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

* NAS: FBI believes positive finding in hijacker remains from Flight 93 was due to laboratory contamination

Posted by DXer on February 15, 2011


16 Responses to “* NAS: FBI believes positive finding in hijacker remains from Flight 93 was due to laboratory contamination”

  1. DXer said

    Proper control of samples was not a highlight of the Amerithrax investigation.

    Agent Decker’s book is odd in that it doesn’t address any of the central and most relevant forensic issues: such as the Silicon Signature or the handwriting analyses that found that Ivins probably did not write the anthrax letters. But at page 39, in the only new revelation that I recall offhand in the book, there is discussion of sampling handling I had never seen before. Richard Meyer had taken one of the anthrax letters without noticing — thinking he was only taking a sample of powder.

    The FBI was furious and an agent called Meyer:

    “You took the Brokaw letter! Why’d you take the letter?!”

    FBI or not, team leader or otherwise, Meyer was in no mood to be screamed at. “What are you talking about? No, I didn’t. I only have powder!”

    The agent persisted. “Yes, you did!”

    They hollered back and further, both men tired and each convinced the other wrong. Finally, Meyer lowered his voice as he realized the agent was not going to give up. Then Meyer began to wonder, Maybe the public health lab did make a mistake when they handed me the powder from the Brokaw letter.”

  2. DXer said

    In his recent book, Recounting the Anthrax Attacks, Scott Decker writes:

    “Rumors of the hijackers carrying improvised bombs — combined with speculation they might have had biological weapons — prompted scientists from the Department of Defense and the Secret Service to set up air-monitoring stations around the Pentagon and on the roofs of executive buildings in Washington, DC.”

    “On the receiving end of those deliveries was Dr. John Ezzell, a skilled scientist who had spent the prior five years developing methods for detecting and identifying the tiny signatures of biological weapons. Day after day, Ezell and his team analyzed the trapped dust for indications of aerosolized bioweapons, with anthrax at the top of the list.” (p. 6)

    What technician working for the FBI was responsible for the cross-contamination that the FBI says explains the finding that the hijackers’ remains tested positive for anthrax? (It wasn’t Ezzell’s lab that did that testing).

    What were the circumstances for the technician not following correct protocol?

    Or was that just a rationalization that Decker came up with to explain away the finding.

  3. DXer said

    “Disease Detectives” trailer (aired last night)

  4. DXer said

    Intelligence experts seek to identify people involved with chemical and biological weapons
    December 12, 2013
    By John Keller

    WASHINGTON, 12 Dec. 2013.U.S. government intelligence experts are asking industry to develop a rapid ability to determine if a person has been involved in handling or preparing chemical or biological weapons.
    Officials of the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Agency (IARPA) in Washington have released a solicitation (IARPA-BAA-13-04) for the first phase of the Bio-Intelligence Chips (BIC) test & measurement program to help identify people who have been involved with chemical or biological weapons.

    The Bio-Intelligence Chips Program (BIC) intends to develop new ways to test body fluids such as blood, urine, and saliva to determine if people have been handling agents involved with chemical or biological weapons production and handling. Analytics will be based on cross-correlating biomarkers in physiological fluids.

    The initial part of the program focuses on identifying signatures that could be identified as sets of biomarkers that would point to a person’s involvement in preparing or handing chemical or biological weapons.

    These biomarkers should be identifiable in a human fluid sample as small as 100 microliters — or just barely a trace. IARPA is the research arm of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

    BIC performers will identify threat signatures in sets of biomarkers that would indicate contact with chemical or biological weapons involvement. IARPA experts are interested in developing tests that within 30 minutes or less than identify even tiny traces of chemical and biological weapons preparation and handling.

    The human adaptive immune system is known to carry a long-term memory of the body‘s exposure to environmental irritants, chemical toxins, and biological antigens, IARPA researchers say. It is this long-term memory that the BIC program seeks to exploit. Immune memory can be extremely long-lived.

    IARPA experts are interested in moving technology developed in the BIC program to a portable system that could be used in the field. Primary threats of interest are viruses, bacteria, bacterial poisons, and chemical poisons.
    This solicitation involves the first two years of a potential five-year BIC program. The first phase involves identifying sets of omni-omic signatures for chemical or biological warfare threats of interest. Several contracts should be awarded for this phase.

    The BIC program is interested in genomics, transcriptomics, proteomics, metabolomics, epigenomics, microbiomics, immunomics, glycomics, and lipodomics. The best known of these omics categories is genomics, which deals with bioinformatic data developed from the analysis of DNA sequences.

    The other categories include:
    — transcriptomics, or the analysis of information derived from RNA transcription levels of expressed genes within a cell population;
    — proteomics, or the analysis of expressed proteins and their associated modifications;
    — metabolomics, or the analysis of levels of metabolites (small organic molecules, including regulatory peptides) associated with the maintenance of homeostasis;
    — epigenomics, or the study of heritable changes that are not directly encoded in DNA sequences;
    — microbiomics, or the analysis of the species, numbers, and locations of parasitic and commensal organisms, e.g., bacteria that live endosymbiotically with their hosts;
    — immunomics, or the analysis of information pertaining to changes in the immune system, particularly those associated with adaptive immunity;
    — glycomics, or the analysis of all glycan structures in an organism including the glycan’s interaction with lectins and other biomolecules; and
    — lipodomics, or the analysis of pathways and networks of cellular lipids in biological systems, including the quantification of lipids, or the analysis of their conjugates (e.g., glycans) and their interactions with proteins, metabolites and other lipids.
    Companies interested should respond no later than 29 Jan. 2014. For questions or concerns email IARPA’s Dennis Polla, the BIC program manager, at

    More information is online at

  5. DXer said

    9/11 hijacker remains still in FBI and medical examiner’s custody
    Posted on: 8:22 pm, May 10, 2013, by Alix Bryan, updated on: 08:29pm, May 10, 2013

    RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR)–As the local community reacts to the news of suspected Boston bomber Tamerlane Tsarnaev’s burial in central Virginia, CBS 6 asked if it’s protocol for suspected terrorists’ remains to be laid to rest.

    For instance, we wondered how the FBI handled the remains of the suspects in the 9/11 attacks.

    A spokesman for the FBI said that as far as his office knew, the remains of all nine of the hijackers who attacked the Pentagon and were on the plane that crashed in Pennsylvania were still at Dover Air Base.

    As for the World Trade Center attackers published reports indicate remains of four of the ten hijackers are still in the custody of the New York City medical examiner’s office.

    As far as that office and the FBI have reported, it appears no relatives have made claims for the remains of any of the 19 hijackers.

    The spokesperson said that as a result their remains could be held indefinitely.

    Technically those investigations are still open and it’s not clear whether releasing any of the remains would require specific government approval. It is not clear either why, since the Boston Marathon bombing investigation is ongoing, that there was such a rush to release Tsarnaev’s body.


    Every positive of anthrax related to the anthrax program by the 911 plotters was interpreted as due to contamination in FBI labs — even the remains of the hijacker coming from Kandahar. Kandahar was where Sufaat’s lab was, with the blackened leg lesion on his leg. Dr. Ivins steadfastly denies responsibility — Sufaat does not deny responsibility. Yet the DOJ legal beagles use his denial as if it were evidence and speciously call it a “non-denial denial.”

    But at least the FBI kept the remains so that someone who doesn’t experience so much cross-contamination in their labs can check their work and the GAO can determine who was responsible for the lab contamination.

  6. DXer said

    Edward Jay Epstein writes:

    “There was a prior possible anthrax exposure in Florida. Dr. Christos Tsonas, a doctor at the Holy Cross Hospital in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, informed the FBI after Steven’s death that two months earlier he had prescribed an antibiotic for an emergency-room patient named Ahmed Alhazanawi, who had a suspicious black lesion on his leg. At the time, Dr. Tsonas was unfamiliar with anthrax. When he was shown pictures of anthrax lesions in October 2001, he then described Alhazanawi’s lesion as “consistent with cutaneous (skin) anthrax.” Alhazanawi was a pilot, one of the four hijackers of United Airlines Flight 93 on September 11. Since he was incinerated in the crash, the FBI could not pursue this lead.”

    He was a pilot? Wasn’t he one of the muscle hijackers? He said he had gashed his leg in Kandahar — from which he had just come and which was where Sufaat at the time had his anthrax lab.

    They could not pursue the lead?

    Didn’t they pursue it and his remains tested positive for Ames anthrax? But the FBI concluding that their test was the result of lab contamination? Just as they did of the positive testing of Al Qaeda labs done at two different labs on two different occasions.

    The FBI may should do better to avoid cross-contamination in its labs — that is, if we are to credit their bias confirming conclusions (which are not supported by any documents provided to the NAS as to the circumstances or details of the cross-contamination).

  7. DXer said

    Pediatric Annals
    Volume 29, Issue 1, 2000, Pages 7-9

    Skin manifestations of bioterrorism ( Review )
    Cross J.T., Jr., Altemeier III, W.A.

    Division of Infectious Diseases, Department of Internal Medicine, Louisiana State University, Shreveport, LA, United States

    The physician must be in contact with the local public health infrastructure as soon as a potential biological agent is perceived as possible. Most states are now setting up contingency plans and means to address these issues in a systematic way. This involves using local health departments, police departments, fire departments, National Guard units, and federal agencies such as the CDC and the FBI. The key component, however, is actually identifying a biological agent in the community and then moving quickly to isolate those who may be at risk of spreading the infection.

    Indexed Keywords
    EMTREE medical terms: anthrax; biological warfare; human; physician attitude; primary medical care; rash; review; skin manifestation; smallpox; editorial; pediatrics; skin disease

    MeSH: Anthrax; Bioterrorism; Humans; Pediatrics; Physician’s Role; Skin Diseases; Smallpox
    Medline is the source for the MeSH terms of this document.

    ISSN: 00904481 CODEN: PDANBSource Type: Journal Original language: English
    PubMed ID: 10941763Document Type: Review


    Cross Jr., J.T.; Division of Infectious Diseases, Department of Internal Medicine, Louisiana State University, Shreveport, LA, United States

  8. DXer said

    Int J Legal Med. 2012 Mar 7. [Epub ahead of print]

    The Mountain Meadows Massacre and “poisoned springs”: scientific testing of the more recent, anthrax theory.

    Perego UA, Achilli A, Ekins JE, Milani L, Lari M, Pilli E, Brown A, Price EP, Wolken SR, Matthews M, Allen CA, Pearson TR, Angerhofer N, Caramelli D, Kupferschmid T, Keim PS, Woodward SR.

    Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation, 2480 South Main Street #200, Salt Lake City, UT, 84115, USA,


    It has been recorded that one of the possible causes that eventually escalated into the 1857 manslaughter at Mountain Meadows in Southern Utah was the poisoning of an open spring by the Fancher-Baker party as they crossed the Utah territory on their way from Arkansas to California. Historical accounts report that a number of cattle died, followed by human casualties from those that came in contact with the dead animals. Even after the Arkansas party departed, animals continued to perish and people were still afflicted by some unknown plague. Proctor Hancock Robison, a local 14-year-old boy, died shortly after skinning one of the “poisoned” cows. A careful review of the historical records, along with the more recent scientific literature, seems to exclude the likelihood of actual poisoning in favor of a more recent theory that would point to the bacterium Bacillus anthracis as the possible cause of human and animal deaths. In order to test this hypothesis, Proctor’s remains were exhumed, identified through mitochondrial DNA analysis, and tested for the presence of anthrax spores. Although preliminary testing of remains and soil was negative, description of the clinical conditions that affected Proctor and other individuals does not completely rule out the hypothesis of death by anthrax.


  9. DXer said

    Rule No. 117 of Keystone Kop investigations:

    If you are going to fall over yourselves, produce the documents regarding claimed contamination to the NAS at the outset of the panel’s review so that they can assess your conclusion.

  10. DXer said

    GAO: What lab was thought contaminated with Ames so as to lead to the false positive on the human remains? What was the evidence of contamination? What level of uncertainty is associated with the FBI’s determination that the positive finding was due to contamination?

  11. DXer said

    With respect to the assay at USAMRIID that gave positive results upon testing of the hijacker remains on United flight 93, who was the hijacker?

    Finally, in the new materials provided to the committee it is noted that PCR analysis was
    performed on human remains from United flight 93 on 9/11/2001 that were identified as those of
    the hijackers (B3D1). Analysis was performed at USAMRIID and at AFIP for sequences
    diagnostic of B. anthracis. One assay at USAMRIID gave positive results, but these results were
    believed by the FBI to be due to laboratory contamination. All other results were negative. As
    the committee learned at the January 2011 meeting, there were no tests done on remains from
    any of the other September 11, 2001 hijackers.

    • DXer said

      The hijacking of Flight 93 was led by Ziad Jarrah, a member of Al-Qaeda.[2] Jarrah was born in Lebanon to a wealthy family and experienced a secular upbringing.[3] He intended to become a pilot and moved to Germany in 1996, enrolling at the University of Greifswald to study German.[4] A year later, he moved to Hamburg and began studying aeronautical engineering at Hamburg University of Applied Sciences.[5] While living in Hamburg, Jarrah became a devout Muslim and associated with the radical Hamburg cell.[5][6]

      In November 1999, Jarrah left Hamburg and went to Afghanistan, where he spent three months.[7] While there, he met with Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in January 2000.[8] Jarrah returned to Hamburg at the end of January and obtained a clean passport in February by reporting his passport as stolen.[9][10]

      In May, Jarrah received a visa from the U.S. Embassy in Berlin,[11] and he arrived in Florida in June 2000. There, he began taking flying lessons as well as training in hand-to-hand combat.[12][13] Jarrah maintained contact with his girlfriend in Germany and his family in the months preceding the attacks.[14] This close contact upset Mohamed Atta, the tactical leader of the plot, and al-Qaeda planners may have considered another operative, Zacarias Moussaoui, to replace him if he backed out.[15] Soon after the attacks, Jarrah’s family asserted that he was an “innocent passenger” onboard the flight.[16]

      Three “muscle” hijackers trained to storm the cockpit and overpower the crew accompanied Jarrah on Flight 93.[17] One of them, Ahmed al-Nami, arrived in Miami, Florida, on May 28, 2001, on a six-month tourist visa with United Airlines Flight 175 hijackers Hamza al-Ghamdi and Mohand al-Shehri. Another Flight 93 hijacker, Ahmed al-Haznawi, arrived in Miami on June 8 with Flight 11 hijacker Wail al-Shehri. The third Flight 93 muscle hijacker, Saeed al-Ghamdi, arrived in Orlando, Florida, on June 27 with Flight 175 hijacker Fayez Banihammad.[12] Passports of Ziad Jarrah and Saeed al-Ghamdi were recovered from the crash site of United Airlines Flight 93.[18]


      Let’s see. Off the top of my head, I believe it was Flight 93 hijacker Ahmed al-Naznawi who had the leg lesion consistent with anthrax (according to the head of Homeland biosecurity Tara O’Toole.)

  12. Old Atlantic said

    They found anthrax in the hijackers so they stopped testing. That might have conflicted with the lone mailer theory.

  13. DXer said

    Scientists find no answer to anthrax mystery

    By Carol Cratty, CNN

    The FBI conducted a security review of the academy’s draft report in October. The FBI subsequently asked to provide the panel some additional information. That material included an analysis of environmental samples taken from “an undisclosed overseas site at which a terrorist group’s anthrax program was allegedly located.” Investigators looked at the overseas site as part of the anthrax letters investigation. The Academy of Sciences report said samples from the site had inconsistent evidence of Ames strain B anthracis and further review was recommended.

    The FBI also told the panel an analysis was done on human remains identified as belonging to 9/11 hijackers from United Flight 93, which crashed in Pennsylvania. One test came up positive for anthrax, but all other results were negative. Remains from the other 9/11 flights were not tested for anthrax.


    100+ graphics –

    • MsNeuropil said

      I have not read the whole statement from the NAS..but I was wondering what it means when they say inconsistent evidence in their world vs a forensic world?? ” The Academy of Sciences report said samples from the site had inconsistent evidence of Ames strain B anthracis and further review was recommended.”

      Does inconsistent mean that there were weak positive, or a few positive tests but were not replicable or what?? The wording intrigues me.

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