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

* AP story mentions al-Qaida “anthrax program” … related comments by readers of this blog

Posted by DXer on June 21, 2009

Lew’s new novel CASE CLOSEDCC - front cover - small

explores the FBI’s failed investigation of the 2001 anthrax case …

* see CASE CLOSED VIDEO on YouTube

* purchase CASE CLOSED (paperback)

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AP story mentions al-Qaida “anthrax program”

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Kathy Gannon writes for AP (6-21-09)

  • Estimates of al-Qaida’s annual budget needs vary wildly from $300 million to as low as $10 million.
  • (Juan Carlos, a former U.S. National Security Council adviser on terrorism who now works at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington) … estimates al-Qaida’s needs as “modest,” said its big expenses are payments to families; food and shelter to maintain operations; travel and logistics; money for cells engaged in plots; bribes, and expenses for longer-range plans such as an anthrax program.

read the entire article at … Taliban gains money, al-Qaida finances recovering

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Perhaps stimulated by that story, DXer has posted several very detailed comments this morning. You can read DXer’s entire comments at the bottom of the post …

nagging-questions-in-anthrax-case

extracts from comments by DXer …

  • The White House knew of the anthrax threat in a February 2001 briefing from the CIA to President Bush.Bush & Cheney
  • To begin to understand Amerithrax, the government should declassify the early February 2001 PDB from the CIA to President Bush on Al Qaeda’s interest in biological weapons.
  • President Bush (was briefed) in February 2001 about a threat to use mailed anthrax if bail was denied the Vanguards of Conquest #2 Mahmoud Mahjoub.
  • Bail was denied; anthrax letters were mailed.
  • The CIA has known of the plans by Zawahiri and the Vanguards of Conquest to use anthrax since July 1998, when the CIA seized a disc from Ayman Zawahiri’s right-hand, Ahmed Mabruk, during his arrest outside a restaurant in Baku, Azerbaijan.
  • Mabruk claimed that Zawahiri intended to use anthrax against US targets.

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  • Let’s consider the case of Kathy Nguyen (one of the 5 anthrax victims who died)
    Kathy Nguyen

    Kathy Nguyen

    • an article about her infection in the Journal of the American Medical Association explained that an epidemiological study of her workplace and residence had not turned up any explanation of how she was exposed.
    • She had worked in the stockroom of Manhattan Eye, Ear and Throat Hospital (MEETH), which was a subsidiary of Lenox Hill.
  • Dr. Hassan Faraj was an intern there at the time and then finished his residency at Lenox Hill in 2004.
    • (Dr. Faraj) was listed in 2002 as an author of the AMA article about the fatal anthrax inhalation exposure of Kathy Nguyen.
    • An arrest warrant issued for Dr. Hassan Faraj on immigration charges on June 29, 2004.
    • The United States government charged Dr. Farah with providing aid to a supporter of Osama Bin Laden and making false statements.
    • Dr. Faraj formerly worked for the Al Qaeda front charity, BIF, in Zagreb, Croatia.
    • In the fall of 2004, the government discovered that the defendant (Hassan Faraj) used his fraudulently-obtained United States citizenship in January 2002 to sponsor the attempted entry into the United States by suspected foreign terrorist Amir Abdulrazzak, also known as Amir Amrush.

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In addition, a new contributor to our blog (AS) posted two comments this morning that I’d like to repeat here.

comments by AS …

  • What is the FBI’s explanation for the fact that the White House staff was taking Cipro prior to the Anthrax mailings?
  • Are we really to believe the FBI “theory” that Ottillie Lundgren and Kathy Nguyen died from “cross contamination”? If that were possible why did we not have many casualties along the east coast from “cross contamination”?

LMW COMMENT

I don’t know any reasonable person, myself included, who believes the FBI has made its case that Dr. Bruce Ivins is the

Congressman Holt

Congressman Holt

sole perpetrator of the anthrax attacks. There is so much evidence out there, including but surely not limited to the notes above, suggesting a far more complicated and frightening scenario.

We should all be writing to our representatives in Washngton demanding that they support Congressman Rush Holt’s bill to create an Anthrax Investigative Commission.

12 Responses to “* AP story mentions al-Qaida “anthrax program” … related comments by readers of this blog”

  1. DXer said

    http://aawsat.com/english/news.asp?section=3&id=13885

    Al-Qaeda #3, Mustafa Abul-Yazeed, also known as Sheikh Said, recently issued a videotape threatening the US.

    In the early 1980s, he had served time in jail along with al-Zawahiri for his involvement in the assassination of Anwar Sadat, the Egyptian president. Al-Yazid’s daughter is married to the son of Blind Sheikh Omar Abd al-Rahman. (The anthrax letters followed the pattern of letter bombs to newspapers in DC and NYC and symbolic targets at the prisons housing the 1993 WTC plotters in late December 1996/ early January 1997. The letters were in retaliation for the detention of the blind sheik and other WTC plotters.)

    Before arriving in Afghanistan, he was al-Qaeda’s chief financial officer and reportedly also provided funds for the September 11, 2001, attacks in the US. In financing 9/11, he travelled to the UAE where Al-Hawsawi was located. (Al-Hawsawi, KSM’s assistant, had the anthrax spraydrying documents on his computer.)

    Cairo Medical School graduate Sayyed Imam al Sharif, known as Dr Fadl, the spiritual leader of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad movement to which Sheikh Said belonged, objected to his appointment as a military commander. Dr Fadl, who is currently imprisoned in Tora Prison in Egypt and who recently recanted the theological basis for Jihad and renounced violence, says Sheikh Said’s appointment as Commander of Operations for Al Qaeda in Afghanistan signals an end to Al Qaeda’s cadres due to imprisonment or death. Sources close to Dr Fadl in Europe attribute his opposition to Sheikh Said’s new position to the latter’s lack of experience in military command.

    “The full story about the disputes within the Al Qaeda organization regarding the 9/11 attacks is unknown and perhaps will never be fully discovered as the sources from which information can be derived are far from reliable. Yet there is no doubt that Sheikh Said played a part in preparation for the attacks.” (It is true Sheikh Said, that last time KSM and Ramzi bin-al-shibh gave a live interview it didn’t work out so well for them).

    Contrary to the pundits who just associate Al Qaeda with a “big bang,” a key modus operandi of the Vanguards of Conquest was targeted assassination and deadly letters. It was widely known known that Zawahiri was seeking to weaponize anthrax for use against US targets. The Egyptian Islamic Jihad group specializes in armed attacks against high-level Egyptian government officials, including Cabinet ministers. The group had a “hit list” that included tens of Egyptians to be killed by the group, including journalists. Abul-Yazeed (Sheikh Said) claimed responsibility for the assassination of Former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto in December 2007.

    He was born in 1955. He is an accountant by training. Where and when did he attend school?

    • DXer said

      This video includes a clip from the video of civil deposition of Investigator Lambert, then head of investigation, complaining of compartmentalization of investigation — he wrote his objection to FBI Director Mueller. (5:47)
      He argued to Director Mueller that they would not be able to “connect the dots.”

      The video ends with clip by Senator Grassley who explains that if you have three squads who can’t talk to each other, they won’t be able to do their job. (6:33)

      We’ve heard a lot from the scientific squad, and we’ll hear more soon in the EID.

      And we’ve heard lots from the Hatfill Squad / Ivins Squad. Too much, in fact. You guys can sit down now.

      But the good stuff was from the third squad.

      We haven’t heard from them yet.

      Fortunately, we have Lew, who seeks to get answers.

  2. DXer said

    The AP reporter in the above story, Kathy Gannon, did some great reporting in 2001 when she wrote a story about her visit to an anthrax vaccine lab in Afghanistan.

    In October 2001, the Taliban emissary to Pakistan denied any involvement in the anthrax mailings, saying “We don’t even know what anthrax is.” The Taliban had long denied having any interest in biological or chemical weapons research. The next month, however, reporters were tipped off by a senior official of the Northern Alliance to check out the Institute of Veterinary Vaccine Production in Kabul run by the Minister of Agriculture.

    The lab was repeatedly targeted by bombers but the closest of 13 B-52 bombs landed 50 feet away, causing craters. There was a walk-in incubator to develop bacteria. The equipment used to make vaccines was taken away the day before the bombardment began. The cement walls of the building were cracked. Doors were blasted off their hinges. Shards of glass were strewn on the floor. At the end of one corridor on the second floor a reporter and photographer from The Mirror (UK) were led into a small office. The word “anthrax” was scribbled on an unbroken test tube. A sign read “to be safe than sorry” — the word “better” had fallen off. When AP journalist Kathy Gannon and a photographer stood in front of a glass bottle labeled in English “anthrax spore concentrate” in the two-story building, the photographer’s reflection shone back. The scientists explained that their work at the lab was intended only to develop animal vaccines. Gen. Peter Pace, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said that “the one place where the only vial that had English on it said ‘anthrax’ kind of gives you pause.” Testing showed that it was avirulent strain used in developing animal vaccines. The scientists complained that much of the anthrax vaccine on hand had expired and that they were having trouble getting the supplies they needed to produce more. Before 9/11, private companies in India and Iran had been their main suppliers. Shipments were halted after Sept. 11, and the laboratories had to rely on their stocks.

    Mullahs oversaw the anthrax vaccine laboratory much to the consternation of the scientist in charge of the lab. The mullahs had ordered that the lab be moved to Kabul so that they could oversee it. According to one British press report, much of the laboratory staff had disappeared some months before 9/11 and their whereabouts were unknown. The Institute once had a staff of 45 and one of Afghanistan’s most modern buildings. The scientists gathered before an AP journalist and photographer pointed to a large clear container that held concentrated anthrax spores. The scientists explained that the Taliban had taken a keen interest in their work. Although he was famed for his ability to recite the koran and not scientifically inclined, the Minister of Agriculture would come and inspect what they were doing. The head of the lab explained, “He and his Taliban superiors were interested in the technical detail of what happened here, although they had no background in science.” The International Committee of the Red Cross and the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization provided the scientists technical help. The head of the lab acknowledging that the Taliban could have obtained the knowledge to handle and develop anthrax. The former director of the lab said: “Sadly, some use what is meant to be good for their own destructive ends.”

    The Taliban Minister of Agriculture hated the West. “We’d rather have been running the labs on our own,” the lead scientist explained. “But the mullahs were in charge of everything and we couldn’t stop them learning about our activities. There was always a danger information could get into the wrong hands.” The lab was first built in a northern province in 1993 with equipment from India. Scientists infected three sheep to study the results in developing new vaccines. They told a reporter from the Mirror that they buried the carcasses 30 feet down away from any water supplies. “This was very dangerous work, though we knew what we were doing. We developed the technology of how to keep anthrax bacteria and how to develop it for use in vaccines.” “I would be suspicious of the anthrax research and any research during the Taliban (period) because they were under the control of Osama and al-Qaida,” the deputy head of Northern Alliance military intelligence, told The Associated Press. “We have strong evidence of their involvement in chemical weapons,” he added. “We believe that they were using government facilities, like the Ministry of Agriculture, to do their research in terrorism.” A source who worked at the factory told the Mirror (UK): “There’s no doubt the Taliban were planning chemical or biological warfare against the West. I believe anthrax might have been first on their list.” It was the American Taliban John Walker Lindh that reported the battlefield rumor that the next wave would be a chemical or biological attack.

  3. DXer said

    The December 12, 2001 article referenced by Mr. Coen and Mr. Nadler’s webpage (see previous post) about aerosol testing at Dugway is excerpted below.

    In December 1999, Tarek Hamouda, leader of the DARPA project at NanoBio, joined Amy Shih and Jim Baker and traveled to Dugway, a remote military station in the Utah desert, for aerosol testing. There they demonstrated for the U.S. Army Research and Development Command the ability of non-toxic nanoemulsions (petite droplets of fat mixed with water and detergent) developed at Michigan to wipe out deadly anthrax-like bacterial spores. The square vertical surfaces shown here were covered with bacterial spores; Michigan’s innocuous nanoemulsion was most effective in killing the spores even when compared to highly toxic chemicals.

    Scott’s article has stood the test of time well.

    Anthrax matches Army spores
    Bioterror: Organisms made at a military laboratory in Utah are genetically identical to those mailed to members of Congress.

    By Scott Shane
    Sun Staff
    Originally published December 12, 2001

    For nearly a decade, U.S. Army scientists at Dugway Proving Ground in Utah have made small quantities of weapons-grade anthrax that is virtually identical to the powdery spores used in the mail attacks that have killed five people, government sources say.

    Until the anthrax attacks led to tighter security measures, anthrax grown at Dugway was regularly sent by Federal Express to the Army’s biodefense center at Fort Detrick, in Frederick, where the bacteria were killed using gamma radiation before being returned to Dugway for experiments.

    The anthrax was shipped in the form of a coarse paste, not in the far more dangerous finely milled form, according to one government official.

    Most anthrax testing at Dugway, in a barren Utah desert 87 miles southwest of Salt Lake City, is done using the killed spores to reduce the chance of accidental exposure of workers there.

    But some experiments require live anthrax, milled to the tiny particle size expected on a battlefield, to test both decontamination techniques and biological agent detection systems, the sources say.

    Anthrax is also grown at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases at Fort Detrick, where it is used chiefly to test the effectiveness of vaccines in animals.

    But that medical program uses a wet aerosol fog of anthrax rather than the dry powder used in the attacks and at Dugway, according to interviews and medical journal articles based on the research.

    The wet anthrax, while still capable of killing people, is safer for laboratory workers to handle, scientists say.

    Dugway’s production of weapons-grade anthrax, which has never before been publicly revealed, is apparently the first by the U.S. government since President Richard M. Nixon ordered the U.S. offensive biowarfare program closed in 1969.

    Scientists familiar with the anthrax program at Dugway described it to The Sun on the condition that they not be named.

    The offensive program made hundreds of kilograms of anthrax for bombs designed to kill enemy troops over hundreds of square miles.

    Dugway’s Life Sciences Division makes the deadly spores in far, far smaller quantities, rarely accumulating more than 10 grams at a time, according to one Army official.

    Scientists estimate that the letter sent to Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle originally contained about 2 grams of anthrax, about one-sixteenth of an ounce, or the weight of a dime.

    But its extraordinary concentration – in the range of 1 trillion spores per gram – meant that the letter could have contained 200 million times the average dose necessary to kill a person.

    Dugway’s weapons-grade anthrax has been milled to achieve a similar concentration, according to one person familiar with the program.

    The concentration exceeds that of weapons anthrax produced by the old U.S. offensive program or the Soviet biowarfare program, according to Dr. Richard O. Spertzel, who worked at Detrick for 18 years and later served as a United Nations bioweapons inspector in Iraq.

    Lab security measures

    No evidence linking the Dugway anthrax to the attacks has been made public, and there might well be none. Army officials say the anthrax there and at Fort Detrick has long been protected by multiple security measures.

    The FBI has extensively questioned Dugway employees who have had access to anthrax, according to people familiar with the investigation.

    Agents also have questioned people at Fort Detrick and other government and university laboratories that have used the Ames strain of anthrax found in the letters.

    Still, the analysis of the genetic and physical properties of the anthrax mailed to Daschle and Sen. Patrick J. Leahy has caused investigators to take a hard look at Dugway’s anthrax program.

    First, the genetic fingerprint of the mailed anthrax is indistinguishable from that of the Ames “reference strain,” which is the strain used most often at Fort Detrick and Dugway, according to a scientist familiar with the genetic work.

    Researchers led by Paul Keim at Northern Arizona University have compared the two samples and found them identical at 50 genetic markers – the most sensitive genetic identification method available.

    That does not mean the mailed anthrax necessarily originated from an Army program, because Ames anthrax has been widely used at government and university laboratories in the United States and overseas.

    Shipped without records

    While some sources have estimated Ames might have been used in as few as 20 labs, one scientist who has worked with anthrax said the total cannot be known exactly, but is probably closer to 50.

    “Until the last few years, a graduate student would call up a friend at another lab and say, ‘Send me Ames,’ and they’d do it,” the scientist said. “There wouldn’t necessarily be any records kept.”

    Ames is similar to but distinct from the Vollum1B strain of anthrax used in the old U.S. offensive biological weapons program.

    The genetic testing proves the mailed anthrax was not left over from the old program, most scientists agree.

    Even more provocative than the genetics are the physical properties of the mailed anthrax. While some scientists disagree, many bioterrorism experts argue that the quality of the mailed anthrax is such that it could have been produced only in a weapons program or using information from such a program.

    Link to Dugway base

    If true, that would greatly limit the field, increasing the likelihood of a link to the only site in the United States where weapons-grade anthrax has been made in recent years.

    Dugway, which is larger than Rhode Island, has been a military testing ground since World War II, when military officials selected it for its remote location in Utah’s Great Salt Lake Desert.

    The Dugway anthrax program was launched in the early 1990s, shortly after the Persian Gulf war reawakened U.S. military commanders to the threat from biological weapons.

    Iraq is known to have built a major bioweapons program that included anthrax in its potential arsenal.

    According to Dugway’s Web site, the proving ground’s Life Sciences Division has an aerosol technology branch and a biotechnology branch, both of which use a Biosafety Level 3 laboratory designed to contain pathogens.

    Anthrax and other dangerous germs at Dugway are guarded by video cameras, intrusion alarms, double locks and a buddy system that does not permit workers to handle the agents alone, according to one scientist.

    But Dugway does not have a gamma radiation machine, which is why its anthrax has been shipped to Detrick for irradiation.

    Dr. David L. Huxsoll, who headed Detrick’s biodefense program in the 1980s, said vaccines and detection systems must be tested against aerosolized anthrax if troops are to be prepared for biological attacks.

    “When you’re building a program to defend against biological weapons on the battlefield, you have to be prepared for an aerosol exposure,” he said.

    Not a treaty violation

    Milton Leitenberg, an expert on bioweapons at the University of Maryland, said he was not aware of the Dugway anthrax production.

    But he said making a few grams of weapons-grade anthrax for testing defensive equipment would not violate the international convention on biological weapons.

    The treaty bans the production of bioagents “of types and in quantities that have no justification for prophylactic, protective and other peaceful purposes.”

    “There’s no specific limit in grams or micrograms,” Leitenberg said. “But if you got up in the hundreds of grams, people would be very, very skeptical.”

    The FBI’s investigation, called Amerithrax, has focused on the possibility that the anthrax terrorist might be a loner in this country with some scientific training. …

  4. DXer said

    http://www.anthraxwar.com/1/?p=276

    6/16 Secret in the Desert
    Posted On: June 17, 2009

    • adjective 1 not known or seen or not meant to be known or seen by others. 2 fond of having or keeping secrets; secretive.

    • noun 1 something secret. 2 a method of achieving something that is not commonly known or recognized: the secret of a happy marriage is compromise. 3 something not properly understood; a mystery: the secrets of the universe.

    — DERIVATIVES secrecy noun secretly adverb…

    In the weeks following the 2001 Anthrax Attacks an important clue was overlooked. On December 12th 2001, the Baltimore Sun reported that scientists at Dugway, another U.S. Army facility, had made weapons-grade anthrax virtually identical to the spores mailed to U.S. Senators Tom Daschle and Patrick Leahy.

    The U.S. Army’s Dugway Proving Ground is a vast top-secret testing range that is larger than the state of Rhode Island, hidden in one of the most remote parts of the country – the Great Salt Desert of Utah. It lies in the Great Basin, a unique geographic region surrounded by mountain ranges where all rivers flow towards the center – nothing leaks out. The air space surrounding Dugway is controlled by the military and F-16s regularly screech across the high desert skies. For more than six decades this is where the military has been testing and developing its most deadly weapons.

    The base has a toxic legacy that stretches back decades – from the “anthrax plots” still contaminated by deadly spores released in testing exercises to the extermination of thousands of sheep by VX in the neighboring Skull Valley in 1968.

    Dugway has a long history of working with anthrax and officially is the only lab in the US capable of “weaponizing” anthrax – the process in which anthrax spores are milled and refined into microscopic single spores which are tiny enough to be breathed into the lungs, making it a deadly killer.

    The anthrax powder used in the 2001 Anthrax Attacks is considered by many experts to be the most sophisticated and refined ever seen. Yet the FBI has pinned the blame on U.S. Army scientist Bruce Ivins who was working at the U.S Army’s Fort Detrick lab in Maryland. Detrick does not have the equipment to weaponize such refined anthrax, nor did Ivins have the skill set to produce this kind of sophisticated powder.

    The full scope of activities at Dugway are shrouded in secrecy. Citizen watchdogs at the Citizen Education Project and the Sunshine Project have been keeping an eye on the goings on at Dugway for more than two decades. They have monitored a dramatic expansion of facilities since the anthrax attacks and are concerned about what secrets are hidden in the desert.

    What is going on in the labs?
    Postscript 6/19/09

    Well, here’s a clue from today’s Washington Post…
    Inventory Uncovers 9,200 More Pathogens

  5. DXer said

    Referring to the question by Anonymous Scientist as to why the White House began taking Cipro immediately upon 9/11 (and before the anthrax mailings), the 911 Commission outlines what was known.

    It is ”Bin Ladin’s Interest in Biological, Radiological Weapons” (February 2001) that Senator Leahy should press to have declassified. Most intelligence is open source and this PDB likely will prove no exception. But it will do much to show what the White House knew and when they knew it.

    In addition to the previous announcement of Ayman Zawahiri’s plans by members of his group and the blind sheik’s lawyer, immediately after 9/11, the White House had learned about Moussaoui’s and Atta’s inquiries about cropdusters. It would be surprising if the Secret Service had not recommended that they start Cipro.

    http://www.9-11commission.gov/report/911Report.pdf


    p.342
    From 1998 to 2001, a number of very good analytical papers were distributed on specific topics. These included Bin Ladin’s political philosophy, his command of a global network, analysis of information from terrorists captured in Jordan in December 1999,al Qaeda’s operational style, and the evolving goals of the Islamist extremist movement. Many classified articles for morning briefings were prepared for the highest officials in the government with titles such as … ,”Bin Ladin’s Interest in Biological, Radiological Weapons” (February 2001), “Taliban Holding Firm on Bin Ladin for Now” (March 2001),”Terrorist Groups Said Cooperating on US Hostage Plot”(May 2001), and “Bin Ladin Determined to Strike in the US” (August 2001).
    p.344
    In late 1998, reports came in of a possible al Qaeda plan to hijack a plane. One, a December 4 Presidential Daily Briefing for President Clinton (reprinted in chapter 4), brought the focus back to more traditional hostage taking; it reported Bin Ladin’s involvement in planning a hijack operation to free prisoners such as the “Blind Sheikh, “Omar Abdel Rahman. Had the contents of this PDB been brought to the attention of a wider group, including key members of Congress, it might have brought much more attention to the need for permanent changes in domestic airport and airline security procedures.
    Threat reports also mentioned the possibility of using an aircraft filled with explosives. The most prominent of these mentioned a possible plot to fly an explosives-laden aircraft into a U.S. city. This report, circulated in September 1998, originated from a source who had walked into an American consulate in East Asia. In August of the same year, the intelligence community had received information that a group of Libyans hoped to crash a plane into the World Trade Center.

  6. DXer said

    The zip code of the letters points to the location where the hijackers stayed in Newton, MA the night before 9/11.

    Al-Marri Plea Reveals Al Qaeda Codes
    Posted on May 6, 2009

    Ali al-Marri, the alleged Al Qaeda sleeper spy who has finally been put on trial in Peoria, Illinois (he was arrested in Dec 2001 and jailed without a sentence), recently filed a guilty-plea agreement in federal court. The agreement document reveals interesting details about his past and about Al Qaeda’s 9/11 operations.

    Andrew Savage, al-Marri’s lawyerHis lawyer, Andrew Savage, has said in past that al-Marri poses no threat to the U.S. Many find this hard to swallow given that, as per al-Marri’s own admission in his plea agreement, he trained at Al Qaeda camps and found refuge in terrorist safe houses in Pakistan between 1998 and 2001. During this training period, al-Marri learned to handle weapons and communicate in code. He arrived in the U.S. on a student visa exactly one day before September 11, and promptly input the phone numbers of Al Qaeda contacts into his PDA.

    At least at the time, Al Qaeda was using the techniques we’ve all read about in books to carry out its pre-attack communications, including pre-paid calling cards and simple codes. They also used information found online with search engines when planning their operations.

    In the days following the 9/11 attacks, the man behind them – Khalid Shaikh Mohammed – was supposed to use his free hotmail email account to direct an agent to carry out another attack. When al-Marri arrived in the U.S., he created five new email accounts to communicate with Mohammad. He emailed his cell phone number to him using a simple “10-code.” He used the same code to store the phone numbers of his terrorist buddies, subtracting the actual digits in each telephone number from the number ’10.’ Six, for example, becomes four. Any emails containing words were also encrypted – addressed to ‘Muk’ and signed ‘Abdo;’ the details of this cipher were kept in an address book found in a safe house in Pakistan.

    Al-Marri researched cyanide gas using the Internet and covered his cyber trail using special software. He identified dams, waterways and tunnels in a U.S. almanac. The details about the gas and U.S. sites in the filed document corroborate U.S. government intelligence that Al Qaeda had plans to attack those specific sites using cyanide gas.

    On top of the five years al-Marri already spent in prison as an enemy combatant of the U.S., he can now be sentenced to up to 15 years.

    • DXer said

      Al-Marri was a US-based biochem operative working with anthrax planners KSM and Al-Hawsawi. He recently entered in a April 30, 2009 plea agreement that is available online.

      In a declassified 16-page document filed in April 2006, the government described Peoria, Illinois resident Ali Saleh Kahlah Al-Marri as an important Al Qaeda operative. Investigators eventually concluded he was the most important in the United States. The government say he met Osama bin Laden and was chosen by Khalid Sheik Mohammed to help other operatives conduct attacks, hack into computers, or deliver poisons. President Bush said the intelligence community believes that among Marri’s potential targets were “water reservoirs, the New York Stock Exchange and United States military academies.” KSM thought that the fact he was a father of five would help in blend in better than a single man. He reportedly trained at an Al Qaeda camp for up to 19 months during the years 1996 to 1998. Allegations included the grandiose goal that Al Marri was to seek to hack into the US banking system, and “to wipe out balances and otherwise wreak havoc with banking records in order to damage the U.S. economy.” KSM and Bin Laden planned for Al-Marri to be a “point of contact for al Qaeda operatives arriving in the United States.” KSM had met with Ali’s brother, Jarallah al-Marri, in late summer 2001 and told him of Ali’s U.S. activities. U.S. authorities officials allege that Al-Marri went to the United Arab Emirates in August 2001 to get more than $13,000 in cash from al-Hawsawi. It was Al-Hawsawi’s laptop that had the anthrax spraydrying documents on it.

      Al-Marri’s training included instruction in the use of toxins and poison at the Darunta camp near Jalalabad. Al-Marri had been calling numbers in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, according to a filed complaint. Government sources say he was calling senior al-Qaeda operatives. He travelled to New York City about the same time as El-Shukrijumah and Dhiren Barot were casing financial institutions and casing NYC tourist helicopters. An oath was found on his computer: “Neither the United States nor anyone living in it will dream of security/safety before we live it in Palestine and before the infidel armies leave the land of Mohammed,” and that God should “protect” and “guard” Usama Bin Laden.” Agents discovered that Al-Marri had created five e-mail accounts on September. 22, 2001 using a computer at Western Illinois University. The declaration by a member of the Joint Intelligence Task Force for Combating Terrorism, dated September 9, 2004, provided his email addresses: William274@hotmail.com, Jefferson038@hotmail.com, Howard050@yahoo.com, Drake425@yahoo.com, and Kathy050@yahoo.com. There was as identical draft message in three of the accounts dated September 22, 2001 addressed to an account associated with KSM.

      The draft stated:

      “I hope every thing is ok with you and your family. I have started school ok. It is hard but I had to take 9 hours to meet the school standard. Me and my family are ok. I want to here [sic] from you soon can you contact me by email or on 701-879-6040
      P.S.

      I have tried to contact you at your uncle ottowa but I could not get in.”

      Area code 701 is in North Dakota. Analysts determined that the number was a coded version of Al-Marri’s cellular number. Material is redacted that would reveal the code but it can be deduced. The area code in Macomb and Peoria, Illinois is 309. The simple code is 2 above 5 becomes 2 below 5. We can infer Al-Marri’s cellular number was 309-231-4060. (If you apply the same code to the zip code associated with the “Greendale School” return address, one comes up with Newton, Mass.; the FBI raided a posh hotel where two hijackers stayed in Newton the night before 9/11.)

      Although his parents were Saudi, Al-Marri’s family had moved to Doha, Qatar. He was 17 when he came to the United States. He first studied computer science at a Spoon River College in Macomb, Illinois. The intensive english program at Western Illinois University attracted a lot of Middle Eastern students to the rural setting. He and his brother transferred to Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois. His brother later would be detained in Guantanamo, after being captured in Afghanistan. The Washington Post reports that acquaintances remembered Ali as a “skinny, long-haired partygoer with a sense of humor.” He graduated in 1991 with a business degree and returned to Doha, Qatar. He told FBI agents he was in the US from 1983-1991. Back in Doha, he worked at the Qatar Islamic Bank and at the government audit bureau. Doha, Qatar was where future anthrax planners KSM and Mohammed Islambouli were given safe haven by the Qatar religious minister.

      In early 1996, in the midst of political turmoil involving Sheik al-Thani, who had ousted his father favored by fundamentalists, Al-Marri left for Afghanistan. In a court filing, Pentagon’s top counterterrorism official explained he went to train at a Bin Laden camp. KSM, too, had followed a similar path — first going to school in rural United States and then going to Doha, Qatar in the mid-1990s. By the mid-1990s, Mohammed had been involved in the planning of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing as well as Operation Bojinka in the Philippines. KSM worked in Doha for the government. He worked for the department that oversaw water works, where he may have learned something about poisoning a reservoir or localized water infrastructure.

      Reporter Susan Schmidt, writing for the Washington Post, noted: “Mohammed and a group of militants found refuge on the outskirts of Doha, on a farm owned by the religious minister, according to the Sept. 11 commission. In 1996, as the FBI was closing in, Mohammed slipped out of the country for Afghanistan.” Rudolph Guiliani’s security firm advised the Qatar government on security matters and denies having tipped the government leader who then shared the information. Al-Marrireturned to Doha with the views of a hardened extremist. A former Qatari government official told The Washington Post that Al-Marri came home with CDs of al-Qaeda training lectures and propaganda — as well as a phony California driver’s license. The continuing investigation of a 1996 coup attempt directed at the reformist son who had usurped control from his father cost some of Al-Marri’s relatives their government jobs. His family returned to the Saudi desert. But although his wife and young children went to the Saudi desert, Al-Marri had other plans. Schmidt reports that in May 2000, he flew to Chicago from Dahmam, Saudi Arabia, using a fake passport and the name Abdullakareem A. Almuslam.

      Al-Marri spent two months in Chicago. In July 2000, he then checked into Macomb, the farm town where he had first studied years earlier. He checked into the inexpensive Time Out Motel. Rm. 209 became the official address of the fictitious AAA Carpets that would receive money from the stolen credit cards. On August 17, 2000, he booked a flight to New York City. He called the imam of the Macomb mosque, a Saudi graduate student named Khalid al-Jaloud and asked for a ride to the Peoria airport. Jaloud told the Washington Post that he did not know the man and did not know where he was going. He nonetheless reportedly was glad to oblige. Dhiren Barot, who was pretending to be enrolled at the Mohawk Valley Community College in Upstate New York, was Al Qaeda’s chief operative in Great Britain. The Post investigative feature notes that Dhiren Barot was indicted in 2005 for casing the stock exchange and other financial targets. Journalist Susan Schmidt points out he had flown in from London the day before. Barot was arrested in Britain in 2004. He confessed to what the judge in the case called a plot of “colossal and unprecedented scale” to blow up London subway cars, detonate radioactive “dirty bombs” and use limousines packed with gas cylinders to destroy luxury hotels.
             
      Al-Marri returned to Chicago for a few days and then returned to Saudi Arabia. The Macomb Imam told the Post, “He asked me to put a computer in my house,” I did not want to. He said he wanted to store stuff until he could bring his family back.” Jaloud continued: “A few weeks or a month or two later he started calling, wanting me to send it to Pakistan. He told me he is there.” He called two or three times and argued.” Jaloud said the request worried him. Finally, someone called and asked him to ship the computer to Washington. Jaloud reports that he did so at his own expense.
             
      Al-Marri re-entered the country on September 10, 2001, arriving in New York. He and his wife and kids made their way to their new hometown after an overnight stay in Chicago. Two days after 9/11, Al-Marri’s 6-year-old son was standing on the backseat. KSM’s idea that he would blend in even in rural Illinois because of 5 children had backfired. An officer stopped him. A check of his license turned up a 10-year-old warrant on a DWI charge. The Post explains that “groomed and polite,” he explained to the police officer he was back to study for his master’s degree in computer science. He was being taken to the station for booking when they stopped to drop the young boy off at the family’s room at the Time Out motel. Al-Marri makes the incredible mistake of opening a briefcase to pull out three hundred dollar bills from the bundles in a briefcase. “The briefcase was filled with bundles of hundreds.” The money was from the $13,000 Al-Hawsawi had given him in United Arab Emirates in August 2001.
             
      That fall he travelled from Peoria to Macomb and pressed to be admitted to Western Illinois University’s intensive English program even though his English was fine. In applying, he would not provide a home address or sign the application. “He was a very pugnacious individual,” the administrator told the Post. He was calling students. A number of people reported him as acting suspicious in the heightened sensibilities after 9/11. One student from whom he sought help was the local mosque imam, graduate student Jaloud. Jaloud curiously reports that he did not remember him as the fellow he had taken to the airport 90 minutes away in the summer of 2000, or the fellow he had argued about shipping the computer, or the fellow who had then put him to the expense of shipping the computer to Washington. (Jaloud reports when questioned in 2005, he told the Saudis that he did not remember the address in Washington where he sent the computer.)
             
      Schmidt reports that although rural, the Islamic Center of Macomb “had come to the attention of intelligence and law enforcement agencies.” Before Marri could relocate to Macomb, the FBI’s Springfield office was advised by headquarters that an active phone number in their area was linked to the 9/11 plotters. A fedex mail receipt left at Dulles International had led them to a phone number associated with Hawsawi. The FBI learned that some calls to that number were made from cellphones and pay phones at odd hours of the night from Central Illnois by someone using prepaid phone cards. A call made on November 4 traced to Chicago matched Al-Marri’s visit there and a call on November 7 was made from his home phone.

      An intelligence official told the Washington Post journalist that when Mohammed Atef was killed in November 2001, “we found out there was a huge al-Qaeda interest in chemical and biological weapons. That prompted “a very energetic effort to identify people doing chem-bio.” The day after falsely denying he had called the number associated with al-Hawsawi, he was arrested and sent to New York in connection with a terrorism investigation there.

      In December 2002, prosecutors expanded the charges against Al-Marri adding that he lied to the FBI when denied using pay phones in Chicago and Central Illinois to dial the number of KSM’s assistant, al-Hawsawi. Al-Marri had called the telephone number that Atta gave to Federal Express as the UAE telephone number as the point of contact for the recipient. Again, it was Al-Hawsawi’s laptop that had the anthrax spraydrying documents on it. Al-Hawsawi had received left-over funds from the hijackers shortly before 9/11. Al-Marri called al-Hawsawi’s number using a call card at a phone in Peoria on September 23, 2001, about a week after the first anthrax mailing. On October 14, about a week after the second anthrax mailing, he called al-Hawsawi’s number again. Three weeks after that, he allegedly tried to call two more times — this time from payphones in Chicago, including a payphone at a transient hotel on North Lincoln Avenue. He also called and spoke to someone in Houston who has not yet been publicly identified.

      Al-Marri was separately charged with lying to agents about the trip he made to the U.S. in the summer of 2000. During that visit, he opened up three bank accounts for a fictitious business, AAA Carpets, at three different banks in Macomb, in southern Illinois. The accounts received funds from bogus credit card purchases. He was charged with using a stolen social security number in establishing the accounts. Al-Marri was working toward a master’s degree in computer information systems at Bradley when he was arrested in December 2001. He rarely attended classes and was failing.

      The government’s indictment alleged:

      “Computer audio files containing Arabic lectures by Usama bin Laden and his associates, concerning, among other things, the importance of jihad and martyrdom and the merits of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan. The lectures instructed, among other things, that Muslim scholars should organize opposition to Jewish and Christian control of “Palestine,” Lebanon, and Saudi Arabia; that ordinary Muslims should train in Bin Laden’s camps in Afghanistan by entering through Pakistan; and that clerics who claim that Islam is a religion of peace should be disregarded.”

      President Bush designated him an “enemy combatant, after KSM was captured in the Spring of 2003 and identified Al Marri was one of the “second wave” plotters and facilitators whose name he revealed. Al-Marri’s research interest in one of the ingredients that would be used in attack using a “mobtakker” device on New York subways heightened interest in him further still. Authorities were especially concerned that Ayman Zawahiri had vetoed the idea pitched by Al Qaeda’s head in Saudi Arabia because Ayman had something bigger planned. The Post article quotes an intelligence official: “Since al-Marri was already in custody by then he couldn’t have been an active participant, but who he was in contact with might have led to the people who were involved in the plot.” One question that arises is: after al-Marri cased New York City targets, where in Washington did he have Jaloud ship the computer? Did the Washington Post mean Washington, D.C. or the State of Washington?

      The Post article concludes by noting that despite the half decade of al-Marri’s custody, Al-Marri’s attorneys had never spoken to him about the specifics of the government’s claims. “We haven’t drilled down on those allegations. There’s no reason to. He’s not really charged with anything. He said he is innocent, he’s not a sleeper agent — at that point we left it at that.”   On June 11, 2007, in al-Marri v. Wright, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit held that the Military Commissions Act does not override al-Marri’s constitutional rights to challenge his accusers. The Court held ruled that al-Marri must be released from military detention and either freed or placed in US civilian detention where the federal government would have to charge him with crimes.   In February 2009, shortly before the Supreme Court would ahve decided the question, the United States brought a general indictment against Al-Marri. Al-Marri’s attorneys have requested an extension of time so that they can become familiar with the facts bearing on the plea bargain he entered April 30, 2009. 

  7. DXer said

    NYT – U.S. Letter Tries to Establish a Doctor’s Links to Terrorists

    By SABRINA TAVERNISE
    Published: November 6, 2004

    Photo: Hassan Faraj outside Federal Court in Brooklyn yesterday. Prosecutors submitted a letter to the court suggesting that Mr. Faraj had Qaeda ties. (Photo by Seth Wenig for The New York Times)

    In a letter submitted to a federal judge yesterday, prosecutors outlined what they said were ties linking a Syrian-born American doctor, who has been charged with lying to obtain American citizenship, to terrorism and suspected members of Al Qaeda.

    Still, no new charges have been brought against the man, Hassan Faraj, of Brooklyn, and his lawyer belittled the letter as a scare tactic and called the allegations flimsy.

    Mr. Faraj, 39, was arrested in June and charged with naturalization fraud. Prosecutors accuse him of lying to the Immigration and Naturalization Service, when he applied in 1993 to come to the United States as a Bosnian refugee. He was later released on bail.

    Mr. Faraj worked for three years until June as a resident in internal medicine at Lenox Hill Hospital, a hospital spokeswoman said.

    ”The government loves to dangle all the buzzwords because it’s very seductive,” said the lawyer, Stanley Cohen. ”Quite frankly, Judge, it means nothing. There’s nothing new.”

    In the letter, addressed to Judge Kiyo Matsumoto, prosecutors in the office of the United States attorney for the Eastern District charged that Mr. Faraj tried to help a man they say was a suspected Qaeda associate enter the United States.

    They also raised questions about what they said were shredded blueprints of Washington-area sites found in his apartment and about his association with a Muslim charity group in Croatia.

    Formally, the letter was drawn up to request that Judge Matsumoto order Mr. Faraj taken into custody because of what prosecutors said was a risk that he might flee the country.

    Judge Matsumoto ordered yesterday that Mr. Faraj be electronically monitored, but he delayed a decision on whether he will be held until the next hearing, set for Nov. 10.

    The letter also provided a look into the prosecutors’ thinking on the case. Terror-related charges would carry years of jail time, while Mr. Faraj faces a maximum of six months in jail and deportation under the current naturalization fraud charges, his lawyer said.

    Nationwide, federal prosecutors have had mixed results prosecuting terror cases.

    In Detroit last year, two men were convicted on terrorism charges in a prominent case, whose handling later came into question.

    In February, a federal judge in Virginia acquitted an American who had been accused of taking part in a ”jihad network” in Virginia.

    An assistant United States attorney, John Buretta, the prosecutor who argued the case yesterday, declined to comment on why Mr. Faraj had not been indicted on any terror-related charges, saying only that an investigation into his activities is continuing.

    Among the questions raised in the letter were prosecutors’ claims that Mr. Faraj worked for and later donated money to a Muslim charity, Benevolence International Foundation, whose assets were frozen in December 2001 after the government designated it a terrorist organization.

    It gained national attention when its director was charged with terrorism, and Attorney General John Ashcroft went to Chicago to announce the indictment.

    Mr. Cohen argued that the charity was a United Nations-registered entity at the time Mr. Faraj worked there and that his subsequent donations mentioned by prosecutors totaled just $750.

    In addition, a federal judge in Chicago declined to convict the organization’s director, Enaam Arnaout, a Syrian-born American citizen, on terrorism charges.

    ”Indict him and arrest him and charge him with terrorism,” Mr. Cohen said.

    ”They don’t because they can’t prove it.”

    Mr. Cohen said the destroyed blueprints had belonged to Mr. Faraj’s older brother, a civil engineer, who had lived with Mr. Faraj for several years but had moved out this summer.

    Prosecutors also said Mr. Faraj had tried to help a man they identified as a suspected Qaeda associate enter the United States in December 2001 by filling out an affidavit agreeing to sponsor the man. It was not clear from the letter if the man had eventually entered the United States, or what his precise connection was to Al Qaeda.

    Mr. Faraj, a soft-spoken man quick to smile, said he had provided the affidavit as a courtesy for a friend who knew the man, Amir Abdulrazzak.

    Sitting outside the courtroom half an hour early for his hearing yesterday, Mr. Faraj said: ”I have nothing to be afraid of. They have nothing else to do but to make things up.”

    Mr. Faraj, a soft-spoken man quick to smile, said he had provided the affidavit as a courtesy for a friend who knew the man, Amir Abdulrazzak.

    Sitting outside the courtroom half an hour early for his hearing yesterday, Mr. Faraj said: ”I have nothing to be afraid of. They have nothing else to do but to make things up.”

    • DXer said

      Here is an excerpt of the letter to the judge describing some of the public background relating to the case of the Lenox Hill doctor who was listed as a co-author on the cause of Kathy Nguyen’s death.

      U.S. Department of Justice
      United States Attorney
      Eastern District of New York

      VIA HAND DELIVERY
      United States Magistrate Judge

      Dear Judge ____:

      On April 11, 2005, at 2 p.m., defendant Hassan Faraj is
      scheduled to appear before Your Honor to request permission to
      travel weekly to Virginia to work as a doctor. The government
      respectfully submits this letter to oppose the defendant’s bail
      modification request.

      As set forth in detail below, the defendant has engaged
      in repeated fraud in pursuing a medical career in this country,
      including lying to obtain his Virginia medical license. The
      defendant’s fraud is currently the subject of inquiries by
      several regulatory bodies, including the Virginia medical
      licensing board, the Connecticut medical licensing board and the
      United States Educational Committee for Foreign Medical
      Graduates, the regulatory body which certifies foreign medical
      graduates.

      In these circumstances, the government cannot consent
      to permitting the defendant to practice medicine. To do so would
      assist the defendant in perpetrating his medical fraud –- an ongoing
      violation of his pre-trial release conditions –- and
      endanger the public.

      Procedural Background
      I. The Pending Charge

      On June 29, 2004, the defendant was arrested on charges
      of falsely obtaining his United States citizenship, in violation
      of 18 U.S.C. § 1425. The evidence at trial will show, among
      other things, that the defendant gained his citizenship in part
      because he had fraudulently obtained asylum in this country. To
      get asylum, the defendant claimed that he was a Bosnian citizen,
      that his Bosnian wife, Suada Hausic, had been killed by Serbs
      during the Balkan conflict, that he had been studying medicine at
      Sarajevo University in Bosnia, and that he had been forced to
      flee Bosnia due to the conflict. These claims were a sham. The
      defendant was not a Bosnian citizen, Suada Hausic never existed,
      the defendant never studied medicine at Sarajevo University, and
      the defendant was not forced to flee Bosnia (indeed, he did not
      even reside in Bosnia, but rather in Croatia).

      ***
      The defendant made at least two false statements to the
      Virginia board: (i) falsely asserting that he had not engaged in
      any plea bargaining in any matter; and (ii) falsely asserting
      that he had never been censured or warned in regard to his
      medical background.

      ***
      The defendant’s response to Question 8 was false. The
      defendant has engaged in plea bargaining with the government in
      this case. On July 8, 2004, the defendant and his attorney had
      plea discussions with the government. The discussions covered a
      variety of potential dispositions of the case. Similar
      discussions occurred at numerous other times as well prior to the
      defendant’s false statement to the Virginia medical board.

      Further, on July 29, 2004, eight days before the
      defendant’s false statement to the Virginia board, the defendant
      and his lawyer signed and submitted to the Court a written
      exclusion of speedy indictment time. The defendant stated in the
      document that exclusion of time was appropriate because
      “continuation of plea negotiations is likely to result in
      disposition of this case without trial.” (Ex. 3).

      Thereafter, defense counsel and the defendant continued
      to represent to the Court that plea bargaining was occurring.
      Those representations included defense counsel’s September 2,
      2004 statement, in the defendant’s presence, to Magistrate Judge
      Marilyn Go that the government and the defendant were engaged in
      plea discussions. (Ex. 4).

      ***

      ***
      1. The Lenox Hill Fraud
      In 2001, the defendant fraudulently obtained a medical
      residency position at the Lenox Hill hospital in Manhattan. The
      defendant told at least two significant lies to secure the
      residency.

      First, in his personal statement and application
      submitted to Lenox Hill, the defendant falsely claimed that,
      “[f]rom January 1996 to January 1997, I did an internship in
      Zvijezda Hospital in Zagreb where I rotated in all departments.”
      (Ex. 7). The defendant stated that the internship satisfied a

      ***
      The defendant has elsewhere all but acknowledged that
      the internship is a sham. For example, in the defendant’s
      application to become a United States citizen (Ex. 9), the
      defendant states that he was in the United States from February
      1996 until at least March 23, 1998. In other words, according to
      the defendant himself, he was not interning in Croatia from
      January 1996 to January 1997, as he falsely asserted to Lenox
      Hill Hospital.

      ***
      Second, the defendant falsely informed Lenox Hill that
      he first “came to the United States in 1997″ (Ex. 7), when in
      fact the defendant arrived in the United States in 1993 after
      obtaining asylum (based on the fraud which is the subject of the
      pending indictment). This false statement furthered the
      defendant’s internship story and effectively concealed his
      activities and employment in the United States for the previous
      four years.

      ROSLYNN R. MAUSKOPF
      United States Attorney
      By:
      John Buretta
      Assistant U.S. Attorney

      cc: Stanley Cohen, Esq. (By fax)

    • DXer said

      Judge Lets Terror Defendant Out on Bail.

      Publication: The America’s Intelligence Wire
      Publication Date: 11-NOV-04

      (From AP Online)

      Byline: MICHAEL WEISSENSTEIN

      A federal judge ruled Wednesday a Syrian-born doctor may remain free on bail despite prosecutors’ allegations he has ties to a suspected al-Qaida associate, and kept blueprints for a Washington, D.C., overpass at his home.

      Prosecutors asked the judge last week to immediately jail Hassan Faraj because newly declassified information revealed his close ties to the Benevolence International Foundation, which they called a charity front for al-Qaida.

      They said Faraj also tried to help the al-Qaida associate enter the United States and had the shredded blueprints in a bag in his Brooklyn apartment.

      Defense attorney Stanley Cohen said Wednesday there was no proof of terrorism-related activity by Faraj, who had been obeying the conditions of his $100,000 bail since his June arrest on an immigration charge.

      Faraj’s acquaintance with suspected al-Qaida associate Amir Abdulrazzak shows no criminal intent, and the blueprints of the Washington Beltway’s intersection with Connecticut Avenue belonged to civil engineers who had shared an office with Faraj’s brother, Cohen said.

      He called his client the victim of a government “witch hunt” aimed at pressuring Muslim and Arab Americans to become informants for prosecutors and the FBI.

      “The defendant had nothing to give and wouldn’t become one of their snitches,” Cohen said.

      Federal magistrate Kiyo Matsumoto said Faraj could remain free until trial. She also will hold a hearing to consider removing an electronic tracking device he was ordered to wear.

      COPYRIGHT 2004 Financial Times Ltd.

  8. DXer said

    After the January 2001 anthrax threat relating to the detention of Vanguards of Conquest #2 Mahmoud Mahjoub, Bin Laden’s former farmer manager in Sudan, a Canadian research team undertook to assess the risk. The report titled “Risk Assessment of Anthrax Threat Letters” issued September 2001. In contrast to the 1998 study by William Patrick that had been requested by Dr. Hatfill’s employer SAIC, the Canadian study found considerable exposure to those in the room resulted when such a letter was opened.

    Bacillus globigii spores (in dry powder form) were donated by the US Department of Defense (Dugway Proving Ground, Utah). Stock concentration powder was -1 x 10 11 cfu/gm. The anthrax sent to the Senators had a smaller particle size –tending toward a uniform 1 micron, subject to clumping that easily broke apart. Bacillus globigii (BG) spores are routinely used as a simulant for Bacillus anthracis (anthrax) spores. “The letter was prepared by putting BG spores in the center of a sheet of paper, folding it over into thirds, placing the folded sheet into the envelope and sealing using the adhesive present on the envelope. The envelope was then shaken to mimic the handling and tumbling that would occur during its passage through the postal system.” The aerosol, produced by opening the BG spore containing envelope, was not confined to the area of the desk but spread throughout the chamber. Values were almost as high at the opposite end of the chamber, shortly after opening the envelopes. 99% of the particles collected were in the 2.5 to 10 µm size range. The report explained: “In addition, the aerosol would quickly spread throughout the room so that other workers, depending on their exact locations and the directional air flow within the office, would likely inhale lethal doses. Envelopes with the open corners not specifically sealed could also pose a threat to individuals in the mail handling system.”

    More than 80% of the B anthracis particles collected on stationary monitors were within an alveolar respirable size range of 0.95 to 3.5 µm. Thus, the simulant performed very well. Those who continue to argue that the Daschle product was so advanced beyond what the US could do are mistaken. Indeed, the more notable question is why such a good product was prepared in response to a threat letter sent to an immigration minister. The reason perhaps is that authorities suspected that it was Al Qaeda and Egyptian Islamic Jihad that sent the letter. The CIA and CSIS apparently feared that the Vanguards of Conquest would use the good stuff.

    The CIA knew EIJ intended to use anthrax — from the proclamations of Jaballah’s friend, the captured military commander Mabruk and Jaballah’s brother-in-law’s former law partner al-Zayat. Authorities knew Al Qaeda was getting technical assistance from scientists — and that many of the senior Egyptian leaders had advanced or technical degrees. The specifications provided by Dugway perhaps involved treated fumed silica and a spraydryer (with a last critical step reserved to be done at Dugway) likely were based on what Al Qaeda might send with a little help from their friends.

    Canadian officials explained they e-mailed the study to the CDC soon after reports of the discovery of anthrax at the American Media Inc. headquarters in Florida. The e-mail, however, was never opened, reports the lead CDC anthrax investigator, who regrets that he never read the email. “It is certainly relevant data, but I don’t think it would have altered the decisions that we made.” At one point, about 2,000 CDC employees were working on the anthrax matter. This Canadian report was perhaps the single most important scientific data point for the CDC to take into account. It certainly was one of the most important reports for the FBI to take into account. Bail was denied by decision on October 5, 2001. Then highly potent anthrax was sent the next day just as had been promised. But Ayman had returned to the target of his greatest interest — rather than a Canadian immigration minister, he and Shehata and their colleagues targeted the minister who oversaw the Department of Justice and appropriations to Egypt and Israel, and who gave his name (”the Leahy Law”) to the law that permits continuing appropriations to Egypt in the face of allegations of torture. Zawahiri never makes a threat he doesn’t intend to try to keep.

    Bill Patrick, who often worked with George Mason University students in northern Virginia, had written a report in 1999 for a consultant SAIC at the request of Dr. Steve Hatfill. As one bioterrorism expert commented about the report: “Anytime you pick something up like this, and it seems to layout the whole story for you months or years before the fact, your immediate response is to step back and say ‘whoa, something may be going on here. “Our attacker may very well have used this report as something of a — if not a template, then certainly as a rule of thumb.”

    The Canadian experiments in 2001 showed that if anthrax spores were finely powdered, a letter could release thousands of lethal doses of the bacteria within minutes of being opened. Furthermore, large amounts of material leaked out of sealed envelopes even before they were opened. By then, more than two dozen federal government employees knew of the Canadian studies, which showed that a real anthrax threat letter was a far more dangerous weapon than anyone had believed. Within days, a dozen more people were informed of the now highly relevant experimental findings. One FBI squad was focused on people who may have known of the study — such as William Patrick’s friend, Dr. Steve Hatfill. Another squad would be focused on the usual suspects and their friends. For the next seven years, the investigation would be shrouded in great secrecy until they screwed the pooch in their announcements after Dr. Bruce Ivins suicide.

    The secrecy then would continue nearly a full year after they had dramatically announced that they had solved the case and that the dead guy did it.

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