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

* Records showed that the “Federal Eagle” envelope printed during the January 2001 to June 2002 run was sold by 45 offices in Virginia and Maryland — including Laurel, Maryland, where Atta and the hijackers had their need for postal supplies served by the Mail Boxes Etc. office in Laurel.

Posted by Lew Weinstein on January 25, 2012

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5 Responses to “* Records showed that the “Federal Eagle” envelope printed during the January 2001 to June 2002 run was sold by 45 offices in Virginia and Maryland — including Laurel, Maryland, where Atta and the hijackers had their need for postal supplies served by the Mail Boxes Etc. office in Laurel.”

  1. DXer said

    http://www.asqde.org/AGM/previous_meetings/programs_and_abstracts/2009Abstracts.pdf

    LaPorte, Gerry Envelope Examinations and the Anthrax Investigation

    Bio: Gerry LaPorte has more than 15 years of experience in the field of forensic science and more than 8 years of experience performing physical and chemical examinations on a variety of documents to determine how they were produced, where they may have originated from, and if they are authentic. He trained with the United States Secret Service in the field of questioned document examination with specialization in the area of ink and paper analysis. He served as the Chief Research Forensic Chemist until March of 2009 and is currently employed with the Department of Justice as a Forensic Policy Program Manager. He is a member of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences (AAFS), American Society of Questioned Document Examiners (ASQDE), American Society of Testing and Materials (ASTM) International, Mid-Atlantic Association of Forensic Scientists (MAAFS), and the Mid-Western Association of Forensic Scientists (MAFS). He is also a contributing member in the Scientific Working Group for Questioned Documents (SWGDOC) and the European Document Examiners Working Group (EDEWG). He has conducted more than 50 lectures, seminars, and training events in 13 different countries for law enforcement agencies, professional organizations, and technical experts, and has published several scientific papers in the area of forensic document examination and authored a chapter on document fraud and forgery.

    Abstract: Letters containing anthrax spores were sent via the U.S. postal service in the fall of 2001 killing 5 and infecting 17 others. The envelopes that were used for the attacks contained three separate pre-printed areas to include a; i) 34¢ Federal Eagle stamp on the front in the top right corner; ii) recycle statement on the back in the lower portion and; iii) a U.S.P.S. copyright marking on the back. The printed image and text was produced using flexography.

    The presentation will focus on the use of a generally accepted methodology used to analyze, compare, and evaluate the envelopes from the anthrax investigation. Two separate research endeavors were conducted. The first involved a controlled production run of pre-printed envelopes to assess batch variation based on the morphological characteristics of printing defects. The second was a blind study to evaluate the reliability of associating questioned and known envelopes suspected to have originated from the same source and the potential error rate that may be encountered.

  2. DXer said

    The stamp used in the mailings was of a green bird. The use of the stamp, as explained by azzam.com, under the belief system of the 911 hijackers served to represent that the souls of the 911 hijackers were going to paradise.

    2012
    Al-Jihad Fi Sabilillah: in the Heart of Green Birds Robyn Torok
    Edith Cowan University, rtorok@our.ecu.edu.au

    METHODOLOGY
    The research project utilised a grounded theory approach where discourses were collected from multiple pages and groups using fifty one different pseudonym user names. Discourses were observed for a period of six months and collected over a period of three weeks. Data collection was limited to Facebook pages and groups and involved no interaction with any members. As far as possible, emphasis was placed on collecting material from Australian based profiles. A total of thirty four profile and group pages were collected for analysis.
    Data was analysed using an inductive qualitative approach. A framework based on the three broad categories found in the literature review was used to organise the data. Open comparative coding was used in order to identify further core categories and themes (Mills, Bonnor & Francis, 2006; Holton, 2007). ***

    In the Heart of Green Birds

    Being carried in the heart of a green bird was a very important part of shaheed found on Facebook sites with both literary descriptions (Figure 6) as well as actual images of green birds. This concept is originally founded in the following verse of the Hadith Qudsi 27:

    ‘Their souls are in the insides of green birds having lanterns suspended from the Throne, roaming freely in Paradise where they please, then taking shelter in those lanterns. So their Lord cast a glance at them (1) and said: ‘Do you wish for anything?’ They said: ‘What shall we wish for when we roam freely in Paradise where we please?’
    This verse or slight variations of it (Figure 6) were found in many pages and profiles associated with martyrdom. Even the name – green bird, as well as variations of it, were utilised as user names on Facebook. Although Anwar Awlaki has been killed (to extremists he is a worthy martyr), his work continues to be one of the most important and commonly endorsed by extremists, as well as, the most quoted, including his imagery of birds in which he contrasts the freedom of birds with the limitations of man.

    [Box with quotes from extremist group pages]

    “The bird has an honor that man does not have, Man lives in the traps of his abdicated laws and traditions; but the birds live according to the natural law of ALLAH, The Almighty–Who causes the earth to turn around the sun

    Real Soldiers don’t reside within the depths of the ghettos; Real Soldiers are Slave of Allah… Real Soldiers Reside within the Hearts of Green Birds!

    I learned so many things here…Green Birds changed me inside out… At times I thought that my studies, my work, my earnings will be of no use if I don’t have treasure of Iman…

    The souls of the martyrs live in the bodies of green birds who have their nests in chandeliers hung from the throne of the Almighty. They eat the fruits of Paradise wherever they like and then nestle in these chandeliers. Once, their Lord cast a glance at
    them and said: “Do you want anything?” They said: “What more can we desire? We eat the fruit of Paradise wherever we like.”

    The arwah of the Shuhada’s are with Allah on Judgement Day inside the belly of green birds. They have lanterns suspended from the ‘Asrh. They fly in Paradise to where ever they want

    Surely in the hearts of green bird we will meet For Allah is pleased for we have done the righteous deed Source: extremist group pages”

    “DISCUSSION

    Prior to discussion of results, it is important to note that the relative size of the sample of material used in this study is quite small compared to the extremely large volume of radicalised material on Facebook. Nonetheless, the sample is representative of extreme proponents of Sunni salafist, and will form a solid, yet incomplete basis for comparison with previous research trends.”

    ***

    “CONCLUSION
    Al-Jihad fi Sabilillah is the first goal of terrorist recruiters, finding those willing to follow the path of jihad. Subsequently, followers need to adopt the attitude or method of Istishhad which aims to end in martyrdom, in the heart of green birds. Thus, the title for this paper was constructed with the starting point (Al-Jihad fi Sabilillah) and the end goal of terrorist seducers (In the heart of green birds).”

    Among his references, the learned author cites

    Azzam, A. In the heart of green birds. Retrieved from http://ebooks.worldofislam.info/ebooks/Jihad/heartsgreenbirds.pdf

    Comment: You will recall that Anwar Awlaki’s meeting with Ali Al-Timimi, even by Ali’s account, was on the subject of recruiting young men to jihad.

    By not having a sophisticated understanding of the green bird stamp and/or having decision-makers credit the analysis, the FBI made a serious misstep.

  3. DXer said

    Vahid Majidi, in his new book on Amerithrax, writes:

    “The Dulles SDO was a central receiving center, from the envelopes’ manufacturer, and the distribution point for Post Offices in Maryland and Virginia. Envelopes with defects, most similar to the evidence, were shipped to post offices in Elkton, Maryland, Severna Park, Maryland, Cumberland, Maryland; Galena, Maryland; Frederick, Maryland; Fairfax, Virginia; and Machipongo, Virginia on March 21, 2001.”

    Now compare this statement of fact to the outrageous spin by US Attorney Taylor on this issue at the August 2008 press conference.

  4. DXer said

    Hani Hanjour rented mailbox #433 at Mail Boxes Etc. in Laurel, Maryland on August 18, 2001.

    http://www.vaed.uscourts.gov/notablecases/moussaoui/exhibits/prosecution/OG00020-09.pdf

    Media accounts from Fall 2001 often associate Atta as having been at the Laurel, MD Mail Boxes Etc. on September 8, 2001. (In Fall 2001, he typically was mistakenly reported to have done one of his wire transfers there to Al-Hawsawi rather than Safeway but reports of Atta being there need to be obtained and linked.)

    In Fort Lee, New Jersey, a key hijacker connected to Jdey, Nawaf al-Hamzi, similarly rented a mailbox at Mail Box Etc. at the Linwood Plaza Mall.

    http://www.wanttoknow.info/010916post

    In Fort Lee, N.J., Dave Hascup, manager of a Mail Boxes Etc. store in the Linwood Plaza Mall, said FBI and police officers interviewed him Wednesday about hijackers Nawaq Alhamzi and Salem Alhamzi, whom authorities said had a mailbox there.

    “I sat in the back while [the FBI agents] checked the mailbox,” Hascup said. “There are just some things you don’t want to know.”

    Even before that, Atta had a mail box at Mail Boxes Etc. down in Florida. And I believe, without pulling up the record, that one or more of the hijackers had a MBE post office box in Baltimore.

    Question: Did Mail Box Etc. franchise stores sell stamps and postal supplies such as the Federal Eagle envelope? (sold in a 5-pack) Yes. That’s what they did. They facilitated the receipt and sending of mail. (MBE was renamed The UPS Store in 2003)

    http://www.theupsstorelocal.com/0618/
    http://www.theupsstorelocal.com/3070/products.htm

    • DXer said

      Question: With respect to the $100,000 particulate mixer that was shipped to Fort Lee, how far was it from 96 Linwood Plaza? I believe it was delivered to an address about a mile away (from having mapquested it many years ago.)

      What does Syed Athar Abbas say was the purpose of the particulate food mixer?

      Excerpt from David Tell’s article.

      “Mr. Parascandola reports that it’s been established Abbas did take possession of this machine at the “Computers Dot Com” offices in Fort Lee last summer, but had the thing “immediately transported elsewhere” before taking off himself for Pakistan. Federal investigators, Parascandola adds, “have not been able to locate the industrial food mixer” in question, which problem continues to be of some “concern.” All the more so because, despite his guilty plea and promise of restitution to the banks he bilked, Abbas has “refused to cooperate with investigators trying to find out more about his accomplices or the mixer.”

      Oh.

      The $100,000 particulate mixer Parascandola describes, incidentally, is the exact same technology commonly employed by major food and pharmaceutical manufacturers to process fluid-form organic and inorganic compounds into powder: first to dry those compounds; next to grind the resulting mixture into tiny specks of dust, as small as a single micron in diameter; then to coat those dust specks with a chemical additive, if necessary, to maximize their motility or “floatiness”; and finally to aerate the stuff for end-use packaging. In other words, this is how you’d put Aunt Jemima pancake mix in its box. Or place concentrations of individual anthrax spores into letters addressed to Senators Tom Daschle and Patrick Leahy.”

      Who Is Syed Athar Abbas?

      And what was he doing with a $100,000 “fine particulate mixer” last summer?

      http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/001/470lfsdb.asp

      Who is Syed Athar Abbas?
      Weekly Standard ^ | 07/17/2002 10:00:00 AM | David Tell
      Posted on July 17, 2002 1:00:28 PM EDT by WhiteKnuckles

      Who is Syed Athar Abbas?
      And what was he doing with a $100,000 “fine particulate mixer” last summer?
      by David Tell
      07/17/2002 10:00:00 AM

      David Tell, opinion editor

      BACK IN APRIL, having marinated myself in a decade’s worth of published microbiology research and whatnot, I wrote a longish story for the Standard expressing near total bewilderment about the FBI’s investigation of last fall’s anthrax terrorism. Specifically, I couldn’t understand why the Bureau seemed so strongly inclined to the view that its suspect was a lone American scientist–and so little inclined to take seriously the possibility that those mail-borne murders might somehow have been connected with the hijackings of September 11.

      Well, three months have gone by now, and even though solid evidence seems ever more elusive the FBI says it still prefers the domestic terrorism scenario–far and away–over any and all competitors. And while I still have (all) my doubts, I feel obliged to note that the trend of opinion in the community of outside anthrax investigation kibbitzers is running hard against me.

      Barbara Hatch Rosenberg of the Federation of American Scientists, the influential conspiracy theorist whom I cuffed around sarcastically in my April piece, has grown increasingly confident–and precise and personal–in her speculations about “the” American perpetrator. Other such internet-based anthrax sleuths have gone further, fingering Rosenberg’s current top suspect by name: He is a former staff scientist at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases at Ft. Detrick, Maryland, one Dr. Steven Hatfill. Indeed, so appealing is the idea of Hatfill’s guilt, apparently, that no less an eminence than Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times has twice published columns (here and here) describing him in exhaustive detail–thinly disguised as “Mr. Z”–and wondering aloud why the FBI hasn’t long since busted the guy.

      Seems to me the Times’s libel attorneys must be mighty relieved that Kristof has chickened out with that “Mr. Z” business. Seems to me the case against Hatfill is based entirely (and torturously) on the circumstantial overlap of his biography with an arbitrary suspect profile. Seems to me that if the Bureau does wind up running him in–they’ve already searched his apartment while tipped off news crews from local Frederick, Maryland TV stations hovered overhead in helicopters–we could well have another Richard Jewell situation on our hands. Seems to me that the anthrax conspiracy junkies are excited by Hatfill for the same perfectly understandable but not especially persuasive reason that they are unexcited by any number of other possible culprits: Human nature makes us want to bend and improve reality the better to fit our preconceptions.

      Me, though, I like to think I don’t have any preconceptions about the anthrax case. Could be the bad guy was an American, I figure. On the other hand, could be someone from, say . . . Pakistan.

      Speaking of which–and trusting that the discussion will not spoil my status as a down-the-line anthrax-case agnostic–let me here introduce you to a Pakistani gentleman named Syed Athar Abbas.

      The Newark, New Jersey office of local U.S. Attorney Christopher J. Christie has kindly provided me a fax copy of the April 23, 2002 plea agreement–signed by Mr. Abbas on June 10–according to which said Pakistani gentleman now waives his right to prosecution by indictment and agrees, instead, to acknowledge guilt in connection with a one-count felony “information” alleging his participation in an elaborate check-kiting scheme. Abbas, it appears, “from on or about June 7, 2001, through on or about July 10, 2001,” defrauded two banks, a Wells Fargo branch in Woodland Hills, California and a Fleet Bank branch in Fort Lee, New Jersey, of slightly more than $100,000–by manipulating three checking accounts he’d opened for a bogus Fort Lee business alternately known as “Dot Com Computer” and “Cards.Com.”

      None of which by itself makes Abbas particularly noteworthy or ties him, even inferentially, to the anthrax letters or any other form of terrorism. True, it turns out that the FBI, pursuing some thus far undisclosed lead, originally went looking for Abbas–in the first few days after September 11–at his presumed address on the top floor of a commercial building in Fort Lee. And Fort Lee is thought to have been home at some point to Nawaq and Salem Alhamzi, both of whom helped fly American Airlines Flight 77 into the side of the Pentagon. And the FBI could not locate Abbas at first because, so says his former landlord, the man had suddenly abandoned his Fort Lee lease more than a month before–and had disappeared without a trace.

      But Abbas wasn’t really on the lam, reports his court-appointed lawyer; he’d merely flown home to Pakistan to care for his dying father. And in (nearly) every other respect, Abbas is indistinguishable from hundreds of other Middle Eastern immigrants swept up–in Fort Lee and other such communities–by the FBI’s post-9/11 dragnet. Most have been questioned and released. A few dozen of them have been lengthily detained, pending deportation, for minor immigration violations. And a handful, like Abbas, have been subject to other criminal charges, like bank fraud, that carry no explicit whiff of terrorism. Syed Athar Abbas is not that big a deal, you would think. In fact, Syed Athar Abbas is someone you and I would otherwise never have heard of, because so far as I can tell, in the entire world of internet journalism–and legitimate journalism, too–no one has ever before so much as mentioned his name . . .

      Except for a single reporter named Rocco Parascandola, who covers law enforcement and the courts for Newsday in New York. Only Rocco Parascandola–in two short dispatches for his paper, one this past December 27 and one just this week, on Monday–has noticed something interesting about Mr. Abbas. Rocco Parascandola has noticed, because his “law enforcement sources” have told him as much, that when the FBI first sought to interview Abbas back in September, they did not discover that he was a run-of-the-mill check-kiting scam artist who nevertheless loved his father like every good boy should. No, what the FBI discovered, instead, was that Syed Athar Abbas was an abruptly vanished fugitive who, using an alias, had recently “arranged to pay $100,000 in cash”–roughly the amount he’d stolen from Wells Fargo and Fleet–for the purchase and shipment of a “fine-food particulate mixer,” a “sophisticated machine used commercially” to do various things you wouldn’t expect an outfit called “Computers Dot Com” to do. Like “mix chemicals,” for example.

      Oh.

      Mr. Parascandola reports that it’s been established Abbas did take possession of this machine at the “Computers Dot Com” offices in Fort Lee last summer, but had the thing “immediately transported elsewhere” before taking off himself for Pakistan. Federal investigators, Parascandola adds, “have not been able to locate the industrial food mixer” in question, which problem continues to be of some “concern.” All the more so because, despite his guilty plea and promise of restitution to the banks he bilked, Abbas has “refused to cooperate with investigators trying to find out more about his accomplices or the mixer.”

      Oh.

      The $100,000 particulate mixer Parascandola describes, incidentally, is the exact same technology commonly employed by major food and pharmaceutical manufacturers to process fluid-form organic and inorganic compounds into powder: first to dry those compounds; next to grind the resulting mixture into tiny specks of dust, as small as a single micron in diameter; then to coat those dust specks with a chemical additive, if necessary, to maximize their motility or “floatiness”; and finally to aerate the stuff for end-use packaging. In other words, this is how you’d put Aunt Jemima pancake mix in its box. Or place concentrations of individual anthrax spores into letters addressed to Senators Tom Daschle and Patrick Leahy.

      Oh.

      Again, mind you, I know of no hard evidence to suggest that Syed Athar Abbas is “the” anthrax terrorist–or any kind of anthrax terrorist, for that matter. My only point is this: Nicholas Kristof and the rest of them have no hard evidence that poor Steven “Mr. Z” Hatfill is “the” anthrax terrorist, either, and yet they’re all but calling him guilty anyway. Why? Mostly because he fits their preexisting suspect profile, that’s why: Hatfill is a native-born American citizen with a scientific background in toxic organisms. Were Hatfill instead a Pakistani immigrant who’d recently completed a suspicious purchase of the expensive machinery necessary to weaponize toxic organisms, well . . . how much you want to bet he’d have gone completely ignored? The way Mr. Abbas has been ignored?

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