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

* Thesis – Radicalization of life scientists to terrorism

Posted by Lew Weinstein on August 26, 2012

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6 Responses to “* Thesis – Radicalization of life scientists to terrorism”

  1. DXer said

    In analyzing the theory that Dr. Ayman was responsible for the Fall 2001 anthrax mailings, the most relevant consideration for the purpose of Amerithrax is whether there is any life scientist who had access to virulent Ames who might cooperate with the radicals. That is, you need to know both Dr. Ayman but who he knew, and then consider the question of access to virulent Ames.

    Dr. Claire Fraser-Liggett told the panel assembled by the National Academies of Sciences in July 2009 that she began her work to find a match began in late 2001 — a successful method was not completed until 2007, when agents report that they began to seriously investigate Ivins. “I was hopeful that perhaps genomics would provide sufficient amount of information to be able to track the material to its source, but I then, and have always, asserted that in no way did I ever believe that this kind of genomics-based investigation was ever going to lead to the perpetrator,” Fraser-Liggett said. “That was going to require much more traditional police investigation.”

    Fraser-Liggett, professor at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and director of the University of Maryland Institute for Genome Sciences and an adviser to the FBI on Amerithrax, asked, “What would have happened in this investigation had Dr. Hatfill not been so forceful in his response to being named a person of interest. What if he, instead of fighting back, had committed suicide because of the pressure? Would that have been the end of the investigation?” It was Fraser-Liggett’s genetic analysis of the anthrax spores in the letters that led to Ivins’ flask, and the other 7 isolates with the same genetic profile. “The part that seems still hotly debated is whether there was sufficient evidence to name Dr. Ivins as the perpetrator,” Fraser-Liggett says.

    According to an article in the New England Journal of Medicine, “Scanning electron microscopy of the spores used in the Senate office attack showed that they range from individual particles to aggregates of 100 [microns] or more. Spores were uniform in size and appearance and the aggregates had a propensity to pulverize (i.e., disperse into smaller particles when disturbed).”

    In October 2001, LSU and University of Michigan were subpoenaed. A DARPA Program Manager at the time privately told a friend of mine that they knew where the attack Ames came from and even the machine used to make it. What was the machine? The corona plasma discharge? A sonicator?

    According to Richard Hidalgo, assistant to the dean of the school of veterinary medicine at LSU, the DOJ asked the school to provide by Oct. 23 a log of all visitors and employees at the Hugh-Jones Special Pathogens Lab since Jan. 1, 2000, including their Social Security numbers and dates of birth. The subpoena also asked for information on shipments of pathogens to and from the lab. “Besides Dr. Hugh-Jones and his lab director, only three others have been in the lab” during the time in question, Hidalgo said. “I’ve never been there myself.” Why did the FBI limit the October 2001 subpoena of LSU Special Pathogens Lab to visitors after January 1, 2000. The DARPA research involving virulent Ames supplied by Bruce Ivins prior to that. Dr. Tarek Hamouda and lab tech Michael Hayes had worked with virulent Ames with Bruce Ivins in May 1998.

    Newsday reported:

    “A subpoena also was delivered to the University of Michigan, according to a source who asked not to be identified. ” …”LSU’s Hidalgo said the FBI appears to be looking for any breach in the strict handling procedures for anthrax and other select agents. It could not be determined yesterday how many institutions have received subpoenas. In some cases, the FBI has made investigative inquiries without court orders.”

    Alibek says Russia had Ames. Porton Down reportedly provided it to four unnamed researchers. American Type Culture Collection (“ATCC”) has written me to say that as a matter of policy, they will not address whether their patent repository (as distinguished
    from their online catalog) had virulent Ames prior to 9/11. Although ATCC did not take the opportunity to deny it, one can infer from the FBI’s affidavit in connection the search of Ivins’ residence that no lab in Virginia is known by the FBI to have had virulent Ames.

    Thus, FBI, in its “Ivins Theory,” was working on he understanding that ATCC did not have Ames in its patent repository. Work with virulent Ames was done by the Southern Research Institute in Frederick, which in 2000 was announced as the subcontractor under DARPA grant to Advanced Biosystems. Bruce Ivins’ former colleague, Patricia Fellows, who worked with Ames from Flask 1029, left USAMRIID to head the BL-3 lab at SRI.

    Ari Fleischer explained: “What you have to keep in mind is the difference between knowledge about what type of information you have to have to produce it, and who could have sent it. They are totally separate topics that could involve totally separate people. It could be the same person or people. It could be totally different people. The information does not apply to who sent it.” Ken Alibek, the former head of the Soviet bio-weapons program suggests that ‘If I were a terrorist, I would certainly not use a strain known to be from my country.'” To the same effect, Bruce Ivins would not have used the strain — a special mixture of the US Army strain — for which he was the “go-to” person.

    The Washington Post explained in a late October 2008 article: “While some FBI scientists were analyzing genetic mutations, others were scouring the planet for repositories of Ames-strain bacteria. To their surprise, Ames turned out to be quite rare, with only 15 U.S. institutions and three foreign ones possessing live, virulent Ames. Samples of Ames were collected and added to a repository the FBI had established at Fort Detrick. In a process that ended only in late 2006, bureau scientists picked up 1,072 samples of anthrax bacteria and tested each for mutations identical to the ones in the bioterrorist’s letters.”

    “Back at the bureau’s Washington field office, agents were reconstructing the history of RMR-1029. A giant flow chart, covering most of a wall, recorded each discovery about the origins of the spores and what Ivins did with them. But the agents wondered: Could others, besides Ivins, have gotten access to the flask of spores?” The Post article continues: “The question drives much of the skepticism about the FBI’s case.”

    At a news conference in August, bureau officials estimated that as many as 100 people potentially had access to the biocontainment lab where Ivins kept his collections. By the time of the release of the “Amerithrax Investigative Summary” in late February 2010 on a Friday afternoon, the estimate was revised upwards to include up to 377 at Ft. Detrick alone. Investigators have maintained that other possible suspects were ruled out, but they have never explained how. It is one of the gaps that independent experts and lawmakers have raised since Ivins’s death.”

    “We just don’t know how many hands it went through before it got to the ultimate user,” explained Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota and once a consultant to the government’s investigation.

    One expert, Dr. C.J. Peters, summarizes:

    “Knowing that this strain was originally isolated in the U.S. has absolutely nothing to do with where the weapon may have been prepared because, as I tried to make the point, these strains move around. A post doc in somebody’s laboratory could have taken this strain to another lab and it could have been taken overseas and it could have ended up absolutely anywhere. Tiny quantities of anthrax that you couldn’t see, that you couldn’t detect in an inventory can be used to propagate as much as you want. So that’s just not, in fact, very helpful.”

    Although the FBI estimated during the August 2008 that, at a minimum, 100 had access
    to the flask in Bruce Ivins’ lab, Ft. Detrick scientists pointed out in the media that it used to be stored in a different lab in 1997, bringing the number up to 200-300 people. In the Amerithrax Investigative Summary, the DOJ revised the number up to a maximum of 377 — and that is just at Ft. Detrick.

    In April 2007, the United States Attorney sent Ivins a letter saying he was “not a target of the investigation.” Ivins’ attorney reports that Ivins was told that the FBI was investigating 42 people who had access to RMR-1029 at the Battelle labs in Ohio. Dean Boyd, a Justice Department spokesman, commented in February 2009: “The recent inventory issues at USAMRIID highlight the difficulties confronted by the FBI in their efforts to trace the evidentiary material back to its source at USAMRIID, and reinforce our conclusion that samples of anthrax could easily have been removed from the facility undetected.”

    The question relevant to an Al Qaeda theory is what access to the US Army strain might have been accomplished by someone with 1) an organization supported by funds diverted from charities backing his play, and 2) a lot of educated and technically-trained Salafists who believe in his Islamist cause. Questions abound. For example, when Iyman Faris visited with Majid Khan in mid-2001, who was he driving for with respect to travelling to and from Maryland and Columbus, Ohio (down the street from Battelle Memorial Institute)? Dr. Ivins shipped the Ames spores From RMR 1029 To Battelle by Federal Express on or about June 18, 2001. What “U.S. Mail” did Iyman Faris deliver?
    Relatedly, when Columbus, Ohio truck driver Iyman Faris met with Majid Khan in Baltimore in mid-2001, did he discuss the reason for his previous research on ulta-light planes for Osama Bin Laden at a Karachi internet cafe? In working with Al Qaeda anthrax planners KSM and Al-Balucchi in January 2002, did Baltimore resident Majid Khan learn anything about the pair’s anthrax planning that he can now share? What contaminant was allegedly going to be used to contaminate the Upstate New York City reservoir serving New York City?

    A former KGB spy master says that the Russians had a spy at Ft. Detrick who provided samples of all specimens by diplomatic pouch. But it seems more likely that Al Qaeda got it directly from a western laboratory. For example, Ayman had a trusted scientist attending conferences sponsored by Porton Down scheduling 10-day lab visit as early as 1999. In the US, he had the support of other scientists (such as GMU’s Al-Timimi) who did advanced research alongside researchers working with the Ames strain under a contract with USAMRIID for DARPA.

    The DOJ also has provided a December 5, 1997 letter from a University of Michigan Medical Center scientist to Bruce Ivins. It states

    “Dear Dr. Ivins:

    It was a pleasure speaking with you the other day. I much appreciate your willingness to work with us concerning our new anti-sporicidal material. We are looking forward to doing it in vitro evaluating or not whether this material against anthrax spores given its efficacy against other species of bacillus spores. These studies would involve mixing the material with the spores for varying lengths of time and then either separating the spores or culturing them directly to determine the viability. We might also do fixation of the spore preparations to determine if there are any ultrastructural changes in the spores that can be oberved with electron microscopy.”

    “My technicians are fully trained in the contagious pathogen handling and have experience with level 3 biosafety requirements. They, as I, are willing to undergo the anthrax and plague immunizations, although I was hoping that they might be able to administer the vaccines at the University of Michigan. This might allow us to only make one trip to USAMRID before we begin the studies. If we could either purchase the vaccine from you or from a commercial distributor, we would be happy to administer it and document titers in any way you feel appropriate.

    I look forward to the initiation of this work. I believe it could be a very interesting collaboration that could eventually lead to animal studies. On December 19, commensurate with the filing of patents on this material, I will send you additional data on the formulations and our studies concerning the ability of these materials to inactivate spores both in vitro and in vivo.

    Sincerely,

    ____________
    _____ Division of Allergy”

    The FBI apparently did not obtain the documents from Bruce Ivins relating to the correspondence with the University of Michigan researchers until 2005 — four years after the mailings. At that time, someone using Arthur Friedlander’s telephone number forwarded evidence that Dr. Hamouda and lab tech Michael Hayes had received anthrax and plague vaccinations in advance of coming to work alongside Dr. Ivins in the BL-3 laboratory using virulent Ames. The sender noted that the 20 pages being forwarded had been provided the sender by Bruce Ivins.

    The University of Michigan Medical Center letter dated May 10 [1998] to Bruce Ivins

    “My colleagues and I would like to extend our thanks and appreciation to both you and Dr. Ivins for the opportunity to work at USAMRIID. Dr. Ivins _______________________ were very helpful and cooperative in facilitating our studies as well as providing excellent technical assistance. Their efforts made our stay at USAMRIID both pleasant and highly productive. In particular, our discussions with Dr. Ivins provided valuable insights which will enable to better define and develop our technology.”

    “The data generated in these studies serves to clarify and validate the results which we have seen in our model systems (see attachments). We were able to block growth of both strains of B. anthracis with emulsion incorporated media (Table 1). We also were successful in reducing both Vollum and Ames spore counts by 95% (as assessed by CFU of viable organisms). These reductions were observed at spore concentrations of up to 1 X 10 6/ ml (Figure 1) and were seen even in conditions which limited germination (room temperature incubation). Decreased numbers of spores also were identified microscopically in the media after treatment. In contrast, no reduction in counts was noted with an initial spore innoculation of 1 X 10 8 / ml (Figure 2). …”

    “We were pleased with this outcome and the personal interaction that produced them. Given the non-toxic nature of these emulsions, we feel that they may have a role in the decontamination and treatment of agents such as anthrax and alphavirus. We look forward to future collaborative efforts with Dr. Ivins and his laboratory staff. With the diverse nature of our respective programs, we believe that a cooperative approach will serve to accelerate the development of these compounds.”

    In a number of patents by University of Michigan researchers in Ann Arbor, Tarek Hamouda and James R. Baker, Jr., including some filed before 9/11, the inventors thanked Bruce Ivins of Ft. Detrick for supplying them with virulent Ames. The University of Michigan patents stated: “B. anthracis spores, Ames and Vollum 1 B strains, were kindly supplied by Dr. Bruce Ivins (USAMRIID, Fort Detrick, Frederick, Md.), and prepared as previously described (Ivins et al., 1995). Dr. Hamouda served as group leader on the DARPA Anti-infective project.

    A patent application filed April 2000 by the University of Michigan inventors explained:

    “The release of such agents as biological weapons could be catastrophic in light of the fact that such diseases will readily spread the air.
    In light of the foregoing discussion, it becomes increasingly clear that cheap, fast and effective methods of killing bacterial spores are needed for decontaminating purposes. The inventive compounds have great potential as environmental decontamination agents and for treatments of casualties in both military and terrorist attacks. The inactivation of a broad range of pathogens … and bacterial spores (Hamouda et al., 1999), combined with low toxicity in experimental animals, make them (i.e., the inventive compounds) particularly well suited for use as general decontamination agents before a specific pathogen is identified.”

    In late August 2001, NanoBio relocated from a small office with 12 year-old furniture to an expanded office on Green Road located at Plymouth Park. After the mailings, DARPA reportedly asked for some of their product them to decontaminate some of the Senate offices. The company reportedly had pitched hand cream to postal workers. The inventors company, NanoBio, was initially funded by DARPA.

    Dr. Hamouda graduated Cairo Medical in December 1982. He married in 1986. His wife was on the Cairo University dental faculty for 10 years. Upon coming to the United States in 1994 after finishing his microbiology PhD at Cairo Medical, Dr. Hamouda was a post-doctoral fellow at the Wayne State University School of Medicine in downtown Detroit. His immunology department biography at Wayne indicates that he then came to the University of Michigan and
    began work on the DARPA-funded work with anthrax bio-defense applications with James R. Baker at their company NanoBio.

    The University of Michigan researchers presented in part at various listed meetings and conferences in 1998 and 1999. The Department of Justice provided a copy of December 1999 article titled “A Novel Surfactant Nanoemulsion with Broad-Spectrum Sporicidal Activity of against Bacillus Species” in its disclosure under FOIA. The article in the Journal for Infectious Diseases states: “B. anthracis spores, Ames and Vollum 1B strains, were supplied by Bruce Ivins (US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases [USAMRIID], Fort Detrick, Frederick, MD) and were prepared as described elsewhere. Four other strains of B. anthracis were provided by Martin Hugh-Jones (Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge).” Dr. Baker advises me by email that NanoBio’s research with virulent Ames was “done at USAMRIID by a microbiologist under Dr. Ivins’ direct supervision and at LSU under the direction of Dr. Hugh Jones.”

    In the acknowledgements section, the University of Michigan authors thanked:

    (1) Shaun B. Jones, Jane Alexander, and Lawrence DuBois (Defense Science Office, Defense Advanced Research Project Agency) for their support;

    (2) Bruce Ivins for supplying virulent Ames;

    (3)Patricia Fellows (who is identified as Ivins’ Former Colleague #2 in the Amerithrax
    Investigative Summary);

    (4) Mara Linscott (who is identifed as Ivins’ “Former Colleague #1); and

    (5) Arthur Friedlander, the Army’s top anthrax expert.

    He thanked Drs. Fellows, Linscott and Friedlander for their technical support and helpful suggestions in the performance of the initial anthrax studies.

    (7) Martin-Hugh-Jones at LSU,

    (8) Kimothy Smith, who moved from LSU to Northern Arizona University, where he was a key genetics expert for the FBI typing submitted samples in 2002; and

    (9) Pamala Coker, Kimothy’s close associate who served as the LSU biolevel 3 lab head.

    Dr. Hamouda thanked Hugh-Jones, Smith and Coker for supplying the characterized B. anthracis strains and the space at Louisiana State University (Baton Rouge).

    The University of Michigan researchers found that their nanoemulsion incorporated into the growth medium completely inhibited the growth of the spores. Transmission electron microscope was used to examine the spores.

    The patent explained that “The nanoemulsions can be rapidly produced in large quantities and are stable for many months

    *** Undiluted, they have the texture of a semisolid cream and can be applied topically by hand or mixed with water. Diluted, they have a consistency and appearance similar to skim milk and can be sprayed to decontaminate surfaces or potentially interact with aerosolized spores before inhalation.”

    A March 18, 1998 press release had provided some background to the novel DARPA-funded work. It was titled “Novavax Microbicides Undergoing Testing at University of Michigan Against Biological Warfare Agents; Novavax Technology Being Supplied to U.S. Military Program At University of Michigan as Possible Defense Against Germ Warfare.” The release stated that “The Novavax Biologics Division has designed several potent microbicides and is supplying these materials to the University of Michigan for testing under a subcontract. Various formulations are being tested as topical creams or sprays for nasal and environmental usage. The biocidal agent’s detergent degrades and then explodes the interior of the spore. Funding, the press release explains, was provided by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency of the Department of Defense.

    In a presentation at the Interscience Conference on Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy (ICAAC) on September 26, 1998, Michael Hayes, a research associate in the U-Michigan Medical School, presented experimental evidence of BCTP’s ability to destroy anthrax spores both in a culture dish and in mice exposed to anthrax through a skin incision. “In his conference presentation, Hayes
    described how even low concentrations of BCTP killed more than 90 percent of virulent strains of Bacillus anthracis spores in a culture dish.” Its website explains that the Interscience Conference on Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy is the “[p]remier meeting on infectious diseases and antimicrobial agents, organized by the American Society for Microbiology.”

    In 1999, LSU researcher Dr. Kimothy Smith, who was thanked for providing BL-3 space for the research by the University of Michigan researchers, moved to the Arizona lab, bringing with him the lab’s first samples of anthrax.”

    A University of Michigan Medical school publication, Medicine at Michigan, (Vol. 1, No. 1, Spring 1999) explained: “In studies with rats and mice in the U-M Medical School under the direction of James R. Baker, Jr., M.D., professor of internal medicine and director of the Center for Biologic Nanotechnology, the mixture, known as BCTP, attacked anthrax spores and healed wounds caused by a closely related species of bacteria, Bacillus cereus. (The letters BCTP stand for Bi-Component, Triton X-100 n-tributyl Phosphate.)
    Baker describes the process as follows: “The tiny lipid droplets in BCTP fuse with anthrax spores, causing the spores to revert to their active bacterial state. During this process, which takes 4-5 hours, the spore’s tough outer membrane changes, allowing BCTP’s solvent to strip away the exterior membrane. The detergent then degrades the spores’ interior contents. In scanning electron microscope images, the spores appear to explode.” The rapid inactivation
    of anthrax bacteria and spores combined with BCTP’s low toxicity thus make the emulsion a promising candidate for use as a broad-spectrum, post-exposure decontamination agent.
    ***

    The research is sponsored by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the central research and development organization for the U.S. Department of Defense.”

    Dr. Baker, by email, advises me that Ivins did the studies involving Ames for them at USAMRIID. He reports: “We never had Ames and could not have it at our UM facilities.” Before September 2001, it’s office was described as in the basement of a downtown bank which seems to describe 912 N. Main St., Ann Arbor, just west of the University of Michigan campus.

    An article in the Summer of 2000 in Medicine at Michigan explains:

    “Victory Site: Last December [December 1999] Tarek Hamouda, Amy Shih and Jim Baker traveled to a remote military station in the Utah desert. There they demonstrated for the U.S. Army Research and Development Command the amazing ability of non-toxic nanoemulsions (petite droplets of fat mixed with water and detergent) developed at Michigan to wipe out deadly anthrax-like bacterial spores. The square vertical surfaces shown here were covered with bacterial spores; Michigan’s innocuous nanoemulsion was most effective in killing the spores even when compared to highly toxic chemicals.”

    An EPA report explains: “In December 1999, the U.S. Army tested a broad spectrum nanoemulsion and nine other decontamination technologies in Dugway, Utah, against an anthrax surrogate, Bacillus globigii. Nanoemulsion was one of four technologies that proved effective and was the only nontoxic formulation available. Other tests against the vaccine strain of B. anthracis (Sterne strain) were conducted by the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory and by the U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research.”

    As Fortune magazine explained in November 2001 about NanoBio: “Then bioterror struck…. It moved to a bland corporate park where its office has no name on the door. It yanked its street address off its Website, whose hit rate jumped from 350 a month to 1,000 a day.” NanoBio was part of the solution: “in the back of NanoBio’s office sit two dozen empty white 55-gallon barrels. A few days before, DARPA had asked Annis and Baker if they could make enough decontaminant to clean several anthrax-tainted offices in the Senate. NanoBio’s small lab mixers will have to run day and night to fill the barrels. ‘This is not the way we want to do this,’ sighs [its key investor], shaking his head. ‘This is all a duct-tape solution.’ ” James Baker, founder of Ann Arbor’s NanoBio’s likes to quote a Chinese proverb: “When there are no lions and tigers in the jungle, the monkeys rule.”

    It’s naive to think that Al Qaeda could not have obtained Ames just because it tended to be in labs associated with or funded by the US military. US Army Al Qaeda operative Sgt. Ali Mohammed accompanied Zawahiri in his travels in the US. (Ali Mohamed had been a major in the same unit of the Egyptian Army that produced Sadat’s assassin, Khaled Islambouli). Ali Al-Timimi was working in the building housing the Center for Biodefense funded by the DARPA and had access to the facilities at both the Center for Biodefense and the adjacent American Type Culture Collection. For example, Michael Ray Stubbs was an HVAC system technician at Lawrence Livermore Lab with a high-level security clearance permitting access; that was where the effort to combat the perceived Bin Laden anthrax threat was launched in 1998. Aafia Siddiqui, who attended classes at a building with the virulent Vollum strain. She later married a 9/11 plotter al-Balucchi, who was in UAE with al-Hawsawi, whose laptop, when seized at the home of a bacteriologist, had anthrax spraydrying documents on it. The reality is that a lab technician, researcher, or other person similarly situated might simply have walked out of some lab that had it.

    In GAO’s assessment of the effectiveness of DIA’s monitoring of s visiting foreign national working with Dr. Ivins with virulent Ames In Biolevel 3 prior to 9/11, past audits suggest that DIA did no vetting at all. FOIA responses to date from USAMRIID indicate that USAMRIID incredibly did not preserve the records relating to that research.

    Among the documents found in Afghanistan in 2001 were letters and notes written in English to Ayman Zawahiri by a scientist about his attempts to obtain an anthrax sample. One handwritten letter was on the letterhead of the Society for Applied Microbiology, the UK’s oldest microbiological society. The Society for Applied Microbiology of Bedford, UK, recognizes that “the development and exploitation of Applied Microbiology requires the maintenance and improvement of the microbiological resources in the UK, such as culture collections and other specialized facilities.” Thus, Zawahiri’s access to the Ames strain is still yet to be proved, but there was no shortage of possibilities or recruitment attempts by Ayman. One colleague of his estimates that he made 15 recruitment attempts over the course of a decade. Dr. Keim observes: “Whoever perpetrated the first crime must realize that we have the capability to identify material and to track the material back to its source. Whoever did this is presumably aware of what’s going on, and if the person is a scientist, they can read the study. Hopefully, the person is out there thinking: When am I going to get caught?”

    The FBI has not yet identified the location of the 8 isolates downstram from Ivins’ flask known to be an identical match — or the 100+ people it says had access. For the US Attorney Jeff Taylor to make it seem, however, that only Ivins had control over anthrax that was genetically identical was specious. Flask 1029 was kept in unlocked refrigerators to which hundreds had access. In June 2001, in addition to the conference at Annapolis organized by Bruce Ivins, a conference was held at Aberdeen Proving Ground (Edgewood) for small businesses that might contribute to the biodefense effort. It showcased APG’s world class facillities that had the full range of relevant equipment, as well as the range of activities and research featured by presenters at such conferences. It was called “Team APG Showcase 2001.″ Edgewood maintains a database of simulant properties. The information and equipment, including spraydrying equipment, is available to participants in the SBIR — promoting small business innovation. Might the anthrax attack have required the learning of a state? Well, to get that, all you needed to do was go to the program that shares such research for the purpose of innovation in the area of biodefense. APG built a Biolevel-3 facility and, according to a Baltimore Sun report, by October 2002 had 19 virulent strains of anthrax, including Ames. A 1996 report on a study done at Edgewood involving irradiated virulent Ames provided by John Ezzell that was used in a soil suspension. Another article discusses Delta Ames supplied to Edgewood by the Battelle-managed Dugway, subtilis, and use of sheep blood agar. Did Battelle have virulent Ames across I-95? Edgewood tested nanoemulsion biocidal agents during this time period, according to a national nanobiotechnology initiative report issued June 2002.

  2. DXer said

    Was Mahmoud Jaballah The Egyptian Scientist In The Library Researching Anthrax?

    Dr. Smith understandably does not discuss the former lab tech researching anthrax in a public library in the Midwest (accompanied by jihadists) — his identity has not been confirmed. Stateside, in Ohio, there was the long-forgotten case of a mysterious Egyptian in the Summer of 2001 associated with the members of an alleged terror cell. The young men worked at a local chicken slaughterhouse and are more commonly known as the “Detroit cell.” In June 2001, they had an angry conversation about the detention of the Egyptian blind sheik Abdel-Rahman. Sometime before 9/11, an older Egyptian man with one of these young men made repeated attempts to obtain maps of the water supply system of Canton, Ohio. At the library, he studied books dealing with disease spread to human by animals such as anthrax. The Akron Beacon Journal reported that after 9/11, a librarian in Canton alerted authorities who called in the FBI. The man had visited the library as many as a half dozen times and asked for detailed maps of Canton’s water system and books concerning microbiology and animal borne diseases. Among the things the man sought were maps of waterlines running under Interstate 77 to Canton’s Mercy Medical Center. The librarian described the man as 50ish, with a slight paunch, and balding. Jaballah reports that he graduated from the University of Zagazig’s Faculty of Biology.

    By way of some background, the Canadian government alleged that on the day of the 1998 bombing of the African embassies, the Egyptian Islamic Jihad military commander Mabruk had called Canadian Jaballah from Baku, Azerbaijan and told him to call the London cell members. Mabruk asked Jaballah to tell them they could reach him in the home of Shehata (going on trial next month), who was in charge of Special Operations for Egyptian Islamic Jihad. Shehata was Jaballah’s brother-in-law and had been Jaballah’s lawyer in the 1980s in connection with problems with the government. (Shehata was Montasser al-Zayat’s law partner). Jaballah allegedly had been in regular contact with Mabruk, Shehata and the London cell members who faxed responsibility for the 1998 embassy bombings in which over 200 people died. Shehata’s former law partner, Montasser al-Zayat, and military commander Mabruk announced in March 1999 that Ayman Zawahiri was going to use anthrax against US targets in retaliation for the rendering of senior Egyptian Islamic Jihad leaders. Jaballah’s colleague Mahjoub was #2 in Zawahiri’s Vanguards of Conquest. When Mahjoub’s bail hearing was announced in January 2001, one of Zawahiri’s minions threatened to use anthrax if bail was denied. This was the subject of a February 2001 Presidential Daily Brief from the CIA to President Bush. Bail was denied on October 5, 2001. The potent anthrax was mailed to the US Senators the next day.

    The government alleges that at one point Jaballah reported to Mabruk that he had recruited individuals who had been members of the Muslim Brotherhood and emphasized that they had been tested and could be trusted.

    The government now publicly alleges that Jaballah was regularly in touch with Ayman Zawahiri by telephone. Zawahiri was head of Al Qaeda’s program to weaponize anthrax for use against US targets. The Globe and Mail, quoting allegations made public earlier this week, infers that “The new charges indicate CSIS targeted Mr. Jaballah almost as soon as he arrived in Canada [in 1996]. They make specific references to 1990s-era phone calls, and even include remarks about the suspect’s tone of voice. The documents cite code words Mr. Jaballah is alleged to have used or heard in his phone calls.”

    Was Mahmoud Jaballah the Egyptian scientist in the library in Ohio in June 2001 researching anthrax in water? The mailed anthrax was sent to the United Senators the day after bail was denied by the Canadians of his colleague, Mahmoud Mahjoub, who now is revealed to have been the #2 man in the Vanguards of Conquest under Cairo Medical alum Agiza.

    Was the scientist in Ohio in June 2001 ever identified and questioned? According to the Akron Beacon Journal, the man told the librarian that he worked at Case Farms. After 9/11, Case Farms was investigated in connection with allowing illegal immigrants to work without proper identification. The Egyptian reportedly had lived with the young men in Canton for a time in the past year or so, according to the librarian. (Their names were Hanna and Koubriti). The FBI has never confirmed the story. Case Farms doesn’t confirm the story. The librarians won’t confirm the story. A reporter who went to the library in person at my request was shown the door. What news, if any, came out of the trial of members of the Detroit terror cell? Portions of the proceeding were sealed. During the same period, two of the men on trial reportedly had enrolled in a four-week truck-driving course.

    The “Detroit defendants” were arrested when the week after 9/11 authorities kicked down the door of the apartment that had the name Nabil al-Marabh on the mailbox. Knowing of his connection to Al Qaeda, the FBI had gone looking for him after 9/11. His lawyer handling a fender bender involving al-Marabh’s taxicab in Boston had a forwarding address for him. In considering how many Egyptians trained in biology taxi driver Nabil Al-Marabh knew, he knew Mahmoud Jaballah. Mahmoud Jaballah was a biology teacher and co-founder, with al-Marabh’s uncle, of an elementary school on the edge of Little Beirut in Toronto. After coming to Canada in 1996, Jaballah would contact Ayman regularly on Ayman’s Inmarsat satellite phone. Jaballah reports that he graduated at the University of Zagazig from what he described as “the Faculty of Biology.”

    Jaballah was rearrested in August 2001 even though an earlier security certificate was quashed. Why was he rearrested? Were authorities upset had gone off the radar for a matter of weeks? CSIS alleges Jaballah knew Mahmoud Mahjoub who the CSIS now for the first time alleges was #2 in the Vanguards of Conquest. CSIS alleges that Jaballah was in regular contact with both the
    Vanguards/Egyptian Islamic Jihad head of military operations and the head of special operations — with the latter being both his brother-in-law and lawyer. CSIS alleges that he has had contact for years with Hassan Farhat and Ali Hussein, whom they say were part of Egyptian Islamic Jihad. Hassan Farhat was with the Ansar al-Islam. Hassan Farhat was a senior member of Ansar Al Islam, formed in 2001, and was arrested by Kurdish guerrillas in northern Iraq. Farhat was the Imam of the Salaheddin Mosque in Toronto, which was affiliated with the school founded by Jaballah, from 1997 to 2002. Farhat also lived in Montreal for a time where Jaballah visited him. For an organization that emphasizes cell security, Jaballah was well-connected. Did Hassan Farhat know Montrealer Jdey, who had part of the 911 plot until he pulled back for unknown reasons (that did not include cold feet)?

    After Jaballah’ s second arrest, Nabil al-Marabh’ s uncle, Ahmed Shehab, took over as principal at Jaballah’ s school. Shehab and Jaballah had shared control of the school with Jaballah as its co-founders. Was Jaballah the scientist researching anthrax in Canton, Ohio from May to July 2001? The man told the librarian that he had worked at a laboratory in Egypt where he had learned to detect pathogens otherwise not detectable. He said he wanted to help the United States detect pathogens. (The librarian said that his english was so poor, she would expect him to be asking about a green card; but she finally got the word “pathogens” out of him). Jaballah was 40 rather than 50ish. But he otherwise fit the description and from his picture looks older than his age.

    Aly Hindy, president of the affiliated Salaheddin Islamic Center, imam of its mosque and a civil engineer in Toronto, described the school to the Wall Street Journal in December 2001. “We had to take our children out” of the public-school system, which teaches about “homosexuality” and allows undue “mixing between boys and girls.” The Wall Street Journal article explains: “Mr. Jaballah helped organize the curriculum at Salaheddin during the summer of 2000 and taught Arabic for a few months. “He wanted to be principal. I told him no,” Mr. Hindy says, because his English wasn’t good enough.”

    As likely explained in the still-classified February 2001 Presidential Daily Brief (”PDB”), a threat to use anthrax was mailed to the Canadian immigration minister in late January 2001 if bail was denied. The mailed anthrax was sent to the United Senators the day after a judge denied bail to Jaballah’s colleague, Mahmoud Mahjoub, who now is revealed have once been the #2 man in Vanguards of Conquest.

    A January 2008 decision addressed the conditions of Jaballah’s home detention (such as whether his son could bring a wireless laptop home, why his apartment had DSL service etc.). Had intelligence officials set a trap hoping Jaballah would be in touch with Dr. Zawahiri or other of his colleagues?

  3. DXer said

    I don’t think Dr. Smith addressed Dr. Abdul Qadoos Khan in her thesis.

    March 2003 Arrest Of Bacteriologist Dr. Abdul Qadoos Khan

    On March 1, 2003, authorities announced that Khalid Mohammed had been captured 400 miles from Quetta, in Islamabad. Under one version of events (and there are several), a walk-in to the CIA, the Egyptian said he was upset that Al Qaeda had attacked the United States. An unnamed Egyptian reportedly received $25 million for providing the information about Khalid Mohammed. Authorities said he had been in the car that drove KSM to a safe house that night. Agents quickly raced him back through the streets as he made out landmarks, leading them to KSM, who was being harbored in the home of bacteriologist Abdul Qadoos Khan.

    Khalid Mohammed had hands-on responsibility for planning 9-11. Reports of the arrest described his role in various operations over the years, including the thwarted “Operation Bojinka” in the Philippines in 1995. At that time, Philippine authorities searching a seized laptop computer found a letter signed by “Khalid Shaikh Bojinka” that threatened to attack American targets “in response to the financial, political and military assistance given to the Jewish state in the occupied land of Palestine by the American government.” The letter, apparently written by Mohammed and his associates, threatened to not only attack aircraft, the principal plot underway, but threatened to launch a chemical attack if an imprisoned co-conspirator was not released from custody. Khalid Mohammed reportedly played a substantial role in trying to build Al Qaeda’s expertise in biological and chemical weapons. It turned out that he knew quite a bit about the process for weaponizing anthrax.

    The Dr. Abdul Qadoos Khan ran a respected cardiology institute called Hearts International. Dr. Khan and his wife, according to early accounts, had been at a wedding in Lahore. The family reports that at 3 a.m on Saturday, a squad of around 20 officers burst into the home.

    The day after the raid of the Khan’s home, authorities also detained another of the microbiologist’s sons for questioning, a major in the Pakistan Army, though he was not arrested. Pointing at a large cage of blue and green budgies on the patio, Mrs. Khan, Ahmad’s mother, said: “These are his life. Ahmed is a very simple person. He had no job, he hardly went out, just to the mosque to pray. He never traveled and his main thing was pets. He loved pets. “Ahmed can’t be a terrorist,” a neighbor who was a Colonel in the Army said. “He’s a goof, simple in the head.” The son reportedly receives a stipend from the UN’s Farm and Agriculture Organization for having a low IQ due to lead poisoning.

    Ahmed Qadoos’ mother was an activist for the ladies’ wing of Jamaat-e-Islami, Pakistan’s biggest religious party. Ramzi Binalshibh, the 9/11 plotter arrested in Karachi, and Abu Zubaydah, were both found in houses belonging to JI members. The father’s role came to be all the more important when the documents relating to the processing of anthrax for use as a weapon.

    • DXer said

      The Capture Of Al-Hawsawi With Anthrax Spraydrying Documents On His Laptop

      The documents indicated that Al Qaeda leaders may already have manufactured some of them. The documents at the Qadoos home reveal that Al Qaeda had a feasible production plan for anthrax. Confronted with scanned handwritten notes on the computer, Mohammed reportedly began to talk about Al Qaeda’s anthrax production program. KSM, however, denies that it was his computer. He says it was the computer of his assistant, Mustafa Hawsawi, who was captured at the home the same day. In 2001, before departing for the UAE, Al-Hawsawi had worked in the Al Qaeda media center Al Sahab (Clouds) in Kandahar. The letter containing the first anthrax went to the American Media in Florida had blue and pink clouds on it.

      Hawsawi worked under KSM who in turn worked for Zawahiri. Al-Hawsawi was a facilitator for the 9/11 attacks and its paymaster, working from the United Arab Emirates. He sent thousands of dollars to Bin Al-Shibh the summer of 2001. After 9/11, he returned to Afghanistan where he met separately with Bin Laden, Zawahiri and spokesman Abu Ghaith. KSM worked closely with al-Hawsawi. The fact that the anthrax spray drying documents were on that computer, however, and that Al-Hawsawi had worked for Al Sahab in Kandahar in 2000, serves to suggest that the undated documents predated 9/11, particularly given that extremely virulent anthrax was later found in Kandahar. Al-
      Hawawi in turn worked with Aafia Siddiqui’s husband-to-be, KSM’s nephew Al-Baluchi, in the UAE in the summer of 2001. The two provided logistical support for the hijackers.

      Hawsawi worked as a financial manager for Bin Laden when he was in Sudan. Egyptian Islamic Jihad shura leader Mahjoub was Bin Laden’s farm manager in Sudan. Mahjoub was the subject of the anthrax threat in January 2001 in Canada, upon announcement of his bail hearing. The day after Mahjoub’s bail was denied on October 5, 2001, the potent stuff was sent to US Senators Daschle and Leahy.

      The Washington Post explained that “What the documents and debriefings show, the first official said, is that “KSM was involved in anthrax production, and [knew] quite a bit about it.” Barton Gellman in the Post explained that Al Qaeda had recruited competent scientists, including a Pakistani microbiologist who the officials declined to name. “The documents describe specific timelines for producing biochemical weapons and include a bar graph depicting the parallel processes that must take place between Days 1 and 31 of manufacture. Included are inventories of equipment and indications of readiness to grow seed stocks of pathogen in nutrient baths and then dry the resulting liquid slurry into a form suitable for aerosol dispersal.” The documents are undated and unsigned and cryptic about essential details.

      In addition to establishing him as paymaster for the hijackers, Al-Hawsawi’s computer disks reportedly also included lists of contributors worldwide, to include bank account numbers and names of organizations that have
      helped finance terror attacks. In press accounts, one unnamed government official confirmed that the information has yielded the identities of about a dozen suspected terrorists in the US. In his substituted testimony in the Moussaoui case, Al-Hawsawi says he became part of Al Qaeda’s media committee in Afghanistan in about July 2000. Hawsawi lived at the media office. For about 4-5 months in 2000, Hawsawi worked as a secretary on al Qaeda’s media committee. Hawsawi’s role “was to copy compact discs and reprint articles for the brothers at the guesthouse in Qandahar. After 2000, Hawsawi worked at the direction of Sheikh Mohammed, transferring funds, and procuring goods.” KSM joined the committee in February 2001.

      The first time that Hawsawi was asked to become involved in operational activities was about March 2001, when he took his second trip to the UAE. Although Sheikh Mohammed did not use the word “operation,” Sheikh Mohammed told Hawsawi that he would be purchasing items, receiving and possibly sending money, and possibly meeting individuals whom Hawsawi would contact or who would contact him.

      Khalid Sheik Mohammed told Hawsawi that Hawsawi would be in contact with individuals called ‘Abd Al-Rahman (Muhammad Atta) and the “Doctor” (Nawaf al-Hazmi). Atta called
      Hawsawi four times while in the US. Hawsawi says he was never in contact with Hani or Nawaf while in the US. On September 9, Ramzi bin Shibh told him the date of the planned operation and urged that he return to Pakistan. He flew out on 9/11 and after a night in Karachi, flew on to Quetta. Hawsawi stated repeatedly that he never conducted any activity of any type with or on behalf of Moussaoui and had no knowledge of who made Moussaoui’s travel arrangements.

      Documents, however, reportedly show that al-Hawsawi worked with the Dublin cell to finance Moussaoui’s international travel. Hamid Aich was an EIJ operative there who once had lived with Ressam, the so-called millennium bomber, in Canada. The indictment of Zacarias Moussaoui named al-Hawsawi as an unindicted co-conspirator. Moussaoui unsuccessfully tried to call KSM and Hawsawi as witnessses.
      Microbiologist Ali Al-Timimi had spoken with Bin Laden’s sheik about helping with Moussaoui’s defense.

      Hawsawi has said that it was Qahtani who was to have been “the 20th hijacker” rather than Moussaoui. Qahtani, Hawsawi said, had trained extensively to be one of the “muscle hijackers.” Atta went to pick Qahtani up at the Orlando airport but immigration officials turned Qahtani away. Al-Hawsawi said he had seen Moussaoui at an al-Qaeda guesthouse in Kandahar, Afghanistan, sometime in the first half of 2001, but was not introduced to him and had not conducted any operations with him. At Moussaoui’s trial, the government pointed to FAA intelligence reports from the late 1990s and
      2000 that noted that a hijacked airliner could be flown into a building or national landmark in the U.S. Such an attack was viewed “as an option of last resort” given the motive of the attack was to free blind sheik Abdel Rahman. Flying a plane into a building would afford little time to negotiate.

      Zacarias Moussaou was in Karachi with anthrax lab tech Yazid Sufaat on February 3, 2001 when they bought air tickets through a local travel agency for Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. They left on a flight for KL on February 8, 2001. Moussaoui began at the Norman, Oklahoma flight school on February 26, 2001. KSM says that Moussaoui’s inquiries about cropdusters may have related to Hambali and Sufaat’s work with anthrax.

      Another reason not to overlook Hawsawi’s possible role in an anthrax operation is his contact with al-Marri. Al-Marri, who entered the country on September 10, 2001, was researching chemicals in connection with a “second wave.” Al-Marri was also drafting emails to KSM. Although al-Marri denies being in contact with Hawsawi, phone records show otherwise. E-mail evidence also confirms messages drafted by al-Marri to KSM. An article by Susan Schmidt in the Washington Post on al-Marri notes that al-Marri picked up $13,000 in cash from al-Hawsawi. Al-Marri made the mistake of opening the briefcase containing the money in bundles and peeling off a few hundred dollars to pay his bail after being stopped on a traffic charge a couple days after 9/11.

      In applying to school, he would not provide a home address or sign the application. “He was a very pugnacious individual,” the administrator told the Post. He was calling students. A number of people reported him as acting suspicious in the heightened sensibilities after 9/11. One student from whom he sought help was the local mosque imam, graduate student Jaloud. Jaloud curiously reports that he did not remember him as the fellow he had taken to the airport 90 minutes away in the summer of 2000, or the fellow he had argued about shipping the computer, or the fellow who had then put him to the expense of shipping the computer to Washington. Jaloud reports when questioned in 2005, he told the Saudis that he did not remember the address in Washington where he sent the computer.

  4. DXer said

    I will excerpt the amply sourced passages containing the bio for Rauf Ahmad, Ali Al-Timimi, Yazid Sufaat, and Aafia Siddiqi. The scholarly breadth used in developing the thesis goes far beyond those individuals.

    • DXer said

      The depth of Dr. Smith’s reading is evident from her bibliography — the books go back decades and her scholarly analysis includes many life scientists (Aum Shinrikyo) not covered by these excerpts more narrowly relating to Al Qaeda/Egyptian Islamic Jihad’s anthrax program. Dr. Smith’s failure to brief the “chemistry professor” with whom Majid Khan had met with Uzair Paracha is understandable, given that to my knowledge, he has not yet been publicly identified.

      GAO: Does he have access to biological pathogens? Does Rauf Ahmad?

      KSM’s Plan To Poison A Reservoir In Upstate New York

      KSM, whose military trial is coming up, identified Majid Khan and Aafia Siddiqui as Al Qaeda operatives. KSM allegedly asked former Maryland resident Majid Khan to research contaminating a reservoir. What contaminant would have been used? Anthrax?
      Cyanide? Was it cyanide such as the thwarted attack against the US embassy in Rome in 2002? Some unidentified chemical intended to be smuggled in using the Paracha shipping container? Would the koran permit such indiscriminate murder of innocents? A recent study shows that anthrax is resistant to chlorine, but the officials typically think anthrax would be ineffective given the dilution.

      In February 2003, Majid Khan had met with Uzair Paracha and someone described as a “chemistry professor.” Paracha and his father Saifullah had meetings with al-Qaeda members Majid Khan and senior operative Ammar al-Baluchi, who about that time married Aafia. In the prosecution of Uzair Paracha, the AUSA said Aafia Siddiqui was willing to participate in an anthrax attack if asked. She opened up a P.O. Box to facilitate Majid Khan’s reentry into the country.

      New water-surveillance systems are being tested that promise to detect biological attacks more quickly and accurately than is possible today. Ever since the anthrax mailings, the Homeland Security Department has been concerned about the risk that public water supplies will be poisoned. Researchers at Sandia National Laboratories, the University of Cincinnati, and Argonne National Laboratory have paired up with the Environmental Protection Agency to develop the Water Sentinel Program: software that monitors municipal water systems. It was being tested in Albuquerque.

      I once had a local certified lab do a lot of testing of water as another unrelated interest. Albuquerque is an interesting choice given the high levels of arsenic there. (With arsenic, it is very difficult to get the levels down short of dilution or incurring substantial capital costs). Arsenic occurs due to naturally occurring geothermal springs. I tested a bottled water from a major soda company’s distributor in Northern Mexico that I picked up in Phoenix and it tested above the 10 parts per billion (“ppb”) limit — 13 ppb and 26 ppb. The company gave me a single test showing that they tested it at 9 ppb. Its NYC law firm told me that they weren’t willing to do any further testing in the US because it would be against his client’s interest. Indeed. The FDA did nothing. The company did not notice a recall.

      Separately, the DOJ and United States Attorney even let FDA Commissioner Lester Crawford off the hook without it coming out that he resigned immediately after I emailed his office of a massive problem with benzene in soda. How was that a proper allocution related to his guilty plea to the misdemeanors? I had not realized he was a drinking water expert who already knew about the problem.

      I wrote the FDA’s CFSAN Director the same day (on September 21, 2005), and she later acknowledged she got the email. After I wrote Wednesday afternoon (to his direct email), he did the right thing in resigning Friday morning given the $62,000 in Pepsi stock he owned. By just dropping an email to all employees Friday morning and walking out the building, however — and not admitting why he was resigning — the benzene problem almost got swept under the rug like the arsenic problem.

      The day after he sent his email out announcing his resignation, I stridently complained before the FDA’s Assistant General Counsel on Saturday in front of 30 witnesses at a conference in Boston on soda and childhood obesity. I asked why I had not received a response. Of course, I don’t mean to complain too much because he did resign and the FDA finally acted after I got Germany and others to act. But if the United States government is no more effective than the FDA and the state agencies in testing water, then we will just have to count on the militants appreciating that it is haram (forbidden) to poison innocents, particularly children.

      Anwar Aulaqi, in hiding in Yemen, in May 2010 announced that islamic law permitted killing one million U.S. civilians.

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