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

* from DXer … infiltration of U.S. Biodefense? … virulent Ames anthrax at the U.S. Army Dugway Proving Ground in Utah?

Posted by DXer on February 20, 2010

12 Responses to “* from DXer … infiltration of U.S. Biodefense? … virulent Ames anthrax at the U.S. Army Dugway Proving Ground in Utah?”

  1. DXer said

    McCabe says that Mueller doesn’t like diagonal lines.

  2. DXer said

    What is happening in Yazid Sufaat’s trial in Malaysia this week? Will it come out whether he went to Pakistan a few years ago (as was suggested by the local Pakistan press after security forces were reportedly alerted to his presence)?

    Where is Yazid Sufaat?
    Posted by Lew Weinstein on January 20, 2012

    The FBI is pretty determined to track whereabouts of people in the US.

    AP Exclusive: FBI behind mysterious fleet of aircraft conducting surveillance over US cities

    “Some of the aircraft can also be equipped with technology that can identify thousands of people below through the cellphones they carry, even if they’re not making a call or in public.”


    I don’t know much anything about cell phones, only having had one for a couple of days. But I got a text yesterday about some free carved candlesticks. I knew the crafts person — having commented how I admired what she did. But I wondered how she got my number to send out the promotion. She explained that the shopping mall had grabbed my number through the wi-fi. I, in fact, had stopped in briefly to the movie theater the previous day.


    I gotta pay the bills. Go vote for “Second Chance”

    Finalists named for Jamesville pen dog shelter
    by Matt Mulcahy

  3. DXer said

    Unique biological weapons testing chamber debuts at Dugway
    By Amy Joi O’Donoghue
    February 19th, 2015
    “A few years back, no one could control aerosol size and we have gone from no control to sudden precision,” he said.

    Trials of live agent introduced into the new chamber can be conducted under circumstances in which the aersolized particles are taken down to minute quantities — thus measuring a system’s ability to react under extreme circumstances in which deadly agents are widely dispersed.

    Dugway’s commander, Col. Ronald Fizer, said it is impossible to overestimate the value of the chamber, which is slated to go live some time in the next several weeks.

    “It is a huge deal,” he said. “We have not had the ability to evaluate these systems in a live environment before. This allows us to have a high degree of confidence in our systems.”

    Both Fizer and Carmen J. Spencer, joint program executive officer for Chemical and Biological Defense, said it is paramount that biological agent detection systems operate at the highest efficiency given the evolving nature of global threats.

    “The world is a far different place than it was 20 years ago,” Spencer said. “There’s an ever-increasing awareness of the potential of a biological threat against nation states by non-nation states.”

    Fizer said Al-Qaida has made no secret of its desire to get its hands on biological agents and biological labs are high value targets for multiple terrorist cells.

    “Before we didn’t have a chamber that could test these systems. This gives us that readiness,” he said.

  4. DXer said

    In this testing at Dugway, the scientist supplied virulent Ames by Bruce Ivins used the simulant that was a contaminant in the mailed anthrax.

    That simulant was used at Dugway. Albeit a different strain, the same simulant was used back at Michigan right?

    Dr. Majidi should have swabbed the labs of the scientists supplied virulent Ames by Bruce Ivins.

    That was a no-brainer. In comparison, Dr. Majidi’s reliance on an interview of a brother who had not spoken to his brother in a quarter century (and was resentful of Bruce’s education) is an embarrassment to all forensic science.

  5. DXer said

    Dr. Vahid Majidi says the FBI didn’t swab suspect labs for the genetically distinct subtilis because it wasn’t in the budget. (Much of the $100 million spent was spent on pursuing Hatfill).

    Dr. Majidi should be asked whether Dugway was swabbed. He also should be asked why the Amerithrax Investigative Summary did not say that suspect labs were not swabbed. It might have been more appropriately titled Amerithrax Investigative Spin.

  6. DXer said

    The scientist who worked alongside Bruce Ivins nd Pat Fellows also worked at Dugway doing aerosol defense experiments. I emailed Dr. Hamouda to ask who he knew among the Cairo medical school classmates and contemporaries recruited by Ayman Zawahiri but he did not respond. Tarek would be a fascinating interview having lived for 10 years in the Cairo milieu when emotions were running so high over Mubarak’s imprisonment of so many professionals who had opposed Sadat.

  7. DXer said

    Hugh-Jones and his co-authors discuss Dugway in their recent article:

    “From 1999 to 2001, annual DOD budget item justifications for the DARPA project on detectors (called “sensors”) listed a plan to be carried out in FY 2001 to “evaluate methods for removing microencapsulation of disguised pathogens and/or sensing through the micro-encapsulation51”. The budget item justification sheet dated February 200252 listed that plan under “FY2001 Accomplishments”, indicating that at least one microencapsulated pathogen was studied by DARPA in 2001.

    Also accomplished by DARPA in 2001 was the evaluation of “methods of cell stabilization for possible application to cell based sensors”. One such stabilization method is microencapsulation.

    Concomitantly, the Chemical/Biological Defense Program (CBDP)53, covering work at Dugway, undertook in 1999 to identify and evaluate emerging threat agents by various means, and continued work on this project through FY2001, during which year they assessed the gaps in the threat agent data and the needs for improved simulants. Also in 2001, plans were made to initiate a program of synthesis, toxicology screening and characterization of new threat materials, to include Fourth Generation Agents [which include those altered for better survival54, e.g. by microencapsulation], and to initiate development of improved simulants for microencapsulated viruses and stabilized bacteria. Throughout this period the program provided controlled biosimulant aerosol challenges for Joint Service, DARPA, and DOE experimental equipment. Dugway tested DARPA’s detection equipment in 199955.

    Because of Dugway’s emphasis on improved simulants and on stabilization/survivability, Dugway may be the source of the unique B. subtilis contaminant found in the early attack letters56. There is no evidence that Dugway or any other site was ever examined for the presence of the critical Bacillus subtilis strain. The strain was found to be a hypersporulator57, typical of the strains that originated at Dugway for use as simulants58. The Bacillus subtilis isolated from the NY Post letter was sequenced for the FBI59 and found to have greater than 98% identity60 with the widely-studied strain Bacillus subtilis 168 (sequenced in 199761), often used as a surrogate for Bacillus anthracis62 and as the standard model in studies of the molecular and genetic basis of Bacillus spore resistance to environmental stresses63. Research on Bacillus genetics was proliferating at the time of the anthrax attacks.”

    • DXer said

      • DXer said

        The Martin Hugh-Jones et al article continues:

        “Dugway is the only place known to have made live, dry, weapons grade anthrax powder in the years before the attacks64. During the Amerithrax investigation the Dugway laboratory was the place the FBI asked to conduct experiments attempting to reverse-engineer production of the attack anthrax powders. The Dugway laboratory had supplied USAMRIID with most of the spores in flask RMR 1029, the putative parental source of the attack anthrax, in 1997.”

        • DXer said

          “A B. anthracis stock sample provided by Dugway to the FBI Ames anthrax repository tested positive in at least one of the four genetic assays used as indicators of relationship to the attack anthrax65, and the NAS committee believed that Dugway probably produced all four of the genetic markers used for assays66. A subcontractor67 working at Dugway in 2001, Battelle Memorial Institute, had twice received material from RMR 1029 from USAMRIID during 200168, upon receipt of which Battelle was given permission “to provide aliquots to other laboratory facilities for legitimate research purposes69”.

          Battelle is well-known for aerosol expertise, and was working with dry anthrax simulant spores in the period before the attacks70. It would probably be difficult to distinguish whether Dugway or Battelle personnel were responsible for any anthrax-related work done at Dugway at that time.””

  8. DXer said

    The item using virulent Ames from Flask 1029 dated August 28, 2000 states: “For DARPA mass spec project with JHU-APL. See FD-302 sub-302 #2605 dated 4/15/2003.

    The Ann Arbor Egyptian researcher who was in the Department with Ayman Zawahiri’s sister, a pharmacology professor, and was the good friend in the Egyptian Islamic Jihad member recruited by Ayman Zawahiri had his DARPA-funded decontamination agent tested not only by Bruce Ivins at Ft. Detrick, but also at JHU-APL.
    (APL is “Applied Physics Lab.”)

    Did the DOJ provide the 302 about this research with virulent Ames from Flask 1029 for DARPA in August 2000? If so, could someone point it out as I haven’t seen it. If the DOJ failed to produce it, why not? Why hasn’t the DOJ released all 302s referenced on the expanded inventory of Flask 1029?

  9. DXer said

    It was Fraser-Liggett’s genetic analysis of the anthrax spores in the letters that led to Ivins’ flask, and the other 7 isolates with the same genetic profile. “The part that seems still hotly debated is whether there was sufficient evidence to name Dr. Ivins as the perpetrator,” Fraser-Liggett says. “I have complete confidence in the accuracy of our data,” Fraser-Liggett says, but she says it does not indicate Ivins is guilty.

    LSU scientist Martin Hugh-Jones wrote to 40,000 ProMed subscribers this month that he is confident that Dr. Ivins is innocent.

    In October 2001, LSU and University of Michigan were subpoenaed. FWIW, a DARPA Program Manager at the time privately told a friend of mine that they knew where the attack Ames came from and even the machine used to make it. LSU and University of Michigan were subpoenaed out of the gate. According to Richard Hidalgo, assistant to the dean of the school of veterinary medicine at LSU, the DOJ asked the school to provide by Oct. 23 a log of all visitors and employees at the Hugh-Jones Special Pathogens Lab since Jan. 1, 2000, including their Social Security numbers and dates of birth. The subpoena also asked for information on shipments of pathogens to and from the lab. “Besides Dr. Hugh-Jones and his lab director, only three others have been in the lab” during the time in question, Hidalgo said. “I’ve never been there myself.” Why did the FBI limit the October 2001 subpoena of LSU Special Pathogens Lab to visitors after January 1, 2000. Wasn’t the DARPA research involving virulent Ames supplied by Bruce Ivins prior to that?

    In the first pages of its production yesterday they refer to the research done by two University of Michigan researchers with Dr. Bruce Ivins at Ft. Detrick circa May 1998. The documents show an FBI agent first doing a google search showing that Dr. Ivins gave Dr. Hamouda virulent Ames in 2005! Dr. Hamouda’s childhood friend Tarek Hamid has published on his experience of being recruited into the Egyptian Islamic Jihad by Ayman Zawahiri in a room at medical school set aside for that purpose. He told me when I called him that before 911, Dr. Hamid called Dr. Hamouda to ask about patents and he said it’s all in the marketing.

    Newsday reported:

    “A subpoena also was delivered to the University of Michigan, according to a source who asked not to be identified. “All research institutions are being contacted by the FBI and asked for information,” the source said. “They were seeking personnel records for those who may be working with select agents.” …”LSU’s Hidalgo said the FBI appears to be looking for any breach in the strict handling procedures for anthrax and other select agents. It could not be determined yesterday how many institutions have received subpoenas. In some cases, the FBI has made investigative inquiries without court orders.”

    Ari Fleischer explained: “What you have to keep in mind is the difference between knowledge about what type of information you have to have to produce it, and who could have sent it. They are totally separate topics that could involve totally separate people. It could be the same person or people. It could be totally different people. The information does not apply to who sent it.” Ken Alibek, the former head of the Soviet bio-weapons program suggests that ‘If I were a terrorist, I would certainly not use a strain known to be from my country.'” To the same effect, Bruce Ivins would not have used the strain — a special mixture of the US Army strain — for which he was the “go-to” person.

    At a news conference in August, bureau officials estimated that as many as 100 people potentially had access to the biocontainment lab where Ivins kept his collections. Now we learn it was 130+ who had access at 1425 and twice that whenever it was at 1412. Investigators have maintained that other possible suspects were ruled out, but they have never explained how. How did they rule out this former colleague of Dr. Zawahiri’s sister, the Cairo Medical pharmacology professor who was so distraught at the rendition of her brother Muhammad? She and the family were represented by Mamdouh Ismail, the alleged conduit to jihadis in Egypt and Yemen, in connection with that rendition. Ayman Zawahiri’s colleagues had expressly announced that Zawahiri planned to use anthrax against US targets to retaliate for the rendering of senior EIJ leaders.

    The question relevant to an Al Qaeda theory is what access to the US Army strain might have been accomplished by someone with 1) an organization supported by funds diverted from charities backing his play, and 2) a lot of educated and technically-trained Salafists who believe in his Islamist cause.

    In a number of patents by University of Michigan researchers in Ann Arbor, Tarek Hamouda and James R. Baker, Jr., including some filed before 9/11, the inventors thank Bruce Ivins of Ft. Detrick for supplying them with virulent Ames. The University of Michigan patents stated: “B. anthracis spores, Ames and Vollum 1 B strains, were kindly supplied by Dr. Bruce Ivins (USAMRIID, Fort Detrick, Frederick, Md.), and prepared as previously described (Ivins et al., 1995). Dr. Hamouda served as group leader on the DARPA Anti-infective project. A patent application filed April 2000 by the University of Michigan inventors explained:

    “The release of such agents as biological weapons could be catastrophic in light of the fact that such diseases will readily spread the air.
    In light of the foregoing discussion, it becomes increasingly clear that cheap, fast and effective methods of killing bacterial spores are needed for decontaminating purposes. The inventive compounds have great potential as environmental decontamination agents and for treatments of casualties in both military and terrorist attacks. The inactivation of a broad range of pathogens … and bacterial spores (Hamouda et al., 1999), combined with low toxicity in experimental animals, make them (i.e., the inventive compounds) particularly well suited for use as general decontamination agents before a specific pathogen is identified.”

    In late August 2001, NanoBio relocated from a small office with 12 year-old furniture to an expanded office on Green Road located at Plymouth Park. After the mailings, DARPA reportedly asked for some of their product them to decontaminate some of the Senate offices. The company pitched hand cream to postal workers. The inventors company, NanoBio, is funded by DARPA. NanoBio received a $3,150,000 defense contract in 2003. Dr. Hamouda graduated Cairo Medical in December 1982. He married in 1986. His wife was on the Cairo University dental faculty for 10 years. Upon coming to the United States in 1994 after finishing his microbiology PhD at Cairo Medical, Dr. Hamouda was a post-doctoral fellow at the Wayne State University School of Medicine in downtown Detroit. His immunology department biography at Wayne indicates that he then came to the University of Michigan and began work on the DARPA-funded work with anthrax bio-defense applications with James R. Baker at their company NanoBio.

    The University of Michigan researchers presented in part at various listed meetings and conferences in 1998 and 1999. The December 1999 article titled “A Novel Surfactant Nanoemulsion with Broad-Spectrum Sporicidal Activity of against Bacillus Species” in the Journal for Infectious Diseases states: “B. anthracis spores, Ames and Vollum 1B strains, were supplied by Bruce Ivins (US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases [USAMRIID], Fort Detrick, Frederick, MD) and were prepared as described elsewhere. Four other strains of B. anthracis were provided by Martin Hugh-Jones (Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge).” Dr. Baker reports the work NanoBio’s research with virulent Ames was “done at USAMRIID by a microbiologist under Dr. Ivins’ direct supervision and at LSU under the direction of Dr. Hugh Jones.”

    In the acknowledgements section, the University of Michigan authors thank:

    Shaun B. Jones, Jane Alexander, and Lawrence DuBois (Defense Science Office, Defense Advanced Research Project Agency) for their support.
    Bruce Ivins, Patricia Fellows [“Colleague #2], Mara Linscott [“Colleague #1”], Arthur Friedlander, and the staff of USAMRIID for their technical support and helpful suggestions in the performance of the initial anthrax studies.
    Martin-Hugh-Jones, Kimothy Smith, and Pamela Coker for supplying the characterized B. anthracis strains and the space at Louisiana State University (Baton Rouge).
    Robin Kunkel (Department of Pathology, University of Michigan) for her help with electron microscopy and a couple of others for technical assistance and manuscript preparation.
    The researchers found that their nanoemulsion incorporated into the growth medium completely inhibited the growth of the spores. Transmission electron microscope was used to examine the spores.

    The patent explained that “The nanoemulsions can be rapidly produced in large quantities and are stable for many months *** Undiluted, they have the texture of a semisolid cream and can be applied topically by hand or mixed with water. Diluted, they have a consistency and appearance similar to skim milk and can be sprayed to decontaminate surfaces or potentially interact with aerosolized spores before inhalation.”

    A March 18, 1998 press release had provided some background to the novel DARPA-funded work. It was titled “Novavax Microbicides Undergoing Testing at University of Michigan Against Biological Warfare Agents; Novavax Technology Being Supplied to U.S. Military Program At University of Michigan as Possible Defense Against Germ Warfare.” The release stated that “The Novavax Biologics Division has designed several potent microbicides and is supplying these materials to the University of Michigan for testing under a subcontract. Various formulations are being tested as topical creams or sprays for nasal and environmental usage. The biocidal agent’s detergent degrades and then explodes the interior of the spore. Funding, the press release explains, was provided by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency of the Department of Defense.

    In a presentation at the Interscience Conference on Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy (ICAAC) on September 26, 1998, Michael Hayes, a research associate in the U-Michigan Medical School, presented experimental evidence of BCTP’s ability to destroy anthrax spores both in a culture dish and in mice exposed to anthrax through a skin incision. “In his conference presentation, Hayes described how even low concentrations of BCTP killed more than 90 percent of virulent strains of Bacillus anthracis spores in a culture dish.” Its website explains that the Interscience Conference on Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy is the “[p]remier meeting on infectious diseases and antimicrobial agents, organized by the American Society for Microbiology.”

    An University of Michigan Medical school, Medicine at Michigan, (Vol. 1, No. 1, Spring 1999) explained:

    “In studies with rats and mice in the U-M Medical School under the direction of James R. Baker, Jr., M.D., professor of internal medicine and director of the Center for Biologic Nanotechnology, the mixture, known as BCTP, attacked anthrax spores and healed wounds caused by a closely related species of bacteria, Bacillus cereus. (The letters BCTP stand for Bi-Component, Triton X-100 n-tributyl Phosphate.)

    Baker describes the process as follows: “The tiny lipid droplets in BCTP fuse with anthrax spores, causing the spores to revert to their active bacterial state. During this process, which takes 4-5 hours, the spore’s tough outer membrane changes, allowing BCTP’s solvent to strip away the exterior membrane. The detergent then degrades the spores’ interior contents. In scanning electron microscope images, the spores appear to explode.” The rapid inactivation of anthrax bacteria and spores combined with BCTP’s low toxicity thus make the emulsion a promising candidate for use as a broad-spectrum, post-exposure decontamination agent.

    The research is sponsored by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the central research and development organization for the U.S. Department of Defense.”

    Dr. Baker, by email, advises me that Ivins did the studies involving Ames for them at USAMRIID. The DOJ documents now indicate that the research was done by the University of Michigan researchers at Ft. Detrick circa May 1998.

    An article in the Summer of 2000 in Medicine at Michigan explains:

    “Victory Site: Last December [December 1999] Tarek Hamouda, Amy Shih and Jim Baker traveled to a remote military station in the Utah desert. There they demonstrated for the U.S. Army Research and Development Command the amazing 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.”

    An EPA report explains:

    “In December 1999, the U.S. Army tested a broad spectrum nanoemulsion and nine other biodecontamination technologies in Dugway, Utah, against an anthrax surrogate, Bacillus globigii. Nanoemulsion was one of four technologies that proved effective and was the only nontoxic formulation available. Other tests against the vaccine strain of B. anthracis (Sterne strain) were conducted by the John Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory and by the U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research.”

    As Fortune magazine explained in November 2001 about NanoBio: “Then bioterror struck…. It moved to a bland corporate park where its office has no name on the door. It yanked its street address off its Website, whose hit rate jumped from 350 a month to 1,000 a day.” NanoBio was part of the solution: “in the back of NanoBio’s office sit two dozen empty white 55-gallon barrels. A few days before, DARPA had asked Annis and Baker if they could make enough decontaminant to clean several anthrax-tainted offices in the Senate. NanoBio’s small lab mixers will have to run day and night to fill the barrels. ‘This is not the way we want to do this,’ sighs [its key investor], shaking his head. ‘This is all a duct-tape solution.’ ” James Baker, founder of Ann Arbor’s NanoBio’s likes to quote a Chinese proverb: “When there are no lions and tigers in the jungle, the monkeys rule.”

    Lew posts an email by Dr. Ivins in which he expresses dismay that he was called by a television station about a “US tested and certified” decontamination agent. He said that under no circumstances could that description be used. He promised his correspondent that he would get him the data on the experiments. We do not know his correspondent because the FBI has interfered with the production of Dr. Ivin’s Fall 2001 emails.

    It’s naive to think that Al Qaeda could not have obtained Ames just because it tended to be in labs associated with or funded by the US military. US Army Al Qaeda operative Sgt. Ali Mohammed accompanied Zawahiri in his travels in the US. (Ali Mohamed had been a major in the same unit of the Egyptian Army that produced Sadat’s assassin, Khaled Islambouli). Ali Al-Timimi was working in the building housing the Center for Biodefense funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (“DARPA”) and had access to the facilities at both the Center for Biodefense and the adjacent American Type Culture Collection. For example, Michael Ray Stubbs was an HVAC system technician at Lawrence Livermore Lab with a high-level security clearance permitting access; that was where the effort to combat the perceived Bin Laden anthrax threat was launched in 1998. Aafia Siddiqui, who attended classes at a building with the virulent Vollum strain. She later married a 9/11 plotter al-Balucchi, who was in UAE with al-Hawsawi, whose laptop, when seized at the home of a bacteriologist, had anthrax spraydrying documents on it. The reality is that a lab technician, researcher, or other person similarly situated might simply have walked out of some lab that had it.

    Among the documents found in Afghanistan in 2001 were letters and notes written in English to Ayman Zawahiri by a scientist about his attempts to obtain an anthrax sample. One handwritten letter was on the letterhead of the Society for Applied Microbiology, the UK’s oldest microbiological society. The Society for Applied Microbiology of Bedford, UK, recognizes that “the development and exploitation of Applied Microbiology requires the maintenance and improvement of the microbiological resources in the UK, such as culture collections and other specialized facilities.” Thus, Zawahiri’s access to the Ames strain is still yet to be proved, but there was no shortage of possibilities or recruitment attempts by Ayman. One colleague of his estimates that he made 15 recruitment attempts over a many year period. Dr. Keim observes: “Whoever perpetrated the first crime must realize that we have the capability to identify material and to track the material back to its source.

    In June 2001, in addition to the conference at Annapolis organized by Bruce Ivins, a conference was held at Aberdeen Proving Ground (Edgewood) for small businesses that might contribute to the biodefense effort. It showcased APG’s world class facillities that had the full range of relevant equipment, as well as the range of activities and research featured by presenters at such conferences. It was called “Team APG Showcase 2001.″ Edgewood maintains a database of simulant properties. The information and equipment, including spraydrying equipment, is available to participants in the SBIR — promoting small business innovation. Might the anthrax attack have required the learning of a state? Well, to get that, all you needed to do was go to the program that shares such research for the purpose of innovation in the area of biodefense. APG built a Biolevel-3 facility and, according to a Baltimore Sun report, by October 2002 had 19 virulent strains of anthrax, including Ames. A 1996 report on a study done at Edgewood involving irradiated virulent Ames provided by John Ezzell that was used in a soil suspension. Another article discusses Delta Ames supplied to Edgewood by the Battelle-managed Dugway, subtilis, and use of sheep blood agar. Did Battelle have virulent Ames across I-95? Edgewood tested nanoemulsion biocidal agents during this time period, according to a national nanobiotechnology initiative report issued June 2002. What testing data was Dr. Ivins referring to when he wrote the scientist promoting his decontamination agent in November 2001 and said he would get him the data but that he should stop saying that it was “U.S. Army tested and certified.” Why has the FBI prevented USAMRIID from providing Dr. Ivins’ emails for the period of the mailings?

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