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

* Anwar Aulaqi, who was coordinating with Ali Al-Timimi, was interviewed by 9/15/2001 by the FBI

Posted by DXer on March 22, 2010


The New York Times says the FBI’s anthrax case has “too many loose ends.” Find out where some of those looses ends might have originated in my novel CASE CLOSED. Sure it’s fiction, but many readers, including a highly respected member of the U.S. Intelligence Community, think my premise is actually “quite plausible.”

* buy CASE CLOSED at amazon *



33 Responses to “* Anwar Aulaqi, who was coordinating with Ali Al-Timimi, was interviewed by 9/15/2001 by the FBI”

  1. DXer said

    Former Intelligence Analyst Charged With Leaking Classified Documents To The Intercept
    Daniel Everette Hale, 31, was arrested on charges that include violating the Espionage Act and stealing government property.

    Matthew Barakat

    According to the indictment, Hale worked as an intelligence analyst for the Air Force and later as a contractor assigned to the government’s National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency.

    The indictment says Hale began communications with a reporter in 2013 while at the Air Force and continued communications after going to NGA.

    According to the indictment, Hale provided 11 Top Secret or Secret documents to the reporter and his online news outlet. Those documents were later published either in whole or in part.

    They include a secret memo outlining a military campaign against al-Qaeda overseas, a top secret intelligence report on an al-Qaeda operative, and a secret PowerPoint slide “outlining the effects of the military campaign targeting Al-Qaeda overseas,” according to the indictment.

    On October 15, 2015, Scahill published an article on The Intercept titled “The Assassination Complex” that relies on “a cache of secret slides that provides a window into the inner workings of the U.S. military’s kill/capture operations at a key time in the evolution of the drone wars.”

    The story says the documents “were provided by a source within the intelligence community who worked on the types of operations and programs described in the slides. The Intercept granted the source’s request for anonymity because the materials are classified and because the U.S. government has engaged in aggressive prosecution of whistleblowers.”

    Scahill’s book, “Dirty Wars,” was published in 2013, and the indictment indicates Hale and Scahill met while Scahill was promoting the book at a Washington, D.C., bookstore. The book reported on the use of drones to attack and kill targets like al-Qaeda cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, among other things.

  2. DXer said

    The US legal system does not work at all well given how long litigation and decision-making takes. Numerous motions are still pending in the US v. Al-Timimi case requesting the disclosure of documents relating to Awlaki and the connection to Al-Timimi.

  3. DXer said

    With respect to the luncheon emphasized by Catherine Herridge, would one expect the FBI to share confidential investigative information with a lawyer organizing an innocuous luncheon at the Pentagon? (No)

  4. DXer said

    Why did the FBI fail disclose that Jdey was detained and released as the same time as Moussaoui?

  5. DXer said

    The documents dating from April 1999 show that Ayman Zawahiri’s plan was to recruit a specialist. Who else did Ayman Zawahiri succeed in recruiting?

  6. DXer said

    This Zawahiri correspondence with infiltrating scientist was part of parallel compartmentalized cell operation. Who else did Ayman attempt to recruit (besides the schoolmate and close friend of Bruce Ivins’ co-worker)?

  7. DXer said

    This document seized in Afghanistan pointed to infiltration n of US biodefense. To what was the author referring?

  8. DXer said

    Dr. Bruce Ivins hosted one Egyptian visitor in the B3 who was the lifelong friend of a former Egyptian Islamic Jihad member, a schoolmate, recruited by Ayman Zawahiri. Who does he think is responsible?

  9. DXer said

    Catherine Herridge, the reporter holding up the email from Dr. Ivins about the FBI anthrax expert who secretly made a dried powder out of Flask 1029 prior to 9/11 as part of DARPA research, addressed Al-Awlaki’s feature article in the recent issue of INSPIRE.

    She writes: “Analysts also note that the leading articles in the latest edition of the magazine are all written by Americans.”

  10. DXer said

    Milton Viorst, who knew Ali as a teenager, wrote a fascinating and sympathetic yet balanced portrait in “The Education of Ali Al-Timimi” that appeared in The Atlantic Monthly, June 2006. In Saudi Arabia, Al-Timimi had been mentored by a Saudi-trained Canadian imam Bilal Philips. Philips was Al-Timimi’s Islamic Studies teacher at Manaret Riyadh High School in the early 1980s. Al-Timimi adopted Philips’ view that “The clash of civilizations is a reality,” and “Western culture led by the United States is an enemy of Islam.” Between 1991 and 1993, Philips relocated to the Mindinao, Philippines, where he taught at an islamic school. In 1993, according to an interview he gave in a London-based Arabic-language magazine interview, Philips ran a program to convert US soldiers to Islam stationed in Saudi Arabia during the first Persian Gulf War. Philips was made a proselytization official by the Saudi Air Force. Philips followed up in the US, with telephone calls and visits intended to recruit the veterans as potential members of Bin Laden’s network. He enlisted assistance from others based in the U.S. and members of Islamic centers all over the US. These conversion specialists financed pilgrimages for US veterans and would later send Muslim clerics in the United States to their homes. Bilal Philips encouraged some converts from this program to fight in Bosnia in the 1990s. Bilal Philips explained these recruitment efforts to a London newspaper in Arabic (translated by the Foreign Broadcast Information Service) in an article titled “Jamaican-Born Canadian Interviewed on Islamic Missionary Work Among US Troops”:

    “[redacted] used to coordinate with US intelligence. And, when Croatia closed its borders to Arab volunteers, there were a group of black Americans who completed their training and knew Islam through me. [Redacted] contacted Shaykh Umar Abd-al-Rahman and offered to use this group for sabotage acts inside the United States. The offer was made on the telephone, which apparently was tapped by US intelligence. Shaykh Umar replied by saying: ‘”Avoid civilian targets.’”

    After completing his religious education in Saudi Arabia in Medina, Ali Al Timimi returned to the United States and received a second bachelor’s degree — this time in computer science at the University of Maryland, while also studying software programming at George Washington University. Timimi spoke at IANA conferences in 1993 and 1994. A senior al Qaeda recruiter, Abdelrahman Dosari, also spoke at three IANA conferences in the early 1990s. In December 1993, Al-Dosari (a.k.a. Shaykh Abu Abdel Aziz “Barbaros”) spoke on ‘Jihad & Revival” and exhorted young men to fight for their faithjust as Al-Timimi would later be accused of doing privately with young men in Virginia.

    At the first annual IANA conference in 1993, scheduled speakers included Bilal Philips, Mohammed Abdul-Rahman from Afghanistan, Mohammad Qutb from Cairo, Gamal Sultan from Cairo, and Abu Abdel Aziz ‘Barbaros’ (Bosnia).

    Mohammad Abdul-Rahman was the blind sheik’s son. The blind sheik soon was sentenced for terrorism relating to WTC 1993 and the “Day of Terror” plot directed at NYC landmarks. In 2000, Mohammed Abdel Rahman, a/k/a “Asadallah,” who is a son of Abdel Rahman, was sitting alongside Bin Laden and Zawahiri and was videotaped encouraging others to “avenge your Sheikh” and “go to the spilling of blood.”

    Mohammad Qutb was Sayyid Qutb’s brother. Egyptian Mohammad Qutb, a renown scholar and activist, taught Bin Laden at university in Saudi Arabia, having emigrated to Saudi Arabia. In the 1970s, bin Laden was taught by Sayyid Qutb’s brother, Dr. Mohammad Qutb, and a Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood member, Dr. Abdullah Azzam. Azzam’s ideas of non-compromise, violent means, and organizing and fighting on a global scale were central to Al Qaeda methods. Qutb, as al-Hawali’s teacher, also strongly influenced al-Hawali. Al-Hawali was sent to prison in 1994.

    Gamal Sultan was a former EIJ member who would seek to start a political party in 1999 with the founder of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad, Kamal Habib. They sought to chart a nonviolent course (given the practical reality that the movement had been so infiltrated by the security forces). The blind sheik declined to endorse the venture. In 2000, on a trip to Pittsburgh, Gamal Sultan and his colleagues thought Pittsburgh reminded them of Kandahar given its rolling hills.

    Abu Abdel Aziz ‘Barbaros’ was a well-known holy warrior and fundraiser from Saudi Arabia. In 1994, Abdel Aziz glorified jihad and praised the Pittsburgh magazine Assirat for its interest in holy war. He asked Assirat readers and in a 1995 update, to donate money for holy war. He lauded Dr. Abdullah Azzam, the founder of al-Qaeda. He explained jihad will continue till the day of judgment.” In 1996, he was detained as the primary suspect in the attack on the Dhahran barracks, in which 19 U.S. servicemen were killed. Expert Evan Kohlmann explains: Barbaros was “one of the key individuals responsible for LeT’s formation and development.” He “was a Saudi Al-Qaida member.” Kohlmann writes “In the fall of 1992, a former Al-Qaida lieutenant-turned-government informant attended secret meetings in Croatia chaired by Abu Abdel Aziz (“Barbaros.”). During those meetings, Abu Abdel Aziz talked about his directives from Usama Bin Laden and indicated that Al-Qaida was seeking to use regional jihads such as those in Bosnia and Kashmir as “a base for operations… against al Qaeda’s true enemy, the United States.”

    In 1995 Ali Al Timimi headed an IANA delegation to China together with IANA President Bassem Khafagi and Syracuse oncologist and IANA Vice Chairman Rhafil Dhafir. The IANA condemned the UN women’s rights conference as “an attack on Islam.” They urged Imams worldwide to tell Muslims about “the hidden agenda of this UN Conference, and how to foil the libertine and Westernization movements in the Islamic world.”

    Salafist commentator Umar Lee has explained that in the early 1990s “the most dynamic part of the salafi movement in the DC-area were the students Sheikh Ali al-Timimi who in the 1990’s co-founded a very small group with a small office for an organization called the Society for the Adherence to the Sunnah. In early July 1994, cooperation with Al-Timimi’s Society for the Adherence to the Sunnah, Washington, D.C., IANA held its first annual summer camp in English in Frederick, MD (where the ponds were drained in the Amerthrax investigation). The theme of the camp was “Living the Shahadah in America.” This is what Sheikh Ali was teaching kids at the 1st Annual IANA Summer Camp at a Frederick, MD park:

    “Reflections on the Meaning of Our Testimony of Faith: ‘There is no god but Allah and Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah” by Ali Al-Timimi.
    “6 Wage Jihad in the Path of Allah
    “Fight those who believe not in Allah and the Last Day and do not forbid what Allah and His Messenger have forbidden, and practice not the true religion (Islam), being of those who have been given the Scripture (the Jews and the Christians) — until they pay tribute readily and have been brought low. (The Qur’an 9:29)”

    “The Prophet has said:
    I am commanded to fight mankind till they testify that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah, establish

    According to the webpage of his first defense committee (which disbanded when they felt under pressure due to their support), at some point years earlier had worked for Andrew Card for 2 months.

    Al-Timimi’s increasing computer skills got him a job at SRA International where Ali worked as a “bioinformatics software architect” providing information technology to the government. Some of his jobs required that Ali obtain a high-level security clearance. One job resulted in a letter of recommendation from the White House. In 1999, Battelle consultant and former USAMRIID Charles Bailey also worked at SRA.
    Ali then enrolled in a PhD program in computational biology at George Mason University. By 2000, Ali Al-Timimi was already taking advanced courses at Mason in computational sciences. Dr. Bailey became co-Director of the DARPA-funded Center of Biodefense there in the Spring of 2001.

    Timimi once explained his research: “I am currently a research scientist at the Center for Biomedical Genomics and Informatics, George Mason University. I am involved in the analysis of the microarray data generated by the CTRF Cancer Genomics Project. Likewise, I am developing new computational approaches and technologies in support of this project.” The webpage for Timimi’s program at the time explained: “Faculty members and graduate students in the Program in Bioinformatics and Computational Biology participate in numerous collaborative efforts including but not limited to the following Laboratories and Research Centers: Center for Biomedical Genomics and Informatics (GMU) , Laboratory for Microbial and Environmental Biocomplexity (GMU) and Center for Biodefense (GMU). Beginning the Spring of 2002, GMU hired Ali to develop a computer program that coordinated the research at several universities, letting him go only after he came under suspicion by the FBI. In Spring 2002, according to salary information obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, GMU hired him for $70,000 a year. In 2002, the employment was through the School of Computational Sciences and in 2003, it was through Life Sciences Grants & Contracts.

    The School of Computational Sciences at George Mason is a joint venture between the American Type Culture Collection (”ATCC”) and George Mason. The joint venture is an effort to maximize research efforts by combining the academic and applied approaches to research. The School’s first activity was to teach an ATCC course in DNA techniques adapted for George Mason students. The ATCC is an internationally renown non-profit organization that houses the world’s largest and most diverse archive of biological materials. In 2001, the Prince William Campus shares half of Discovery Hall with ATCC. ATCC moved to a state-of-the-art laboratory at Discovery Hall (Prince William II) in 1998.

    ATCC’s 106,000-square-foot facility has nearly 35,000 square feet of laboratory space with a specialized air handling system and Biosafety Level 2 and 3 containment stations. The ATCC bioinformatics (BIF) program carries out research in various areas of biological information management relevant to its mission. BIF scientists interact with laboratory scientists in microbiology, cell biology, and molecular biology at ATCC and other laboratories throughout the world. ATCC has strong collaborations with a large number of academic institutions, including computational sciences at George Mason University. Through these partnerships, the George Mason Prince William Campus offers George Mason microbiology students an opportunity for students to be involved in current research and gain access to facilities and employment opportunities at ATCC and other partner companies.

    The person who inherited his old telephone number (3-4294) is Victor Morozov in the Center for Biodefense. Dr. Morozov, upon joining the faculty and inheriting the phone number was in Rm. 154A, very near Dr. Bailey in Rm 156B. One faculty member who consulted with Al-Timimi suggested to me that Ali instead was Rm. 154B, in the middle of the office suite. GMU Information Services helpfully looked up the listings from 2001 directory.

    Former USAMRIID Deputy Commander and Acting Commander Ames strain anthrax researcher Charles Bailey, in Rm 156B, was given a Gateway desktop computer in mid-March 2001 (upon his arrival) — serial number 0227315480. It was like the one Dr. Alibek would get the next year in 156D. One way to think of proximity analysis — a form of true crime analysis — is the number of feet or inches between 154B and 156B/156D. Another way is to think of it is in terms of the number of feet or inches to the hard drives. You can judge the distance for yourself from a First Floor plan that is available online, clicking upon 154-156 area to enlarge.

    The December 2007 biodefense PhD thesis explains:

    “Although computers are password protected, anyone can access the computers located throughout the labs. Research results can be recorded on lab computers. Someone wanting to access research results would first have to understand what the numbers meant. Research results are also kept in a lab notebook that is kept in the lab or office. This enables other students to repeat what was already done or to see results.”

  11. DXer said

    The editor of the Al Qaeda magazine INSPIRE scoffs at US law enforcement since it “didn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that I was Al Qaeda to the core.”

    What does his friend, Anwar Awlaki, say on the same issue?
    NOVEMBER 27, 2010
    A Glossy Approach to Inciting Terrorism

    Al Qaeda’s edgy new online magazine is raising alarms by trying to recruit alienated American Muslims

    The magazine’s apparent editor, Samir Khan, contributed a riveting account of his self-radicalization to the October issue. His article expressed disdain for all things American, in particular, his former country’s military interventions in the Middle East and South Asia. American law enforcement, he scoffed, was incompetent, since it “didn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that I was Al Qaeda to the core.”

  12. DXer said

    Was Anwar Aulaqi under deep cover?

    * While US government focuses on Anwar Al-Aulaqi, the media continues to overlook Aulaqi’s connection to fellow Falls Church imam, “anthrax weapons suspect” Ali Al-Timimi

  13. DXer said

    Anwar Aulaqi on NPR, October 30, 2001

    IMAM ANWAR AWLAKI: Our position needs to be reiterated and needs to be very clear. The fact that the U.S. has administered the death and homicide of over one million civilians in Iraq, the fact that the U.S. is supporting the deaths and killing of thousands of Palestinians does not justify the killing of one U.S. civilian in New York City or Washington, D.C., and the deaths of 6,000 civilians in New York and Washington, DC, does not justify the death of one civilian in Afghanistan. And that is the difference between right and wrong, evil and good, that everybody’s claiming to talk about.

  14. DXer said

    Comment: My friend Hal was Anwar’s roommate during Hajj in 2001. Privately, he was always different than his smooth persona. He was coordinating with fellow Falls Church imam Ali Al-Timimi who shared a suite with the leading anthrax researcher and former deputy USAMRIID Commander, who were funded by DARPA and working with subcontractor Southern Researcher Institute under the 2000 grant. Anwar was detained briefly in 2002 when he came back into the country but then released.

    U.S. Approves Targeted Killing of American Cleric
    Published: April 6, 2010

    WASHINGTON — The Obama administration has taken the extraordinary step of authorizing the targeted killing of an American citizen, the radical Muslim cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, who is believed to have shifted from encouraging attacks on the United States to directly participating in them, intelligence and counterterrorism officials said Tuesday.

    Mr. Awlaki, who was born in New Mexico and spent years in the United States as an imam, is in hiding in Yemen. He has been the focus of intense scrutiny since he was linked to Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, the Army psychiatrist accused of killing 13 people at Fort Hood, Tex., in November, and then to Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the Nigerian man charged with trying to blow up a Detroit-bound airliner on Dec. 25.

    American counterterrorism officials say Mr. Awlaki is an operative of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the affiliate of the terror network in Yemen and Saudi Arabia. They say they believe that he has become a recruiter for the terrorist network, feeding prospects into plots aimed at the United States and at Americans abroad, the officials said.

    It is extremely rare, if not unprecedented, for an American to be approved for targeted killing, officials said. A former senior legal official in the administration of George W. Bush said he did not know of any American who was approved for targeted killing under the former president.

    But the director of national intelligence, Dennis C. Blair, told a House hearing in February that such a step was possible. “We take direct actions against terrorists in the intelligence community,” he said. “If we think that direct action will involve killing an American, we get specific permission to do that.” He did not name Mr. Awlaki as a target.

    The step taken against Mr. Awlaki, which occurred earlier this year, is a vivid illustration of his rise to prominence in the constellation of terrorist leaders. But his popularity as a cleric, whose lectures on Islamic scripture have a large following among English-speaking Muslims, means any action against him could rebound against the United States in the larger ideological campaign against Al Qaeda.

    The possibility that Mr. Awlaki might be added to the target list was reported by The Los Angeles Times in January, and Reuters reported on Tuesday that he was approved for capture or killing.

    “The danger Awlaki poses to this country is no longer confined to words,” said an American official, who like other current and former officials interviewed for this article spoke of the classified counterterrorism measures on the condition of anonymity. “He’s gotten involved in plots.”

    At a panel discussion in Washington on Tuesday, Representative Jane Harman, Democrat of California and chairwoman of a House subcommittee on homeland security, called Mr. Awlaki “probably the person, the terrorist, who would be terrorist No. 1 in terms of threat against us.”

  15. Ike Solem said

    Don’t forget either, that the genetic signature of the Fort Detrick flasks was also found at other labs – but the FBI refused to say which lab, and were “certain” that this lab had received Ames from Detrick.

    The genetic evidence is not much more conclusive than the physical evidence from the letter spores themselves, but both point towards the U.S. biological threat assessment program being the place where this material was manufactured, run by the CIA and the DIA and the private biowarfare contractor, Battelle Memorial Institute’s National Security Division.

  16. DXer said

    Anthrax questions

    Sunday, March 21, 2010
    The U.S. Senate must help America get to the bottom of the post-9/11 anthrax attacks.

    The FBI hasn’t produced convincing answers. It had to pay damages to former government scientist Dr. Steven Hatfill for wrongly labeling him a “person of interest.”

    It can’t convict the government scientist it now blames, Dr. Bruce Ivins, because he took his own life amid FBI hounding.

    And a National Academy of Sciences review of FBI scientific evidence, which the FBI itself ordered, isn’t finished.

    Yet the Obama Justice Department says it’s a closed case.

    As Cliff Kincaid of America’s Survival Inc. ( notes, the FBI seems hellbent on exonerating al-Qaida. And left-leaning mainstream media have focused on domestic, preferably right-wing suspects — despite evidence that al-Qaida strove to add anthrax to its arsenal.

    So the Senate must follow the House’s lead and require the intelligence inspector general to determine whether credible evidence exists of a link between a foreign entity and the anthrax attacks.

    Mr. Kincaid chillingly points out that the FBI’s handling of the case raises doubts about both its own practices and U.S. readiness for biological terror attacks. Without solid answers about the anthrax attacks, those doubts will only grow.

  17. Ike Solem said

    A complete timeline of statements by government officials and media figures linking Saddam and/or Al Qaeda to the anthrax letter attacks would make for interesting reading… but would be rather long.

    Unfortunately, due to the prior abuse of “intelligence estimates” for essentially political purposes, the boy-who-cried-wolf had lost much credibility – so if the FBI says that there’s a real risk that Al Qaeda might get sophisticated bioweapons, based on their claim that the Daschle anthrax was made using simple and widely available technology (fermenters + silicon foam + lyophilizers?) – a completely unsubstantiated claim – well, it’s hard to believe.

    The real story might be this:

    Threat Inflation and the Failure of the Marketplace of Ideas: The Selling of the Iraq War – Chaim Kaufmann – (2004)
    MIT Press, International Security – Volume 29, Number 1, Summer 2004, pp. 5-48

    “Mature democracies such as the United States are generally believed to be better at making foreign policy than other regime types. Especially, the strong civic institutions and robust marketplaces of ideas in mature democracies are thought to substantially protect them from severe threat inflation and “myths of empire” that could promote excessively risky foreign policy adventures and wars. The marketplace of ideas helps to weed out unfounded, mendacious, or self-serving foreign policy arguments because their proponents cannot avoid wide-ranging debate in which their reasoning and evidence are subject to public scrutiny.”

    “The marketplace of ideas, however, failed to fulfill this function in the 2002-03 U.S. foreign policy debate over going to war with Iraq. By now there is broad agreement among U.S. foreign policy experts, as well as much of the American public and the international community, that the threat assessments that President George W. Bush and his administration used to justify the war against Iraq were greatly exaggerated, and on some dimensions wholly baseless. Postwar revelations have made clear that President Bush and top officials of his administration were…”

    • Roberto said

      My memory is that the Bush administration did not have only one justification for the war. The justification message was changed depending on who the audience was. WMD was surely the one that got the most play from the Iraq war critics in the end. The Bush administration had lost control of the message, but it didn’t matter. The was was already over – and that was the whole point.

      • Roberto said

        make that “the war was already over”

        not the was was!

      • DXer said

        The Bush Administration’s justification for war depended on them suppressing key information.

        Saddam did not have access to the know-how relating to silica in the culture medium (in which the silica was then removed through repeated centrifuging). Andrew Card’s former assistant, Ali Al-Timimi, did. He had a letter of commendation from the White House for his classified work for the Navy while at SRA.

        • Ike Solem said

          Silica in the culture media won’t give you this:

          Suddenly, he straightened his arm and heaved the contents of the jar into the air. The powder boiled out, making a small mushroom cloud, and then the simulated brain virus blasted through the branches of a dogwood tree and took off down the meadow, moving at a fast clip towards Frederick. Within seconds, the cloud started becoming transparent, and then, abruptly, it vanished. The particles seemed to be gone. It had looked like steam coming out a teapot.

          That’s the state-of-the-art in bioweapons, apparently identical to the Daschle anthrax – nothing Hatfill or Ivins could ever have produced.

          The Clear Vision anthrax bomb program managed by the CIA and Battelle, however, created just such material, didn’t it?

  18. Ike Solem said

    Here’s an interesting blurb from the Oct 25, 2001:


    Security experts in Germany are investigating whether hijack suspect Mohammed Atta carried anthrax spores allegedly obtained from Iraqi agents to the United States…

    This story was likely floated in an effort to link Atta to the anthrax attacks.

    Germany’s Bild daily cited unnamed Israeli intelligence sources as saying Atta, who is suspected of flying a plane that crashed into the World Trade Center, received anthrax spores from Iraqi agents during two visits to the Czech Republic.

    What was their rationale for this story?

    The anthrax spores that contaminated the air in a Senate office building had been treated with a chemical additive so sophisticated that only Iraq, the former Soviet Union and the United States are thought to have been capable of making it, the Washington Post reported on Thursday.

    Amazing, how this story has been revised – the claims of “media culture sourced silica” are particularly ridiculous when it comes to explaining the contaminating power of the Leahy-Daschle material. Here’s the original tale, again:

    The Post, quoting sources and experts close to the investigation, said those three nations were the only countries known to have developed the kind of additives that allow anthrax spores to remain suspended in the air and thus become more easily inhaled and more deadly.

    Soon afterwards, the AFIP X-ray analysis of the powder revealed the large silica peak and the absence of bentonite (used in Iraqi programs), which, together with the Ames strain identification, ruled out Iraq as the source.

    So, what’s the most plausible explanation?

    Someone wanted to start a bioterrorism panic in the U.S. and blame it on Iraq, or rather on an Iraq-Al Qaeda alliance. This person(s) also had access to anthrax powders produced as part of the CIA/DIA-lead “biological threat assessment” program.

    They mailed the first set of letters on 9/18, expecting a panic – but the letters were ignored or thrown away, and only one person got sick.

    Then, on Oct 9, they mailed a second set of letters. Apparently, there were two separate grades of anthrax powder – and the 10/9 letters contained the “fine fluffy” stuff, which is why they contaminated mail processing centers and entire office buildings, despite the small amounts.

    This second letter succeeded in sparking a massive panic, so no further letters were sent. The deaths were merely incidental.

    Was it government officials with access to bioweapons technology, or pharmaceutical officials with the same access, or a “lone nut” who somehow managed to steal the material produced without getting caught?

    What other options are there? No one made this stuff in their basement, after all.

    • DXer said

      ” the claims of “media culture sourced silica” are particularly ridiculous”

      Hi Ike,

      What experts do you rely upon? The press I’m reading (Science) and conversations I’m having is that all the experts now credit this. But to see if I’m mistaken, what experts are the experts you rely on?

  19. DXer said

    Consider the claim this week that cyberattacks are an ‘existential threat’ to the US.

    Doesn’t that weigh in favor of demonstrating competence in matters relating to computers?

    If it takes 2 years for USAMRIID/the DOJ to upload a stack of emails, does that inspire confidence relating to the ability to defend against threat by a determined enemy (whether a cyber attack or a bioattack)?

    The USAMRIID Reading Room is not working. It is where a few weeks of email messages are uploaded every few weeks — rather than providing the 7 years of emails as required by law in a room for inspection and copying whereupon they could then be uploaded overnight by any hobbyist or volunteer.

    The message reads:

    “An Exception Error has Occurred
    We are very sorry, but a technical problem prevents us from displaying this page. Our staff will correct this issue as soon as possible. Please try again shortly. Thank you.”

    John Dillinger once said that the FBI has to protect all banks — he only has to rob one. So the FBI clearly faces a daunting challenge.

    But wasn’t one important part of the response to the cyber threat to demonstrate in its public face competence in matters relating to computers?

    Cyberattacks are ‘existential threat’ to U.S., FBI says

    FBI official warns about increasing cyber-sophistication of rogue states, criminals

    By Patrick Thibodeau
    March 24, 2010 06:00 AM ET

    Computerworld – WASHINGTON – A top FBI official warned today that many cyber-adversaries of the U.S. have the ability to access virtually any computer system, posing a risk that’s so great it could “challenge our country’s very existence.”

  20. DXer said

    A March 19th briefing at the US Capitol brought together a panel of experts to discuss the threat of biological weapons. The briefing, titled “Deterring Biological Threats”, was hosted by the Center for a New American Security (CNAS) and focused heavily on the historical records of the destructive potential of the Cold War bioweapons programs in the US and the USSR. With more modern threats, such as Al Qaeda’s well-documented search for Anthrax, the amount of interest in biological attacks appears to be increasing. The means of actually deterring and preventing these biological threats remain less clear.

    The session opened with taped comments from Bill Patrick III, one of the last surviving members of the former US offensive bioweapons program, which was discontinued by President Nixon in 1969. Patrick, who worked on the program from 1951 through its closing, described tests conducted by the US Army to assess the viability of biological weapons. Using relatively less dangerous bacteria that are transmitted in the same way that Anthrax is, the army conducted tests in US cities that showed the potential for hundreds of thousands of infections from an attack, and significant deaths even before spread of an infection beyond people who were exposed to the initial attack.

    Washington Post contributing editor David Hoffman followed up this presentation, discussing the Soviet bioweapons program during the years after the approval of theBiological and Toxin Weapons Convention, which entered force in 1975. Hoffman described his research on the covert offensive weapons program, which continued under the guise of a civilian agency, Biopreparat. The program produced the capacity to manufacture massive quantities of Anthrax and Smallpox. Though there is limited objective evidence assessing Soviet ability to deliver these weapons, the philosophy appears to have been to follow up nuclear attacks with biological and anti-crop attacks as part of a total war plan intended to leave no survivors.

    Finally, Rolf Mowatt-Larssen, a Senior Fellow at Harvard’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, discussed his recent report on Al Qaeda’s efforts to acquire Anthrax. Though much of this story is incomplete – many of the details are still classified – the details that have emerged show organized and persistent efforts to pursue the acquisition of the disease.

    The CNAS briefing series is scheduled to continue, with the next seminar on April 16th.

    • Roberto said

      • Ike Solem said

        Rolf Mowatt-Larssen claim:

        “Another 9/11-scale operational plot managed by the al Qaeda core leadership was the development of anthrax for use in a mass casualty attack in the United States. The sophisticated anthrax project was run personally by al Qaeda deputy chief Ayman Zawahiri, in parallel to the group’s efforts to acquire a nuclear capability; anthrax was probably meant to serve as another means to achieve the same effect as using a nuclear bomb, given doubts that a nuclear option could be successfully procured. Notably, al Qaeda’s efforts to acquire a nuclear and biological weapons capability were concentrated in the years preceding September 11, 2001. Based on the timing and nature of their WMD-related activity in the 1990’s, al Qaeda probably anticipated using these means of mass destruction against targets in the US homeland in the intensified campaign they knew would follow the 9/11 attack. There is no indication that the fundamental objectives that lie behind their WMD intent have changed over time.”

        The FBI also said this:

        Al-Qaeda Still Pursuing WMD, FBI Chief Says
        Thursday, March 18, 2010

        * Email This Article
        * Print This Article
        * Print All Articles

        The terrorist organization al-Qaeda has not ceased its efforts to acquire a nuclear bomb or other unconventional weapons to use in a strike against the United States, FBI Director Robert Mueller told lawmakers yesterday (see GSN, Feb. 16).

        (Mar. 18) – Pakistani troops pass earlier this month through a cave complex once frequented by militants in northwestern Pakistan. Al-Qaeda remains intent on obtaining weapons of mass destruction, FBI chief Robert Mueller said (A. Majeed/Getty Images).

        “Al-Qaeda remains committed to its goal of conducting attacks inside the United States,” Mueller warned a House Appropriations subcommittee, according to Newsmax. “Further, al-Qaeda’s continued efforts to access chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear material pose a serious threat to the United States.”

        Mueller noted that a 2008 National Intelligence Estimate “concluded that it remains the intent of terrorist adversaries to seek the means and capability to use WMD against the United States at home and abroad.”

        He also pointed to the conclusions of the December 2008 report by the Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferation and Terrorism that “the risks are growing faster than our multilayered defenses” (see GSN, Jan. 26; Ken Timmerman, Newsmax, March 17).

        Okay, how is any of this plausible, when you have headlines like “Al Qaeda on the run?” So what if they want bioweapons, they’d probably get infected themselves if they tried to do it without major state support. Even the Iraqis, with all their secret bases and a massive army to keep them safe from prying eyes and dozens of shell companies to get supplies through – even the Iraqis didn’t come up with Daschle-grade anthrax.

        It’s a con game, I’d say – another sales pitch.

        • Ike Solem said

          P.S. The Commission Mueller refers to said this:

          “The threat assessment was based on multiple factors. There is direct evidence that terrorists are trying to acquire weapons of mass destruction and acquiring WMD fits the tactical profile of terrorists. Terrorists also have global reach and the organizational sophistication to obtain and use WMD. Finally, the opportunity to acquire and use such weapons is growing exponentially because of the global proliferation of nuclear material and biological technologies.”

          It’s not threat assessment, it’s threat inflation designed to protect the $5 billion per year in federal contracts that the anthrax letters gave rise to.

        • DXer said

          Ike asks how could a mass attack be possible because Al Qaeda is “on the run.” On the use of cropdusters, the book co-authored by Michael Osterholm and the NYT journalist gives a pre-911 explanation and physicist Richard Muller gives an explanation in MIT Technology Review some years ago and in his book due out in April 2010..

          FBI Director Mueller says that the margin of safety is shrinking, not growing.

          But to understand the particulars of the threat in August 2001, consider:

          I have no problem with Ike’s suggestion that no money be spent. (Admiral Crowe being given an interest in Bioport for doing nothing (his defense was that he didn’t have to do anything for the gift) illustrates the problem well).

          All I ask is that the government comply with FOIA, that government lawyers not mischaracterize the sources they cause to be withheld, and that people read the relevant material so they can do a better job of the true crime and intelligence analysis.

          It wouldn’t cost anything for people to spend 25 minutes reading some history and processing some facts.

          Finally, I think politics has no place in true crime analysis.

    • Ike Solem said

      “The session opened with taped comments from Bill Patrick III, one of the last surviving members of the former US offensive bioweapons program, which was discontinued by President Nixon in 1969. Patrick, who worked on the program from 1951 through its closing, described tests conducted by the US Army to assess the viability of biological weapons.”

      Interesting – I wonder if they mentioned that this guy had been allowed to remove weaponized anthrax simulant from the program that created it, and cart it around unsecured? Now, it’s no problem, because the spores were a non-infections species – cereus or something – or is it?

      Ever hear of reverse engineering? Yes, you take the powder, you analyze the composition, you try and recreate it. Think of a working model of a nuclear bomb, with the uranium replaced by iron. No problems, right?

      Here’s the excerpt from Demon in the Freezer, the interview with Patrick and Alibek:

      “[Patrick] took a paper bag out of a filing cabinet, and he pulled out a little brown glass bottle. The bottle had a black plastic cap that was screwed on tightly, and it was half full of a cream-colored, ultrafine powder. “That’s a simulant anthrax weapon,” he said. “It’s BG” – Bacillus globigii, a harmless organism related to anthrax. “Take a look at that, Ken.”
      Alibek held the bottle up and shook it. The powder turned into a cloud of smoke inside the bottle. The smoke swirled around, and the bottle went opaque.
      “Now, that is a beautiful product,” Patrick remarked.
      Alibek nodded. “It has the characteristics of a weapon.”

      Shocking, you think? It only gets better:

      “Hold on,” Patrick said abruptly, and he strode up the hill and disappeared around the corner of the garage… he returned in a few moments, carrying a a mayonnaise jar that… was half full of an extremely fine powder of a mottled, pinkish color. He explained that it too was a simulated bioweapon. The pink color in the powder was a surrogate of a weaponized brain virus called VEE, which travels easily in the air – but the powder was sterile and had no infectious material in it. He shook the jar under my face, and smoky, hazy tendrils wafted towards my nose.

      Wow! I wonder what those two materials looked like under the Sandia x-ray system – but, gosh, they weren’t tested! So silly, why would they even bother testing such things? Any silica in there?

      Now, try and do this by dumping silica foam in your culture flask, collecting the spores, and grinding down the speed-vac pellet with the equivalent of a mortar and pestle:

      Suddenly, he straightened his arm and heaved the contents of the jar into the air. The powder boiled out, making a small mushroom cloud, and then the simulated brain virus blasted through the branches of a dogwood tree and took off down the meadow, moving at a fast clip towards Frederick. Within seconds, the cloud started becoming transparent, and then, abruptly, it vanished. The particles seemed to be gone. It had looked like steam coming out a teapot.

      Yes, that’s what the “Anthrax trick” is all about, apparently:

      “See how it disappears instantly?” Patrick remarked?

      Alibek watched…”Depending on the altitude of the dispersal, some of those particles will go fifty miles.”

      A group of jet planes or drones could lay down a thousand mile long anthrax cloud that infected about everything in a fifty mile radius from that line – which is what the Soviet Biopreparat program was all about. Cheaper than nuclear weapons, but just as devastating… and if it was smallpox or plague or Ebola, or some combination of all four?

      • DXer said

        Ike wrote:

        “Interesting – I wonder if they mentioned that this guy had been allowed to remove weaponized anthrax simulant from the program that created it, and cart it around unsecured? Now, it’s no problem, because the spores were a non-infections species – cereus or something – or is it?”

        And Dr. Hatfill had simulant next to the milk carton in the refrigerator. BP was written up in the famous New Yorker article in 1999 or so. Unsound? Perhaps. But policy issues and politics is not useful in true crime analysis.

        No more useful in the particulars, than say, consideration of the policy of hazing at sororities. True crime analysis is no place for political activism.

        • DXer said

          Then Ike makes an unsupported factual claim:

          “Wow! I wonder what those two materials looked like under the Sandia x-ray system – but, gosh, they weren’t tested!”

          Ike does not know what who tested. The likelihood that they did not test BP’s simulant is near nil. See, e.g., the pictures in MICROBIAL FORENSICS (Budowie et al. ed), which you should read.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: