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

* Excerpt on Yazid Sufaat from 2012 Georgetown thesis

Posted by Lew Weinstein on August 26, 2012

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5 Responses to “* Excerpt on Yazid Sufaat from 2012 Georgetown thesis”

  1. DXer said

    Taliban Interest In The Anthrax Vaccine Laboratory

    In October 2001, the Taliban emissary to Pakistan denied any involvement in the anthrax mailings, saying “We don’t even know what anthrax is.” The Taliban had long denied having any interest in biological or chemical weapons research. The next month, however, reporters were tipped off by a senior official of the Northern Alliance to check out the Institute of Veterinary Vaccine Production in Kabul run by the Minister of Agriculture. The lab was repeatedly targeted by bombers but the closest of 13 B-52 bombs landed 50 feet away, causing craters. There was a walk-in incubator to develop bacteria. The equipment used to make vaccines was taken away the day before the bombardment began. The cement walls of the building were cracked. Doors were blasted off their hinges. Shards of glass were strewn on the floor. At the end of one corridor on the second floor a reporter and photographer from The Mirror (UK) were led into a small office. The word “anthrax” was scribbled on an unbroken test tube. A sign read “to be safe than sorry” — the word “better” had fallen off. When AP journalist Kathy Gannon and a photographer stood in front of a glass bottle labeled in English “anthrax spore concentrate” in the two-story building, the photographer’s reflection shone back.

    The scientists explained that their work at the lab was intended only to develop animal vaccines. Gen. Peter Pace, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said that “the one place where the only vial that had English on it said ‘anthrax’ kind of gives you pause.” (I asked Yazid Sufaat about a bottle with a brown slurry that had been harvested in early June 2001 but he politely declined to answer). The scientists complained that much of the anthrax vaccine on hand had expired and that they were having trouble getting the supplies they needed to produce more. Before 9/11, private companies in India and Iran had been their main suppliers. Shipments were halted after Sept. 11, and the laboratories had to rely on their stocks.

    Mullahs oversaw the anthrax vaccine laboratory much to the consternation of the scientist in charge of the lab. The mullahs had ordered that the lab be moved to Kabul so that they could oversee it. According to one British press report, much of the laboratory staff had disappeared some months before 9/11 and their whereabouts were unknown. The Institute once had a staff of 45 and one of Afghanistan’s most modern buildings. The scientists gathered before an AP journalist and photographer pointed to a large clear container that held concentrated anthrax spores. The scientists explained that the Taliban had taken a keen interest in their work. Although he was famed for his ability to recite the koran and not scientifically inclined, the Minister of Agriculture would come and inspect what they were doing. The head of the lab explained, “He and his Taliban superiors were interested in the technical detail of what happened here, although they had no background in science.” The International Committee of the Red Cross and the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization provided the scientists technical help. The head of the lab noted that the Taliban could have obtained the knowledge to handle and develop anthrax.

    The Taliban Minister of Agriculture hated the West. “We’d rather have been running the labs on our own,” the lead scientist explained. “But the mullahs were in charge of everything and we couldn’t stop them learning about our activities. There was always a danger information could get into the wrong hands.” The lab was first built in a northern province in 1993 with equipment from India. Scientists infected three sheep to study the results in developing new vaccines. They told a reporter from the Mirror that they buried the carcasses 30 feet down away from any water supplies. “This was very dangerous work, though we knew what we were doing. We developed the technology of how to keep anthrax bacteria and how to develop it for use in vaccines.” “I would be suspicious of the anthrax research and any research during the Taliban (period) because they were under the control of Osama and al-Qaida,” the deputy head of Northern Alliance military intelligence, told the Associated Press. “We have strong evidence of their involvement in chemical weapons,” he added. “We believe that they were using government facilities, like the Ministry of Agriculture, to do their research in terrorism.”

    A source who worked at the factory told the Mirror (UK): “There’s no doubt the Taliban were planning chemical or biological warfare against the West. I believe anthrax might have been first on their list.” It was the American Taliban John Walker Lindh who reported the battlefield rumor that the next wave would be a chemical or biological attack.

    An Unclassified Summary of Evidence for the Administrative Review Board for Guantanamo detainee Sangaryar summarized: “The detainee was in possession of anthrax powder and an unspecified liquid poison that he planned to distribute to Al Qaida and Taliban operatives in preparation for future attacks on the United States and Coalition forces. The poison attacks were to target water sources, to include reservoirs.”

  2. DXer said

    Some blog resources on Yazid Sufaat:

    Al Qaeda anthrax lab technician [Yazid Sufaat ] tells DXer that he realizes that by addressing these issues he may “jack myself up” but says that the “plan is on the way” — what does he mean when he says the “plan is on the way”?
    Posted by Lew Weinstein on May 1, 2012

    https://caseclosedbylewweinstein.wordpress.com/2012/05/01/al-qaeda-anthrax-lab-technician-tells-dxer-by-chat-that-he-realizes-that-by-addressing-these-issues-he-may-jack-myself-up-but-says-that-the-plan-is-on-the-way-what-does-he-mean-when-he-s/

    Yazid Sufaat was happy with the anthrax work when he stayed with of his research with virulent anthrax in August 2001 with Hambali; in his correspondence with DXer, he seems happy today also (and very much in love).
    Posted by Lew Weinstein on May 1, 2012

    https://caseclosedbylewweinstein.wordpress.com/2012/05/01/yazid-sufaat-reported-he-was-happy-with-the-anthrax-work-when-he-stayed-with-ksm-for-6-days-in-august-2001-at-the-time-he-reported-to-dr-ayman-on-the-results-of-his-research-with-virulent-anthrax/

  3. DXer said

    Hambali, Anthrax Lab Tech Yazid Sufaat And The Anthrax Bomb Maker

    George Tenet in his May 2007 In the Center of the Storm says Sufaat was “the self-described ‘CEO’ of al-Qai’da’s anthrax program.” Tenet reports that “Sufaat had impeccable extremist credentials” and “[i]n 2000 he had been introduced to Ayman al-Zawahiri personally, by Hambali, as the man who was capable of leading al-Qai’da’s biological weapons program.”

    The 9/11 Commission Report explained:

    “Hambali played the critical role of coordinator, as he distributed al Qaeda funds earmarked for joint operations. In one especially notable example, Atef turned to Hambali when al Qaeda needed a scientist to take over its biological weapons program. Hambali obliged by introducing a U.S.-educated JI member, Yazid Sufaat, to Ayman al Zawahiri in Kandahar. In 2001, Sufaat would spend several months attempting to cultivate anthrax for al Qaeda in a laboratory he set up near the Kandahar airport.”

    Participants at a key meeting in Kuala Lumpur in January 2000 included Hambali, two of the 9/11 hijackers, Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almidhar, Cole planner Attash aka Khallad, and others. Tawfiq Bin Attash was a long time Bin Laden operative. The Yemeni first went to Afghanistan in 1989. He came to lead Bin Laden’s bodyguards and was an intermediary between Bin Laden and those who carried out the bombing of the Cole in October 2000. Attash also had been a key planner in the 1998 embassy bombings, serving as the link between the Nairobi cell and Bin Laden and Atef. Khalid Almhidhar, one of the 9/11 hijackers, was from Saudi Arabia but was a Yemeni national. Almhidhar was named an unindicted co-conspirator in the indictment against Zacarias Moussaoui. Al-Hindi, who along with Jafar the Pilot would later case the NYC landmarks, had gone to Kuala Lumpur with Attash. While not at the meeting with the hijackers, they met Hambali shortly after.

    Yazid Sufaat says he paid $35,000 to Zacarias Moussaoui (and that was in addition to a $2,500 monthly stipend). The money was paid under the cover of a company managed by his wife named Infocus Tech. After authorities found a letter signed by Yazid Sufaat purporting to authorize Zacarias Moussaoui as its marketing representative, authorities went looking for Sufaat. But by then, he had left for Pakistan and Afghanistan. According to his wife, he went to Pakistan in June 2001 because he wanted to do his doctorate in pathology at the University of Karachi. Dursina had attended Sacramento State with Sufaat. It was her mother who encouraged Yazid’s religious studies. According to his wife, Sejarhtul Dursina, “He had planned to set up a medical support unit in Afghanistan, near Kandahar.” Kandahar is where Al Qaeda established its anthrax lab and where extremely virulent (but unweaponized) anthrax, according to author Suskind, was found at a home identified by Hambali after his capture.

    In a 2 hour filmed interview with a Malaysian publication, Yazid Sufaat explained that while in the Malaysia Armed Forces, from which he retired as Captain, he worked on biological weapons. (Malaysia ratified the Biological Weapons Convention in 1991 and so its program presumably was abandoned by that time.) Sufaat is unrepentant about 9/11 or the offensive use of biological weapons.

    Sufaat graduated from California State University, Sacramento in 1987. He received a bachelors degree in biological sciences, concentrating on clinical laboratory technology, with a minor in chemistry. Sacramento State biological sciences professor Robert Metcalf taught Sufaat a food microbiology class in the spring of 1986. Sufaat joined the Malaysian army, where he was a lab technician in the Malaysian biological weapons program for as much as five years. He says he declined to tell his interrogators of his bioweapons experience because he felt that he had been betrayed by his country by being detained. In August 1993, he set up his own company, Green Laboratory Medicine that tested blood for the army.

    The 9/11 Commission Report notes that Sufaat started work on the al Qaeda biological weapons program after he participated in JI’s December 2000 church bombings. In December 2001, Sufaat was arrested upon returning from Afghanistan to Malaysia where (his wife says) he had been serving in a Taliban medical brigade.

    Malaysian officials sought to minimize the role of the former Captain in its Armed Forces. Sufaat merely was a foot soldier who provided housing and false identification letters and helped obtain explosives. “I would put it this way: If Hambali [Al Qaeda’s point man in Southeast Asia] was the travel agent, Sufaat was the guy at the airport holding up the sign.”

    Sufaat admits to having purchased 4 tons of ammonium nitrate to build a truck bomb for the Singapore cell. The Malaysian officials report that they believe that Sufaat had no knowledge of what the hijackers who stayed at his condominium or Zacarias were planning. That is consistent with the principles of cell security ordinarily followed — also evasion in interrogation. At a minimum, however, the established facts relevant to the Amerithrax investigation show that in the Summer and Fall of 2001 an Al Qaeda supporter who had assisted in the 9-11 operation — and who was a lab technician working with anthrax — was in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

    Was he the fellow perceived as Filipino who the journalist met in Afghanistan in the Fall of 2001 bragging about his ability to manipulate anthrax? According to Sufaat’s attorney, Sufaat gave two FBI agents no fresh evidence during a 30-minute interrogation finally conducted in November 2002 (where they mainly wanted to know how he knew Zacarias). The U.S. has asked for his extradition in connection with hosting of the two 9/11 hijackers, but Malaysia refused. President Bush once emphasized that US officials did not fully appreciate Sufaat’s role in Al Qaeda’s anthrax program until after KSM’s capture in March 2003.

    Communicating with me by Facebook and chat, Yazid Sufaat tells me he can work magic.

    As described in US News, a former reporter from the Kabul Times actually may have met a Filipino carrying papers from Zawahiri and bragging about his ability to manipulate anthrax. The man may have been Hambali’s lieutenant, Muklis Yunos, who had been Hambali’s right-hand man and was in charge of special operations for the Philippine Moro Islamic Liberation Front (“MILF”). British reporter Philip Smucker explained that the Afghan reporter working with him spoke fluent Arabic and made regular undercover trips into Afghanistan from Pakistan. He had visited three functioning al Qaeda camps at grave risk to his life. Smucker explains that his colleague had landed in a Kabul hotel with a Filipino scientist who had a signed letter from al Qaeda’s number two, Dr. Ayman al Zawahiri, authorizing him to help the network develop biological weapons. The man at the hotel had described his own efforts to develop an “anthrax bomb.” Filipino Muklis Yunos was an explosives expert who had participated with Yazid Sufaat in the December 2000 church bombings. Upon his arrest in May 2003, Philippine intelligence said he had received anthrax training in Afghanistan.
    Perhaps he was who the journalist encountered.

    • DXer said

      2003 Capture Of Hambali And Sufaat’s Assistants And The Reported Seizure Of “Extremely Virulent” (But Unweaponized) Anthrax

      Muklis Yunos was arrested on May 25, 2003. Agents reportedly became suspicious when an ambulance pulled over and delivered Yunos, who was wearing a plaster cast on a leg as part of a disguise. According to other reports, he was also wearing facial bandages. An Egyptian missionary accompanying him, Al Gabre Mahmud, was apparently on an international terrorist watchlist. Authorities became suspicious when the two went to the wrong gate (and did not go to the one typically used for medical transport). The pair then objected when officials wanted to remove some of the mummy-like bandages. AP reported that a police intelligence dossier describes him as “a fanatic of the extreme fundamentalist movement” who received training in an Al Qaeda camp in Afghanistan, including lessons on the use of anthrax as a biological weapon. He is described as about five foot three and with the features of a Japanese-Korean. According to one report, Yunos initially was cooperating with authorities over a bucket of spicy Kentucky Fried Chicken, complaining about the arrogance and unhelpfulness of MILF leadership.

      Hambali was arrested in mid-August 2003 in Thailand. Hambali had fled Malaysia with his wife, Lee, not long after 9/11. His wife and her sister had studied at the school of Bashir, JI’s religious leader. He told his mother they were moving to Thailand. Hambali worked and his wife studied Arabic. Over the next two years, he also spent time in Cambodia and Myanmar. Soft-spoken and polite, the neighbors said he kept to himself in the apartment building.

      His wife, an ethnic Chinese Malaysian who converted to Islam, was also detained. After being shipped to Jordan, where he was harshly interrogated, Hambali eventually began providing information about Al Qaeda’s anthrax production program. He told interrogators that the terror network had what author Ron Suskind describes as an “extremely virulent” strain of anthrax before the September 11 attacks. In the autumn of 2003, Suskind claims, U.S. forces in Afghanistan found a sample of the virulent anthrax at a house in Kandahar. Pulitzer Prize winning author Ron Suskind writes: “One disclosure was particularly alarming: al Qaeda had, in fact produced high-grade anthrax. Hambali, during interrogation, revealed its whereabouts in Afghanistan. The CIA soon descended on a house in Kandahar and discovered a small, extremely potent sample of the biological agent.”

      Suskind wrote:

      “Ever since the tense anthrax meeting with Cheney and Rice in December 2001, CIA and FBI had been focused on determining whether al Qaeda was involved in the anthrax letter attacks in 2001 and whether they could produce a lethal version that could be weaponized. The answer to the first was no; to the second, ‘probably not.’ Though the CIA had found remnants of a biological weapons facility — and blueprints for attempted production of anthrax — isolating a strain of virulent anthrax and reproducing it was viewed as beyond al Qaeda’s capabilities.”

      Suskind continued:

      “No more. The anthrax found in Kandahar was extremely virulent. What’s more, it was produced, according to the intelligence, in the months before 9/11. And it could be easily reproduced to create a quantity that could be readily weaponized.”

      “Alarm bells rang in Washington. Al Qaeda, indeed, had the capabilities to produce a weapon of massive destructiveness, a weapon that would create widespread fear.

      Based on the additional information being provided in 2003, authorities also captured two mid to low level technicians — an Egyptian and a Sudanese. President Bush has explained that these mid-to low level technicians were part of a Southeastern Asian based cell that was developing an anthrax attack on the United States.

      In Fall of 2006, President Bush explained:

      “KSM also provided vital information on al Qaeda’s efforts to obtain biological weapons. During questioning, KSM admitted that he had met three individuals involved in al Qaeda’s
      efforts to produce anthrax, a deadly biological agent — and he identified one of the individuals as Yazid. KSM apparently believed we already had this information, because Yazid had been captured and taken into foreign custody before KSM’s arrest. In fact we did not know about Yazid’s role in al Qaeda’s anthrax program.

      Information from Yazid then helped lead to the capture of his two principal assistants in the anthrax program.”

      • DXer said

        Kandahar Souvenir: Hijacker Ahmed’s Blackened Leg Lesion

        Yazid Sufaat’s lab was at Kandahar. A fellow named Ahmed Al-Haznawi was at Kandahar until June 2001 when he flew to Florida.

        Ahmed Al-Haznawi, went to the ER on June 25, 2001 with what now appears to have been cutaneous anthrax, according to Dr. Tsonas, the doctor who treated him, and other experts. “No one is dismissing this,” said CIA Director Tenet. Alhaznawi had just arrived in the country on June 8. He had traveled with al Shehri from Dubai, United Arab Emirates via London-Gatwick, England to Miami, Florida. His exposure perhaps related to a camp he had been in Afghanistan. He said he got the blackened gash-like lesion when he bumped his leg on a suitcase two months earlier. Two months earlier he had been in camp near Kandahar (according to a videotape he later made serving as his last Will and Testament). His last will and testament is mixed in with the footage by the al-Qaeda’s Sahab Institute for Media Production that includes Osama bin Laden, Ayman al-Zawahiri and Sulaiman Abu Ghaith. There are some spiders that on rare occasions bite and cause such a blackened eschar (notably the Brown Recluse Spider found in some parts of the United States).

        Dr. Tara O’Toole of the Biodefense Center at John Hopkins, now head of biosecurity at Homeland Security, concluded it related to exposure to anthrax. The former head of that group, Dr. Henderson, and National Academy of Sciences anthrax science review panel member, explained: “The probability of someone this age having such an ulcer, if he’s not an addict and doesn’t have diabetes or something like that, is very low. It certainly makes one awfully suspicious.” Although no doubt there are some other diseases that lead to similar sores, it is reasonable to credit that it was cutaneous anthrax considering all the circumstances, to include the finding by the 9/11 Commission that ” in 2001, Sufaat would spend several months attempting to cultivate anthrax for al Qaeda in a laboratory he set up near the Kandahar airport.” Now that Kandahar reportedly is where the extremely virulent anthrax was located, it makes it more likely that the Johns Hopkins people were correct that the lesion was cautions anthrax.

        At the time, CBS reported that “U.S. troops are said to have found another biological weapons research lab near Kandahar, one that that was eyeing anthrax.” But CBS and FBI spokesman further noted that “Those searches found extensive evidence that al-Qaida wanted to develop biological weapons, but came up with no evidence the terrorist group actually had anthrax or other deadly germs, they said.” Only years later did author Suskind claim that in fact there was extremely virulent anthrax at Kandahar. Thus, a factual predicate important to assessment of the Johns Hopkins report on the leg lesion needed to be reevaluated after Hambali’s interrogation in Jordan.

        Another intriguing potential lead concerned a report about Atta’s red hands. Shortly before 9/11, Atta went to a pharmacy with red hands, as if he had been working with bleach or detergent. Delray Beach, Florida pharmacist Greg Chadderton explained: “There are two fellows, well dressed, and I asked if there was anything I could do to help them. And the one fellow turned over to me and he showed me his hands, and he said “They’re itching and they’re burning, do you have a cream for this?” His hands were red from this area down (indicating from wrist down) on both of his hands, they were red. Not the normal colour you and I would have from just being like this, but they were red. They weren’t blistering – they were simply red. They were red as if you had taken your hands and dunked them in a bucket of perhaps bleach or something. But they weren’t red on this side (backs of hands) where you would think. That’s what puzzled me, it was very perplexing that this side (palms?) was all red, it was almost as if he had touched something like this.”

        He was given a cream called acid mantle. The explanation I favor is that it was just a latex allergy from wearing gloves. Maybe his red hands related to use of gloves while making a gas or spray later used to subdue passengers such as the red pepper spray introduced as an exhibit in the Moussaoui trial. But there is another disturbing, less likely possibility. The late Midhat Mursi aka Abu Khabab, the chemist helping Zawahiri with his Zabadi, or Curdled Milk, project, worked with a chemical additive for his pesticide/nerve agent. It increased absorption into the skin. Saponin, a natural detergent, is used for that purpose in a variety of commercial contexts. In late 2002, a plot was foiled when an attempt to purchase 1100 pounds of saponin was noticed by a chemical company and stopped. Authorities are not talking. A final possibility for Atta’s red hands concerns the use of chlorine bleach to decontaminate anthrax.

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