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

* Al Qaeda lab lingers in anthrax story

Posted by Lew Weinstein on October 3, 2011

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al Qaeda cave

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 By Dan Vergano, USA TODAY (10/3/11) …

  • Fears that al Qaeda had some role in the anthrax letter attacks that killed five and terrorized the U.S. 10 years ago surfaced early in the investigation.
  • “THIS IS NEXT. TAKE PENACILIN NOW. DEATH TO AMERICA. DEATH TO ISRAEL. ALLAH IS GREAT,” read the anthrax-laden letter sent to NBC newsman Tom Brokaw on Sept 18, 2001, at the start of the attacks.
  •  Those messages likely contributed to one of the more curious endeavors of the nine-year “Amerithrax” investigation into the anthrax murders, the retrieval of a suspected terrorist lab, right down to the pipes of the kitchen sink.
  • “While it is undoubtedly true that al Qaeda was seeking to establish an offensive bioweapons program in 2001, Task Force agents were unable to find any link between al Qaeda and the letter attacks in the United States, or even that, at the time of the attacks, any al Qaeda operatives had access to the type and quality of anthrax pathogen used in the 2001 attacks,” says the FBI’s investigative summary of the case.
  • The NRC panel, headed by Lehigh University president Alice Gast, however, “consider these data to be inconclusive regarding the possible presence of B. anthracis Ames at this undisclosed overseas site,” according to their report.

http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/al-qaeda-lab-lingers-anthrax-story/story?id=14650914

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38 Responses to “* Al Qaeda lab lingers in anthrax story”

  1. DXer said

    Senate approves defense bill with amendment to help Detrick lab

    By Danielle E. Gaines dgaines@newspost.com

    The U.S. Senate passed a bill this week that includes further protections for a Fort Detrick laboratory slated for closure by the Department of Homeland Security.

    https://www.fredericknewspost.com/news/politics_and_government/senate-approves-defense-bill-with-amendment-to-help-detrick-lab/article_23e61ef8-130a-5c70-9bc1-bbd4868ad9ca.html

    The lab was designed and built in response to the anthrax attacks in 2001 with the goal to bolster criminal biochemical investigations and better understand the threat posed by deadly biological agents. The facility has since processed thousands of pieces of evidence in cases investigated by the FBI.

  2. DXer said

    Jihadists wouldn’t target children because it would violate the hadiths — committing them to eternal damnation as happened (under the belief system of jihadists) as the result of the death of the elderly Ottilie Lundren, I venture.

    The scenario of a student bringing an envelope found on the courthouse steps seems a real stretch. So putting the issue in the minds seems ill-conceived.

    We should protect children from the world’s insanity the best we can.

    Unfortunately, maybe it is the threat of a nuclear detonation and radioactive fallout that should more often be the subject of such drills.

    ANTHRAX! WHAT IF? Lincoln emergency services test bioterrorism response
    By Abigail Whitehouse

    Email the author
    Published 11:18 am Friday, September 15, 2017

    STANFORD – Fort Logan High School students got a chance to see what would happen if anthrax made it’s way onto the school busFriday morning as they participated in a mock disaster drill at Ephraim McDowell Fort Logan Hospital.

    A school bus, driven by Chris Mingo, transported 10 Fort Logan High School students – or fake victims – to Ephraim McDowell Fort Logan Hospital where the anthrax contamination exercise was staged.

    The scenario for the exercise was one aimed at testing local emergency services’ skills and response when it comes to bioterrorism. The script for the scenario begins with a field trip to the Federal Courthouse in Lexington where students had been observing civil and criminal proceedings. Several students on the bus began to develop allergic reactions to a “white power-like substance that was being passed around from student-to-student on the bus.” As the bus was rerouted by Bluegrass 911 dispatch to Fort Logan Hospital, one student with a history of asthma seized while others experienced respiratory distress.

    The substance was traced to a large envelope found by a student at the courthouse and brought onto the bus, according to the exercise scenario. A decontamination tent was set up outside of the hospital as the school bus arrived and students were removed individually and decontaminated before entering the hospital for treatment. The bus, which was roped off as a “hot zone” was also decontaminated while law enforcement was on stand by to provide security and crowd control.

    Following the exercise, responders gathered inside the hospital to discuss what went well and what could be improved as far as the group’s response to the anthrax scenario.

    Some of the problems identified during the critique included: the interference of a Garrard County radio test that interfered with the hospital’s ability to monitor emergency communications; placement of the decontamination tent blocked entry and could have been placed better; electrical and water supply to decontamination tent were right next to each other creating a hazard; bus hot zone doors and windows were left open and not secured to protect environment and personnel; inadequate number of medical personnel in protective outerwear/suits; and decontamination tent station/zones were not identified, making instruction to patients unclear.

    State police were actually en route to the hospital at one point as they believed that the exercise was an actual event. Lincoln County Emergency Management suggested notifying local and regional agencies of training.

    The absence of the Lincoln County Health Department was also noted in the critique. Both the local and state health departments were advised and participated in the planning of the exercise but failed to show due to a possible schedule conflict.

    The agencies and/or organizations that participated in the event were: Fort Logan High School; Fort Logan Hospital; Lincoln Haz-mat unit; Stanford Fire Department; Stanford Police Department; Lincoln County EMS; Lincoln County EMA; Lincoln County Coroner; Lincoln School Bus Garage; Bluegrass 911 Dispatch; The Interior Journal; Lincoln County Chamber of Commerce and Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office.

  3. DXer said

    Trial to explore if Homeland Security ignored a potential breakthrough in efforts to block bioterrorism

    Los Angeles Times-1 hour ago, by David Willman
    http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-germ-suit-20170910-story.html

    A government lawyer, Christopher M. Kovach, countered that “there exists no evidence’’ that Homeland Security “possessed an intent to injure’’ NVS. The official who terminated the contract “decided to prioritize” other research-and-development efforts, Kovach wrote.

    Homeland Security also lodged a counterclaim, seeking $606,771 that it says it overpaid NVS.

    The case stems back to the widespread fear that erupted after several anthrax-laced letters sent through the U.S. mail killed five Americans shortly after the 2001 terrorist attacks.

    In response, President George W. Bush authorized ambitious efforts to prevent biological attacks that could cause mass casualties.

    The CDC began to stockpile therapeutics for rapid deployment against likely bioagents. And in his 2003 State of the Union address, Bush announced deployment of “the nation’s first early warning network of sensors to detect biological attack.’’

    All told, the various federal efforts have cost roughly $21 billion so far — but with mixed results.

    By early 2010, for instance, it was clear to government scientists that the nationwide system for swiftly and reliably detecting a bioterrorism attack — called BioWatch — was not working as promised.

  4. DXer said

    Cuts to US bioterror funds risk peril in event of attack
    By Daniel M. Gerstein, opinion contributor – 06/06/17 03:30 PM EDT
    http://thehill.com/blogs/pundits-blog/healthcare/336565-cuts-to-us-bioterror-funds-risk-peril-in-event-of-attack

    “The proliferation of biotechnology coupled with the increasing use of technology by terrorists suggests a growing likelihood of a bioterrorist attack. Al Qaeda, in a previous version of its Inspire magazine, had called for like-minded scientists — biologists and chemists — to conduct attacks. More recently, ISIS has called for attacks using available means. The degree to which the U.S. will be prepared to respond could be directly related to the preparations made now at NBACC.

    Closing NBACC would leave the nation without these critical capabilities. No other such facility exists anywhere in the United States. It was established based on what the government determined to be a critical operational need. It is maintained at significant cost, and like most insurance policies, these costs may not be universally perceived as good investments until, God forbid, they might be needed in a crisis. In the event of a bioterror attack, NBACC would be on the front lines, providing essential information that would inform decisionmakers and save lives.”

    Daniel M. Gerstein works at the RAND Corporation and is an adjunct professor at American University. He was the undersecretary (acting) and deputy undersecretary in the Science and Technology Directorate of the Department of Homeland Security from 2011-2014. Gerstein oversaw the NBACC during his time at DHS.

    Comment:

    Did some of those opposed to the closing NBACC contribute to the underestimation of the threat by the continued excessive compartmentation of information that was motivated by CYA considerations rather than national security?

    When we have a President who does not embrace the rule of law — who thought it was okay to demand loyalty in avoiding independent investigation — is it any wonder that a culture exists that it is okay to play hide-the-ball with the American people?

    Is it any wonder that the FBI’s Dave Hardy does not feel obligated to comply with FOIA and produce the pages from Notebook 4282 containing the contemporaneous notes from the B3 laboratory on the date of mailing and the week prior? Does not even feel an obligation to expedite a response?

    Is it any wonder that Congressional oversight has proved ineffective?

    Anthrax, Al Qaeda and Ayman Zawahiri: The Infiltration of US Biodefense
    http://www.amerithrax.wordpress.com

  5. DXer said

    Which terror group is most likely to use bio-chemical weapons? Written by: Vicky Nanjappa Published: Wednesday, February 3, 2016
    Read more at: http://www.oneindia.com/feature/which-terror-group-is-most-likely-to-use-bio-chemical-weapons-2001604.html

    “Latest findings, especially a seizure of IS laptop and purported attacks using seized chemical weapons, have brought the world’s attention towards Islamic State’s intention and capability. Also read: Intelligence Bureau questioning alleged ISIS sympathiser in Goa

    The information on the laptop of a Tunisian IS militant suggests their interest to acquire or develop a biological weapon capability, even if they can [sic] be used effectively. A 19-page document in Arabic found in that laptop was on how to develop biological weapons and how to weaponize the bubonic plague from infected animals.

    The instruction found on the laptop describing the benefits of biological agents indicated IS approval on the work to weaponize the bubonic plague and other viruses that would have an even greater affect than that of a localized chemical attack.

    What is more alarming is that the laptop information had a message of religious approval for the use of such weapons. It reportedly read, “If the Muslims can’t overwhelm the infidels in any other way, they are allowed to use weapons of mass destruction to kill everyone and erase them and their descendants from the earth.”

    The 26-page fatwa was issued by the Saudi jihadi cleric Nasir al- Fahd, who is currently imprisoned in Saudi Arabia. To note, this could be a May 2003 fatwa written by Nasir al- Fahd and endorsed by Ali al-Khudair, another radical cleric.

    Following al Fahd’s arrest (on May 28, 20003), Saudi intelligence agency found cyanide in an Al Qaeda safehouse in Riyadh. Al-Fahd is the author of a book that approved the use of Weapons of Mass Destruction against the non-believers.

    Abu Mushab Zarqawi and his lingering influence as a founding father of IS leads us to believe that the violent group won’t hesitate to use chem/bio weapons against the enemy. He was identified as al Qaeda’s chief biochemical engineer, before his death in 2006 and it was widely believed that Zarqawi imparted training to a special terror cell in Afghanistan and Iraq on the use of bio/chem agents for possible attacks in Europe and the Middle East.”

    ***

    Read more at: http://www.oneindia.com/feature/which-terror-group-is-most-likely-to-use-bio-chemical-weapons-2001604.html

    Comment:

    “He was identified as al Qaeda’s chief biochemical engineer, before his death in 2006.”

    I don’t see any sourcing at all of this claim. I do credit, however, Michael Scheuer’s assertion that it is a 100% certainty that AQ was experimenting with anthrax in Northern Iraq. (And they were toying with ricin also).

    But before anyone seeks to strip Abu Khabab (Midhat MursI) the familiar props for chemical or Yazid Sufaat props for bio, they should at least provide attribution for the claim.

  6. DXer said

    http://www.macleans.ca/homepage/magazine/article.jsp?content=20070528_105320_105320

    Anthrax, bombs and al-Qaeda

    The terrorist network has been pursuing WMDs for years, but Canadians in Afghanistan have helped foil its plans

    SEAN M. MALONEY | May 28, 2007

    Outside of Kandahar Air Field in Afghanistan is a complex of compounds and ranges known as Tarnak Farms. Site of the notorious 2002 “friendly fire” deaths of four Canadian soldiers, Tarnak Farms was one of several sites in the country where al-Qaeda pursued research into acquiring weapons of mass destruction. My friend, whom I will call Muhammad, showed me around the now-bulldozed area in 2006. “It was back in 2001. We had 12 American special forces soldiers with us,” he said. “Two helicopters came in at night and brought another 65 men. Our men surrounded the place. We also did this at a mosque in Kandahar city. We spent several days protecting the teams as they searched.” When I asked Muhammad what they were looking for, he told me that al-Qaeda was making a chemical weapon that he called “stinky gas” — and that they may have tested it: “They used it once, against people on the road to Herat. These people had blood coming from their noses and openings.”

    Indeed, back in 2002, personnel from Lt.-Col. Pat Stogran’s 3rd Battalion, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry, assisted in “SSEs,” or sensitive site exploitation — missions associated with the hunt for what al-Qaeda was up to in the weapons of mass destruction field during that time. In the wake of 9/11, anything was possible, especially when anthrax-filled letters arrived in the United States in the fall of 2001.

    The furor over WMDs is generally associated with Iraq, and the UN Special Commission’s cat-and-mouse games with the Saddam Hussein regime in the 1990s or, more recently, the Bush administration’s attempt to sell the war in Iraq back in 2002. “WMD” has become a catch-all term for what specialists call chemical, biological and nuclear weapons, and the technologies and scientific knowledge that support their construction. A lot of effort has been put into debunking U.S. claims that Iraq possessed WMDs prior to the 2003 invasion. Almost no public investigative effort has, however, focused on al-Qaeda’s interest in WMDs.

    The recent publication of former CIA director George Tenet’s book, At The Center of the Storm, should rekindle such an examination, but distressingly the focus has been on Tenet’s “slam dunk” remark and the issue of politicized intelligence and the drive to war in Iraq. When it comes to al-Qaeda, however, Tenet connects several dots, some of which have been in the public domain, some not. The Kandahar facilities were used by al-Qaeda to isolate anthrax: the work was done by Yazid Sufaat, a member of the affiliated Jemaah Islamiya from Malaysia. The labs were established by a Pakistani, Rauf Ahmad(both were apprehended by 2002). Information from the SSE missions resulted in the unravelling of a sophisticated al-Qaeda anthrax network. Though Tenet doesn’t say so, others have speculated that the anthrax used against targets in North America was connected to this network.(The attacks stopped after Ahmad and Sufaat were apprehended.)

    ***

    Sherlock Holmes reminded Watson that sometimes it was the dog that didn’t bark that was the significant thing. The same goes for al-Qaeda’s search for weapons of mass destruction capability, truncated and disrupted as it is.

  7. DXer said

    Yazid,

    I realize you only had a BS. But your confidence and easy charm suggests to me that you are a smart cookie. Surely you know the genetic strain of anthrax you were working with even without having obtained it yourself. Come on, now. Clinch that Pulitzer. In a single chat message — over Word With Friends if you like — tell me the strain you believe you were working with even if Dr. Ayman provided it to you (from a separate cell operation by which he obtained it).

    Lie if you feel you must, but know the PCR analysis pointed to it being Ames.

    Relatedly, where did you get the vaccine for yourself, Barq and al-Sudani? Dr. Ayman again?

  8. DXer said

    Yazid Sufaat and his lab assistant did work at Omar Hospital in May 2001 while the equipment was en route to the lab being established at Kandahar.

    The Detainee Assessments on this subject are part of the public record and so why did they not inform the discussion? Is the GAO report going to be without the bereft of highly relevant information?

    https://caseclosedbylewweinstein.wordpress.com/2011/05/15/marwan-hadid-al-suri-who-was-assisting-yazid-sufaat-at-omar-hospital-in-may-2001-and-then-helped-set-up-the-anthrax-lab-in-kandahar-later-that-month-was-killed-in-2006-in-northwestern-pakistan-m/

  9. DXer said

    Remembering A Man And A Marriage (Thomas Morris, postal worker at Brentwood)

    by NPR Staff

    http://www.npr.org/2011/10/07/141122330/remembering-a-man-and-a-marriage

  10. DXer said

    http://www.courant.com/news/opinion/editorials/hc-ed-anthrax-mystery-1005-20111005,0,982875.story

    Anthrax Attacks Still A Mystery After 10 Years

    October 5, 2011

    After the World Trade Center was destroyed 10 years ago, death arrived once again — in the mail. Anthrax, a terrifying and deadly bacterium that multiplies rapidly when inhaled, began to appear in letters sent to a variety of places. Among these were the New York Post, the offices of two U.S. senators, the office of NBC News anchor Tom Brokaw, and, bizarrely, the home of 94-year-old Ottilie Lundgren of Oxford.

    Mrs. Lundgren and four others died; 17 were injured. Thousands were exposed and had to take powerful antibiotics. The government seemed paralyzed. The FBI investigators careened from one false lead to another. After 10 years, 9,000 interviews and 6,000 subpoenas, the anthrax attacks are still unsolved

    For years, the FBI harassed scientist Steven Hatfill as the only suspect in the case until the agency was forced to apologize and award him $5.8 million for slandering him and destroying his career. After Army microbiologist Bruce Ivins committed suicide in 2008, the FBI announced that he was the likely source of the anthrax attacks. But the agency’s case is circumstantial and important questions remain unsolved:

    — The anthrax spores were “weaponized” with a high percentage of silicon, making the bacteria even more lethal. Yet there’s no evidence that Dr. Ivins either had the equipment or was capable of the elaborate process necessary to add the silicon.

    — One of the 9/11 hijackers, Ahmed Alhaznawi, reported to a Florida hospital with a dark wound that the attending physician told the FBI was consistent with cutaneous anthrax, which causes skin lesions.

    — The cave at Tora Bora where Osama bin Laden hid for a time twice tested positively for the same strain of anthrax found in the letters, according to Pulitzer-prize winning author Laurie Garrett, author of “I Heard the Sirens Scream: How Americans Responded to the 9/11 and Anthrax Attacks.”

    The Government Accountability Office is currently examining the FBI’s botched investigation. U.S. Rep. Rush Holt, from whose New Jersey district the perpetrator mailed the anthrax-laced letters, has for years proposed congressional hearings into the anthrax attacks. So far, nobody’s listened.

    Such hearings are the least that should occur. A decade without clear answers is infuriating — and unacceptable.

  11. DXer said

    Anal Chem. 2011 Sep 30. [Epub ahead of print]
    Sensitive detection of Bacillus anthracis spores by immunocapture and liquid-chromatography tandem mass spectrometry.
    Chenau J, Fenaille F, Ezan E, Morel N, Lamourette P, Goossens PL, Becher F.
    Abstract

    Bacillus anthracis is one of the most dangerous agents of the bioterrorism threat. We present here a sensitive immuno-liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (immuno-LC-MS/MS) approach to spore detection in complex environmental samples. It is based on the combined specificity and sensitivity of two techniques: immunocapture and targeted mass spectrometry. The immunocapture step, realized directly on the intact spores, is essential for their selective isolation and concentration from complex environmental samples. After parallel trypsin and Glu-C digestions, proteotypic peptides corresponding to Small Acid-soluble Spore Protein-B (SASP-B) are specifically monitored in the Multiple Reaction Monitoring (MRM) mass spectrometry mode. Peptide ratio is carefully monitored and provides an additional level of specificity, which is shown to be highly useful for distinguishing closely related samples and avoiding false-positive/negative results. Sensitivity at the level of the infectious dose is demonstrated, with limits of detection of 7.103 spores/mL of milk or 10 mg of soil. This mass spectrometry approach is thus complementary to PCR techniques.

  12. DXer said

    Appl Environ Microbiol. 2011 Sep 30. [Epub ahead of print]
    National validation study of a cellulose sponge-wipe processing method for use after sampling Bacillus anthracis spores from surfaces.
    Rose LJ, Hodges L, O’Connell H, Noble-Wang J.
    Source

    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases, Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion, Atlanta, GA.
    Abstract

    This work was initiated to address the gaps identified by Congress regarding validated biothreat environmental sampling and processing methods. Nine Laboratory Response Network (LRN) affiliated laboratories participated in a validation study of a cellulose sponge-wipe processing protocol for the recovery, detection, and quantification of viable Bacillus anthracis Sterne spores from steel surfaces. Steel coupons (645.16 cm(2)) were inoculated with 1-to 4-log(10) spores and then sampled with cellulose sponges (3M™ Sponge-Stick, St Paul, MN). Surrogate dust and background organisms were added to the sponges to mimic environmental conditions. Labs processed the sponges according to the provided protocol. Sensitivity, specificity, and mean percent recovery (%R), between-lab, within-lab and total %CV were calculated. The mean %R (SE) of spores from the surface was 32.4 (4.4), 24.4 (2.8) and 30.1 (2.3) for 1-, 2- and 4-log(10) inoculum levels, respectively. Sensitivities for colony counts were 84.1%, 100% and 100% for 1-, 2- and 4-log(10)inocula, respectively. These data help to characterize the variability of the processing method and thereby enhance confidence in the interpretation of the results of environmental sampling conducted during a B. anthracis contamination investigation.

  13. DXer said

    U.S. orders anthrax vaccine‎
    UPI.com – 14 hours ago
    ROCKVILLE, Md., Oct. 3 (UPI) — The US government has ordered 44.75 million doses of a vaccine from a Maryland company to protect against anthrax. …

    • DXer said

      New from the National Academies Press:

      Prepositioning Antibiotics for Anthrax, 420 pp. (2011)

      If terrorists released Bacillus anthracis over a large city, hundreds of thousands of people could be at risk of the deadly disease anthrax – caused by the B anthracis spores – unless they had rapid access to antibiotic medical countermeasures (MCM). Although plans for rapidly delivering MCM to a large number of people following an anthrax attack have been enhanced over the last decade, many public health authorities and policy experts fear that the nation’s current systems and plans are insufficient to respond to the most challenging scenarios, such as a very large-scale anthrax attack. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, commissioned the IOM to examine the potential uses, benefits, and disadvantages of strategies for prepositioning antibiotics. This involves storing antibiotics close to or in the possession of the people who would need rapid access to them should an attack occur. The IOM defined and evaluated three categories of prepositioning strategies that could complement existing, centralized stockpiling strategies, including the Strategic National Stockpile maintained by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

      http://books.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=13218

  14. DXer said

    Dr. Ayman Zawahiri (Vanguards of Conquest) planned to use universities and colleges as cover to develop anthrax for use against the U.S.
    https://caseclosedbylewweinstein.wordpress.com/2011/02/13/dr-ayman-zawahiri-vanguards-of-conquest-planned-to-use-universities-and-colleges-as-cover-to-develop-anthrax-for-use-against-the-u-s/

  15. DXer said

    Dr. Ayman’s notes show that they planned on moving the lab every 3 months. As I best recall offhand, they planned to paint the walls and wipe down the walls with an insecticide. And so the FBI should have thought to test the walls for insecticide.

  16. DXer said

    What biological laboratory equipment did Atef ask KSM to move to the special laboratory near Tarnak Farm that KSM came to think was related to the anthrax development efforts?

    https://caseclosedbylewweinstein.wordpress.com/2011/04/26/what-biological-laboratory-equipment-did-atef-ask-ksm-to-move-to-the-special-laboratory-near-tarnak-farm-that-ksm-came-to-think-was-related-to-the-anthrax-development-efforts/

  17. DXer said

    Abdur Rauf’s “I have successfully achieved” letter to Ayman al-Zawahiri
    https://caseclosedbylewweinstein.wordpress.com/2009/07/04/abdur-raufs-i-have-successfully-achieved-letter-to-ayman-al-zawahiri-what-justification-is-there-for-not-removing-the-redactions/

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