discussion is troubling.

      Zawahiri is the grandson of the well-known “Pious Ambassador,” who was President of Cairo University. Dr. Zawahiri is reserving himself a spot in a bad place by reason of his botched analysis of the hadiths and teachings of Mohammed governing warfare (no women, children, noncombatants etc.) The same principles prohibit attacking livestock, crops or wells. Judging by the interpretive texts, it would seem that Al Qaeda and the anthrax mailer have violated the Quran and hadiths by killing noncombatant women and children, and even the aged. It cannot be persuasively argued that those noncombatant women and children and the aged attacked the jihadists first. An infant visiting ABC was infected by the anthrax. Before the military tribunal, KSM says the koran forbids killing children. He noted that warfare is guided by the koran and hadiths.

      The head of Egyptian Islamic Group, who approved of Sadat’s assassination and was released after a quarter-century in prison, said of 9/11:

      “The killing of businessmen is forbidden by Islamic law and the World Trade Center was all businessmen. The killing of women and children and old people is forbidden by Islamic law and many of those were killed in the building.”
      Thus, the harshest judgment may await true believers in another world.

      I was on the White House grounds for the Easter Egg hunt this Spring. It was all I could do to get the Park Service to let 5,000 parents and kids out the door that had been pretty much blocked by a orange cone that was preventing baby strollers from going through. The following day the teabaggers threw a tea bag onto the lawn and Lafayette Park was immediately cleared.

      But the vulnerability of the US to such an attack is why the fact that Ed has things he would be rather doing than a full and objective consideration of the true crime facts — such as exploring the particulars of the distribution of Ames in connection with the DARPA research — is of no moment. He can return to his interests. Those who seek to end violence against innocents — from whatever nation or religion — hopefully will press for assurances that the United States government has not screwed things up again.

    • DXer said

      The speaker on the video — and I recommend you contact him if you have questions as he is very approachable — laughs at the suggestion of folks like you who characterize supporters of the Salafist-Jihadists as a bunch of ignorant cave dwellers. Ayman himself has 40 doctors in his family — including 3 who were on the Cairo Medical School faculty in the 1990s.

      The Washington Post has detailed the correspondence from one scientist who was helping Ayman in his plan to use aerosolized anthrax against US targets. He also is available by email and I have corresponded with him and uploaded his resume.

      Suspect and A Setback In Al-Qaeda Anthrax Case Scientist With Ties To Group Goes Free
      By Joby Warrick
      Washington Post Staff Writer
      Tuesday, October 31, 2006; A01

      Now if you doubt that a teabag of anthrax would really mess things up at the White House egg roll, or that it is beyond their capability, then I think you haven’t been paying attention to the anthrax letters mailed in Fall 2001.

      The entire Mexico border thing is just to be provocative. There is no need to go to so much trouble The speaker is just spinning a yarn for propaganda and storytelling purposes with an audience. KSM’s plan involving Paracha was for an unidentified chemical was to use a shipping container going into NYC.

    • DXer said

      On March 23, 2003, the Washington Post reported on documents allegedly discovered at the Abdul Qadoos Khan residence — on a seized laptop — relating to biochemical weapons. The documents indicated that Al Qaeda leaders may already have manufactured some of them. The documents at the Qadoos home reveal that Al Qaeda had a feasible production plan for anthrax. Confronted with scanned handwritten notes on the computer, Mohammed reportedly began to talk about Al Qaeda’s anthrax production program. KSM, however, denies that it was his computer. He says it was the computer of Mustafa Hawsawi, who was captured at the home the same day. In 2001, before departing for the UAE, Al-Hawsawi had worked in the Al Qaeda media center Al Sahab (Clouds) in Kandahar. The letter containing the first anthrax went to the American Media in Florida had blue and pink clouds on it.

      Hawsawi worked under KSM who in turn worked for Zawahiri. Hawsawi worked as a financial manager for Bin Laden when he was in Sudan. He was associated with Egyptian Islamic Jihad shura leader Mahjoub, who was Bin Laden’s farm manager in Sudan. Mahjoub was the subject of the anthrax threat in January 2001 in Canada, upon announcement of his bail hearing. The day after Mahjoub’s bail was denied on October 5, 2001, the potent stuff was sent to US Senators Daschle and Leahy. The FBI needed to prioritize any lead involving individuals who knew Mahjoub; but in accusing Ivins, it appears that they failed to do so.

      The Washington Post explained that “What the documents and debriefings show, the first official said, is that “KSM was involved in anthrax production, and [knew] quite a bit about it.” Barton Gellman in the Post explained that Al Qaeda had recruited competent scientists, including a Pakistani microbiologist who the officials declined to name. “The documents describe specific timelines for producing biochemical weapons and include a bar graph depicting the parallel processes that must take place between Days 1 and 31 of manufacture. Included are inventories of equipment and indications of readiness to grow seed stocks of pathogen in nutrient baths and then dry the resulting liquid slurry into a form suitable for aerosol dispersal.” The Washington Post story notes that U.S. officials said the evidence does not indicate whether al Qaeda completed manufacture. The documents are undated and unsigned and cryptic about essential details.

      Hambali was arrested in mid-August 2003 in Thailand. He told interrogators that the terror network had what author Ron Suskind describes as an “extremely virulent” strain of anthrax before the September 11 attacks. In the autumn of 2003, Suskind reports, U.S. forces in Afghanistan found a sample of the virulent anthrax at a house in Kandahar. Pulitzer Prize winning author Ron Suskind writes: “One disclosure was particularly alarming: al Qaeda had, in fact produced high-grade anthrax. Hambali, during interrogation, revealed its whereabouts in Afghanistan. The CIA soon descended on a house in Kandahar and discovered a small, extremely potent sample of the biological agent.” He continued: “The anthrax found in Kandahar was extremely virulent. What’s more, it was produced, according to the intelligence, in the months before 9/11. And it could be easily reproduced to create a quantity that could be readily weaponized.”

      Suskind writes:

      “Ever since the tense anthrax meeting with Cheney and Rice in December 2001, CIA and FBI had been focused on determining whether al Qaeda was involved in the anthrax letter attacks in 2001 and whether they could produce a lethal version that could be weaponized. The answer to the first was no; to the second, ‘probably not.’ Though the CIA had found remnants of a biological weapons facility — and blueprints for attempted production of anthrax — isolating a strain of virulent anthrax and reproducing it was viewed as beyond al Qaeda’s capabilities.

      Suskind continued:

      “No more. The anthrax found in Kandahar was extremely virulent. What’s more, it was produced, according to the intelligence, in the months before 9/11. And it could be easily reproduced to create a quantity that could be readily weaponized.”

      “Alarm bells rang in Washington. Al Qaeda, indeed, had the capabilities to produce a weapon of massive destructiveness, a weapon that would create widespread fear.

      The next puzzle piece was tucked, inconspicuously, inside a computer. The computer was picked up in late August in Pakistan in a sweep by ISI of apartments that were once safe houses for al Qaeda operatives. On the hard drive were pictures of a very precise, very professional casing effort in New York City. Grand Central Terminal, and its cavernous vaults, from many angles. Banks. Hotel lobbies.

      The headquarters of famous Manhattan-based companies, with pictures that included everything from heating, ventilation, and air-condition systems to locks on security doors.

      Many of the sites photographed represented closed spaces, each ideal, in different ways, for mubtakkar attacks or, now, an anthrax attack.”

      Based on the additional information being provided in 2003, authorities also captured two mid to low level technicians — an Egyptian and a Sudanese. President Bush has explained that these mid-to low level technicians were part of a Southeastern Asian based cell that was developing an anthrax attack on the United States. In Fall of 2006, President Bush explained:

      “KSM also provided vital information on al Qaeda’s efforts to obtain biological weapons. During questioning, KSM admitted that he had met three individuals involved in al Qaeda’s efforts to produce anthrax, a deadly biological agent — and he identified one of the individuals as Yazid. KSM apparently believed we already had this information, because Yazid had been captured and taken into foreign custody before KSM’s arrest. In fact we did not know about Yazid’s role in al Qaeda’s anthrax program. Information from Yazid then helped lead to the capture of his two principal assistants in the anthrax program. Without the information provided by KSM and Yazid, we might not have uncovered this al Qaeda biological weapons program, or stopped this al Qaeda cell from developing anthrax for attacks against the United States.”
      Sufaat wrapped things up in the Summer of 2001, according to Tenet, and briefed Hambali and Zawahiri over the course of a week.

      University of Maryland researcher Milton Leitenberg views Al Qaeda’s efforts in Afghanistan as incompetent. He asserts: “The 2005 Silberman-Robb Commission report claims that Al Qaeda in Afghanistan did obtain ‘‘Agent X,’’ which is understood to have meant a B. anthracis pathogenic strain, and not a vaccine strain. The claim appears to be incorrect.” He argues Al Qaeda’s “effort failed, as the organization was unable to obtain a pathogenic strain of B. anthracis. Al Qaeda’s work was incompetent in the extreme and had barely advanced beyond early speculation by the time a joint allied military team raided and occupied its facilities in December 2001. Mr. Leitenberg concludes: “In terms of bioterrorism perpetrated by a terrorist organization, the Amerithrax events are an outlier, as they almost certainly were carried out by a U.S. scientist, fully trained, with access to pathogenic strains and optimum working conditions. ” Mr. Leitenberg has overlooked the logical possibility that a supporter of Al Qaeda was working “as a U.S. scientist, fully trained, with access to pathogenic strains and optimum working conditions.”

      The article on its face, though, Ike, expressly says that there in no evidence that Al Qaeda has the capability to make a mass strike. The rub is, though, the Fall 2001 anthrax mailings were on a deliberately small scale.

  2. DXer said

    Video Suggests Al-Qaeda Seeks to Breach U.S. Border with Biological Weapon

    Wednesday, June 3, 2009

    An al-Qaeda recruiting video indicates that the terrorist organization hopes to sneak a biological weapon into the United States through its border with Mexico, the Washington Times reported today (see GSN, Feb. 4).

    U.S. officials have verified the authenticity of the video, which was first televised earlier this year and shows Kuwaiti dissident and al-Qaeda recruiter Abdullah al-Nafisi discussing the possibility of carrying out a massive biological attack in the United States.

    “Four pounds of anthrax … carried by a fighter through tunnels from Mexico into the U.S. are guaranteed to kill 330,000 Americans within a single hour if it is properly spread in population centers there,” al-Nafisi says in the video, which was acquired and translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute.

    “What a horrifying idea,” he continues, “9/11 will be small change in comparison. Am I right? There is no need for airplanes, conspiracies, timings and so on. One person, with the courage to carry 4 pounds of anthrax, will go to the White House lawn, and will spread this ‘confetti’ all over them, and then we’ll do these cries of joy. It will turn into a real celebration.”

    Al-Qaeda is widely believed to have sought to develop unconventional weapons capabilities; al-Nafisi says in the video that the organization has chemists and other scientists in its employ.

    However, U.S. counterterrorism officials told the Times that there is no plausible proof that the group could actually conduct a large-scale act of terrorism.

    Al-Nafisi also suggests in the video that al-Qaeda would be willing to collaborate with homegrown U.S. extremists — including white supremacist groups — to carry out a strike.

    Homeland Security Department spokesman Sean Smith said the department was committed to preventing terrorists from breaching U.S. borders.

    “We can never stop being vigilant while there are individuals who seek to do harm on the American people,” he said. “We continue to step up our efforts with additional personnel and better technology along the northern and southern borders and continue to strengthen our sea, land and air points of entry” (Sara Carter, Washington Times, June 3).

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