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

* Tracing the path of Abdur Rauf … did al-Qaeda acquire anthrax capabilities? when? where?

Posted by DXer on July 2, 2009

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Tracing the path of Abdur Rauf …

did al-Qaeda acquire anthrax capabilities? when? where?

handwrittenletter - excerpt

Ayman letter

"I successfully achieved ..."

handwrittenletter

"equipments and glassware ..."

Ayman al-Zawahiri #2

Ayman al-Zawahiri

^^^ click small images to enlarge ^^^

A previous post on this blog published a 1999 letter from Abdur Rauf to Ayman al-Zawahiri, (obtained by a FOIA request by a CASE CLOSED blog participant) in which Rauf wrote  … “I have successfully achieved my targets during my visit to …???…” Unfortunately, the lab where Abdur Rauf apparently completed his mission was redacted from the released document. (see thumbnail above left)

According to an article by Joby Warrick in the Washington Post (10-30-06) … Abdur Rauf, using his membership in a prestigious scientific organization to gain access, had traveled on a quest to obtain anthrax spores and the equipment needed to turn them into highly lethal biological weapons. Abdur Rauf reported directly to al-Qaeda’s No. 2 commander, Ayman al-Zawahiri

Another 1999 letter (see above right) from Abdur Rauf to Ayman al-Zawahiri reveals that Abdur Rauf was looking to acquire lab equipment. (see thumbnail above right)

… connecting the dots ???

Marcia Chambers, in a series of posts on this blog, raised issues relating to the destruction of Ames anthrax strains at Iowa State University (ISU) just days after the first anthrax attack letters were mailed. No one denies that these strains were in fact destroyed.

Dead SilenceAuthors Bob Coen and Eric Nadler, writing in “DEAD SILENCE:  Fear and Terror on the Anthrax Trail” report (page 29) … “The USDA (in Ames, Iowa) ran a laboratory not far from the (Iowa State) university but had to retrieve its anthrax collection from a storage closet it rented in a local strip mall under less than standard biohazard safety levels. These samples — crucial baseline samples for “Amerithrax” detectives — were also destroyed (with, astonishingly enough, the approval of the FBI), making it impossible for investigators to compare them when it seemed possible later that the anthrax in the letters may indeed have been linked to Ames,Iowa as well as to the Ames strain.”

Consider …

  • ISU’s USDA BL-3 lab would be a perfectly logical choice for Abdur Rauf to visit given its agricultural orientation.
  • ISU and the FBI have yet to put forward a coherent explanation for the destruction of its Ames anthrax samples.
  • Perhaps what ISU is not reporting is that they had let Abdur Rauf, Zawahiri’s al-Qaeda operative, visit their lab.

QUESTIONS … QUESTIONS … QUESTIONS

  • Did the FBI ever follow-up leads regarding Abdur Rauf’s trips?FBI SHIELD
  • Did the FBI ever follow-up leads from Marcia Chambers?
  • Who authorized the destruction of the Ames strains at Iowa State University in 2001? Why?
  • Did the FBI consult a genetics expert when they were asked if it was okay to destroy the inventory?
  • Which lab(s) did Abdur Rauf actually visit?

America needs Congressman Rush Holt’s ANTHRAX INVESTIGATION COMMISSION … write to your Representative!

Related CASE CLOSED blog posts …

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5 Responses to “* Tracing the path of Abdur Rauf … did al-Qaeda acquire anthrax capabilities? when? where?”

  1. DXer said

    This reported destruction of the inventory of the USDA Iowa mentioned by Lew — as well as the ISU inventory — sharpens the question: What BL-3 lab did Abdur Rauf visit?

    Among the supporters of the 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. 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. The handwritten letter from 1999 — the first page of which is provided above by Lew — 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 later 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, who told his wife he was working for a Taliban medical brigade, got the job instead of Rauf.

    The 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. The handwritten letter was reporting on a different, earlier visit where the anthrax had been nonpathogenic. Also produced by the DIA were 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. 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. Along with Gamal Sultan, the former founder of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad, Kamal Habib, was the key writer for the Ann Arbor-based charity. 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.

    Notwithstanding Abdur Rauf’s plan to maintain the utmost secrecy in his planning to infiltrate Western biodefense — learning tricks of weaponization from attendees at conferences and visiting the BL-3 lab(s) run by one of the attendees — most intelligence is “open source.” It is just a matter of connecting the dots. The people who attended the 1999 and 2001 conferences should tell us whether they knew Rauf Ahmad (Abdur Rauf) and tell us what they know.

    • DXer said

      Handwritten notes by Rauf provided by the DIA confirm the plan indicated by a memo from Zawahiri to Al Qaeda military leader Atef. He planned to recruit specialists and to use charities and universities as cover for their anthrax program that he codenamed “Zabadi” or “Curdled Milk.”

      On August 20, 2001, Saleh Ibn Abdul Rahman Hussayen, who would soon be appointed minister of the Saudi government and put in charge of its two holy mosques, arrived in the United States to meet with some of this country’s most influential fundamentalist Sunni Muslim leaders. He met with officials of the Global Relief Foundation. He also met with IANA representatives in Ann Arbor, Michigan according to court testimony by an FBI agent in the unsuccessful prosecution in Idaho of his nephew Sami Hussayen. IANA promoted the views of Bin Laden’s sheiks. On the night before September 11, Hussayen stayed at a Herndon, Virginia hotel where three of the Saudi hijackers stayed.

      After an October 2001 bombing raid at a Qaeda camp in Darunta, Afghanistan US forces found 100+ printed, typed, handwritten pages of documents that shed light on Al Qaeda’s early anthrax planning. The Defense Intelligence Agency provided me the documents under the Freedom of Information Act. The documents confirmed that it was Zawahiri’s plan to use established specialists and the cover of universities and charities as cover for weaponizing anthrax. From early on, the evidence suggested that charity is as charity does. 90 of the 100 pages are the photocopies of journal articles and the disease handbook excerpts. It was not clear whether or they had yet acquired virulent anthrax or weaponized it, but it was clear that the planning was well along. When Vice President Cheney was briefed on the documents in late 2001, he immediately called a meeting of FBI and CIA. “I’ll be very blunt,” the Vice President started. “There is no priority of this government more important than finding out if there is a link between what’s happened here and what we’ve found over there with Qaeda.” At one point, security personnel thought that the home belonging to Elizabeth Cheney, his daughter had been hit by an anthrax attack. Elizabeth had to call her nanny to get her to take the kids to be tested for exposure. A June 1999 memo from Ayman to military commander Atef said that “the program should seek cover and talent in educational institutions, which it said were ‘more beneficial to us and allow easy access to specialists, which will greatly benefit us in the first stage, God willing.’ ”Thus, in determining whether Al Qaeda was responsible for the anthrax mailings in the Fall of 2001, the FBI and CIA had reason to know based on the growing documentary evidence available by mid-December 2001, that Al Qaeda operatives were likely associated with non-governmental organizations and working under the cover and talent in universities.

      The government froze the assets of the Global Relief Foundation (GRF”) on December 14, 2001, saying it was a financial conduit to terrorists. No warrant had been obtained before the FBI arrived at Global Relief’s headquarters in Bridgeview, Illinois. The search was done pursuant to a provision in FISA that permitted a warrantless search when the Attorney General declares that an emergency situation. The 911’s Terrorist Financing Monograph notes that GRF’s newsletter, “Al-Thilal” (“The Shadow”) openly advocated a militant interpretation of Islam and armed jihad. The 911 Commission reports that the FBI suspected the Executive Director of being affiliated with the blind sheik’s Egyptian Islamic Group. The 911 Commission explains: “In early 2000, Chicago informed Detroit that GRF’s executive director, Chehade, had been calling two Michigan residents. One of these subjects was considered GRF’s spiritual leader and the other, Rabih Haddad, was a major GRF fund-raiser.” Its Chairman, Ann Arbor, Michigan community leader Rabih Haddad was arrested in mid-December 2001 for overstaying his visa. Haddad taught twice a week at an Ann Arbor school and was an assistant to the leader at Ann Arbor’s mosque. He was an imam there. Rabih Haddad was an effective fundraiser for the mosques in Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti and for the Ann Arbor chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). His students have testified that he stated unequivocally that the attacks on September 11, 2001 were not the acts of true Muslims. Congressman John Conyers, Jr, of Michigan joined several newspapers in suing to force the government to open the hearings. Mr. Conyers argued that he was being unfairly targeted as a Muslim cleric. After a visit by Congressman Conyers in March 2002, Mr. Haddad was removed from solitary confinement and placed with the general prison population.” Haddad was allowed to make phone calls and for the first time watch television. Mr. Haddad’s lawyer, Ashraf Nubani, of Northern Virginia, said at the time “The government never established, other than smoke screen and innuendo, that he was linked to terrorism.” Attorney Nubani said that his client travelled mostly to Pakistani as part of his relief efforts. Haddad refused to testify before a grand jury unless granted full immunity. As part of DARPA-funded research, Dr. Bruce Ivins of USAMRIID supplied virulent Ames to Ann Arbor researchers whose office by September 2001 was 2 minutes –1 mile — from the mosque where Mr. Haddad was an imam. Although the evidence is “secret,” most intelligence is open source.

      The New York Times reported at the time that “Prosecutors said they were keeping some evidence secret to protect terrorism investigations.” It was Haddad’s lawyer who arranged the pro bono representation for the Virginia Paintball defendants, including Al-Timimi. As a Detroit Free Press headline explained in 2004, “Unproven weapons claim led to Islamic charity raid in [mid-December] ‘01.” Global Relief Founder (”GRF”) cofounder Rabih Haddad was associated with Bin Laden’s Makhtab al-Khidamat, which was headed by Mohammed Islambouli in Peshawar. Mohammed Islambouli was head of a cell with KSM planning the attacks on the United States. Mohammed Islambouli led the faction of the Egyptian Islamic Group that joined Al Qaeda. KSM came to spearhead the attack using anthrax on the United States. It was his assistant, al-Hawsawi, who had the anthrax spraydrying documents on his laptop. Al-Hawsawi was working with Al-Baluchi to get the 911 hijackers into the country. Al-Baluchi would marry MIT-graduate Aafia Siddiqui. An Assistant United States Attorney asserted in passing in open court, without naming her, that Aafia was willing to participate in an anthrax attack if asked. Aafia Siddiqui is associated with Ann Arbor addresses near the mosque where her brother and sister-in-law, an MD, lived.

      Global Relief Foundation (“GRF”) and Benevolence International Foundation (”BIF”) attorneys in unison explained that the US had supported Makthab al-Khidamat in Afghanistan in the 1980s and Bosnia in the 1990s. (BIF head Arnaout, a Syrian, was at the meeting at which Al Qaeda was founded.) Investigation of the two charities was well underway prior to 9/11, although plagued by lengthy unnecessary delays emanating from headquarters. The 9/11 Commission Report notes that on April 21, 1999, upon weekly dumpster diving, FBI “agents had recovered from BIF’s trash a newspaper article on bioterrorism, in which someone had highlighted sections relating to the United States’ lack of preparedness for a biological attack.” (The article quoted famed Russian bioweaponeer Ken Alibek who was at George Mason University in Falls Church, Virginia.) As University of Maryland researcher Milton Leitenberg has pointed out, “[u]nfortunately, ten years of widely broadcast public discussion has provided such groups, at least on a general level, with suggestions as to what paths to follow.”

      The FBI had a better relationship with the CIA in the investigation of BIF than with GRF. The 9/11 Commission noted that “[t]he Chicago agents believed the CIA wanted to shield certain information from the FBI because of fears of revealing sources and methods in any potential criminal litigation in the United States.” Chicago agents benefited from the New York Office files on the two charities but the New York FBI office personnel were overwhelmed and working their own leads. The Illinois-based investigations remained an intelligence gathering exercise with no thought given to a criminal prosecution to disrupt the financing of Al Qaeda until after 9/11. In mid-October 2001, Dr. Martin Hugh-Jones of Louisiana State University told an NPR reporter that an insider could have taken some anthrax from a lab. He didn’t want to be interviewed on tape. ‘If I were to guess,’ he says, ‘it was probably some summer intern talking to a friend in a local bar. The friend said, “Could you get me some?”‘ Hugh-Jones says various protest groups have been scouting for anthrax for years.

      In January 2003, the Chairman of Ann Arbor-based Islamic Assembly of North America, which promoted the views of Bin Laden’s sheiks, was arrested for bouncing a $6,000 check. Dr. Bassem Khafagi operated International Media Group out of his home. Before 911, according to the counsel for Falls Church scientist Ali Al-Timimi, Ann Arbor resident Khafagi was asked about Al-Timimi “purportedly at the behest of American intelligence. [redacted ] He was specifically asked about Dr. Al-Timimi’s connection to Bin Laden prior to Dr. Al-Timimi’s arrest. He was later interviewed by the FBI about Dr. Al-Timimi. Clearly, such early investigations go directly to the allegations of Dr. Al-Timimi’s connections to terrorists and Bin Laden — [redacted]” Khafagi was a good friend of microbiologist Ali Al-Timimi and his personal papers were later found in Al-Timimi’s residence.

      In September 2006, federal agents investigating the Muslim charity Life for Relief and Development seized more than $134,000 in cash from the Ann Arbor home of Mujahid Al-Fayadh, a board member and founder of the organization. Dr. Mujahid Al-Fayadh has a Ph. D. in the field of Food Biochemistry from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Dr. Al-Fayadh also maintains a B.Sc. and M. Sc. in Dairy and Food Technology. He was the imam and project manager of the Hidaya Muslim Community Association in Ann Arbor. The association operated the Michigan Islamic Academy at Plymouth Road in Ann Arbor where the Global Relief Foundation founder taught twice a week. One mile down the road at Plymouth Park was the company whose researchers Bruce Ivins had supplied Ames strain years ago for DARPA-funded biodefense research with a microbiologist working at USAMRIID working under the direct supervision of Bruce Ivins. The company was called NanoBio.

      Dr. Tarek Hamouda at NanoBio thanked Louisiana State University researchers for making space available for the research. The LSU had provided four characterized strains while Bruce Ivins had provided virulent Ames for the research done by a microbiologist at USAMRIID under Dr. Ivins direct supervision. “I decided in 1993 or ‘94 that if there was a terrorist attack using anthrax we had to be able to fingerprint it to tell where it came from, sort of like the casing on a bullet,” Dr. Hugh-Jones said. After the anthrax mailings, “We’ve had subpoenas left, right and center. We were inspected twice by the CDC [U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Hugh-Jones told a reporter. “The FBI is frequently calling in. We’re cooperating closely.” “It very quickly became clear that we have good control over it, and it didn’t come from here,” Martin Hugh-Jones said. “We handle a lot of deadly items very frequently as a matter of routine.” Dr. Hugh-Jones has told Lew that he has no idea where the research using Ames was done and that only USAMRIID-Ames via Porton Down was supplied pursuant to the subpoena. Dr. Baker at University of Michigan separately notes that no virulent Ames was University of Michigan, as that would have been illegal he says.

      In late August 2001, NanoBio had moved in to its new offices from less impressive digs in the basement of a bank. Bruce Ivins had supplied its University Of Michigan researchers Ames strain a couple years earlier for DARPA-funded biodefense research. The Ann Arbor researchers in December 1999 went to Dugway, a military installation in the remote Utah desert to demonstrate the effectiveness of their biocidal cream on an aerosolized anthrax surrogate.

      When was the NanoBio research done at USAMRIID by a microbiologist under the direct supervision of Bruce Ivins? Who was the microbiologist?

  2. DXer said

    Joby Warrick, Suspect and A Setback In Al-Qaeda Anthrax Case; Scientist With Ties To Group Goes Free, Washington Post, October 31, 2006; A01
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/10/30/AR2006103001250_pf.html

    Lichtblau, Qaeda Letters Are Said to Show Pre-9/11 Anthrax Plans – New York Times, May 21, 2005
    http://www.nytimes.com/2005/05/21/politics/21anthrax.html

    • DXer said

      UPI

      October 31, 2006 Tuesday 7:58 AM EST

      Al-Qaida anthrax researcher untouchable

      LENGTH: 172 words

      DATELINE: WASHINGTON, Oct. 31

      The FBI has deactivated an investigation into a Pakistani scientist working on anthrax for the al-Qaida terror group, The Washington Post reported Tuesday.

      The role of Abdur Rauf, 47, came to light in December 2001 when a stack of letters was found by coalition troops in Afghanistan during a raid on an al-Qaida house. The letters showed Rauf was reporting to the terror group’s No. 2 leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, on his bid to create large amounts of deadly anthrax as a biological weapon.

      In one chilling but unexplained exchange, Rauf wrote: “I successfully achieved the targets.”

      At the United States’ request, Pakistani authorities detained Rauf for questioning soon after the letters were found, but he was release since Pakistan says it has no grounds for arrest.

      Faced with the diplomatic standoff, the FBI put Rauf’s case on inactive status last year, a source who asked not to be identified told the Post.

      “We will never close the door, but the chances of getting him into the United States are slim to none,” the official said.

    • DXer said

      http://www.slate.com/id/2211997/

      The Burden-of-Success Theory
      By Timothy Noah, Feb. 28, 2009

      ***
      In 2001, the Wall Street Journal discovered a password-protected file titled “Yogurt” in a computer previously used by Ayman al-Zawahiri. “Yogurt” turned out to be the code name for a chemical and biological weapons project that al-Qaida had begun in 1999. “The destructive power of these weapons,” al-Zawahiri had written excitedly (and inaccurately) in a memo, “is no less than that of nuclear weapons.” Al-Zawahiri was particularly interested in developing an anthrax-based weapon and hired a microbiologist named Abdur Rauf to obtain the necessary spores and equipment. It’s unclear precisely how far Rauf got. Al-Zawahiri also hired an Egyptian who went by the nom de guerre Abu Khabab to develop chemical weapons. This project developed to the point at which Khabab was able to test nerve gas on dogs and rabbits. (Today, Rauf is at large but under surveillance in Pakistan, which refuses to turn him over to the United States. Khabab was killed in July by an air strike from a CIA drone in the remote tribal region on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border where al-Qaida’s top leaders relocated after the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan.)

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