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

* Arthur Friedlander, who improved anthrax vaccine after 2001 attacks, is Heyman finalist (Wash Po, Aug 22)

Posted by DXer on August 22, 2012



6 Responses to “* Arthur Friedlander, who improved anthrax vaccine after 2001 attacks, is Heyman finalist (Wash Po, Aug 22)”

  1. DXer said

    Would Amerithrax have turned out differently if Art had read whodunits as a child and he faxed the 16 pages to the FBI in 2001 rather than 2005?’-rmr-1029-anthrax-more-questions-for-um-and-lsu-researchers/

    • DXer said

      Former FBI Official: Trip Wires Are Foiling Plots
      Tuesday, 21 Aug 2012 01:22 PM
      By Ronald Kessler

      Read more on Former FBI Official: Trip Wires Are Foiling Plots

      “We have a complete set of trip wires for chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear threats,” Majidi says.

      The WMD Directorate was established to coordinate all elements of the FBI that deal with WMD cases. When FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III hired him in 2006 to head the WMD Directorate, he said to Majidi, “Your mission is prevention. I want you to think 24/7 prevention.”

      Majidi was previously the chemistry division leader at Los Alamos National Laboratory. He is now director of the Energy and Technology Center at the University of Oklahoma’s University Multispectral Laboratory


      To be a terrorist, “You need communications strategy, you need to be able to raise money, you need to be able to move money, you need an organizational structure that allows for that to happen, and you need communications that go back to the mother ship,” [Arthur M. “Art” Cummings II] says.


      In addition, “At a lot of retail stores, if you buy certain quantities of certain things, they have cards from the FBI that tell them that maybe this is something that I should be notifying the FBI about,” Majidi says.

      If the FBI finds that an outlet overseas is selling material that could be used for a weapon of mass destruction, it will work with foreign governments to close down the outlet.


      “People don’t realize that the FBI works with the entire U.S. government, including the CIA and Department of Defense, to identify things of concern anywhere in the world,”


      “We look at all of these things as a multi-tier program,” Majidi says. “Every time you want to develop a weapon, you have to go through a series of processes, and if you have a trip wire at every level of those steps, if any of them identifies something suspicious, that is good enough,” Majidi says. “That’s actually what really works most of the time.”

      Read more on Former FBI Official: Trip Wires Are Foiling Plots

      Comment: How well does Mr. Cummings description fit the cell structure used by Ayman Zawahiri in his anthrax program described by James Vandevelde? (I’m not sure his current employment was disclosed at the conference moderated by Lew held in D.C.). What tripwire would be triggered upon purchase of a $300 remote controlled hover-craft through using a proxy or stolen credit card?

      As for FBI working with other agencies, you would have an FBI agent walking down the hallway at Gitmo next to the DOD interrogator of Batarfi (who knew Yazid Sufaat in summer 2001 and arranged procurement of equipment) — without any sharing at all. Amerithrax Task Force members could not even share between squads — and so what meaningful sharing was there between agencies?

      It is the DOJ’s Dr. Majidi whose FBI and US Attorney speciously claimed at the August 8, 2008 press conference that Dr. Ivins used the lyophilizer to dry the anthrax.

      Tripwires are surely important and the FBI can be commended for its efforts dating back, for example, to OPERATION TRIPWIRE relating to cropdusters and the like.

      For example, was it a tripwire that led to the interception of a massive amount of saponin being purchased in Europe in 2002 or so?

      But does it seem naive to anyone to be especially confident in the belief that tripwires cannot be effectively circumvented?

      For example, Dr. Ayman made fools of western biosecurity defense in having his man regularly attend Porton Down-sponsored conferences on anthrax. If there is such a sharing of information, then how come the public (and other agencies) don’t even know what lab Rauf Ahmad visited in his quest for virulent anthrax — after which he advised Dr. Ayman that the targets had been acquired. Does the Vice-Chairman of the NAS panel David Relman know the lab? (I suspect he does). Sharing of information helps get people on the same page.

      Did the FBI ever actually learn from that history? Or do they think they suddenly smartened up and Dr. Ayman suddenly stopped being clever.

      If the FBI had its sh** together, then why was it thrown off by the fact that the name of the former Zawahiri associate was spelled wrong on the B3 log. Why (judging from the disclosed documents) were the 16 pages about the research first obtained in 2005?

      Did the FBI ever stop for a moment now to appreciate that $2 billion in US appropriations are going to a country controlled by the Muslim Brotherhood?

      For example, did Dr. Majidi ever stop to consider that the holder of the keys to the apartment used by the 7/7 bombers was an expert in polymerization? And was represented by the close associate of Montasser Al-Zayat who announced in 1999 that Dr. Ayman was going to use anthrax against US targets to retaliate for the rendering of senior EIJ leaders (such as Dr. Ayman’s brother Mohammed).

      Isn’t a strategy based on Walmart nothing to strain your arm patting your back over? Isn’t the WMD threat posed by espionage planned by an adversary like Dr. Ayman sometimes a little more challenging? The FBI only needs to be wrong once. No one doubts that they have a challenging job. As Mr. Kessler once wrote, senior FBI officials feel that they are damned if they do and damned if they don’t.

      But if Amerithrax was the biggest intelligence analysis failure in the history of United States, wasn’t Dr. Majidi a key architect? What experience at all did he have in combatting espionage? Is a scientist what was needed for the job?

      What did Dr. Majidi contribute besides his snarky “grassy knoll” comment at a mid-August press conference? Isn’t he ultimately responsible for the withholding of the overseas testing documents until 9 months after the NAS heard the last presentations? If he isn’t, who is?

      A scientist should be openly acknowledging and being transparent about uncertainties in analysis — not being a cheerleader trumpeting a conclusion designed to have a result accepted.

      A scientist should always go back and revisit issues when new documents come out fairly raising doubts. I encourage Dr. Majidi to write a book with Ronald Kessler on the subject of Amerithrax. It would be fascinating.

      But it better conform to the documents.

      Because the documents are going to come out.

      And it isn’t going to be pretty for those who continue to stand in the way of the fullest possible disclosure of documents.

      • DXer said

        As part of “Operation Tripwire,” the FBI long ago asked crop-dusting companies to make sure they alert the bureau if they detect suspicious activity. The FBI has reached out to various industries and institutions, such as prisons and crop-dusting companies, to alert the FBI of suspicious activity. “We are not looking at just the obviously dangerous activity but looking at terrorist fund raising, terrorist recruiting efforts, training efforts, maybe logistical support efforts, and .. signatures,” FBI official Larry Mefford said. Might Al Qaeda plan on coming in under the FBI’s radar — under the tripwire — by using ultra lights? KSM had Ohio truck driver Faris researching ultra lights at an internet cafe. There was a suggestion that leaders would use them for escape. Variations of the threat that should be encompassed within the FBI’s “Operation Tripwire” include ultra lights, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (“UAV”) of all types including small planes and helicopters, balloons, and gliders. What the FBI was being told by other detainees and learning from arrests in the US did nothing to assuage the concern that an attack was being planned to disperse anthrax aerially.

        For example, Moazzam Begg, a man from Great Britain arrested in Islamabad in February 2002, who now is consulting on a video game involving escape from Guantanamo, allegedly confessed to being involved in a plot to use weaponized anthrax using a remote controlled drone over the London parliament. A Pakistani court had ordered his release. Before the order was executed, however, he had already been transferred to Afghanistan. He was then flown to Guantanamo Bay in February 2003. The 35-year-old father of four from Birmingham had gone to Afghanistan via Iran in the summer of 2001 and then in November or December went to Pakistan. In Afghanistan, he had been outside of Kabul. He told his father that he hoped to open two small schools to promote literacy — one for girls taught by his wife and one for boys he would teach. MI5 and MI6 had known of him. Three years earlier in Birmingham there was a raid on his book shop but no arrests. The Maktabah al Ansar book shop in Birmingham, England sold al-Hindi’s autobiographical account of fighting in Kashmir, Army of Madinah in Kashmir.

        In addition to books, Begg sold items such prayer beads and clothing. Begg may have come to be of interest to MI5 after Yemen jailed a friend of his in 1999 for plotting terrorism with the son of Abu Hamza, the extremist cleric based at the Finsbury Park mosque. Then authorities raided again in the summer of 2001. In the last raid, a computer, five floppy disks and two CD-roms were taken. Neither raid resulted in any charges. Begg was arrested in 1994 for alleged benefit fraud, but the charges were dropped. Night vision goggles and a flak jacket were found at the time. The authorities say that his name appeared on documents of the Taliban and on a photocopy of a payment transfer at an Afghanistan camp. The money transfer directed the London branch of Pakistan’s Habib Bank AG Zurich to credit the account of an individual identified as Moazzam Begg in Karachi for an unspecified sum of money. It was found in Abu Khabab’s chemical bunker. His family says it must be a case of mistaken identity.

        The British MP’s had joined together to insist that Begg and other British citizens be returned from Guantanamo, where he had been after his first year at Bagram. He reportedly confessed to a plot to use a drone dispersing anthrax to kill those same MPs. He and others apparently were given the choice of choosing between a 20 year sentence in a plea or risk receiving a death penalty in a military tribunal. His lawyer says the confession was not admissible as it was coerced. MI5 officers interviewed him at Camp X-Ray five times. Gareth Peirce, who has acted for Moazzam Begg, said: “Anything that any human being says or admits under threat of brutality is regarded internationally and nationally as worthless. It makes the process an abuse. Moazzam Begg had a year in Bagram airbase and then six months in Guantanamo Bay. If this treatment happened for an hour in a British police station, no evidence gathered would be admissible,” she said. After being released, Mr. Begg contemplated a run for MP himself.

        The interest in ultra lights is not new and dates back to the hang glider purchased in 1995 or so when one was purchased and shipped to Afghanistan by a US doctor named Zaki. The doctor was a friend of Bin Laden’s chief of security in Sudan, former US Army sergeant Ali Mohammed. Dr. Ali Zaki (along with his brother, a NYC/NJ pharmacist) traveled with Ayman but claimed not to know the real identity of his fellow alum from Cairo Medical school. Dr. Zaki graduated from Cairo Medical School in 1971. Zawahiri would speak at the room established at the Cairo University Medical School for the Egyptian Islamic Group, which had not yet been banned. The group during this time was extremely influential with the student body. Dr. Zaki is a gynecologist and prominent civic leader in San Jose, CA. He disputes the date of Zawahiri’s visit, claiming it was years earlier, when the jihadists were our friends. A used car salesman from Silicon Valley was going to train on the hang glider and train others. The plan was to break imprisoned islamist leaders out of an Egyptian prison, according to the US doctor. Other official intelligence reporting, in contrast, suggests the plan was to assassinate Mubarak at one of his palaces.

        When a friend of the respected Dr. Dhafir, the leader of an Albany mosque, Aref, who had arrived in the states in 1999, was convicted in 2006 of supporting terrorism, the jury never heard about his 14 phone calls to a Syrian number the FBI linked to Osama bin Laden. An FBI informant claimed that only weeks after the 9/11 attacks, a messenger from al-Qaeda approached him delivering a message: Bin Laden was looking for information about flight schools and “how close the individual could get to an (redacted) aircraft.” The messenger gave the informant two fax numbers in Damascus, Syria, one of which Aref contacted 14 times between November 1999 and October 2001. Prosecutors argued that a senior IMK leader, Mullah Krekar, formed Ansar-al-Islam in 2001. Subsequently, when Aref was convicted, the 30 guilty counts included lying to FBI agents about knowing Krekar. In targeting Aref, the government also had evidence showing that his name, address and telephone number were found in a notebook when U.S. forces raided a suspected Ansar-al-Islam facilities in Iraq in the spring and early summer. An Iraqi Kurd, Aref’s grandfather had been a well-known imam. What word, beginning with a vowel apparently, might be redacted in this alleged message shortly before 9/11 to an Albany, NY imam : “how close the individual could get to an (redacted) aircraft.”

        In 2002, a man named Singh tried to purchase over the internet a wireless video module and a control module for use in an unmanned aerial vehicle (“UAV”). He chose an airborne video system with a camera and transmitter able to transmit video images from a UAV back to a receiver from as far as 15 miles away. The video camera could be used in military reconnaissance and in helping aim artillery and other weaponry across enemy lines. Singh placed his order from England, but the company was unable to confirm Singh’s overseas credit card. Two young men from Northern Virginia, among the group later known as the “Virginia Paintball Defendants,” assisted him in completing the purchases. In the summer of 2002, Singh visited Virginia, staying first with one of them and then with another.

        In December 2003, it was announced that a suburban Chicago woman had been pled guilty to lying about her involvement with an attempt to export remote-controlled aircraft to Pakistan. The shipment of radios, modems and auto pilot systems to a company in Pakistan apparently was confiscated. The relative whom she was doing a favor fled the country. Such a plane reportedly cost $12,000 and could carry a 220 lb. payload.

        In late May 2004, Great Britain’s Tony Blair got hit by purple powder thrown from the balcony from area where guests sit. The bioshield covered only where members of the public sit. Blair now may be skittish about pigeons flying overhead, particularly given MI5 once considered the feasibility of dropping small anthrax bombs using pigeons during WW II. It was not until August 2004 that we learned about casing of helicopters in the Spring of 2001 by Jafar the Pilot, Al Hindi, and Al-Marri — who had been sent by anthrax plotters KSM and Hambali.

        Condoleezza Rice says no one ever imagined (at least she didn’t imagine) that Al Qaeda would fly planes — first into the World Trade Center and then into Pentagon. Let’s hope it is within her imagination of the current and future national security advisors that Al Qaeda may be planning to disperse weaponized anthrax aerially — for example, by a remote controlled airplane, a cropduster, or even a hang glider. Or, yes, maybe even by carrier pigeons or a teabag thrown over the White House fence.

        While the FBI’s efforts regarding trip wires are to be commended, Dr. Majidi needs to appreciate that it actually is unrealistic to think that one can be confident that they will succeed.

        Moreover, it is unrealistic to be confident that they did not fail in connection with Amerithrax.

        Despite the best efforts of the highly qualified FBI Agents and DOJ prosecutors — and despite the prowess of the microbiological pioneers like Arthur Friedlander — the country faced a formidable foe given the high education levels of the members of Dr. Ayman and members of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad/Vanguards of Conquest.

        What the country urgently needed was someone who had read the HARDY BOYS.

        • DXer said

          Dr. Majidi has argued that Dr. Bruce Ivins had no reason to be in the lab those nights. The country was counting on him to be master of the facts relating to his claim.

          Was he aware of the documents reflecting Dr. Ivins work with the rabbits hyperlinked below?

          Did he review the Amerithrax Investigative Summary that made no mention of rabbits?

          If so, why didn’t he require that the DOJ disclose Dr. Ivins’ work with the rabbits?

          Was he a member of the group of DOJ and FBI officials who reviewed each and every batch of emails as they were produced by USAMRIID (in email correspondence with supervisor J.P.)?

          (The process would take weeks and emails were culled; only over a year into the process did J.P. put the group of officials on a 2 week turnaround).

          Did Dr. Majidi give input? What emails to and from Dr. Ivins were withheld from production?* (It is easy to prove because in a certain format they are sequentially numbered) Who in writing asked that they be withheld?

          DOJ For 4 Years Withheld This Email (Message 0438) Written By Bruce Ivins On The Date Of Alleged Mailing Of Deadly Anthrax ; GAO Should Obtain A Full Set Of Emails From DOJ, Including Those That DOJ Has Still Failed To Produce

          How does government accountability work? Vague term-paper-like reports without underlying source documents disclosed? Vague term-paper-like reports with names withheld?

          Or are the people who caused the withholding of documents — not justified on statutory privacy or law enforcement grounds — going to be identified?

          Is there going to be government accountability or not?

          DXer summarizes the documentary evidence relating to Dr. Ivins work with rabbits (nowhere mentioned by the DOJ) which demolishes the FBI’s claim that Dr. Ivins had no reason to be in the lab
          Posted by Lew Weinstein on July 3, 2012

          see also
          GAO: The Special Prosecutor In The Stevens Case Recently Found That Two Unidentified AUSAs From The DC US Attorneys Office Advised That It Was The Practice Of That Office Not To Produce FBI 302s As Jencks Material.

          Posted by Lew Weinstein on March 18, 2012

          *Lawyers sometimes ask questions to which they already know the answer. It is for the purpose of separating the truth-tellers from those who shared complicity in the unjustified withholding of documents under FOIA. By way of example, it was only upon exposing internal DOD emails about the unjustified withholding of a report showing a total lack of vetting at USAMRIID that the report was produced. The email correspondence between J.P. and senior official at another agency confirmed that there was no basis to withhold the document — but then it in fact was withheld from McClatchy.

          If you are counting on the emails to and from J.P. with the DOJ and FBI on the subject of what documents to withhold are not now available to be uploaded, then you might want to reconsider and now join those favoring the fullest possible production.

          It is never too late comply with the law when the issue relates to the ongoing withholding of documents.

        • DXer said

          Army Intelligence of course has ready access to the emails written by DOJ and FBI officials to John Peterson at MEDCOM HQ advising what Ivins’ emails to cull.

          It was like if the folks involved in the Bulger matter in the 1980s wrote a DEA FOIA official and instructing what documents to pull relating to the murder of McIntyre.

          But rather than Army’s initial misconceived investigation into how I obtained the J.P. emails showing the wrongful initial withholding from McClatchy of the IG report, Army Intelligence should now (working through GAO if it prefers) arrange for the disclosure of those documents withheld where withholding was not justified by one of the statutory exemptions.

          Where are the men who build boats in their basement.

          Be sure to bring the coffee.

      • anonymous said

        “We have a complete set of trip wires for chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear threats,” Majidi says.

        Majidi’s top secret trip wire is, of course, any middle aged man who purchases thong panties from Macy’s.

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