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

* Wikileaks / Guantanamo : Doesn’t the United States know the strain of the virulent anthrax used in one or more of the Al Qaeda labs, for which Sufaat and his assistants were vaccinated, based on interrogation of the individuals? Why didn’t the FBI simply provide the NAS with the answers to its question about the strain of the anthrax based on interrogation of Yazid Sufaat or his anthrax lab assistants? Will it answer the same questions for GAO?

Posted by DXer on April 27, 2011



13 Responses to “* Wikileaks / Guantanamo : Doesn’t the United States know the strain of the virulent anthrax used in one or more of the Al Qaeda labs, for which Sufaat and his assistants were vaccinated, based on interrogation of the individuals? Why didn’t the FBI simply provide the NAS with the answers to its question about the strain of the anthrax based on interrogation of Yazid Sufaat or his anthrax lab assistants? Will it answer the same questions for GAO?”

  1. DXer said

    NAS sought clarification from the FBI about the physical relationship between the different sites that were tested. The FBI withheld the documents until the last minute and then did not provide them on the grounds that they were classified.

    • DXer said

      As I recall, someone who works for one of those agencies told me that Sufaat’s lab was near the Kandahar airport. But it is Yazid that can clarifies all these issues.

  2. DXer said

    Rbbert Gentile, sentenced today in the case reportedly motivated by an attempt to find the Isabella Gardner paintings, had a used car business CLIFFORD MOTORS in S. Windsor, Connecticut in 1992-1993.

    He was taking time off from his usual business of concrete pouring and brick masonry.

    As I stand here over this cracked concrete slab with a sledge hammer in the bright sunlight, I imagine the hard concrete will be more malleable than the impenetrable views of some who don’t realize that Yazid Sufaat was working with virulent anthrax.

    That’s why Yazid told KSM that he and his assistants were vaccinated and so it was safe to work with it. See KSM interrogation report which is online.

    • DXer said

      As you may have gathered, I am a big fan of the FBI and appreciate how difficult these mysteries can be. One of my favorite true crime challenges faced by the FBI is the Isabella Gardner mystery which will be in the news again today and tomorrow.

      There is about to be breaking news story in the Isabella Gardner case coincident with the sentencing of Robert Gentile in CT.

      In short, Robert Gentile is an old gangster who says he has “aged out” and yet has more silencers than you have eggs in your refrigerator. He was friends with Robert Guarente of Maine. Both were bodyguards for a gangster named Philly mobster Luisi who was in the business of distributing nose candy. For a time they lived together in Waltham.

      In 1992, Robert Gentile was in Maine with Robert Guarente at the location I picture here. Gentile was in the concrete business. He says he never lost a floor.

      He certainly didn’t lose the concrete slab pictured here at the location of the Guarente residence — which the FBI searched a few years ago.

      Upon going to the scene, I had posted and emphasized the soft dirt under the barn’s floor boards.

      But now instead I would focus on the concrete slab. I don’t know whether the FBI brought ground penetrating radar to that search — but I can see that they didn’t break apart the concrete slab.

  3. DXer said

    Now I appreciate that Yazid suspects in questioning that his recent arrest may simply be part of another CIA ploy. Years ago he was angry when he thought that KSM was talking about the anthrax work. KSM, however, just thought the FBI and CIA already knew about it because he saw it being posted all over the internet.

    But the ploy this time around is quite different. The CIA already knows what it needs to know about the extent of the work in Afghanistan from Yazid’s two PhD assistants. And keep in mind they had rendered Qasim, involved in procurement with Yazid, in December 2001. Then Hambali was treated poorly in Jordan in August 2003. It is only the cell operation in the US that the CIA and FBI is uncertain about. And that mainly relates to the acquisiition of Ames given the number of possibilities.

    Yazid does not know details of the cell operation in US because it was on a need-to-know basis — if Hambali was the travel agent, Yazid was the guy at the airport holding up the sign (according to Malaysian questioners in 2002). All Yazid knows is the strain that he and his assistants were using. In talking Yazid would only be describing what his two assistants have already said. And then he would be rewarded for his cooperation. While Hilmi does not know but a fraction of what Yazid’s two PhD assistants knew, Hilmi at least stands to share in the $5 million US reward (along with his mother) by starting things down the right track. Yazid’s former two assitants told all they know, in contrast, but did not collect any reward.

    In terms of Yazid and I both trying to figure out what is going on, though, he should know that I did not make these graphics. And if I didn’t, who did? CIA? FBI? Or both? (I honestly don’t know).

    I just know that there is a lot that the FBI did not share with the NAS.

    Here is some background:

    CIA’s police ploys nabbed terrorists

    By Ben Conery-The Washington Times Wednesday, August 26, 2009

    It’s a scene that has unfolded countless times in police departments all over the world: Two suspects held in separate interrogation rooms are played off each other by investigators trying to crack a case.

    Documents released this week related to the CIA’s terrorist interrogation program describe a similar scene, but one with stakes much higher than solving a burglary or car theft.

    The documents explain how CIA interrogators tricked Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, and Yazid Sufaat, a Malaysian scientist who was educated in the U.S., to reveal the details of al Qaeda’s ultimately unsuccessful plot in 2001 to unleash a deadly anthrax attack against Americans.

    Mohammed, who was captured in 2003, told CIA interrogators that he and three others had been involved in the anthrax scheme.

    “He appears to have calculated, incorrectly, that we had this information already, given that one of the three – Yazid Sufaat – had been in foreign custody for several months before [Mohammed’s] arrest for unrelated terrorist activity,” read an excerpt from a CIA report called “Khalid Sheikh Mohammed: Preeminent Source On Al-Qaeda.”

    Interrogators then confronted Sufaat with the information provided by Mohammed. The report said Sufaat reacted angrily, figuring Mohammed had betrayed him.

    “Eventually, Yazid admitted his principal role in the anthrax program and provided some fragmentary information on his, at the time, still at-large defendants,” the report stated.

    Authorities said Sufaat had critical knowledge about the plot as he had spent months hunkered down in a laboratory near an airport in Afghanistan trying to cook up a batch of anthrax.

    “But it was ultimately the information provided by [Mohammed] that led to the capture of Yazid’s two principal assistants in the anthrax program,” the report said, while not naming the two other suspects.

    Read more:

  4. DXer said

    Is there any reason the prosecutor or judge or defense counsel doesn’t ask KSM, in open court, about the strain Yazid Sufaat was using? Why should that be classified?

    Judge in Sept. 11 case at Guantanamo says only he can close hearing, not gov’t cen

  5. DXer said

    Yazid Sufaat, would you be willing to be interviewed by GAO in a Skype interview? It would be utterly fascinating.

    You and the journalist interviewing you deserve a great deal of credit for speaking to these issues.

  6. DXer said

    Does GAO now have answers to the questions that NAS attempted to get answered? If the FBI had provided the relevant documents by February 2010, the NAS could have addressed these issues. Instead, the FBI withheld the documents without justification.

    Did GAO succeed in getting any necessary security clearances?

    What BL-3 lab did Rauf visit? Did that lab have virulent Ames? What does Rauf say about his visit to the lab on his quest to obtain virulent anthrax for Dr. Ayman? Someone should call him directly and ask.

    The SFAM Director told me that Rauf attended the Porton Down conference in 1999 and 2000. DId he come to the Annapolis conference in June 2001? The conference was the annual conference for anthrax — in 1999 and 2000 it was sponsored by Porton Down and SFAM and in 2001 it was sponsored by USAMRIID and ASM. Bruce Ivins worked on the arrangements for the June 2001 conference.

    Were there three different laboratories at different times where anthrax work was done? (Dr. Ayman did plan on continually moving it every 3 months for security purposes and to have the walls wiped with insecticide).

    What does Dr. Relman say about the identity of the BL-3 lab that Rauf visited? (In addition to being co-chair of the NAS Committee reviewing the science of Amerithrax, he co-authored the wonderful article in SCIENCE on the “Perils of Scientific Openness.”

    What strain did Rauf work with while at the lab? Who is responsible for keeping this information from NAS?

    The lab should produce the formal paperwork that Rauf submitted regarding the virulent anthrax.

  7. DXer said

    What remotely about the answers to these NAS questions warranted classification all these years later?

    My take-home from reading many hundreds of Wikileaks documents is that Richard Clarke was right — most intelligence is open source.

    Why should over classification be allowed to permit FBI to selectively provide documents?

  8. DXer said

    Yazid Sufaat was recruited by Hambali for anthrax program in early 1999 as part of a compartmentalized cell operation parallel to Zawahiri’s use of Rauf Ahmad.

    Zawahiri used Rauf Ahmad (who is quite chatty) to infiltrate the Porton Down conferences attended by Bruce Ivins in his quest to obtain virulent anthrax.

    Who does Rauf Ahmad think is responsible for the 911 anthrax mailings? Why hasn’t a reporter interviewed him? (The Wash Po came close but then the Pakistan government backpedaled after initially agreeing to allow him to be interviewed).

    From Mowatt-Larsen (2010) – former top CIA analyst
    Early 1999
    Al Qaeda leader Ayman Zawahiri recruits a non-descript, mid level Pakistani government biologist
    with extremist sympathies named Rauf Ahmed to secretly develop a biological weapons
    program, including a laboratory in Kandahar, Afghanistan.21

    Early 1999
    Hambali (aka Riduan Isamuddin), the head of Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), an al Qaeda-associated
    militant Islamist group based in southwest Asia, introduces an ex-Malaysian Army Captain, Yazid
    Sufaat, to Ayman Zawahiri, to develop anthrax in a second, parallel network to Rauf Ahmed’s
    Afghanistan program. Neither network knew of the existence of the other, and each reported to Zawahiri
    independently. Assigned to different tasks, Ahmed was responsible for acquiring equipment
    and setting up labs. Sufaat, a fully trusted, hard core JI cadre member, was therefore given a more
    prominent role than the less-committed Ahmed. Sufaat was primarily focused on developing the
    anthrax pathogen and has been described as the “CEO” of al Qaeda’s anthrax program.22 Sufaat, who
    received his college degree from California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly), hosted a meeting
    of the 9/11 attackers in Kuala Lumpur in June 2001. Sufaat provided a false Malaysian address for
    Zacharias Moussaoui, who was arrested shortly before 9/11, to travel to the U.S.23

    • DXer said

      For background on Rauf Ahmad’s infiltration of western biodefense, see

      Joby Warrick, “Suspect and a Setback In al-Qaeda Anthrax Case,” The Washington Post, October 31, 2006

    • DXer said

      From Mowatt-Larsen (2010) – former top CIA analyst

      August 2001

      Ayman Zawahiri and Riduan Isamuddin (Hambali) personally inspect Rauf Ahmed’s completed
      laboratory in Kandahar.29 They separately meet with Yazid Sufaat, a member of al Qaeda’s terrorist
      network with a degree in biochemistry, who gives them a weeklong briefing on his reportedly
      successful efforts to isolate and produce a lethal strain of anthrax.

      Note: Presumably, the inspection visit was timed to occur at the last possible time before the events of
      9/11, of which both Zawahiri and Hambali were of course well aware.31

  9. DXer said

    Will GAO be able to use the Detainee Assessments in summarizing Al Qaeda’s anthrax program?

    Detainees’ Lawyers Can’t Click on Leaked Documents
    Published: April 26, 2011

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