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

* Is the Flight 93 Hijacker discussed in the NAS report the same fellow who had the leg lesion Homeland Security biosecurity head Tara O’Toole thought consistent with anthrax?

Posted by DXer on February 18, 2011



CASE CLOSED is a novel about the FBI’s failed investigation

of the 2001 anthrax attacks


read the opening scene of CASE CLOSED …

* CASE CLOSED – opening scene … the DIA re-investigates the FBI’s failed case


* buy CASE CLOSED at amazon *



19 Responses to “* Is the Flight 93 Hijacker discussed in the NAS report the same fellow who had the leg lesion Homeland Security biosecurity head Tara O’Toole thought consistent with anthrax?”

  1. DXer said

    In his recent book, “Recounting the Anthrax Attacks,” former FBI Agent Scott Decker discusses Morgano’s skin lesion (p. 54) and Huden’s lesion (p. 56). But where does he discuss Al-Haznawi’s lesion?

  2. DXer said

    “Disease Detectives” trailer (aired last night)

  3. DXer said

    Memo on Florida upsets anthrax case

    WASHINGTON, The Washington Post
    March 30, 2002, 12:00

    Since the contents of the memo became public last week, that conclusion has been endorsed by D.A. Henderson, the top bioterrorism official at the Department of Health and Human Services,

  4. DXer said

    Journal of Forensic Sciences, November 2014, Vol. 59, No. 6.

    Elimination of Bioweapons Agents from Forensic Samples During Extraction of Human DNA*,†

    Jason Timbers,1,2 M.Sc.; Della Wilkinson,2 Ph.D.; Christine C. Hause,3 M.Sc.; Myron L. Smith,4 Ph.D.; Mohsin A. Zaidi,5 Ph.D.; Denis Laframboise,3 B.Sc.; and Kathryn E. Wright,1 Ph.D.

    ABSTRACT: Collection of DNA for genetic profiling is a powerful means for the identification of individuals responsible for crimes and terrorist acts. Biologic hazards, such as bacteria, endospores, toxins, and viruses, could contaminate sites of terrorist activities and thus could be present in samples collected for profiling. The fate of these hazards during DNA isolation has not been thoroughly examined. Our goals were to determine whether the DNA extraction process used by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police eliminates or neutralizes these agents and if not, to establish methods that render samples safe without compromising the human DNA. Our results show that bacteria, viruses, and toxins were reduced to undetectable levels during DNA extraction, but endospores remained viable. Filtration of samples after DNA isolation eliminated viable spores from the samples but left DNA intact. We also demonstrated that contamination of samples with some bacteria, endospores, and toxins for longer than 1 h compromised the ability to complete genetic profiling.

    The standard method used by the RCMP for extraction of human DNA from forensic samples renders samples contami- nated with SEB, ricin, and viable vegetative bacteria safe for handling without high containment conditions. The same proce- dure significantly reduced the amounts of viruses and botulinum toxin, but our assays were not adequately sensitive to conclude total loss of these agents. Similarly, the RCMP extraction method did not fully inactivate bacterial endospores, but filtra- tion of samples through a 0.22-lm filter either before or after DNA extraction removed detectable viable spores without affect- ing the completion of STR profiling. Such filtration will not remove toxins and viruses. Thus, when forensic samples are col- lected from sites that are potentially contaminated with biowea- pons agents, they should be handled and analyzed under containment conditions until further testing can identify addi- tional decontamination steps that would render samples safe.

    [Correction added on 25 October 2014, after first online publication 28 July 2014: Tables 1–4 were corrected.]
    1Department of Biochemistry, Microbiology and Immunology, University of Ottawa, 451 Smyth Road, Ottawa, ON K1B 8M5, Canada.
    2Forensic Sciences Identification Services, Royal Canadian Mounted Police, 1200 Vanier Parkway, Ottawa, ON K1A 0R2, Canada.
    3Public Health Agency of Canada, Building #6, Tunney’s Pasteur, 100 L’Eglatine, Ottawa, ON K1A 0K9, Canada.
    4Department of Biology, Carleton University, 205 Nesbitt Building, Ottawa, ON K1S 5B6, Canada.
    5Central Pennsylvania Laboratory for Biofuels, Penn State Harrisburg, 777 West Harrisburg Pike, Middletown, PA 17057.
    *Presented at the 20th International Symposium on the Forensic Sciences of the Australian and New Zealand Forensic Science Society (ANZFSS), September 5–9, 2010, in Sydney, Australia.
    †Co-funded by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Defense Research and Development Canada Centre for Security Science.
    Received 20 Dec. 2012; and in revised form 7 Oct. 2013; accepted 26 Oct. 2013.

  5. DXer said

    One of the surest indications that Graeme MacQuean is unable to address the merits (or is unaware of the facts) is when he discusses the leg lesion without acknowledging that the hijacker with the lesion had just come from Kandahar, where Yazid Sufaat’s anthrax lab was located.

    US citizen Khalil Deek financed the anthrax program at Darunta, according to Harun al-Afghani, who helped Yazid Sufaat set up the laboratory in Kandahar
    Posted by Lew Weinstein on May 6, 2011

    Mohammed Ahmad Rabbani was one of two who Khalid Mohammed (KSM) used to help Atef and Sufaat moving a roomful of crates purchased in Pakistan to Kandahar for the Al Qaeda anthrax program. KSM’s assistance had been sought by Abu Harith al-Masri.
    Posted by Lew Weinstein on May 6, 2011

    GAO: What strain of anthrax was this anthrax powder reportedly in possession of detainee who had been in Kandahar?
    Posted on June 10, 2012

    Am J Trop Med Hyg. 2014 Sep;91(3):574-6. doi: 10.4269/ajtmh.13-0633. Epub 2014 Jul 7.
    Molecular characterization of Bacillus anthracis directly from patients’ eschar and beef in an anthrax outbreak in Jiangsu Province, China, 2012.
    Tan Z1, Qi X1, Gu L1, Bao C1, Tang F1, Zhu Y2.
    Author information

    An outbreak of anthrax was reported in Lianyungang, Jiangsu Province, China in 2012. Laboratory confirmation of cases was made by detection of Bacillus anthracis genes rpoB, pagA, and cap using real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR); source tracking was conducted by multiple locus variable-number tandem-repeat analysis (MLVA) and pagA sequencing using DNA extracted from case specimens and meat from a suspected slaughtered cow. The genotypes were MLVA type 57 and pagA genotype I. Combined with the field epidemiological data, the four cutaneous anthrax cases most likely were caused by butchering of the sick cow.

  6. DXer said

    The GAO has a lot of complex subsidiary questions to answer in this complex tasking.

    The simplest answer to this narrow question above is “yes.” The Flight 93 Hijacker discussed in the NAS report — whose remains tested positive for anthrax — is the same fellow who had the leg lesion Homeland Security biosecurity head Tara O’Toole thought consistent with anthrax.

    Now the GAO has the unenviable task of addressing the scientific uncertainty related to many such sub-questions.

  7. DXer said

    Adv Emerg Nurs J. 2014 Jul-Sep;36(3):226-38. doi: 10.1097/TME.0000000000000029.
    Being prepared: bioterrorism and mass prophylaxis: part I.
    Weant KA1, Bailey AM, Fleishaker EL, Justice SB.


    Although the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention utilizes surveillance systems to identify illnesses, the weight of diagnosing, effectively treating, and notifying the appropriate public health officials lies squarely on the shoulders of emergency care personnel. Part I of this two-part review will focus on the clinical presentation and treatment of anthrax, plague, and tularemia.

  8. DXer said

    The Leader of the Smallpox Eradication Effort Speaks About the Virus’ Rediscovery
    • 07.14.14 |

    Maryn McKenna: Were you surprised at the find?

    D.A. Henderson: Yes, in a way, I was. At the time, we thought we had the virus properly corralled in (Novosibirsk and Atlanta), and had affidavits from each of the remaining countries saying that they did not have any. They searched their laboratories and could find no evidence of smallpox.

    But I think if one knows the practice of virologists, microbiologists, it’s very common for them to get an isolate, put it into some sort of container, freeze it. Having been a dean, I know. Some of the containers will have lost their labels, and some have not been looked at for a very long time. So we had to face the fact that there’s no way that we’re going to be absolutely certain that there was no smallpox anywhere, no matter what we did.

    MM: This is not the first time this has happened, right? I have heard once in California, and once in London.

    DAH: Indeed. In the two instances concerned, it was a discovery of great embarrassment. They thought they did not have smallpox virus, and they discovered it and promptly autoclaved it. It was something that really never went in the papers. The scenario that I just gave you, about people putting things in deep freezers and forgetting them, that is the same thing that happened in London and in California.


    D.A. Henderson endorsed the conclusion about the leg lesion of the hijacker who had a black lesion where he says he had gashed his leg. The hijacker had just come from Kandahar where Yazid Sufaat had his anthrax lab as of May 2001.

    In correspondence wiht me, Al Qaeda anthrax lab director Yazid Sufaat does not deny responsibility for the Fall 2001 anthrax mailings.

    An awful lot of people are betting their careers on rash assumptions that no one has anything hidden away in the closet.

    My friend at scrabble this month was in the hospital recently for 15 days — he had cellulitis from a bacteria that entered an open wound on his leg. I explained that while the doctors had diagnosed it as cellulitis, he shouldn’t rule out a brain-eating amoeba. ; )


    Memo on Florida upsets anthrax case

    WASHINGTON, The Washington Post
    March 30, 2002, 12:00

    In January, outside of formal channels, an FBI official asked biodefense experts at Johns Hopkins University to examine a curious lead in the federal government’s investigation into last fall’s anthrax attacks.

    The experts were to evaluate the diagnosis of a Fort Lauderdale, Florida, emergency room physician who’d treated one of the Sept. 11 hijackers last June. The physician, Christos Tsonas, initially thought the man had a minor infection, but after the wave of bioterrorist attacks he told the FBI that, in retrospect, he now believed the black lesion on the suspected hijacker’s lower left leg was consistent with the skin form of anthrax.

    The FBI official told the Hopkins experts, Tara O’Toole and Thomas Inglesby, he was concerned the FBI hadn’t pursued the Florida case aggressively enough. The two-page memo they prepared is now circulating among senior government officials, and its findings have stirred up debate over their accuracy and the focus of the FBI’s investigation, now in its sixth month.

    O’Toole and Inglesby, who head the Hopkins Center for Civilian Biodefense Strategies, concluded that Tsonas’ diagnosis of cutaneous anthrax was “the most probable and coherent interpretation of the data available.” Since the contents of the memo became public last week, that conclusion has been endorsed by D.A. Henderson, the top bioterrorism official at the Department of Health and Human Services, and Richard Spertzel, who presided over the inspection of Iraq’s bioweapons program as part of a United Nations team.

    However, upon closer inspection, the Hopkins finding raises its own questions. The hijacker, Ahmed Ibrahim A. Al Haznawi, was examined days after he entered the United States, an indication that the infection — whatever it was — developed before his arrival. In addition, a Florida man who said he examined and treated Al Haznawi’s calf before sending him to the hospital described the injury last September as a “gash” — a description that appears to vary significantly with lesions associated with cutaneous anthrax.

    Although law enforcement officials said they haven’t ruled out anthrax as a possibility, they said there wasn’t enough information to draw a specific conclusion. That view was shared by Thomas McGovern, the leading authority on anthrax for the American Academy of Dermatology’s bioterrorism task force, who said it was “highly unlikely” for someone to contract cutaneous anthrax on his lower leg.

    McGovern said Al Haznawi’s infection — described as a one-inch black lesion with raised red edges — could have been anything from an encrusted boil to a common scrape that received improper medical attention.

    “So far there’s just no evidence there,” said one law enforcement source involved in the investigation.

    But O’Toole and Inglesby remain concerned that the FBI isn’t taking the case seriously enough. In interviews this week, both insisted that Al Haznawi’s symptoms — in an absence of pain or underlying illness such as diabetes — were in fact specific to cutaneous anthrax and “should be treated with high suspicion,” Inglesby said.

    “It would be reassuring and useful to know how investigators in the anthrax investigation have determined that this is unlikely to be anthrax,” he said.

    The debate comes as the FBI remains stymied in its efforts to trace the source of the anthrax attacks, which killed five, sickened 13 others and wreaked havoc on the federal government before stopping, abruptly, in November. If true, the findings would raise questions about the investigation’s focus on a domestic source and the FBI’s publicly stated profile of the elusive suspect: an adult male, schooled in bioweaponry, with access to the material and equipment to manufacture the lethal spores.

    The Al Haznawi memo also follows a number of other reports from South Florida suggesting possible links between the hijackers and anthrax. In October, a pharmacist in Delray Beach, just north of Fort Lauderdale, told the FBI that Mohamed Atta, the suspected leader of the Sept. 11 attacks, bought medication for his hands, both of which were red from the wrist down — a report that law enforcement officials said hasn’t been confirmed. Al Haznawi and other hijackers reportedly lived and attended flight school near the Boca Raton headquarters of American Media Inc., where the first anthrax case surfaced.

  9. DXer said

    In his new book on the Fall 2001 anthrax mailings, Vahid Majidi says “more than likely, the perpetrator(s) came into contact with aerosolized spores in committing the crime, and was probably protected against an anthrax infection by vaccination and/or antibiotics.”

    This fellow received antibiotics only after the lesion formed. He came from Kandahar where Sufaat had his anthrax lab. I presume Dr. Majidi knows that Dr. Ayman’s plan was to have the lab painted so that it could be decontaminate with insecticide and traces of the anthrax could be hidden. If Dr. Majidi had provided the documents relating to the overseas testing sought by the NAS, they could have explored this issue of decontamination.

  10. DXer said

    There is a new book describing the evidence at the scene of the Flight 93 crash site.

    Ex-FBI employee claims she saw angels guarding Flight 93 crash site as she works through PTSD

  11. DXer said

    see generally

    .Review | March 1999
    Cutaneous Manifestations of Biological Warfare and Related Threat Agents FREE
    MAJ Thomas W. McGovern, MC, USALt Col ; George W. Christopher, MC, USAFCOL ; Edward M. Eitzen, MC, USA

    From the Dermatology Service, Irwin Army Community Hospital, Fort Riley, Kan, and the Department of Dermatology, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Conn (Dr McGovern); and the Operational Medicine Division, United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, Fort Detrick, Md (Drs Christopher and Eitzen).


    The specter of biological warfare (BW) looms large in the minds of many Americans. The US government has required that emergency response teams in more than 100 American cities be trained by the year 2001 to recognize and contain a BW attack. The US military is requiring active duty soldiers to receive immunization against anthrax. Dermatologists need not feel helpless in the face of a potential BW attack. Many potential agents have cutaneous manifestations that the trained eye of a dermatologist can recognize. Through early recognition of a BW attack, dermatologists can aid public health authorities in diagnosing the cause so that preventive and containment measures can be instituted to mitigate morbidity and mortality. This article reviews bacterial, viral, and toxin threat agents and emphasizes those that would have cutaneous manifestations following an aerosol attack. We conclude with clues that can help one recognize a biological attack.

  12. DXer said

    • SALINAS-FLORES DAVID, cardiologist

    Professor Faculty of Human Medicine National University of San Marcos
    In the article: The Anthrax Attacks 10 Years Later, the authors teach it is important to learn from the lessons of the 2001 anthrax attacks, including the critical role of clinicians in surveillance (1) but they don’t mention cutaneous anthrax. Inhalation anthrax is the main clinical form in the bioterrorism scope given its high mortality, however early diagnosis (a time when treatment can be effective) (2), is rather difficult to achieve. Although the cutaneous form has low mortality rates and is thus, considered as less important in a bioterrorist attack, its diagnosis may serve as an epidemiological alert and lead, indirectly, to the early search for possible inhalation anthrax cases. Because of this, it is necessary for physicians to learn to recognize cutaneous anthrax at its early stage. Contrary to what occurs with the inhalation form, cutaneous anthrax has well defined clinical characteristics and is relatively easy to diagnose clinically, however, the early stage of cutaneous anthrax often remains undiagnosed, probably due to many reasons: a) It is a rare pathology; b) The physician associates this pathology mainly with a late- stage necrotic ulcer and; c) Absence of pain in the cutaneous lesion makes the patient recognize the cutaneous lesion late and delay seeking medical attention. These difficulties in early recognition were observed in the bioterrorism event with anthrax in the United States. In this epidemic, the first cases were not inhalation, but cutaneous (3). These first seven cutaneous cases were not diagnosed until the eighth patient died of inhalation anthrax. An infant was hospitalized with a cutaneous anthrax lesion at an early stage without being recognized as such. Even when the lesion progressed to a necrotic ulcer in the late stage, this lesion was wrongly diagnosed as loxoscelism. The infant went on to develop hemolytic anemia and required management in the intensive care unit (4). Although the patient was taken to the hospital early and high technology testing, such as PCR or nuclear MRI, was conducted, the main, most accessible and economic test, that is the clinical diagnosis, was done inadequately. Emphasis on early clinical recognition of cutaneous anthrax is highly used in anthrax endemic areas in Peru, as part of the traditional medicine knowledge developed by these communities due to the absence of physicians and it could be useful to the field of bioterrorism (5).


    1. Bush L. Perez M .The Anthrax Attacks 10 Years Later Ann Intern Med. 2011 Oct 3 (Epub ahead of print)

    2. Mc Carthy M. Early and aggressive treatment saves US antrax victims. Lancet. 2001 ; 358 : 1703

    3. Gursky E, Inglesby T, O Toole T. Anthrax 2001: observations on the medical and public health response.Biosecur Bioterror. 2003;1 : 99.

    4. Freedman A, Afonja O, Chang MW. et al. Cutaneous anthrax associated with microangiopathic hemolytic anemia and coagulopathy in a 7- month-old infant. JAMA. 2002; 287: 869-74.

    5. Salinas -Flores D. Diagnostico y Tratamiento del Antrax: Medicina Tradicional vs. Medicina Cientifica. Rev Per Enf Inf Trop. 2001;1:157- 164

  13. DXer said

    When you read the dozens of classified cables uploaded by Wikileaks (all 250,000 are now uploaded and easily searchable) you come to appreciate that there was zero reason for the FBI not to produce all the material relating to the samples relating to the overseas testing. Simple redactions of some proper nouns would have served to make it amenable to production.

    The NAS passed on getting the material given that the FBI had withheld it for two years and getting clearance at the 11th hour would have delayed issuance of report — and what volunteer wants to go through an FBI background investigation if it can be avoided.

    But the more central issue is: why should the environmental testing from years ago be classified at all?

    In terms of “gap analysis” being undertaken by the GAO, the biggest gap relates to the FBI’s ability to selectively provide documents and information — withholding the lab notebooks, the 9/17 email, withholding the mass spec on the photocopy toner, withholding the document examiner’s report identifying which letters are double-lined, etc.

  14. DXer said

    Science writer Laurie Garrett explains in I HEARD THE SIRENS SCREAM (July 18, 2001)

    “The FBI’s mysteriously withheld 641 pages of evidence did little to sway the NRC, which issued its damning and final conclusions on February 15, 2011. But there were two blockbusters revealed in those 641 pages, pointing to a possible al-Qaeda connection with the anthrax mailings.

    First, among the bodies recovered from the United Flight 93 crash site were those of Ziad Jarrah, Ahmad Al Haznawi and the two other al-Qaeda hijackers thwarted by brave passengers in their attempts to crash the jet into the White House. PCR analysis was performed in 2001 on the hijackers’ tissues, testing positive for Bacillus anthracis. The FBI thought the USAMRIID finding was due to lab contamination, and had the tests repeated at an alternative U.S. Army facility, which did not find evidence of anthrax. But the NRC scientists felt it was possible that the negative finding was the result of sampling error (the part of the body that was tested).

    This possible anthrax finding was especially interesting because Ahmad Al Haznawi was the al-Qaeda member that sought medical help in the emergency room of the Ft. Lauderdale Holy Cross Hospital on June 22, 2001. Dr. Christos Tsonas treated Al Haznawi with antibiotics for a black crusty sore on his hand, which was after 9/11 retrospectively diagnosed as a possible case of cutaneous anthrax infection.”

  15. DXer said

    With respect to the FBI DNA lab tech Jacqueline A. Blake who Dave Willman in Mirage Image notes pled guilty to fraud in 100 cases, the Office of Inspector General found that the FBI lab did not disclose to the parties submitting the evidence that she had worked on the case and that the results were invalid.

    The FBI DNA Laboratory: A Review of Protocol and Practice Vulnerabilities (May 2004)

    Click to access final.pdf

    “As of February 2004, nearly two years after Blake’s detection, of the 90 cases where Blake did not properly complete DNA testing, the FBI Laboratory had failed to provide direct, written notification to evidence contributors in 42 of those cases that Blake failed to process properly the evidence they submitted. Of this number, 20 contributors had received no notification at all concerning Blake’s processing of their evidence.3 We found that the FBI disregarded the views of the Department that written disclosures in these cases should have been completed much earlier. It also has taken nearly two years since the discovery of Blake’s wrongdoing for the Laboratory to complete DNA retesting in her cases, with the result that some of these cases have languished at the Laboratory for more than four years. 4

    Our review further revealed that FBI OGC failed to ensure that its staff attorney assigned to the Blake matter through the fall of 2002: 1) conducted a comprehensive legal analysis of the Blake situation, and 2) fully assisted the Laboratory to provide sufficient notice to evidence contributors and prosecutors.”

  16. Old Atlantic said

    He was on that flight. Haznawi had memorized the entire Quran. Thus he would be given exceptional trust by al Qaeda. He would be a logical one to carry the anthrax to the US.

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