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

* the questions NAS needs to hear

Posted by DXer on July 10, 2009

why the FBI failed to solve the 2001 anthrax caseCASE CLOSED

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the questions NAS needs to hear


Ellen Gilbert writes in Town Topics (Princeton – 7/8/09) … thanks to a CASE CLOSED blogger for sending me the article

  • In response to an October, 2008 request by the Federal Bureau of Investigation to review the scientific methods used by the Bureau during its investigation of the 2001 anthrax letter attacks, the National Academies (NAS) recently posted a statement describing the scope of the study.
  • The ad hoc committee will, according the NAS statement of scope, “evaluate the scientific foundation for the specific techniques used by the FBI to determine whether these techniques met appropriate standards for scientific reliability and for use in forensic validation and whether the FBI reached appropriate scientific conclusions from its use of these techniques.”
  • In an October 16 (2008) letter, Congressman Rush Holt (D-12) expressed concern that the questions posed in an earlier letter to the NAS from Vahid Majidi, assistant director of the Weapons of Mass Destruction Directorate at the FBI, were “narrowly focused and do not truly test the FBI’s conclusions in the case.”
  • Mr. Holt went on to say that he hoped the NAS panel would “look at the full range of scientific evidence and the methods the FBI used to reach its scientific conclusions,” in order to “give the public the greatest possible confidence in the conclusions.”
  • Mr. Holt posed several of his own specific questions for the Academy’s consideration, should it choose to undertake the independent review.
    • whether any of the FBI’s scientific findings are inconsistent with the Bureau’s conclusions,
    • whether other scientific tests not carried out by the FBI might refute its conclusions,
    • and whether the FBI followed “all accepted evidence-gathering, chain of possession, and scientific analytical methods.”

Read the entire column at …


Rush Holt has submitted questions to the same names at NAS Lew submitted them to. But, disappointing to a scientist, Holt’s questions are very general. The questions need to be very, very specific and backed up with references so that NAS cannot brush them under the carpet.


Members of the NAS Committee …

Scientific questions sent to the NAS committee by the CASE CLOSED blog …

Procedural questions sent to the NAS committee by the CASE CLOSED blog …

3 Responses to “* the questions NAS needs to hear”

  1. DXer said

    Brain Ross: The Female Osama Bin Laden, Terrorist Aafia Siddiqui (CIA: the most significant capture in 5 years)

    The documents allegedly included brainstormed plans to assassinate former Presidents using a biochem weapon. Folks who think that targeted assassination is not the modus operandi of Ayman Zawahiri’s operatives have always been uninformed.

    Lethal letters and attempted assassination of people in symbolic positions has always been not merely the modus operandi of Ayman Zawahiri and the Vanguards of Conquest, but it has been the group’s signature.

    Contrary to the pundits like Ed who just associate Al Qaeda with a “big bang,” a key modus operandi of the Vanguards of Conquest was targeted assassination and 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. In May 1987, a Major General was shot outside his home in Cairo. Several EIJ members and two Islamist Group members were arrested in connection with the attack. In November 1990, six members of EIJ were arrested in connection with the murders of People’s Assembly Speaker and five security men on October 12, 1990. The group is most well known for its first, the 1981 assassination of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat.

    In August 1993, the same year as the bombing of the World Trade Center, al-Jihad attempted to assassinate Egyptian Interior Minister by firing on his motorcade and detonating a homemade bomb. In September 1993, a Lebanese newspaper reported that EIJ plan to kill Yasser Arafat was uncovered by the Egyptian police. In 1992, Islamic Jihad activists murdered an author, Faraj Fodah, who had openly supported Israeli-Egyptian peace. The secular columnist in his last article had suggested that the militants were motivated by sexual frustration more than politics.

    In March 1994 Egypt’s higher military Court passed death sentences in absentia that included Tharwat Salah Shehata, Yasser al-Sirri, ‘Isam Muhammad ‘Abd-al-Rahman for the assassination attempt on Prime Minister Sedki on November 25, 1993. In 1994 al-Jihad militants were linked to two unsuccessful attempts to bomb the Israeli and U.S. embassies in Manila.

    In December 1995, the Vanguards of Conquest sent a communiqué warning Pakistan to stop extraditing militants to Egypt, or “it will pay a heavy price.” That month, Egyptian Security forces arrested 56 terrorists after being tipped off by an EIJ informer. The group was accused of planning to assassinate President Hosni Mubarak on 1995 using 550 pounds of explosives to blow up the President’s motorcade.

    In November 1997 after the killing in Luxor, Egypt, of 58 tourists by Al Gamaa Al Islamiyaa, the Vanguards of Conquest warned that orders had “already been given for attacks on Americans and Zionists not only in Egypt but elsewhere.” In February 1998 Al Jihad was one of the founding signatories involved in the creation of the World Islamist Front for the Jihad against Jews and the Crusaders (World Islamist Front).

    In June 1998 Egyptian security authorities arrest seventeen members on charges of forming an Al Jihad cell in east Cairo. Resulting confessions revealed that Al Jihad was planning to assassinate a number of public figures and security officers. That month, Jihad members al-Najjar (head of Al Jihad in Albania), and Majed Mustapha were arrested in Albania, reportedly with the aid of the Central Intelligence Agency, and extradited to Egypt in late June 1998. They announced that Ayman Zawahiri planned on using aerosolized anthrax against US targets in retaliation for the rendering of senior Egyptian jihadists.

    An August 1998 Statement issued by the Information Office of the Jihad Group in Egypt vowed revenge on the United States for the extradition of three Al Jihad members from Albania to Egypt.

    In 1998, Al-Jihad was responsible for the U.S. embassy bombings in Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. The day of the bombing, shortly after the explosions, EIJ military commander Mabruk called Canadian VOC member Jaballah and told him to call the London cell members and tell them he could be reached at Shehata’s residence. Shehata was Canadian Jaballah’s brother-in-law. The London cell members then issued a claim of responsibility for the blasts.

    In September 1998, a number of senior EIJ and IG leaders in London were arrested, including the EIJ cell members who had faxed the claim of responsibility for the embassy bombings. In April 1999, after verdicts in the “Returnees from Albania,” the Vanguards of Conquest and Al Jihad issue separate threats of retaliation. Of the 107 accused, 87 defendants were found guilty, including Canadian Mahmoud Mahjoub.

    In early February 2001, President Bush was secretly advised, in a Presidential Daily Briefing, that the Vanguards of Conquest planned on using anthrax to protest the detention of Vanguards of Conquest #2 Mohammad Mahjoub. The Administration has not yet declassified and publicly released the PDB.

    The Vanguards of Conquest group was involved in October 2000 bombing of the USS Cole in Aden, Yemen, and then in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. US Post Office employee Sattar was told that supporters of the blind sheik Abdel-Rahman were responsible for the Cole attack, the purpose of which was to negotiate his release. Abdel-Rahman advised that Sattar should stay out of the negotiations which should be left to the lawyers.

    Throughout these years, an estimated 70 Egyptian militants were rendered by the US to Cairo prior to 9/11 and the anthrax mailings. The fact that targeted assassination was the modus operandi of the US-based islamists — and that the motivation was retaliation for the detention of senior leaders and to create leverage aimed at their release — was established by the first of a series of terrorist attacks in the US — the assassination of radical rabbi Meir Kahane by Egyptian Nosair, who had emigrated from Egypt in 1981. In his address book, Nosair had written the names of some Jewish officials, to include two judges who recently had extradited an Arab terrorist. Nosair’s job had been to protect the blind sheikh in the US. He was a friend of Ali Mohammed who stayed with him when he came to New York.

    Just as the FBI screwed the pooch by not translating the documents in Nosair’s possession and casting the prosecution as involving a “lone wolf,” they have done the same again in Amerithrax.

    The day they close Amerithrax based on the flimsy evidence offered to day, a number of senior officials should resign.

    The commentators like Ed, who have no experience or learning on the subject, who argued that Al Qaeda just goes for the “big bang” were overlooking the modus operandi of the Vanguards and what was known about Ayman’s biological program through “open source” materials.

    In his March 2007 confession to a military tribunal, KSM admitted to having been involved in a plot to assassinate a number of former American presidents (including Jimmy Carter), Pope John Paul II and Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf. Documents related to that planning were found in Aafia Siddiqui’s possession. In December 2007, Benazir Bhutto was assassinated.

    In January 2008, it was revealed that Jabarah, the go-between KSM and Hambali had vowed to avenge the death of a friend by killing FBI agents and prosecutors he knew and apparently intended to use some steak knives he had secreted. To suggest that Zawahiri and his colleagues do not use targeted assassination as their modus operandi — indeed, to not appreciate that it is the EIJ’s key modus operandi — totally misses the mark.

  2. DXer said

    The entire NAS inquiry is like a magician’s indirection. It has you focused on the wrong thing.

    An article in the Wash Post today and other articles discuss a report on the warrantless NSA wiretapping and other intelligence activities that were done without DOJ attorneys such as those that oversaw Amerithrax knowing about it.

    The report assesses what it calls the “President’s Surveillance Program.” It covers a broader range of activities and refers to additional spy efforts that President George W. Bush authorized as “other intelligence activities,” which it says remain highly classified.

    The Bush White House so strictly controlled access to its warrantless eavesdropping program that only three Justice Department lawyers were aware of the plan, which nearly ignited mass resignations and a constitutional crisis when a wider circle of administration officials began to question its legality, according to a watchdog report released today.

    The unclassified summary by five inspectors general from government intelligence agencies called the arrangements “extraordinary and inappropriate” and asserted that White House secrecy “undermined” the ability of the Justice Department to do its work.

    But other key figures such as Bush White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card, former Attorney General John D. Ashcroft and former CIA director George Tenet declined interview requests, investigators said. The inspectors general lack the authority to compel them to talk.

    The resignation threats came after a dramatic March 10, 2004, hospital visit by Card, who was then the White House chief of staff, and Gonzales to the bedside of an ailing Ashcroft. They appeared at the hospital in an ultimately unsuccessful bid to convince the attorney general, who was weakened by severe pancreatitis, to sign a document that would give reauthorize the program despite legal advice from others in the Justice Department. (see highly classified ex parte briefing ongoing on the subject in the District Court in E.D. Va.; not even the District Court clerk or defense counsel is allowed to see the filings.)

    The targets of the warrantless NSA wiretapping including such people as the “anthrax weapons suspect” (to borrow the phrase of his lawyer) Ali Al-Timimi) and Aafia Siddiqui’s sister (according to the NYT correspondent Lichtblau who broke story) .

    We now know Aafia was tasked to research germ warfare and connected to other US-based operatives.

    Is it any wonder, then, that Amerithrax ran aground and the struck a dry hole and focused on titillating imaginings about college sororities — if the warrantless NSA intercepts were not shared with the Department of Justice? Ali Al-Timimi, according to his defense committee, was the former assistant to the White House Chief of Staff (for 2 months in 1996). His Dad worked at the Iraqi embassy. Who served as his reference for the position at the building housing the DARPA-funded Center for Biodefense? Andrew Card? Ouch. If that had come out, the Bush Administration would never have won reelection in 2004.

  3. DXer said

    The truncated nature of the NAS inquiry is just part of the FBI’s non-solution. Relatedly, Dr. Keim seemed to assume when a subpoena issues (here it issued a half year after the event) the perp then voluntarily comes down to the station house and turns over the murder weapon.

    That actually does not comport with reality — thus the entire genetics inquiry is predicated on quicksand. A perpetrator simply has no reason to keep the murder weapon. By way of analogy, when a gun is used, the perp throws it into the river.

    For example, as another example of destruction of evidence, consider the autoclaving at Brandeis before the subpoena issued in March 2002.

    Brandeis PhD Aafia Siddiqui’s psychiatrist says she was tasked by someone named “Abu Lubaba” to study germ warfare. We don’t even know when she was first tasked with the assignment or the nature of her duties as a lab technician at Karachi Institute of Technology.

    The correspondence on her thumb drive referenced US-based cells and earlier attacks. Who were the US cell members? What were the earlier attacks?

    She yelled out to the gallery that American had been framed. What does she mean?

    Her professors had virulent anthrax including virulent Vollum that she walked past every day in the Brandeis Volen complex, but one of them tells me they did not have virulent Ames. (The other does not respond).

    Brandeis was subpoenaed in March 2002 and in a Fall 2001 incident autoclaved the virulent anthrax that they were using before Hazmat got there. One of the professors tells me that the strain was virulent Vollum, the former US Army strain used in the 50s for bioweapons, not the US vaccine strain. But given what Aafia herself says is at stake — she says the lives of thousands of children are at stake — why are this country’s spy catchers so naive as to rely on voluntary submission … to have their accusations predicated on this genetics analysis that provides an entirely illusory foundation of guilt and laughable references to college sororities?

    At least when Ayman Zawahiri is penetrated by spies, he does something about it. There is news today about a 150 page book, for which Ayman Zawahiri wrote the introduction, about Al Qaeda’s awareness that it has been penetrated by spies. ( Psst, Ayman. It’s likely way worse than you realize.)

    In October or November 2001, Al Qaeda’s spokesman al-Kuwaiti wrote a letter to the Administration threatening that they would use their biological weapons if the US did not stop their financial and military support for Israel and the muslim regimes. The letter from Abu ‘Abdullah Al-Kuwaiti outlined the next attack against the Americans and issued a statement to the Americans to let them know of their fighters’ readiness to kill hundreds of thousands with their nuclear and biological arsenal. The letter has been declassified and cleared for release (and was released by West Point Combating Terrorism Center in 2006).

    Your Brother Abu ‘Abdullah Al-Kuwaiti; 1- Announcing publicly the next attack.2- Announcing publicly that we gave some groups the green light to move.3- The groups that are present in America and Europe are above suspicion. 4- We obtain our intelligence information from your government and intelligence agencies.5- The statement/letter should be directed to the American people.A- There is no animosity between us. You involved yourselves in this battle. The war is between us and the Jews. You interfered in our countries and influenced our governments to strike against the Moslems.
    If the American people are ready to die as we are ready to die, then our combat groups along with our military, nuclear, and biological equipment will kill hundreds of thousands of people we don’t wish to fight.
    B- If you are ready to die as we are ready to die, the thousand present here in Afghanistan equals hundreds of thousands of Americans. I am pleased to inform you that the billions you spent fighting us so far have resulted in killing a small number of us. We consider them martyrs and they did not exceed (10) martyrs. We warn you that our war against you has not ended, but its effects will increase. Isn’t it time to end American arrogance and begin listening to your people before you experience more devastating disasters?

    When he said that they had access to our intelligence information from government and intelligence agencies, what did he mean? How did they gain such access?

    In early October, Abu Graith had appeared on two widely-circulated videos on al Jazeera television to defend the attacks and threaten retaliation for the subsequent US invasion of Afghanistan, saying “Americans should know, the storm of the planes will not stop. There are thousands of the Islamic nation’s youths who are eager to die just as the Americans are eager to live.” Abu Gha’ith, Bin Laden’s spokesman, was from Kuwait and made a similar threat in a videotape released June 2002. In June, he renewed the biochem threat, more broadly, urging that under the koran, it was morally justified to kill up to 4 million Americans, including 1 million children, with biological or chemical weapons. (In July 2003, a Kuwaiti minister announced that the Iranian government had offered to extradite Abu Ghaith to Kuwait, but that Kuwait had refused the offer. It is unclear (as of July 2003 when I last checked) whether he was currently in Iranian custody, or indeed in Iran at all.)

    In contrast to Ayman Zawahiri’s writing on the covert use of spies to penetrate their enemy, where is the self-awareness of our spy catchers? It seems that they are more comfortable basing a theory on the use of screen names by webposters and writing letters to the editor.

    It seems that by avoiding the subject they avoid the embarrassment of the nincompoops having allowed the infiltration — a replay of the infiltration of Triple Agent Ali Mohammed but with even greater consequences.

    Does Mr. Persichini or Mr. Dellefera or AUSA Ken Kohl even have access, for example, to the highly compartmentalized evidence being briefed ex parte before the District Court judge in the Al-Timimi matter?

    Do they even know what the CIA reportedly lied to Congress about?

    How can they then close Amerithrax based on the flimsy evidence we’ve seen?

    Is a Postal Inspector even trained to do counterintelligence analysis?

    Mark A. Gabriel, PhD, once taught at Al-Azhar in Egypt. He wrote a very lucid book Journey Into The Mind Of An Islamist Terrorist. He discusses a booklet Zawahiri wrote titled COVERT OPERATIONS which is available online in Arabic. If you want to know how Zawahiri views deceit on such issues as battle plans and spying, read his own words online. Gabriel explains:

    “Ayman al-Zawahiri leads a busy terrorist organization, and he must solve practical problems. For example, he may want some Al-Qaeda members to blend in and live in the United States. If these men wore full beards and went to ultraconservative mosques to pray, they they would arouse suspicion and get put on a watch list. Instead, al-Zawahiri would want these operatives to go undercover and blend into society. However, these devout Muslims will not go undercover unless they believe they have permission to do so from the teachings of Islam. As a result, al-Zawahiri wrote a booklet titled COVERT OPERATIONS, which goes deep into Islamic teaching and history to describe how deceit can be a tool in Muslim life.”

    The entire book by al-Zawahiri is posted in the Arabic language website for al-Tawheed Jihad (The Pulpit of Monotheism and Jihad). Zawahiri concluded that “hiding one’s faith and being secretive was allowed especially in time of fear from prosecution of the infidels.” Indeed, his student group in Cairo in the 1970s was known as the “shaven beards.” The founder of one of the cells merged with Ayman’s to form the Egyptian Islamic Jihad then wrote for Al-Timimi’s charity IANA.

    Al-Zawahiri discussed two specific ways Muhammad used deceit in battle: (1) keeping battle plans secret, and (2) spying. The author writes: “Al-Zawahiri specifically gave radicals permission not to pray in the mosque or attend Friday sermons if it would compromise their position.” He noted that Al-Zawahiri sealed his argument with a very important quote from Ibn Taymiyyah (who was quoted by Al-Timimi upon his his indictment). Ever the practical man, Muhammad approved lying in three circumstances (1) during war, (2) to reconcile between two feuding parties, and (3) to a spouse in order to please her. Many Salafist Jihadis have more than one wife and so lying to your spouse — not telling you have another wife — might come in handy.

    We needed spy-catchers on the job post-911 — spy-catchers who were not part of a politicized Department of Justice focused on saving the Administration from embarrassment.

    It’s time to set things right.

    Putting aside the inconsequential questions that are the focus of the NAS inquiry (and likely will be adequately addressed by the Emerging Infectious Disease articles this month), the type of question NAS needs to hear answered is: Who is Abu Lubaba who tasked Aafia Siddiqui with studying germ warfare in the course of her work as a lab technician and when was she first tasked?

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