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

* GAO: On Rauf’s Quest For Virulent Anthrax For Ayman Zawahiri, Was The Second Lab He Visited A BL-3 Lab at Porton Down? Was He Cleared To Go?

Posted by Lew Weinstein on January 21, 2012

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27 Responses to “* GAO: On Rauf’s Quest For Virulent Anthrax For Ayman Zawahiri, Was The Second Lab He Visited A BL-3 Lab at Porton Down? Was He Cleared To Go?”

  1. DXer said

    MBio. 2017 Apr 25;8(2). pii: e00440-17. doi: 10.1128/mBio.00440-17.

    Unexpected Relations of Historical Anthrax Strain.

    Antwerpen MH1, Sahl JW2, Birdsell D2, Pearson T2, Pearce MJ3, Redmond C3, Meyer H4, Keim PS2.
    Author information

    Abstract

    In 1998, it was claimed that an 80-year-old glass tube intentionally filled with Bacillus anthracis and embedded in a sugar lump as a WWI biological weapon still contained viable spores. Today, genome sequencing of three colonies isolated in 1998 and subjected to phylogenetic analysis surprisingly identified a well-known B. anthracis reference strain isolated in the United States in 1981, pointing to accidental laboratory contamination.IMPORTANCE Next-generation sequencing and subsequent phylogenetic analyses are useful and reliable tools for the classification of recent and historical samples. The reliability of sequences obtained and bioinformatic algorithms has increased in recent years, and research has uncovered the identity of a presumed bioweapon agent as a contaminant.

    ***

    n particular, the Ames ancestor and its identical sister genome, FTD1004, are very high quality closed and finished sequences that represent two stocks derived directly from the original 1981 Texas B. anthracis isolate. These two stocks were independently established in May 1981 after material was transferred to USAMRIID. Together, they represent the oldest known laboratory stocks of the original Ames strain, established within months of the bovine anthrax case.

    Directly diverging from these five genomes (Fig. 1) is that of strain Porton Down Ames, with 65 unique SNPs. Careful examination of the data argues that these are not sequencing errors but rather represent mutations that occurred during laboratory growth. A similar divergence from other Ames isolates was reported by Read et al. and attributed to mutations that occurred during a plasmid-curing regimen (12, 13).

    ***

    We can only speculate about the direct linkage between the original Texas 1981 Ames strains and the Porton Down sugar isolates of 1998. The Porton Down scientists were the world leaders in anthrax research, and their plasmid-cured Ames strain is still in use in reference laboratories worldwide. Therefore, they were well aware of the value of this historical sample and fumigated the class 3 microbiological safety cabinet with formaldehyde prior to opening the vials to avoid contamination (4). These careful protocols were invoked to cultivate these historical specimens, which would lead to the oldest B. anthracis strains ever described, as previously the oldest samples were from 1954 (14).

    It is clear from their study description that the isolation process was more difficult than the standard microbiological methods employed for B. anthracis (4). Because no colonies were apparent from culturing of the original liquid, an 8-day enrichment in liquid broth was used. Plating of the enriched liquid resulted in only four colonies, which were confirmed to be B. anthracis by McFadyean’s test and species-specific PCR assays. However, none of these techniques was able to differentiate among B. anthracis strains. The first suitable molecular typing techniques (MLVA) using eight markers was published in 2000 (15), 2 years later, and hence, molecular typing of the isolates was indeed not possible at the time of the report.

    Despite secure handling and microbiological safety cabinet cleaning, it seems highly likely that the isolated strains are accidentally isolated contaminants of formerly processed Ames strains. In 1981, the progenitor of the Ames ancestor and FTD1004 was isolated in Texas and then transferred to USAMRIID at Ft. Detrick, MD, United States. In 1982, an Ames culture was transferred from Ft. Detrick to Porton Down (12). Only one phylogenetically informative SNP separates the Porton Down genomes from the USAMRIID Ames genomes (Fig. 1). This high identity and phylogenetic topology argue that the Porton Down Ames strain and Porton Down sugar contaminants were derived from the Ames material sent in 1982.

    In the context of spatial separation of analytical and research facilities to avoid contamination, there were no dedicated analytical facilities at the Porton Down defense laboratories in 1998. Therefore, analysis of the sample had to be conducted in a facility used for research activities.

  2. DXer said

    April 25, 2017

    Both labs confirmed that the Porton Down ‘sugar’ strains differed by only two genetic letters from the Ames Ancestor strain—a near identical matching. The researchers speculate that during the intense culturing attempts of the sugar samples in 1997, spores from the Ames Ancestor strain, which were likely to be abundant in the Porton Down military defense laboratory facilities, fell into the culture media and grew.

    Read more at: https://phys.org/news/2017-04-year-old-viable-anthrax-strain-debunked.html#jCp

    • DXer said

      American Society For Microbiology
      Tuesday, 25 April 2017 11:50

      http://www.asm.org/index.php/newsroom/item/6384-80-year-old-viable-anthrax-strain-debunked-using-advanced-genomic-sequencing

      “Both labs confirmed that the Porton Down ‘sugar’ strains differed by only two genetic letters from the Ames Ancestor strain—a near identical matching.”

      ***

      “Two of the original Porton Down researchers, Martin Pearce and Caroline Redmond, collaborated on this new study to confirm that indeed, a likely contamination event threw off their results.”

    • DXer said

      Background:

      Scientific Correspondence

      Nature 393, 747-748 (25 June 1998) | doi:10.1038/31612

      Caroline Redmond1, Martin J. Pearce1, Richard J. Manchee1 & Bjorn P. Berdal2
      https://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v393/n6687/full/393747a0.html

      Additional background:

      Jamie Bisher: Anthrax sabotage in Finland or Baron von Rosen’s sugar-coated Anthrax weapon
      http://web.archive.org/web/20090809043613/www.geocities.com/jamie_bisher/anthrax.htm

      Comment: I am still annoyed that I foolishly fronted Jamie B. (see article above about Baron von Rosen’s sugar-coated Anthrax weapon) two expensive rafting tickets over a quarter century ago (and then he reported his pickup broke down and so he couldn’t make it). But I always admired his interesting research topics and friends. Although I was unaware at the time, he once reported me to the police thinking I had peed on his computers. All I can confirm is that I had been encouraged to drink an excessive amount of vodka that night by an enchantress and he and his girlfriend allowed me to stay over. (I was the only other person in the house and so it makes sense that I was a suspect.) While I am aghast at the thought, in my defense, I was blotto and I would never have done something like that intentionally — no matter what he had ever done or written. For all I know, his work on infiltration during WW I will someday prove the key to unlocking infiltration that underlay the biggest crime in history.

      If we don’t learn from history, we are bound to repeat it.

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

      • DXer said

        Jamie writes:

        “The ringleader of the anthrax scheme in Finland was Baron Otto Carl Robert von Rosen, a native of Solna, Sweden, and a former lieutenant in the Swedish Army. Baron von Rosen had lived and worked in Finland since 1912. He looked the part of a stereotypical secret agent and saboteur of his era. His icy blue eyes cast the glimmer of a freedom fighter’s idealism. High cheekbones, a square jaw, and sharply chiseled nose complemented his aristocratic bearing. Attired for a photograph in a high white collar, dark tunic and black leather overcoat, Von Rosen evokes a sinister priest. His thirtieth birthday occurred during the opening year of the First World War, yet his receding hairline added years to his age.”

        ***

        Baron von Rosen recruited three agents to establish secret supply routes to rebels inside Finland and Russia. Raoul Graaf and Gustav Halfdan Stärky were experienced Swedish trappers and woodsmen. Emil Jokela, a Finn, was a product of Ausbildungstruppe Lockstedt. Initially, the trio’s mission was to transport supplies, usually explosives, only as far as the Finnish border where they would rendezvous with rebel units. Rebels carried the precious cargo deeper into Finland. To cloak his covert activities, von Rosen established a trading company that required frequent trips between Stockholm, Kristiania (now Oslo), Copenhagen, and Berlin.

        A Nefarious Mission

        The Opdagelsespolitiet, Norway’s counterintelligence police, took an interest in Baron von Rosen in 1916. Although Norway remained staunchly neutral while the Great War engulfed continental Europe, nearly a dozen German spies were expelled for inappropriate activities between 1914 and 1917. Von Rosen’s mediocre trading firm never fared well, despite his frenetic travel. It seemed that the firm’s main agenda was not commerce. Norwegian agents picked up clues that the Baron was preparing “some sort of secret expedition with a strange purpose.” Intercepted correspondence termed this expedition “most dangerous” and mentioned “risky transport” of unnamed material from Denmark to Sweden. Johannes Sřhr, chief of the Opdagelsespolitiet, discovered that the expedition involved an accomplice in Norway and a Swedish logistics base, yet the nature of von Rosen’s mission remained a mystery.”

        But I’ll leave the story to Jamie to tell.

        Jamie Bisher: Anthrax sabotage in Finland or Baron von Rosen’s sugar-coated Anthrax weapon
        http://web.archive.org/web/20090809043613/www.geocities.com/jamie_bisher/anthrax.htm

        errata – I am thinking now that it was tequila involved in my misadventure, rather than vodka. In any event, I was an innocent lamb. And am profoundly sorry for any misdeeds.

      • DXer said

        Science Daily-19 hours ago
        Two of the original Porton Down researchers, Martin Pearce and Caroline Redmond, collaborated on this new study to confirm that indeed, …

        ***

        “At that time, Keim noted a very close genetic similarity between the Porton Down strains and what had become the standard laboratory reference strain used in experiments and vaccine development, known as the Ames Ancestor strain.”

        A couple other articles by Dr. Caroline Redmond include:

        Identification of proteins in the exosporium of Bacillus anthracis. Redmond, C., Baillie, L.W., Hibbs, S., Moir, A.J., Moir, A. Microbiology (Reading, Engl.) (2004) [Pubmed]

        The genome sequence of Bacillus anthracis Ames and comparison to closely related bacteria
        Timothy D Read
        The Institute for Genomic Research, 9712 MedicalThe genome sequence of Bacillus anthracis Ames and comparison to closely related bacteria

        Does Caroline Redmond know the identity of the second lab that Rauf Ahmad visited? And who hosted him? And what samples he was supplied or afforded access?

        Identification of proteins in the exosporium of Bacillus … – CiteSeerX

        citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.844.6030&rep=rep1&type…
        by C Redmond – ‎2004 – ‎Cited by 202 – ‎Related articles
        Caroline Redmond,1 Leslie W. J. Baillie,1,3 Stephen Hibbs,1 … 1Defence Science Technology Laboratory, Porton Down, Salisbury, Wiltshire SP4 0JQ, UK … isolated from the endospores of the B. anthracis wild-type Ames strain, from a …

        Abdur Rauf’s “I have successfully achieved” letter to Ayman al-Zawahiri

        Posted by Lew Weinstein on July 4, 2009
        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/comment-page-1/

  3. DXer said

    This is perhaps one of the most basic questions GAO should answer. There is no reason for the information to be withheld 15 years after the 1999 visit to the B3 lab where Ayman Zawahiri’s infiltrating scientist ordered virulent anthrax to go. Alternatively, a journalist should attempt to interview Rauf Ahmad. The Washington Post, through a correspondent in Pakistan, had obtained permission for an interview but then ISI backpedaled. No harm in asking again.

    The GAO might fruitfully interview Agent Borelli, who shared tea and cookies with Rauf Ahmad in February 2002.

    • DXer said

      I corresponded by email more than once with Rauf Ahmad but he would never cooperate substantively without being paid. Especially with the danger of the “man in the middle” computer hack that my federal undercover who did my graphics always warned me about, I never was comfortable with sending or receiving money from abroad. (The undercover’s suggestion was that you never know who you are corresponding with when you communicate by email.) For example, I might have been corresponding with someone from ISI. I even declined being wired copying costs regarding Aafia Siddiqui’s copies for filings in her legal matter. (The volunteer lawyer who wanted to represent and advocate Aafia had put on an art exhibit here locally and so I could identify with him — as I can any pro bono lawyer. (He felt that Aafia’s sister Fowzia was not acting in Aafia’s best interests).

      In praise of the federal undercover’s graphics, look how the petri dish assumes the 3-dimensional aspect of a globe. I remain in awe of his talent and miss him. As for my contribution, it was really Milton Leitenberg who got DIA to process Rauf’s letters but he asked that I not ever mention it. I got tough with DIA when they suggested they would be just giving me the items Zawahiri had obtained (listed in the appendix of the excellent Relman and Petro article). But it was easy to take an aggressive stance with DIA FOIA given that they had already given them to Milton.

      Milton’s wife worked in Afghanistan. Maybe that explains his bias and his distorted description of Rauf Ahmad’s correspondence in his 2005 treatise The Problem With Biological Weapons. (I specifically take objection to his failure to quote the language “I achieved the targets”).

      If I have a bias, it is because I learned of Prince Bandar and his behind-the-scenes string pulling in another life while living in Arlington, VA.

      • DXer said

        GAO should at least be given a copy of the statement that Rauf Ahmad signed — it was prepared for the purpose of filing in court because secret prisons for Yazid Sufaat’s assistant , rendition of Hambali to Jordan etc. became the order of the day

        Amerithrax: In February 2002, the FBI Failed To Take Custody of Al Qaeda Anthrax Scientists Rauf Ahmad and Yazid Sufaat
        Posted on September 14, 2013
        https://caseclosedbylewweinstein.wordpress.com/2013/09/14/amerithrax-in-february-2002-the-fbi-failed-to-take-custody-of-al-qaeda-anthrax-scientists-rauf-ahmad-and-yazid-sufaat/

        GAO Should Obtain A Copy Of Rauf Ahmad’s Signed Written Statement Voluntarily Provided FBI Agent Borelli
        Posted by Lew Weinstein on September 14, 2013
        https://caseclosedbylewweinstein.wordpress.com/2013/09/14/gao-should-obtain-a-copy-of-rauf-ahmads-signed-written-statement-voluntarily-provided-fbi-agent-borelli/

        Peter Turnbull, working with Ames at Porton Down, came to advise Amerithrax and had organized the UK conferences infiltrated by Rauf Ahmad
        Posted by Lew Weinstein on March 22, 2011
        https://caseclosedbylewweinstein.wordpress.com/2011/03/22/peter-turnbull-working-with-ames-at-porton-down-came-to-advise-amerithrax-and-had-organized-the-uk-conferences-infiltrated-by-rauf-ahmad/

        The FBI did not provide the list of attendees at the June 2001 Annapolis International Anthrax Conference pursuant to FOIA even though a Zawahiri infiltrator Rauf Ahmad attended the conferences for Zawahiri in 1999 and 2000.
        Posted by Lew Weinstein on March 22, 2011
        https://caseclosedbylewweinstein.wordpress.com/2011/03/22/the-fbi-did-not-provide-the-list-of-attendees-at-the-june-2001-annapolis-international-anthrax-conference-pursuant-to-foia-even-though-a-zawahiri-infiltrator-rauf-ahmad-attended-the-conferences-for/

      • DXer said

        Politics has no role in true crime analysis. Analysis should be anchored in documentary analysis. Sometimes a crowbar is needed to pry the documents from government officials more focused on avoiding getting in trouble for having dropped the ball.

        That is why we have the heavy hitters at the GAO. Although accountability is in their name, much of the good that they do simply comes from greater transparency — through their patient obtaining of documents from a resistant agency.

        FBI has been highly selective in its disclosures and has produced no documents on numerous issues relating to the forensics of the investigation.

        In Amerithrax, the matter cannot be intelligently discussed without fleshing out the details of the second lab that Rauf Ahmad visited for Ayman Zawahiri in Fall 1999.

        from DXer … infiltration of U.S. Biodefense? … Zawahiri’s Correspondence With Infiltrating Scientist Was Part of Parallel Compartmentalized Cell Operation
        Posted by Lew Weinstein on February 20, 2010
        https://caseclosedbylewweinstein.wordpress.com/2010/02/20/from-dxer-infiltration-of-u-s-biodefense-zawahiris-correspondence-with-infiltrating-scientist-was-part-of-parallel-compartmentalized-cell-operation/

        People like Meryl and Barry and Frances or Graeme don’t even mention Rauf Ahmad. The omission disqualifies them from discussing the subject and may point to some sort of major undisclosed bias or lack of familiarity with the matter due to professional time constraints.

        Frances, for example, has worked as a lawyer for Hamas and has worked on matters relating to Bosnia. That’s like hearing from Stanley Cohen on the issue of the Fall 2001 anthrax mailings. Not a sound idea. Frances’ offered excuse to me what that he did not have time to research the true crime matter given his many other interests and responsibilities. Okay, Professor, then put your hand down. Sit on your hands, if necessary if you didn’t do the assigned homework.

        My friend, Barry, an attorney by training and very effective political advocate, has told me he is only interested in politics and not the true crime documents. That is willful disregard for reconstructing what actually happened. Counsel should be arguing evidence to the judge, not politics. Politics has no role in the courtroom of public opinion where he wants readers to judge a true crime matter. And to argue the sophistication of the anthrax without addressing that fact that know-how travels in the mind of an individual is negligent. To make the argument without addressing Yazid Sufaat’s filmed claim that he had been a member of a secret biological weapons program in Malaysia is willfully misleading for political purposes.

        Graeme, a religious studies professor from McMasters — at the heart of Adnan El-Shukrijumah WMD allegations — on the face of the book acknowledges he is glossing over the true crime facts. He doesn’t even mention Rauf Ahmad or Yazid Sufaat or the EIJ announcement that Ayman Zawahiri was going to use anthrax against US targets to retaliate for the rendering of the Blind Sheik Abdel Rahman and other senior EIJ officials. Graeme is from McMasters where he taught religious studies for 30 years. Although the information is contradictory and/or classified and tightly held and/or debunked, Adnan El-Shukrijumah and his colleagues reportedly visited McMasters. So Graeme is ideally situated to dig into the relevant facts and separate the wheat from the chaff.

        Witness accounts (where strangers are making the observation) are much less reliable than documentary analysis. The point is illustrated by some of the confusion and mistaken reports relating to Shukrijumah and McMasters (based on a fellow who loooked like Adnan but was never contacted before the sensational reports confusing him with Adnan).

  4. DXer said

    Was Rauf Ahmad to go to Porton Down? Or to CAMR which is at Porton Down? Were security procedures at Porton Down as lax as they were at USAMRIID?

  5. DXer said

    Dr. Ivins’ assistant discusses the shipments made to other facilities in other countries:

    “Q. Do you know of any instances when he did ship Ames outside of Fort Detrick?
    A. Yes.
    Q. Do you know if any of those shipments were to nongovermental facilities?
    A. There would have been one that he would have shipped outside the United States. So it would have been a Canadian government facility. So it would have been the Canadian equivalent of USAMRIID. It has a different name now than what it did then. I can’t tell you what the name of it is now; defense something or another. It’s in — it’s in Canada. I’m trying to say
    the province; I can’t even recall that right now. But it is the Canadian equivalent to what we do, and then there is Porton Down in England as well.
    Q. Other than those facilities, do you know of any other non-U.S. governmental facilities to which Dr. Ivins shipped bacillus anthracis material?
    A. I believe so (p. 121)

  6. DXer said

    Will GAO be able to report what lab Rauf Ahmad visited on his second visit? There is no reason that it should be classified.

  7. DXer said

    In fact, I don’t think Rauf knew about Sufaat.

  8. DXer said

    Yazid Sufaat, as to Abdur Rauf’s quest for virulent anthrax for Ayman Zawahiri, was he cleared to go?

  9. DXer said

    Sailing The Good Ship Anthrax

    USAMRIID released some emails by Bruce Ivins discussing the difficulties of planning the Fourth International Conference on Anthrax in Annapolis. The first of the emails was from September 1998, upon his return from the conference at Plymouth. In June 2001, the good ship anthrax sailed in Annapolis, Maryland, the “sailing capital of the world.” The 4th International Conference on Anthrax was held at St. John’s College in historic Annapolis, Maryland, June 10 – 13, 2001. The conference was organized by the US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases and managed by the American Society for Microbiology. The 74-foot classic wooden schooner was named WOODWIND. Martin Hugh-Jones had convened the conference along with Peter Turnbull, the Porton Down scientist who had led the UK conferences attended by Ayman Zawahiri’s scientist, Rauf Ahmad. Reports of livestock and national park outbreaks were followed by a summary by Dr. Turnbull. Other anthrax notables who spoke included senior USAMRIID scientist Dr. Ezzell, who had one of the first looks at the Daschle product, and Dr. Paul Keim, who would play a key role in the genetic investigation.

    Theresa Koehler from the Houston Medical School gave a talk titled “The Expanding B. anthracis Toolbox” while Timothy Read from The Institute of Genome Research summarized research on The B. Anthracis Genome. Houston Medical School, the UK’s biodefense facility Porton Down, and Pasteur Institute each fielded three presenters. UK scientists presented on the characteristics of the exosporium of “the highly virulent Ames strain.” Researchers from Columbus, Ohio and Biological Defense Research Directorate (BDRD) of the Navy Medical Research Institute in Bethesda, assisted by Porton Down scientists from the UK, demonstrated that inoculated mice survived a challenge with b.anthracis spores. Researchers used b.anthracis containing a plasmid with a mutated lethal factor.” Dr. Phil Hanna from University of Michigan presented, as he did at the conference attending with Rauf Ahmad.

    A Kazakhstan Ministry of Health scientist presented on the re-emergence of anthrax in Kazakhstan. Upon the break-up of the Soviet Union the first job offer Ken Alibek fielded was the position of Minister of Health in Kazakhstan. He protested when he realized that his new employer just wanted to do what the Soviets had been secretly doing in an illegal and massive bioweapons program he had supervised as its First Deputy. After the KGB asked to meet with him, he asked to schedule the meeting in two weeks, so that he might visit his parents, and then found a secret expedited way of coming to the United States.

    Pakistan Rauf Ahmad had been the predator looking for the Ames strain and consulting on weaponization techniques at the UK conference sponsored by Porton Down in 1999 and 2000. Did the Amerithrax perp attend the next annual conference — this June 2001 conference or work on any of the research presented? Did MI5 tell the CIA about the equipment that they had found in Rauf’s luggage upon leaving one of the Porton Down conferences?

    Separately, Ali Al-Timimi had a high security clearance for mathematical support work for the Navy. Why? When? What did his work involve? In January 2002, FBI Assistant Director Van Harp told the 40,000 members of the American Society for Microbiology that it was “very likely that one or more of you know this individual.” They very likely did.

    • DXer said

      Hani and Nawaf on the Straight Path: Connecting the Kuala Lumpur, Falls Church and New Jersey Dots

      Nawaf Al-Hazmi was one of the two hijackers who had been at the meeting at anthrax lab director Yazid Sufaat’s Malaysian condominium in January 2000. Nawaf Hazmi and a colleague had arrived the previous year in San Diego, where they had been unsuccessful in learning to fly. Upon arriving in San Diego in 2000, he met with Imam Anwar Aulaqi — perhaps even the same day as arriving. The 911 Commission Report said that Nawaf and his fellow hijacker and “developed a close relationship with him.” One pilot at the flight school in Arabic said that Nawaf wanted to learn to jets right away, rather than start with small planes. The pilot man thought Nawaf and his colleague, Khalid al-Mihdar, were either joking or dreaming.They were joined in San Diego by Hani Hanjour, a good friend of Nawaf’s from Saudi Arabia. Hani was the pilot of flight 77 that crashed into the Pentagon. He was one of the most conservative and religiously observant of the hijackers.

      Hani had first come to the United States in 1991. After short stay in the US in Tucson where he studied in English, he returned to Saudi Arabia until 1996, when he worked in Afghanistan for a relief agency. He took flight lessons in Phoenix, Arizona where he did poorly. He eventually earned his commercial pilot training in 1998. Hani had been at al-Qaeda’s al-Faruq camp when Bin Laden or Atef told him “to report to KSM, who then trained Hanjour for a few days in the use of code words.” Hani then met with Aafia Siddiqui’s future husband al-Baluchhi in United Arab Emirates. Al-Balucchi opened an account for Hani who then traveled to San Diego.

      Aulaqi in early 2001 moved to Falls Church. Several months later, Nawaf al-Hazmi and Khalid Almihdhar, who by then had joined them in San Diego in December 2000, also moved to Falls Church, Virginia. On April 1, 2001, Nawaf al-Hazmi received a ticket for speeding in Oklahoma, apparently while driving cross-country from San Diego to Falls Church, Virginia. Nawaf Alhazmi and Hani Hanjour rented an apartment in Falls Church, Virginia, for about a month, with the assistance of a man they met at Aulaqi’s mosque. They lived at 3355 Row St., Apt. 3 in Falls Church. The hijackers attended sermons at the Dar al Hijrah mosque, where Aulaqi was now located. Ali Al-Timimi attended the mosque until he established the nearby center. Police later found the phone number of the Falls Church mosque when they searched the apartment of 9/11 planner Ramzi bin al-Shibh in Germany. Various instructors have confirmed that Hani continued to have poor english and flying skills. Nawaf’s english and flying skills also remained poor.

      On May 1, 2001, Nawaf reported to police that men tried to take his wallet outside a Fairfax, Virginia residence. Before the county officer left, al-Hazmi signed a “statement of release” indicating he did not want the incident investigated. Hani and Nawaf then moved to Paterson, New Jersey, renting a one-bedroom apartment where they lived with some of the other hijackers. On June 30th, his car was involved in a minor traffic accident on the east-bound George Washington Bridge. Hani was stopped by police on August 1, 2001 for driving 55 mph in a 30 mph zone in Arlington, Virginia. On August 22, 2001, Nawaf al Hazmi purchased a Leatherman Wave Multi-tool from a Target department store in Laurel, Maryland.

      Hani and Nawaf moved out of the New Jersey apartment on September 1. Hani was photographed a few days later using an ATM with a fellow hijacker in Laurel, Maryland, where all five Flight 77 hijackers had purchased a 1-week membership in a local Gold’s Gym. On September 10, 2001, Hanjour, al-Mihdhar, and al-Hazmi checked into the Marriott Residence Inn in Herndon, Virginia where Saleh Ibn Abdul Rahman Hussayen, a prominent Saudi government official — who later was appointed to head the mosques at Mecca and Medina — was staying. He was the uncle of Sami al-Hussayen, the webmaster of the Islamic Assembly of North America (“IANA”).

  10. DXer said

    Can’t Dr. Relman, Vice-Chair of the NAS Committee, and author of the important SCIENCE article about Rauf’s work (“The Perils of Scientific Openness”) identify the lab that Rauf visited?

    No issue of personal privacy under FOIA (b)(6) warrants its redaction.

    Moreover, there is no reason it should be classified.

    If Rauf or some other Zawahiri associate walked out of a lab with virulent Ames, would he have bothered to submit it to the FBI’s repository pursuant to a subpoena?

    http://med.stanford.edu/ism/2011/february/relman.html

    David Relman:

    “Second, the FBI still might not have found other matches, because there’s no guarantee that the bureau had assembled a comprehensive library of lab strains: The repository of anthrax samples that the FBI created for comparison with the anthrax in the letters may not have been representative of all relevant anthrax stocks around the world. The newly revealed, but inconclusive, information about possible B. anthracis Ames at an al Qaeda overseas location highlights this issue. In addition, the instructions in the subpoena the FBI sent to scientists known to be in possession of the B. anthracis Ames strain lacked specificity, so there’s no certainty that scientists who were subpoenaed submitted samples of all the mutant strains in their possession. In light of these and other problems and gaps in the science performed as part of this investigation, our overarching finding was that it is not possible to reach a definitive conclusion about the origins of the B. anthracis in the mailings based on the available scientific evidence alone.

    We were not asked, nor properly constituted as a committee, to judge the conduct of the law enforcement inquiry.”

  11. DXer said

    Did MI5 tell the CIA about what it knew concerning Rauf similar to what M16 did regarding planes? Did the Mi16 warnings refer at all to Rauf’s procurement activities relating to anthrax?

    The Sunday Times – Britain

    June 09, 2002

    MI6 warned US of Al-Qaeda attacks
    Nicholas Rufford

    MI6 warned the American intelligence services about a plot to hijack aircraft and crash them into buildings two years before the September 11 attacks.

    Liaison staff at the American embassy in Grosvenor Square in London were passed a secret report by MI6 in 1999 after the intelligence service picked up indications from human intelligence sources (Humint) that Osama Bin Laden’s followers were planning attacks in which civilian aircraft could be used in “unconventional ways”.

    Information did not specify targets and would not necessarily have enabled US agencies to prevent attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, intelligence sources said.

    Details of the MI6 warning, expected to emerge during secret Congressional hearings this week in Washington into alleged intelligence failings, will increase pressure on the Bush administration for a radical shake-up of America’s counterterrorism efforts.

    President George W Bush has already announced plans for a new “homeland defence department” with a £25 billion annual budget to combat terrorism. “We need to know when warnings were missed or signs unheeded — not to point the finger of blame, but to make sure we correct any problems,” he said last week.

    MI6 had information as early as 1998 that Al-Qaeda was plotting fresh attacks. A series of warnings was passed to Washington, some concerning threats to American interests in Europe, including the US embassy in Paris. One message detailed heightened activity by suspected Al-Qaeda terror cells.

    “The Americans knew of plans to use commercial aircraft in unconventional ways, possibly as flying bombs,” said a senior Foreign Office source.

    A US government spokesman declined to comment. oPolice in London last week deployed for the first time on the British mainland new anti-suicide attack steps after Scotland Yard sent a delegation to meet security experts in Israel.

    Israeli-style barriers consisting of articulated lorries loaded with concrete were placed across Waterloo bridge to prevent a would-be terrorist from driving into the state coach as the Queen travelled to a jubilee service at St Paul’s cathedral.

  12. DXer said

    Award-winning science writer Laurie Garrett explains in I HEARD THE SIRENS SCREAM (July 18, 2011)

    “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.

    The other revelation in the 641 pages was evidence related to three 2004 searches for anthrax spores carried out by the FBI and “other intelligence partners” in an “overseas location” used in 2001 by al-Qaeda. Though the location is classified, it appears to have been Afghanistan, where U.S. Special Forces found two al-Qaeda related laboratories, one in Kabul and the other in Tora Bora, where Osama bin Laden successfully dodge American capture in December 2001?”

    [Comment: Tora Bora? Not Kandahar? The lab was moved around but is it clear where were the tests positive for Ames?]

    The three different rounds of swabbing, soil sampling and testing yielded contradictory results, some positive for anthracis, some negative. Adding to the confusion, another unnamed U.S. intelligence agency scoured the location before the FBI first reached the site, not only finding anthrax, but the Ames strain. The Ames-type Bacillus anthracis is a form of the bacterium never previously found in Asia. Further details of the possible al-Qaeda role in Amerithrax remain classified, and were not provided to the NRC.

    One point stands out: The primary two rounds of testing, first by an unnamed intelligence agency and then by the FBI, came up positive for Ames strain anthrax, while the second two were negative. It cannot be ruled out that the first two rounds of swabbing and sampling were so thorough that little Bacillus anthracis remained to be found in the final pair of investigations.

    Given the passage of time between putative use of the al-Qaeda lab and the four separate rounds of scouring and swabbing, including ultimate removal of entire sinks and plumbing for laboratory testing back in the U.S., the NRC said the FBI findings were, “inconclusive regarding the presence of B. anthracis Ames at the undisclosed site. Several scientific and technical issues should be explored in more detail.” The entire issue of possible al-Qaeda involvement in the 2001 anthrax attacks “deserves a more thorough scientific review,” the NRC said.

    • DXer said

      On this question of the pounds of flesh from the hijacker who had the leg lesion consistent with an anthrax lesion, and whose remains tested positive for Ames anthrax (see NAS report), we would want to obtain the following documents:

      GAO should obtain his application form SunTrust bank account opened June 2001;

      application or any writing associated with the apartment on Bougainvilla Dr. in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea in June 2001;

      any paperwork he filled out at the Holy Cross Hospital in Fort Lauderdale where he went for treatment of the leg lesion;

      the form he filled out on July 10 fpr a Florida driver’s license;

      and the September 7, 2001 change-of-address form he filled out.

      Handwriting analysis is fairly understood as within the forensics methodologies used by the FBI.

      The language, of course, in the notes is the same as used by the anthrax planners as in the note found in Aghanistan, “You are dead. Bang”.

      • DXer said

        So first and foremost, the handwriting should be compared to the language in the note among the anthrax planning documents stating:

        “You are dead. Bang”.

  13. DXer said

    Open September 1999 Letter From a London Radical Sheik Calling For Holy Biowar And Bin Laden’s Response

    Rauf would go to the UK each year.

    In early September 1999, the London Sunday Times reported that London Sheik Omar Bakri Muhammad, a friend of Abu Hamza, the mullah with metal claws for hands, in an open letter read out in mosques across Britain and published on the internet, called on Osama Bin Laden to use biological weapons against America and its allies. Sheik Omar Bakri posted his open letter to Bin Laden on his own website and read in mosques in Sheffield, Bradford, Leicester and London. When US officials complained, the letter was taken off the internet. “Using any biological weapons in self-defence is, in Islam, permissible, and I believe that we are currently operating under a defensive jihad. Obviously, we regret what could happen to innocent people, but there are always people who are war casualties or, if you like, victims of war.” He recommends that biological weapons be used against the “occupiers” of holy lands.

    Youssef Bodansky, the director of the Congressional United States Task Force on Terrorism, said: “Bakri knows that his letter will be acted upon and that is why he has written it.” He told the Sunday Times Bin Laden had taken encouragement from Bakri’s message and had issued a reply that was read out in mosques in Pakistan and Britain.

    • DXer said

      “I Successfully Achieved The Targets” Assistance Of Pakistan Scientist Rauf Ahmad In 1999 And 2000

      George Tenet in his May 2007 In the Center of the Storm says: “Al-Qa’ida spared no effort in its attempt to obtain biological weapons. In 1999, al-Zawahiri recruited Pakistani national Rauf Ahmad, to set up a small lab in Khandahar, Afghanistan, to house the biological weapons effort. In December 2001, a sharp WMD analyst at CIA found the initial lead on which we would pull and, ultimately, unravel the al-Qa’ida anthrax networks. We were able to identify Rauf Ahmad from letters he had written to Ayman al-Zawahiri. … We located Rauf Ahmad’s lab in Afghanistan. We identified the building in Khandahar where Sufaat claimed he isolated anthrax. We mounted operations that resulted in the arrests and detentions of anthrax operatives in several countries.”

      Delivering the James Smart Lecture, entitled “Global Terrorism: are we meeting the challenge?” at the headquarters of the City of London Police, Ms. Manningham-Buller, the head of MI5, said: “Western security services have uncovered networks of individuals, sympathetic to the aims of al-Qa’ida, that blend into society, individuals who live normal, routine lives until called upon for specific tasks by another part of the network.” She concluded: “The threats of chemical, biological and radiological and suicide attacks require new responses and the Government alone will not achieve all of it; industry and even the public must take greater responsibility for their own security.”

      In 1999, a scientist from Porton Down had reported to sfam members on a conference in Taos, New Mexico in August that included a talk by Tim Read, (TIGR, Rockville, USA) and concerned the whole genome sequencing of the Bacillus anthracis Ames strain. The Ames strain may have been a mystery to many after the Fall 2001 mailings, but not to motivated Society for Applied Microbiology (“SFAM”) members, one of whom was part of Ayman Zawahiri’s “Project Zabadi.”

      As described by Dr. Peter Turnbull’s Conference report for SFAM on “the First European Dangerous Pathogens Conference” (held in Winchester), at the September 1999 conference, the lecture theater only averaged about 75 at peak times by his head count. There had been a problem of defining “dangerous pathogen” and a “disappointing representation from important institutions in the world of hazard levels 3 and 4 organisms.” Papers included a summary of plague in Madagascar and another on the outbreak management of hemorrhagic fevers.

      Dr Paul Keim of Northern Arizona University presented a paper on multilocus VNTR typing, for example, of Bacillus anthracis and Yersinia pestis. There were more than the usual no-show presenters and fill-in speakers.

      The Sunday at the start of the Organization of the Dangerous Pathogens meeting in September 2000, which the SFAM director confirmed to me that Rauf Ahmad also attended, was gloomy. Planning had proved difficult. The overseas delegates included a sizable contingent from Russia. The organizers needed to address many thorny issues regarding who could attend. One of the scientists in attendance was Rauf Ahmad. The Washington Post reports: “The tall, thin and bespectacled scientist held a doctorate in microbiology but specialized in food production, according to U.S. officials familiar with the case.”

      Les Baillie the head of the biodefense technologies group at Porton Down ran the scientific program. Many of the delegates took an evening cruise round Plymouth harbor. The cold kept most from staying out on the deck. Later attendees visited the National Marine Aquarium — with a reception in view of a large tankful of sharks. Addresses include presentations on plagues of antiquity, showing how dangerous infectious diseases had a profound that they changed the course of history. Titles include “Magna pestilencia – Black Breath, Black Rats, Black Death”, “From Flanders to Glanders,” as well as talks on influenza, typhoid and cholera. The conference was co-sponsored by DERA, the UK Defence Evaluation and Research Agency.

      Les Baillie of Porton Down gave a presentation titled, “Bacillus anthracis: a bug with attitude!” He argued that anthrax was a likely pathogen to be used by terrorists. As described at the time by Phil Hanna of University of Michigan Medical School on the SFAM webpage, Baillie “presented a comprehensive overview of this model pathogen, describing its unique biology and specialized molecular mechanisms for pathogenesis and high virulence. He went on to describe modern approaches to exploit new bioinformatics for the development of potential medical counter measures to this deadly pathogen.”

      Bioinformatics was the field that Ali Al-Timimi, who had a security clearance for some government work and who had done work for the Navy, entered by 2000 at George Mason University in Virginia.

      Despite the cold and the sharks, amidst all the camaraderie and bonhomie no one suspected that despite the best efforts, a predator was on board — on a coldly calculated mission to obtain a pathogenic anthrax strain. The conference organizer Peter Turnbull had received funding from the British defense ministry but not from public health authorities, who thought anthrax too obscure to warrant the funding. By 2001, sponsorship of the conference was assumed by USAMRIID. USAMRIID scientist Bruce Ivins started planning the conference held in Annapolis, Maryland in June 2001 three years earlier, immediately upon his return from the September 1998 conference.

      According to the Pakistan press, a scientist named Rauf Ahmad was picked up in December 2001 by the CIA in Karachi. The most recent of the correspondence reportedly dates back to the summer and fall of 1999. Even if Rauf Ahmad cooperated with the CIA, he apparently could only confirm the depth of Zawahiri’s interest in weaponizing anthrax and provided no “smoking gun” concerning the identity of those responsible for the anthrax mailings in the Fall 2001. His only connection with SFAM was a member of the society. He was not an employee. The Pakistan ISI, according to the Washington Post article in October 2006, stopped cooperating in regard to Rauf Ahmad in 2003.

      I have uploaded scanned copies of some 1999 documents seized in Afghanistan by US forces describing the author’s visit to the special confidential room at the BL-3 facility where 1000s of pathogenic cultures were kept; his consultation with other scientists on some of technical problems associated with weaponizing anthrax; the bioreactor and laminar flows to be used in Al Qaeda’s anthrax lab; and the need for vaccination and containment. He explained that the lab director noted that he would have to take a short training course at the BL-3 lab for handling dangerous pathogens. Rauf Ahmad noted that his employer’s offer of pay during a 12-month post-doc sabbatical was wholly inadequate and was looking to Ayman to make up the difference. After an unacceptably low pay for the first 8 months, there would be no pay for last 4 months and there would be a service break. He had noted that he only had a limited time to avail himself of the post-doc sabbatical. I also have uploaded an earlier handwritten letter from before the lab visit described in the typed memo. The Defense Intelligence Agency provided the documents to me, along with 100+ pages more, pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”). 90 of the 100 pages are the photocopies of journal articles and disease handbook excerpts.

      The Washington Post, in an exclusive groundbreaking investigative report, recounts that the FBI’s New York office took the lead U.S. role — and its agents worked closely with the CIA and bureau officials in Pakistan in interrogating Rauf. Though not formally charged with any crimes, Rauf agreed to questioning. While the US media focused on the spectacle of bloodhounds alerting to Dr. Steve Hatfill and the draining of Maryland ponds, this former Al Qaeda anthrax operative provided useful leads. But problems began when the U.S. officials sought to pursue criminal charges, including possible indictment and prosecution in the United States.

      In earlier cases, such as the orthopedic surgeon Dr. Amer Aziz who treated Bin Laden in the Fall of 2001, the Pakistani government angered the Pakistani public when it sought to prosecute professionals for alleged ties to al-Qaeda. In the case of Amer Aziz, hundreds of doctors, engineers and lawyers took to the streets to demand his release. In 2003, the Pakistanis shut off U.S. access to Rauf. By then, I had noticed the reporting of his arrest in a local Pakistan news article about the raid of a compound of doctors named Khawaja and published it on my website. According to Pakistani officials, there was not enough evidence showing that he actually succeeded in providing al-Qaeda with something useful. Since then, the Post reports, Rauf has been allowed to return to his normal life. Attempts by the Post to contact Rauf in Lahore were unsuccessful. Initially the government agency had said an interview would be possible but then backpedaled.

      “He was detained for questioning, and later the courts determined there was not sufficient evidence to continue detaining him,” Pakistan’s information minister told the Post. “If there was evidence that proved his role beyond a shadow of a doubt, we would have acted on it. But that kind of evidence was not available.” Yazid Sufaat got the job handling things at the lab instead of Rauf Ahmad. More importantly, Zawahiri, if keeping with his past experience, would have kept things strictly compartmentalized — leaving the Amerithrax Task Force much to do.

      • DXer said

        “You are dead! Bang”: Ayman’s Plan To Use Charities And Universities As Cover In Weaponizing Anthrax

        Among the correspondence written by Rauf Ahmad seized in Afghanistan, there are handwritten notes about the plan to use NGOs, technical institutes and medical labs as cover for aspects of the work, and training requirements for the various personnel at the lab in Afghanistan.

        Two Pakistani nuclear scientists founded Ummah Tameer-e-Nau in June 2000. “Reconstruction of the Muslim Ummah,” or “UTN,” an Islamabad-based organization whose stated purpose was to conduct relief and development work in Afghanistan. UTN built a flour mill in Kandahar and purchased land in the Kandahar region. UTN business cards from the organization carry the motto “Build to Help, Help to Build.” After the fall of the Taliban, coalition forces and the media began to search UTN facilities in Kabul. It was in November that it was reported by The Economist that the “House of Anthrax” had been found.

        Documents found by journalists in November 2001 at a villa in Kabul occupied by UTN suggested brainstorming seminars on anthrax had been held to include diagrams suggestive of a plan to use a helium-filled balloon to disperse anthrax across a wide area. The nondescript two-story villa occupied by the Pakistani aid group was in a quiet residential neighborhood of Kabul where a number of international charities were located. One downloaded document had the picture of former Secretary Cohen holding up a 5 pound bag of sugar. There were details about the U.S. military’s vaccination program downloaded from a Defense Department site on the Internet and other Defense Department documents relating to anthrax. There were 10 copies each of most of the documents. On the floor, there was what appeared to be a disassembled rocket alongside a helium canister, as well as two bags of powder. A detailed diagram scrawled in black felt tip pen on a white board shows what appears to be a balloon rising at various trajectories, alongside a fighter jet that is apparently shooting at the balloon. Beside the jet are the words, “You are dead, bang.”

        There were also pictures of ground missiles linked by lines to the balloon. Mathematical calculations indicated the height at which the balloon would fly, the distance from which it would be shot down and the area over which its contents would be dispersed. Beside one of the balloons is the word “polystyrene” and beside another the word “cyanide.” Loose sheets of paper containing scribbles of missiles and balloons were strewn around the house, indicating those attending the seminar had been taking notes and doing calculations.

        Although people can reasonably disagree on the conclusion to be drawn of the drawing on the white board showing aerial dispersal of anthrax by balloon, the drawings should be understood in the context of Ayman’s research and reading on the subject. One email from Ayman to Atef lists Peace or Pestilence as one of the books he had read. (The author argued that said science should combat disease, not find devious ways to spread it. That book included a description of the Japanese research on anthrax leading up to WW II and the US concern that anthrax was being dispersed by balloons being sent to the US on high hot air currents. Unit 731 experimented extensively with anthrax bombs and hot-air balloons filled with the deadly disease. In late 1944, aerosol scientists at Ft. Detrick (then known as Camp Detrick) were alarmed when news of some large balloons, as large as 150 feet around, had been sighted silently floating over populated areas. Within a few months, over 250 balloons had been discovered in nine western states. The balloons are known only to have been armed with an incendiary device and killed and injured only a very few people.

        A senior CNN producer who visited many UTN and Al Qaeda houses in Afghanistan, found the documents linking UTN to Jaish e Muhammad, the Army of the Prophet Mohammad, the Pakistani militant group that had been listed as a terrorist organization by the US on October 12, 2001. Other documents linked UTN to the Pakistan-based Saudi charity WAFA Humanitarian Organization and Al Rashid Trust, two other non-governmental organizations with ties to al-Qaeda that were designated on September 23, 2001 as supporters of terrorism. The New York Times reported on the search of the home by US personnel. A group of men armed with pistols, reportedly Americans, wearing gas masks, rubber gloves and boots, then came to remove powdered chemicals. The men had instructed the guards posted by National Alliance to not go in the home because the chemicals could be dangerous. The room that had been littered with papers was empty and had been swept or vacuumed by the Americans.

        • DXer said

          Al Qaeda’s 2001 Threat To Use Mailed Anthrax In Connection With Jailed Vanguards Of Conquest No. 2 Leader And Former Bin Laden Sudan Farm Manager Mohammad Mahjoub

          On January 23, 2001, a Canadian court held that the Court did not have jurisdiction to decide the constitutional and Charter issues raised by detainee Mahjoub, thought to be #2 of the Vanguards of Conquest, and dismissed that part of the motion. A letter was received January 30, 2001 at the Citizenship and Immigration Office threatening to use anthrax. It was sent to Immigration Minister Elinor Caplan who had co-signed the detention certificate. Mahjoub had been sentenced in absentia to 15 years in prison in 1999 by Egyptian authorities for his involvement in Egyptian Islamic Jihad. Now, he was being detained without charges under an order co-signed by Immigration Minister Caplan and threatened with deportation. The postmark has never been publicly identified. Separately, hoax letters were also sent to American businesses and a Walmart in Saanich, British Columbia. Mahjoub had been in regular contact with a man named Marzouk, who had trained the 1998 embassy bombers and was captured in Baku, Azerbaijan in August 1998.

          Suspecting Mahjoub of being a shura member of the Vanguards of Conquest and Egyptian Islamic Jihad, the Canadian intelligence officials alleged Mahjoub had significant contacts with persons associated with international Islamic terrorism including Osama Bin Laden, Ahmad Khadr, Essam Marzouk, Vanguards founder Ahmed Agiza, and Osama Bin Laden’s principal procurement agent for weapons of mass destruction Mubarak Al Duri.

          When the letter was received in January 2001, the letter was sent by Department of National Defence jet to the Canadian Science Center for Human and Animal Health in Winnipeg for examination. Authorities also sent the filters from the Jean Edmonds building’s ventilation system. Authorities said they were treating it as a possible terrorist act against the department and noted that it “was the first time a government department has been targeted in this way.” The Ottawa alert came after one of the employees working in the Minister’s office opened a plain white envelope at 11:15 a.m. The employee discovered powder and a piece of paper in the envelope. Police refused to reveal from where it had been mailed. One source said the letter was unsigned and “mostly gibberish.” Indeed, the Fall 2001 letters might be described as mostly gibberish, and certainly the “JLo letter” — talking about Jennifer Lopez’ planned wedding — was. An internal government memo distributed to staff said “an initial analysis of the envelope revealed some traces of bacteria.”

        • DXer said

          September 10, 2001 “Risk Assessment of Anthrax Threat Letters”

          After the January 2001 anthrax threat, a Canadian research team undertook to assess the risk. The report titled “Risk Assessment of Anthrax Threat Letters” issued September 2001. The Canadian study found considerable exposure to those in the room resulted when such a letter was opened. Bacillus globigii spores (in dry powder form) were donated by the US Department of Defense (Dugway Proving Ground, Utah). Stock concentration powder was -1 x 10 11 cfu/gm. The anthrax sent to the Senators had a smaller particle size –tending toward a uniform 1 micron, subject to clumping that easily broke apart. Bacillus globigii (BG) spores are routinely used as a simulant for Bacillus anthracis (anthrax) spores. “The letter was prepared by putting BG spores in the center of a sheet of paper, folding it over into thirds, placing the folded sheet into the envelope and sealing using the adhesive present on the envelope. The envelope was then shaken to mimic the handling and tumbling that would occur during its passage through the postal system.” The aerosol, produced by opening the BG spore containing envelope, was not confined to the area of the desk but spread throughout the chamber. Values were almost as high at the opposite end of the chamber, shortly after opening the envelopes. 99% of the particles collected were in the 2.5 to 10 µm size range. The report explained: “In addition, the aerosol would quickly spread throughout the room so that other workers, depending on their exact locations and the directional air flow within the office, would likely inhale lethal doses. Envelopes with the open corners not specifically sealed could also pose a threat to individuals in the mail handling system.”

          More than 80% of the B anthracis particles collected on stationary monitors were within an alveolar respirable size range of 0.95 to 3.5 µm. Thus, the simulant performed very well. Those who continue to argue that the Daschle product was so advanced beyond what the US could do are mistaken. The CIA and CSIS apparently feared that the Vanguards of Conquest would use the good stuff.

          The CIA knew EIJ intended to use anthrax — from the proclamations of Jaballah’s friend, the captured military commander Mabruk and Jaballah’s brother-in-law’s former law partner al-Zayat. Authorities knew Al Qaeda was getting technical assistance from scientists — and that many of the senior Egyptian leaders had advanced or technical degrees. The specifications provided by Dugway perhaps involved treated fumed silica and a spraydryer (with a last critical step reserved to be done at Dugway) may have been based on what Al Qaeda might send with a little help from their friends.

          Canadian officials explained they e-mailed the study to the CDC soon after reports of the discovery of anthrax at the American Media Inc. headquarters in Florida. The e-mail, however, was never opened, reports the lead CDC anthrax investigator, who regrets that he never read the email. “It is certainly relevant data, but I don’t think it would have altered the decisions that we made.” At one point, about 2,000 CDC employees were working on the anthrax matter. This Canadian report was perhaps the single most important scientific data point for the CDC to take into account. It certainly was one of the most important reports for the FBI to take into account.

          Bail was denied by decision on October 5, 2001. Then highly potent anthrax was sent the next day just as had been promised. But Ayman apparently had returned to the target of his greatest interest — rather than a Canadian immigration minister, he and Shehata and their colleagues targeted the minister who oversaw the Department of Justice and appropriations to Egypt and Israel, and who gave his name (”the Leahy Law”) to the law that permits continuing appropriations to Egypt in the face of allegations of torture. Zawahiri never makes a threat he doesn’t intend to try to keep.

          Bill Patrick, who often worked with George Mason University students in northern Virginia, had written a report in 1999 for a consultant SAIC at the request of Dr. Steve Hatfill. As one bioterrorism expert commented about the report: “Anytime you pick something up like this, and it seems to layout the whole story for you months or years before the fact, your immediate response is to step back and say ‘whoa, something may be going on here. “Our attacker may very well have used this report as something of a — if not a template, then certainly as a rule of thumb.”

          The Canadian experiments in 2001 showed that if anthrax spores were finely powdered, a letter could release thousands of lethal doses of the bacteria within minutes of being opened. Furthermore, large amounts of material leaked out of sealed envelopes even before they were opened. By then, more than two dozen federal government employees knew of the Canadian studies, which showed that a real anthrax threat letter was a far more dangerous weapon than anyone had believed. Within days, a dozen more people were informed of the now highly relevant experimental findings. Over the course of the next decade, one FBI investigative squad was focused on people who may have known of the study — such as William Patrick’s friend, Dr. Steve Hatfill. Another squad would be focused on the usual suspects and their friends. For the next seven years, the investigation would be shrouded in great secrecy.

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