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

* The FBI has previously explained that it ruled out various scientists alleged to have connections to Al Qaeda and Ansar Al-Islam and/or its anthrax program. Among those who the FBI is confident could be excluded, is Najmut Tariq the “foreign-born scientist with particular expertise working with a Bacillus anthracis simulant known as Bacillus subtilis, and against whom there were allegations that s/he had connections with several individuals affiliated with the al-Qaeda and Ansar al-Islam terrorist networks”? Or is that someone else?

Posted by Lew Weinstein on April 28, 2011

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8 Responses to “* The FBI has previously explained that it ruled out various scientists alleged to have connections to Al Qaeda and Ansar Al-Islam and/or its anthrax program. Among those who the FBI is confident could be excluded, is Najmut Tariq the “foreign-born scientist with particular expertise working with a Bacillus anthracis simulant known as Bacillus subtilis, and against whom there were allegations that s/he had connections with several individuals affiliated with the al-Qaeda and Ansar al-Islam terrorist networks”? Or is that someone else?”

  1. DXer said

    The FBI should supplement its production in Amerithrax under FOIA.

    As a general rule of thumb, it is almost always possible to be more complete in the production of documents — even while fully crediting that the party was acting in the utmost good faith.

    http://www.ocregister.com/news/documents-298500-fbi-government.html
    Published: April 29, 2011

    Judge: FBI lied, but documents about Muslims stay secret

    By SALVADOR HERNANDEZ
    THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER

    SANTA ANA – Documents connected to surveillance of several Islamic organizations and Muslim leaders will not be released, but a federal judge strongly rebuked the government for lying about the existence of the documents to the federal court.

    Government officials fighting the release of the documents argued it lied about the documents to not compromise national security, but in a decision issued Wednesday, Judge Cormac J. Carney said, “the Government’s argument is untenable.

    “The Government cannot, under any circumstances, affirmatively mislead the Court,” he stated. “The Government’s representations were then, and remain today, blatantly false.”

    Cormac’s decision revolves around a five-year battle between six Islamic organizations and five leaders in the Muslim community, who issued a public records request with the FBI in 2006. The request was issued on behalf of the Islamic Shura Council of Southern California, Council on American Islamic Relations, Islamic Center of San Gabriel Valley, Islamic Center of Hawthorne, West Coast Islamic Center and Human Assistance and Development International. The request was issued on suspicions that the FBI was engaging on illegal surveillance of Muslim communities.

    A year after the request was submitted, the FBI released a total of four pages to the plaintiffs.

    After a suit was filed, the FBI stated it had then identified 120 pages of redacted pages.

    It was when the judge asked to review the FBI’s documents, to determine whether the redactions were proper, that the FBI revealed it had misled the organizations who filed the suit – and the court – about the existence of several other documents because of national security.

    Federal government officials also argued that disclosing the fact they had lied about the documents would also compromise national security. The judge disagreed.

    “The Court is convinced that what the Government did here was wrong,” Cormac wrote in the decision.

    • DXer said

      The use of deception is fascinating. For example, in this case described in an article, the FBI agents told a man (who had hired someone to kill his wife) told the man that his wife had been killed to judge his reaction.

      http://www.spokesman.com/stories/2011/apr/29/steeles-wife-says-shes-not-surprised-emails/

      “He [her murderous husband] was setting up a ruse the same way the FBI agents did with my husband’s arrest,” she said, referring to that fact that before investigators arrested Steele on June 11, they told him his wife had been killed to gauge his reaction.

      In Amerithrax, Dr. Heine says that the USG lied to Ivins and falsely told him that Dr. Heine had implicated him in the murders, throwing him into a rage. (Then, as we’ve seen, the rage has been used as evidence of his guilt).

      Personally, I think FBI agents and DOJ prosecutors should never speak anything other than the truth except when strict protocols are followed in undercover operations.

      And lying or misleading a federal district court is always unacceptable — ask any federal district court judge.

      Note: Use of deception in interrogation has been upheld by the US Supreme Court.

  2. DXer said

    No. That subtilis expert who the FBI is confident could be excluded is someone else. That is a NYC scientist from whose dorm room calls allegedly were made after WTC 1993 to a Pakistan charity by a WTC 1993 bomber (to Dr. Ayman / KSM), reporting on WTC 1993. Walied Al-Sammarai. The telephone records were published nearly 10 years ago, I think, in Laurie M’s book on WTC 1993. The alleged call was made not by the student (later biodefense/aerosol/ subtilis expert) but by the WTC 1993 participant. This is not classified information — or at least it has long been in the public domain. (Similarly, note that reference to Najmut Tariq was released in unclassified hearing transcript uploaded by the New York Times and so there is no need for government employees to avert their eyes.)

    Laurie M’s suggestion that there was a connection to Saddam IMO was always misconceived. (As I recall, a former head of the CIA shared the theory; I can appreciate the concern but it sells Dr. Ayman’s motivations short.). Dr. Ayman was motivated to retaliate for the rendering and alleged mistreatment of senior Egyptian Islamic Jihad leaders, to include Blind Sheik Abdel-Rahman. (See Zubaydah’s Detainee Assessment to see the importance of Shaikh Abdel-Rahman’s detention to him also).

    Ansar Al-Islam was founded by four members of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad sent by EIJ leadership. It was formed out of an amalgamation of local groups. Dr. Ayman was always the master strategist involved in infiltrating US biodefense. The fact that Saddam in turn allegedly had penetrated that Ansar Al-Islam group with his own spy can at the same be true but beside the point — anthrax was always a Dr. Ayman / Atef / Green Team (led by Saif Adel) production.

    Who does Dr. Al-Sammarai think is responsible for the Fall 2001 anthrax mailings? Does he agree Dr. Ivins was responsible based on the psychological profiling of the psychiatrists and postal inspectors? Did Walied know Najmut Tariq?

    The WTC 1993 connection was relevant in that it led to Dr. Ayman and KSM who as it turns out were key to Al Qaea’s anthrax 8 years later. And so if the reporting call after WTC 1993 was in fact made from that dorm room owned by the NYC biodefense / subtilis expert, and the phone bill has been published, it certainly is a lead that we can be glad that the postal inspector and his consulting profilers — who were so moved by Dr. Ivins’ semen stained panties — were able to exclude.

    There is some cause for concern when you hear about the rotation of FBI agents. It is not possible for people to be expert in all things. So just as an FBI agent newly assigned to cyber terrorism cannot suddenly be expected to be operating at the level of NCIS’s Magee (on the TV show), a medical school professor faced with a question of intelligence analysis may have had his training in a field that is not particularly suited to the task (especially when important information has been withheld from him in a highly compartmentalized investigation).

    Who knew who was always the more important question in the intelligence analysis. The question presented, given Dr. Ayman’s plan to infiltrate US biodefense using the cover of universities and charities was always: Who did Dr. Ayman and his colleagues know to recruit?

    • DXer said

      Before the anthrax mailings, lead anthrax planner Mohammed Atef met with Mamdouh Habib for dinner. An Egyptian, Mr. Habib had lived in Australia and was widely travelled. He was suspected of being a money courier. Mr. Habib visited Brooklyn, NY, just prior to the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. He befriended co-conspirator Ibrahim El-Gabrowny, a WTC plotter and the cousin of Nosair, the bodyguard of the blind sheik who assassinated radical rabbi Kehane. Mr. Habib has been linked to the September 11, 2001 hijackers, Al Qaeda, Lashkar-e-Tayiba of Pakistan, and Al Gamma Al Islamia of Australia, the German 9/11 cell and conspirators in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.

      He had foreknowledge of 9/11 — he says he had overheard some men talking about it – and called his wife to ask if it was on the news yet.

      Mr. Habib can be asked by reporters: what did he and anthrax planner Mohammed Atef talk about over dinner?

      Abu Hafs, the lead anthrax planner (before his death), approved Mr. Habib’s request to move his family to Afghanistan. But then suggested that Mr. Habib might want to leave Afghanistan before the bombing started.

      Mr. Habib attended Nosair’s trial in NYC back in the 1990s. Nosair was the blind sheik’s bodyguard who assassinated radical rabbi Kehane. As I recall, the blind sheik’s lawyer, Montasser Al-Zayat, helped at the trial as an attorney.

      Attorney Al-Zayat announced in Spring 1999 that Dr. Ayman was going to use anthrax to retaliate against the rendering of senior Egyptian Islamic Jihad leaders, including the Blind Sheik.

      Mr. Habib presumably knows famed attorney Al-Zayat, as so many do. Who does Attorney Zayat think is responsible for the anthrax mailings? Who does Mr. Habib think is responsible for the anthrax mailings?

      Did the NYC subtilis / aerosol scientist know Mr. Habib? Did the NYC subtilis / aerosol scientist know Montasser Al-Zayat, the blind sheik’s lawyer who explained that Dr. Ayman was going to use anthrax against US targets? Did the NYC subtilis / aerosol scientist know Mr. Habib or know any of the WTC 1993 plotters?

      After Dr. Ayman attacks the United States in a mass anthrax attack — as the USG says is his plan — will in hindsight it seem sufficient that the FBI closed the case without knowing the what, how, or why of the anthrax mailings?

      What good will a Congressional investigation do after such an attack?

      Isn ‘t the time to figure out the what and why of the anthrax mailings now — rather than after Dr. Ayman’s and Sufaat anthrax attack? (or didn’t they tell you that Sufaat is back on the job). (They also neglected to mention that they released biology student Jdey; Jdey had biology textbooks and Zacarias Moussaoui had cropduster manuals).

      The FBI has not even set up a number for the FOIA request for the lab notes that would show what Dr. Ivins was doing on the nights that AUSA Kenneth Kohl and AUSA Rachel Lieber speculate Dr. Ivins was making powderized anthrax.

      Producing those documents is not a priority for the United States government employees in charge of keeping the country safe.

    • DXer said

      Respectfully, LM’s focus on the possible lead was misguided. The call at issue was to a Pakistan charity. Saddam was not at that Pakistan charity. KSM was — wasn’t he? For Rachel and Ken not to address the extent of testing for the genetically distinct subtilis rendered their summary of the investigation to be seriously incomplete. Given that “Waly Samar” is an expert at subtilis.

      Wasn’t the person who upon Atef’s death was put in charge of AQ’s anthrax program the one who took that call?

      “On February 2, 1993, a new number appeared on the Trade Center bombing telephone records. The phone belonged to a dormitory room at New York’s Hunter College and it was listed under the name [“Waly Samar”]. It appeared only on Abdul Rahman Yasin’s records, and it was called frequently from Yasin’s apartment throughout the month of February and into early March.

      Most notably, on February 28, two days after the Trade center bombing, a call was placed from [“Waly Samar’s”] dormitorv room to a number in Islamabad and billed to Yasin. The call was to the Saudi Red Crescent, and it lasted ninety-five minutes. It was made at 12:45 P.M. local time, when it would have been 10:45 P.M. in Pakistan-not an hour when people are usually in an office. That is a sign of intelligence “tradecraft.” One cannot tell who took that call, just as one cannot tell who made it.

      Long phone calls are significant, as a deputy to the defense attache at the Israeli Embassy in Washington advised me. He looked at these phone records and pointed out the ninety-five-minute call. He suggested that it was likely to have been a reporting call about the Trade Center bombing.

      In the days after the bombing, “Waly Samar’s” dormitory room was practically the only toll number called from the Yasin apartment (for calls billed to the Yasin apartment, see chart 13-1). As the phone records indicate:

      No toll calls were made from the Yasin apartment on February 26, the day of the bombing.
      On February 27, Yasin’s apartment called Mahmud Abu Halima once and “Waly Samar” twice. Several overseas calls were placed from “Waly Samar’s” dormitory room and charged to Yasin’s number, including calls to two numbers in Baghdad and one in Islamabad- the office of the Saudi Red Crescent.
      On February 28, the Yasin apartment made one call to Nidal Ayyad and one to an apartment unrelated to the bombing. A long call- ninety-five minutes- to the same Islamabad number, the Saudi Red Crescent, was placed from “Waly Samar’s” dormitory room and charged to Yasin’s number.
      On March 1, the Yasin apartment called “Waly Samar” three times, the only toll calls that day.
      On March 2, the Yasin apartment called “Waly Samar” two times, the only toll calls that day.
      On March 3, the Yasin apartment called “Waly Samar” three times, the only toll calls that day.
      On the morning of March 4, Salameh was arrested. His arrest was announced on national television at the end of a noontime press conference. At 12:36 P.M., the first of four calls was made that day from Yasin’s apartment to “Waly Samar.”

      Around 2:00 P.M., police sealed off the block in preparation for a search of 34 Kensington Avenue. The Yasin apartment made its last toll call that afternoon at 2:46 pm- to “Waly Samar.” The occupants, including Abdul Rahman and his mother, were taken away by the FBI for questioning. Musab was at school. When he arrived home, he found FBI agents searching his apartment and he, too, was taken to the FBI office in Newark.

      The telephone records clearly suggest that the Hunter College dormitory room is of special interest. Who occupied that room and made the very long call to Islamabad that seems to have been a reporting call? Why did the Yasin apartment call that dormitory room so often in the days after the bombing?

      The answers to these questions are not known. But there certainly appears to be at least one individual who was involved in the plot who has not been identified. Moreover, not everyone can rent a room at the Hunter College dormitory. Only full-time students at Hunter College can do so.

      An individual who was a student at Hunter College appears with some frequency on the conspirators’ telephone records, and he did some suspicious things with his own phone as well. Was that student involved in renting that room? If so, did he know to what purpose it would be put? That is a particularly relevant question because of his field of expertise: he is a microbiologist. An individual with a knowledge of microbiology would be particularly useful for any party that sought to carry out a biological terrorist attack.

      In hopes of stimulating a more thorough investigation, I gave my analysis of the Trade Center bombing telephone records to an official at the New York district attorney’s office. The official was impressed by the telephone analysis and did investigate the Hunter College student. But he came to the conclusion that he could do nothing; he pronounced it “frustrating.” 12 (emphasis added)

      12. Official at the Office of the District Attorney of New York, to author. The analysis of the telephone records was given to the official by this author on January 13, 1995. We discussed the matter several times subsequently, until June, when he reached the conclusion that he could do nothing.

      • DXer said

      • DXer said

        Eric Holder, wanted to indict KSM, who was alleged in the indctment to be involved in anthrax planning, in this case involving the WTC bombing.

        One of the exhibits detailed the calls made involving the subtilis expert who was getting his masters in microbiology at the time at Hunter College.

        I have marked with an asterisk the one I suggest was to KSM. How does subtilis expert “Waly Samar” explain the calls?

        Were Dr. Ayman and KSM at the International Red Crescent on February 28? (Dr. Ayman went to Afghanistan as an employee of that charity).

        Chart 13-1

        Log of Telephone Calls Billed to the

        Yasin Apartment after the bombing

        February 26: Friday (date of the World Trade Center bombing)

        No calls

        February 27: Saturday

        10:11 A.M. Mahmud Abu Halima, 1 min.

        11:05 Waly Samar, 5 min.

        11:18 From Waly Samar to Baghdad, Iraq, 5 mm.

        11:24 From Waly Samar to Leeds, U.K, 1 min.

        11:34 From Waly Samar to Islamabad, Pakistan, 36 min.

        12:13 P.M. Waly Samar, 2 min.

        12:34 From Waly Samar to Baghdad, Iraq, 45 min.

        3:31 From Waly Samar to Baghdad, Iraq, 24 min.

        4:45 Waly Samar, 4 min.

        February 28: Sunday

        12:08 P.M. Nidal Ayyad, 3 min.

        *******************12:46 From Waly Samar to Islamabad, Pakistan, 95 min.**********************

        8:49 Zainab Mahmod, Brooklyn, NY., 2 min.

        March 1: Monday

        11:51 A.M. Waly Samar, 1 min.

        12:24 P.M. Waly Samar, 1 min.

        1:00 Waly Samar, 4 min.

        March 2: Tuesday

        5:20 P.M. Waly Samar, 1 min.

        10:55 Waly Samar, 6 min.

        March 3: Wednesday

        11:17 A.M. Waly Samar, 1 min.

        1:17 P.M. Waly Samar, 1 min.

        5:15 Waly Samar, 1 min.

        March 4: Thursday

        12:36 P .M. Waly Samar, 1 min.

        12:59 Waly Samar, 1 min.

        1:59 Waly Samar, 1 min.

        2:46 Waly Samar. 1 min.

        10:22 Shari Bagrian, 1 min.

        10:22 Sharareh Bagherian, 1 min.

        10:23 Sharareh Bagherian, 4 min.

        10:27 Z.S. Abuasi, Rutherford, N.J., 2 min.

        NOTE: Calls listed as originating “from Waly Samar” were made from his

        dormitory room and charged to the Yasin apartment.

        SOURCE: Government Exhibit 818, United States v. Muhammad Salameh et al.

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