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

* The Bioterrorist Attacks on America, by Yuril V. Ezepchuk (Director of Biological Sciences, University of Colorado) … hypothesis: the hijacker Ahmed Alhaznawi had been infected with the skin form of anthrax

Posted by Lew Weinstein on September 4, 2012

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The author writes:

“From my point of view, the report made by Dr. Christos Tsonas from Holy Cross Hospital in Fort Lauderdale, Florida is worthy of attention. According to Dr. Tsonas, at the end of June 2001, a pilot with a terrible abscess on his leg came to see him. Dr. Tsonas prescribed this pilot with an antibiotic, which subsequently was discovered in the apartment of the hijacker Ahmed Alhaznawi. According to the hypothesis of Dr. Tsonas, the pilot he treated had been infected with the skin form of anthrax. Furthermore, a pharmacist in Del Rey Beach, Florida witnessed the hijackers Mohamad Atta and Marwan Al-Shehhi seeking medicine in the pharmacy for a severe skin irritation on their hands [15].

In my opinion, these facts provide evidence that the hijackers had contact with anthrax spores. I ruled out that they pre-packed the anthrax spores into envelopes because they did not have the necessary microbiological conditions, not to mention the qualifications. More than likely someone from overseas delivered the anthrax spores a few months before the planned terrorist attack on September 11.  …

Having the anthrax spores delivered to his home in Florida, the hijacker naturally decided he was interested in which form the anthrax was and whether or not they were damaged during transport. Evidently the bottles were undamaged, but whoever packaged the bottles did not take sufficient care in packaging the bottles as a small amount of the spores were on the wrapping material. The hijacker unwrapped the parcel without rubber scientific protective gloves and isolated spores came into contact with his hands causing an erythema, from which he was saved with the help of antibiotics. One cannot eliminate the possibility that the other terrorist was present and not wearing rubber scientific protective gloves when the parcel was unwrapped. The terrorist transferred an undetermined amount of anthrax spores from his hands to his leg, causing the anthrax to contaminate his skin. Even if he had opened just one flask, he would have not been successful in avoiding infection through inhalation of the anthrax, resulting in the usual outcome. Again, I am positive that the hijacker did not actually send the envelopes containing anthrax spores. This endeavor could only be accomplished by a qualified microbiologist.”

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15 Responses to “* The Bioterrorist Attacks on America, by Yuril V. Ezepchuk (Director of Biological Sciences, University of Colorado) … hypothesis: the hijacker Ahmed Alhaznawi had been infected with the skin form of anthrax”

  1. DXer said

    Dr. Vahid Majidi dismisses the opinion of this scientist. Now he doesn’t think the moon landing was faked. And he did not know Dr. Ivins. And so his basis for dismissing the independent opinion of the is unclear to me. I will have to study the footnotes to see if and where he discusses the leg lesion. I don’t recall offhand that he did in the text.

  2. DXer said

    “in Duties and Difficulties of Investigating and Prosecuting Biocrimes,” Journal of Biosecurity, Biosafety and Biodefense Law. Volume 3, Issue 1, Lisa Danley writes:

    “In 2010, the FBI formally closed the Amerithrax investigation. After a decade of investigation, the FBI failed to conclusively the Amerithrax attacks to a perpetrator. Despite the clearly extensive investigation, there have been no convictions in connection with the attacks.”

  3. DXer said

    After discussing the familiar issues of the hijacker’s leg lesion and Atta’s red hands, the author writes:

    “Creating these conditions in a garage, basement, or residential room, as a few FBI investigators proposed, is impossible. Failure to observe the indicated conditions of working with an extremely virulent strain of anthrax in powder form inevitably leads to spreading the anthrax spores into the surrounding environment and infects the handler(s). Consequently, filling the envelopes with the powder form of anthrax spores can only be accomplished by one who possesses microbiological skills and experience and only in the conditions of a microbiological laboratory.

    An example of this type of improper handling of the microbiological pathogens is well-demonstrated in an incident that occurred on March 1, 2002 in a laboratory in Texas. An employee studying samples distributed by terrorists worked without gloves. As a result, the employee found that his hands had transferred to his chin, as he discovered after shaving. The skin form of anthrax that developed was easily treated with antibiotics. However, all of the reports indicated that not one of the 40 workers in this specialized laboratory had been given the anthrax vaccine [13].

    The following reports from the investigative committee of the base laboratory stated that the necessary skills for the handling of the anthrax spores were possessed by Iraqi microbiologist Waly Samar (Walied Samarrai), who worked in New York but lived in New Jersey, from where the first contaminated envelopes were sent [14]. He was a citizen of the USA and graduated from Hunter College where he received a doctorate degree in microbiology. It was easy for him to disguise his work under his investigation of non-pathogenic Bacillus subtilis, which is similar to the composition of the causative agent Bacillus anthracis, better known as anthrax. Since the laboratory techniques and technology used for both microorganism spores are very much alike and require similar precautions, his work was easily conducted under routine experimentation. As a highly competent microbiologist, Samar knew what had to be done in order to prevent contamination of laboratory facilities. Apart from filling the envelopes, he was not successful with the lyophilizing process of anthrax, indicating that the powdery material substance used was prepared ahead of time at a different location. Later it was found that some of the anthrax letters were contaminated with Bacillus subtilis spores. This bacteriological analyzes can be considered as evidence that handling with the anthrax letters was carried out in the lab in which Bacillus subtilis was cultivated [10].

    How, where, and when did [S]amar obtain this material?”

    This extraordinary passage is all the more extraordinary when you realize that the Walied was in frequent telephone contact with the number of the apartment associated with KSM’s nephew Ramzi Yousef up to the moment that the blind sheik Abdel-Rahman was arrested. I have uploaded a copy of the telephone records — they were an exhibit in the prosecution of the WTC 1993 trial. (The author follows the Mylroie and John Adams tradition) of referring to him as “Waly Samar”).

    A call was made to a Pakistan charity after WTC 1993 explosion from Walied’s dorm room. KSM could be asked if they were at the charity that night to hear news on how the attack on the Trade towers went. Or alternatively and more simply, Walied could be ask who made the call and for what purpose.

    https://caseclosedbylewweinstein.wordpress.com/2011/06/07/the-addressphone-number-associated-with-the-wtc-1993-bomber-ramzi-yousef-was-frequently-called-by-subtilis-expert-walied-samarrai-in-february-1993-up-to-the-time-and-hour-of-the-first-arrests/

    Years ago, I first emailed the NYC-area professor to engage him on these issues but didn’t hear back. (It may have been in 2002 or 2003, I don’t recall). The CIA would have known about this for years before 2001 — or at least we can recognize that Mr. Woolsey wrote the preface, as I recall, for Ms. Mylroie’s book that touched on this background that came out in September 2001. WS’s thesis on subtilis, as I best recall, was published in 1994 — on the subject of subtilis mutations as I remember it.

    More recently, his work has involved making microbiological training more readily available to people in Afghanistan using video.

    At the time of Laurie Mylroie’s lead, my focus was always on the fact that Dr. Ayman sent for top EIJ leaders in 2001 to northern Iraq to form Ansar Al-Islam from an amalgamation of existing groups. I felt that the evidence did not support her claim that KSM was not the same KSM who attended North Carolina in the 1980s. DNA analysis would be a simple and foolproof means of checking.

    But when viewed instead as a connection to KSM’s nephew Ramzi Youssef, the WTC 1993 bomber — especially in light of the subtilis contamination in the mailed anthrax and other circumstantial evidence connecting the motive of the Fall 2001 anthrax mailings to the motive of the WTC 1993 bombers — the lead is white hot. If you don’t understand the importance of the blind sheik to those involved in Dr. Zawahiri’s anthrax program, then you probably are not very well read. For example, there’s one prolific internet poster, who argues that it is nearly certain a First Grader wrote the letters. He takes pride in the number of books and articles he hasn’t read. Scott Shane, in contrast, is very well read both on Amerithrax and subjects like Anwar Awlaki. He would be the sort of the reporter best equipped to conduct such an interview of WS. Or that hardworking McClatchy fellow, who did such brilliant work in association with ProPublica and Frontline on Amerithrax, would be very well-suited given his background on the subject of Moussaoui.

    But on all matters relating to him, WS is himself the best person to address these issues so as to avoid factual errors creeping in. He seems like a very likable fellow and a credentialed journalist is the best choice to conduct such an interview.

    There are some factual errors on basic points in this article that are distracting. If corrections can be made given its online nature, I recommend that the editor, in consultation with the author, make them. Errors that are conspicuous (though not material to analysis of the important issue above) include origin of the original Ames from the diseased cow (Texas, not Iowa – and not 1972) and the letters established to have been sent.

    • DXer said

      The author writes:

      “For a short time before 9/11, the 20th sole surviving hijacker Zacarias Moussaoui was given the task of studying at the College of Aviation Agriculture at Minnesota State University. In the investigation, it was established that Samar turned in the application to work at the college proposing his services in microbiology as a chief development officer of spraying poison and mixing microbes for use in aviation technology. The ability to spread anthrax through the postal system was apparently selected by terrorists later on, as was the case in this event that the goal was to be achieved with a smaller amount of contaminated material than was required for the creation of an airborne aerosol used in the aviation method. Opening a clandestine biotechnological venture for the production of anthrax spores within the borders of the US was too risky a business. It is much easier and more practical to bring a few preprepared flasks of dry anthrax spores from overseas. If the FBI was not even interested in the training of future terrorists in American aviation schools, then the importation of small packages resembling medical supplies was of little or no value.”

      Let’s revisit the issue of cropduster inquiries.

      Authors Schwartz and University of Minnesota Professor Osterholm explained in December 2000:

      “Dozens of Websites offer information on new and used crop-dusting planes and equipment that can be fitted to almost any plane or even trucks. Most of the equipment can be found on those sites produce a highly controlled mist spray, with nozzles that can set the droplet size precisely.”

      “A quick call to the toll-free number for a state university’s agricultural service (listed, naturally on its Website) revealed that powder dispersal systems, while less popular than wet systems, are still available. One Website even provides a handy guide to the area one would expect to cover using various particle sizes, wet and dry — from thousand micron particles to half-micron particles capable of drifting almost four hundred miles.”

      It was no small irony that by the time the paperback version came out in September 2001 just a few miles away Zacarias Moussaoui had in fact downloaded such materials onto his laptop.

      Attorney General Ashcroft, on October 1, 2001 explained: “I think shortly after the September 11 events, we developed information about crop dusters and noted that there had been an interest expressed in the dispersal of chemical agents by some of the individuals who had relationships with the hijackers and were the hijackers, and we asked those who were associated with the agriculture, chemical industry, and crop dusting to begin to be more careful, to lock their airplanes, to be aware of anyone seeking to adjust the kind of way in which the nozzles would be, which would maybe require a different approach.

      President Bush, at a press conference on October 11, 2001 said:

      “We received knowledge that perhaps an al-Qaeda operative was prepared to use a crop-duster to spray a biological weapon or a chemical weapon on American people, and so we responded. We contacted every crop dust location, airports from which crop-dusters leave. We notified crop-duster manufacturers to a potential threat. We knew full well that in order for a crop-duster to become a weapon of mass destruction would require a retrofitting, and so we talked to machine shops around where crop-dusters are located.”

      Mohammed Atta and Zacarias Moussaoui reportedly made inquiries about cropdusters and a cropdusting manual was found among Moussaoui’s belongings. Ahmad Ressam, an Al Qaeda terrorist caught in the United States, revealed that Bin Laden was personally interested in using low flying aircraft to disperse biological agents. In early June 3, 2003, a CIA report concluded that the reason for Atta’s and Zacarias Moussaoui’s inquiries into cropdusters was in fact for the contemplated use in dispersing biological agents such as anthrax. Moussaoui, however, has confessed only to a plot to fly a 747 into the White House if the United States government refused to free the blind sheikh. On August 13 and 15, 2001, Moussaoui was getting practice on a 747 simulator in Minneapolis and thus the evidence has always remained ambiguous.

      In an interview with ABC News, Johnelle Bryant, a USDA employee, provided this very dramatic account of a meeting with Atta in connection with a loan he wanted for $650,000 to start a cropdusting business. Anthrax likely can be delivered using the nozzle setup that some USDA official says Atta imagined (as explained by Secretary Cohen some years ago). Secretary Cohen’s remarks were found in the Kabul home with papers relating to the aerial delivery of anthrax.

      Some investigators on the team prosecuting Zacarias Moussaoui thought he wasn’t expected to take part in the 9/11 plan as such or fly into the White House as prosecutors would allege in January 2003, but was expected instead to use a cropduster. In an e-mail dated July 31, 2001, after receiving $14,000 from Ramzi Binalshibh, Moussaoui inquired of a Minnesota school concerning a 6 month or year long cropdusting course. Although French intelligence suggests instead that there was a separate hijacking plot (of an international airline) to occur later, in light of the e-mail, use of a cropdusting plane may have been an alternative plan at least as of the end of July 2001. Khalid Mohammed reportedly has told his interrogators that Moussaoui was to be part of a second wave of attacks. He said that Moussaoui’s interest in cropdusters may have related to Yazid Sufaat’s work on anthrax.

      In a coded communication in the summer of 2001, KSM told Ramzi Binalhibh to send the “skirts” to “Sally”, apparently referring to sending funds to Zacarias Moussaoui. Moussaoui may have been considered as a substitute if one of the pilots, who had developed a strained relationship with Atta, dropped out. They were referred to as the “unhappy couple” and it was said that a divorce would be expensive. Was Moussaoui really slated for a “second wave” of similar attacks on California targets that merely involved the same modus operandi? In an email dated July 31, 2001, he was inquiring about a cropdusting course. Was this just a means of fifth plane targeting the White House. Bin Laden wanted the White House to be targeted. Atta thought it would be too difficult. Or perhaps cropdusters will be used in the future. The FBI is currently looking for a diminutive Saudi Arabian, Adnan Shukrijumah, who, at least according to some reports, was trained as a pilot and was last known to have been in Miami in late 2001. The Saudi Arabian from Florida is said to be at the level of Atta. I have quoted a letter that Shukrijumah (Jafar the Pilot) wrote to Midhat Mursi. I have also uploaded a letter explaining Shukrijumah’s strong support for the Blind Sheik. His father served as the blind sheik’s translator while a NYC-area imam. A federal undercover agent has reported that he saw El-Shukrijumah with Atta. Jdey, also hotly sought by the FBI, was one of two other pilots. For years, it was not known by the public why Jdey had been pulled from the first wave. It turns out that the FBI had failed to disclose that Jdey had been detained at the same time as Moussaoui and then released. Moussaoui was carrying crop-duster books and Jdey had biology books. The author of the article above neglects mention of Jdey. For that, turn to Ken Dillon’s keen insights.

      • Concerning crop dusters, KSM, Ramzi Yousef … Maria Ressa (Seeds of Evil) has the following concerning their Jan. 1995 plot to kill the Pope in Manila.

        “Yousef told Murad they would try to assassinate the pope. Members of the Abu Sayyaf would help, he said, and they would claim credit for the group. In addition, there were several other attacks on the drawing board. By that time, Yousef had already discarded a plot to assassinate U.S. president Bill Clinton on his visit to the Philippines. [[to have taken place in late 1994]] Yet Yousef also talked of attacks on nuclear facilities in the United States [40] and attacks in France, Britain, and Sweden, [41] as well as at least three {page 32 end} plots using airplanes. The first was the most immediate: to use a crop-duster plane to assassinate the pope. That was discarded once the police announced there would be a no-fly zone in the capital during the pope’s visit. The second involved a light plane loaded with explosives, which would be used to ram into the CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia. [42] The third plot, which became the blueprint for 9/11, was to “board any American commercial aircraft pretending to be an ordinary passenger. Then … hijack said aircraft, control its cockpit and dive it at the CIA Headquarters. There will be no bomb or any explosive … in its execution.” [43] Other target buildings in the United States included the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, the Sears Building in Chicago, and the TransAmerica Building in San Francisco. [44]”

        Footnotes:
        [40] Classified Philippine intelligence document, “After Debriefing Report,” March 31, 1995.
        [41] Ibid.
        [42] Classified Philippine intelligence document, “After Debriefing Report,” March 9, 1995.
        [43] Classified Philippine intelligence document, “Debriefing Report,” January 20, 1995.
        [44] Author interview with Philippine presidential spokesman Rigoberto Tiglao, September 16, 2001.”

        From those I’ve seen, these Debriefing Reports contained only information derived from the interrogation of Murad, himself a licensed pilot.

        I don’t recall having seen mention of crop dusters in any other accounts of these events.

        Ms. Ressa is admirably rigorous in her use of sources, so I’m inclined to think that she’s accurately reproduced what is in the report she’s citing.

        Contemporary newspaper accounts confirm the no fly zone.

        • DXer said

          Thanks so much for the detail. It highlights the importance of interviewing the subtilis expert calling the number associated with Ramzi Yousef up to the minute the Blind Sheik was arrested — and to ask him about the call from his dorm room to the Pakistan charity which has been interpreted as a reporting call to KSM waiting that night at the charity after everyone had gone home. Given the awkward nature of the subject, it really requires a credentialed journalist or some well-read academic type. The author of that recent article notes the connection to the Minnesota agriculture aviation school (where Moussaoui made his inquiries) but John Adams and I in the 2005 or so also noted a connection to NYC biodefense experiment involving aerosol. (I’ve misplaced the citation but John Adams might still have it).

  4. DXer said

    After discussing the familiar issues of the hijacker’s leg lesion and Atta’s red hands, the author writes:

    “Creating these conditions in a garage, basement, or residential room, as a few FBI investigators proposed, is impossible. Failure to observe the indicated conditions of working with an extremely virulent strain of anthrax in powder form inevitably leads to spreading the anthrax spores into the surrounding environment and infects the handler(s). Consequently, filling the envelopes with the powder form of anthrax spores can only be accomplished by one who possesses microbiological skills and experience and only in the conditions of a microbiological laboratory.

    An example of this type of improper handling of the microbiological pathogens is well-demonstrated in an incident that occurred on March 1, 2002 in a laboratory in Texas. An employee studying samples distributed by terrorists worked without gloves. As a result, the employee found that his hands had transferred to his chin, as he discovered after shaving. The skin form of anthrax that developed was easily treated with antibiotics. However, all of the reports indicated that not one of the 40 workers in this specialized laboratory had been given the anthrax vaccine [13].

    The following reports from the investigative committee of the base laboratory stated that the necessary skills for the handling of the anthrax spores were possessed by Iraqi microbiologist Waly Samar (Walied Samarrai), who worked in New York but lived in New Jersey, from where the first contaminated envelopes were sent [14]. He was a citizen of the USA and graduated from Hunter College where he received a doctorate degree in microbiology. It was easy for him to disguise his work under his investigation of non-pathogenic Bacillus subtilis, which is similar to the composition of the causative agent Bacillus anthracis, better known as anthrax. Since the laboratory techniques and technology used for both microorganism spores are very much alike and require similar precautions, his work was easily conducted under routine experimentation. As a highly competent microbiologist, Samar knew what had to be done in order to prevent contamination of laboratory facilities. Apart from filling the envelopes, he was not successful with the lyophilizing process of anthrax, indicating that the powdery material substance used was prepared ahead of time at a different location. Later it was found that some of the anthrax letters were contaminated with Bacillus subtilis spores. This bacteriological analyzes can be considered as evidence that handling with the anthrax letters was carried out in the lab in which Bacillus subtilis was cultivated [10].

    How, where, and when did [S]amar obtain this material?”

    This extraordinary passage is all the more extraordinary when you realize that the Walied was in frequent telephone contact with the number of the apartment associated with KSM’s nephew Ramzi Yousef up to the moment that the blind sheik Abdel-Rahman was arrested. I have uploaded a copy of the telephone records — they were an exhibit in the prosecution of the WTC 1993 trial. (The author follows the Mylroie and John Adams tradition) of referring to him as “Waly Samar”).

    A call was made to a Pakistan charity after WTC 1993 explosion from Walied’s dorm room. KSM could be asked if they were at the charity that night to hear news on how the attack on the Trade towers went. Or alternatively and more simply, Walied could be ask who made the call and for what purpose.

    https://caseclosedbylewweinstein.wordpress.com/2011/06/07/the-addressphone-number-associated-with-the-wtc-1993-bomber-ramzi-yousef-was-frequently-called-by-subtilis-expert-walied-samarrai-in-february-1993-up-to-the-time-and-hour-of-the-first-arrests/

    Years ago, I first emailed the NYC-area professor to engage him on these issues but didn’t hear back. (It may have been in 2002 or 2003, I don’t recall). The CIA would have known about this for years before 2001 — or at least we can recognize that Mr. Woolsey wrote the preface, as I recall, for Ms. Mylroie’s book that touched on this background that came out in September 2001. WS’s thesis on subtilis, as I best recall, was published in 1994 — on the subject of subtilis mutations as I remember it.

    More recently, his work has involved making microbiological training more readily available to people in Afghanistan using video.

    At the time of Laurie M’s lead, my focus was always on the fact that Dr. Ayman sent for top EIJ leaders in 2001 to northern Iraq to form Ansar Al-Islam from an amalgamation of existing groups. I felt that the evidence did not support her claim that KSM was not the same KSM who attended North Carolina in the 1980s. DNA analysis would be a simple and foolproof means of checking.

    But when viewed instead as a connection to KSM’s nephew Ramzi Youssef, the WTC 1993 bomber — especially in light of the subtilis contamination in the mailed anthrax and other circumstantial evidence connecting the motive of the Fall 2001 anthrax mailings to the motive of the WTC 1993 bombers — the lead is white hot. If you don’t understand the importance of the blind sheik to those involved in Dr. Zawahiri’s anthrax program, then you probably are not very well read. For example, there’s one prolific internet poster, Ed Lake, who argues that it is nearly certain a First Grader wrote the letters. He takes pride in the number of books and articles he hasn’t read. Scott Shane, in contrast, is very well read both on Amerithrax and subjects like Anwar Awlaki. He would be the sort of the reporter best equipped to conduct such an interview of WS. Or that hardworking McClatchy fellow, who did such brilliant work in association with ProPublica and Frontline on America, would be well-suited given his background on the subject of Moussaoui.

    But on all matters relating to him, WS is himself the best person to address these issues so as to avoid factual errors creeping in. He seems like a very likable fellow and a credentialed journalist is the best choice to conduct such an interview.

    There are some factual errors on basic points in this article that are distracting. If corrections can be made given its online nature, I recommend that the editor, in consultation with the author, make them. Errors that are conspicuous (though not material to analysis of the important issue above) include origin of the original Ames from the diseased cow (Texas, not Iowa – and not 1972) and the letters established to have been sent.

  5. DXer said

    The author writes:

    “From my point of view, the report made by Dr. Christos Tsonas from Holy Cross Hospital in Fort Lauderdale, Florida is worthy of attention. According to Dr. Tsonas, at the end of June 2001, a pilot with a terrible abscess on his leg came to see him. Dr. Tsonas prescribed this pilot with an antibiotic, which subsequently was discovered in the apartment of the hijacker Ahmed Alhaznawi. According to the hypothesis of Dr. Tsonas, the pilot he treated had been infected with the skin form of anthrax. Furthermore, a pharmacist in Del Rey Beach, Florida witnessed the hijackers Mohamad Atta and Marwan Al-Shehhi seeking medicine in the pharmacy for a severe skin irritation on their hands [15].

    In my opinion, these facts provide evidence that the hijackers had contact with anthrax spores. I ruled out that they pre-packed the anthrax spores into envelopes because they did not have the necessary microbiological conditions, not to mention the qualifications. More than likely someone from overseas delivered the anthrax spores a few months before the planned terrorist attack on September 11. …

    Having the anthrax spores delivered to his home in Florida, the hijacker naturally decided he was interested in which form the anthrax was and whether or not they were damaged during transport. Evidently the bottles were undamaged, but whoever packaged the bottles did not take sufficient care in packaging the bottles as a small amount of the spores were on the wrapping material. The hijacker unwrapped the parcel without rubber scientific protective gloves and isolated spores came into contact with his hands causing an erythema, from which he was saved with the help of antibiotics. One cannot eliminate the possibility that the other terrorist was present and not wearing rubber scientific protective gloves when the parcel was unwrapped. The terrorist transferred an undetermined amount of anthrax spores from his hands to his leg, causing the anthrax to contaminate his skin. Even if he had opened just one flask, he would have not been successful in avoiding infection through inhalation of the anthrax, resulting in the usual outcome. Again, I am positive that the hijacker did not actually send the envelopes containing anthrax spores. This endeavor could only be accomplished by a qualified microbiologist.”

    Comment: It is important to understand in this scenario that the hijacker had just come (in June 2001) from Kandahar — which is where Yazid Sufaat’s laboratory was. Sufaat explained — after this article was submitted — that he had been a member of the Malaysian biological weapons program. By Facebook and private chat, Yazid told me that the plan is on the way — while declining to answer any specific questions about the Fall 2001 anthrax mailings on the grounds of the Fifth Amendment. (The statement was ambiguous and I don’t know what it means but his phrasing is disconcerting). Yazid tells me that he realizes that by addressing these issues he may “jack himself'” up.” (The reason I enjoy interviewing Salafist-Jihadis so much is that they can be refreshingly candid and direct.

    Given what is at stake, I think it is important that the GAO press the FBI hard for all possible document disclosures so that we can kick the tires (harder) of its “Ivins Theory.”

    • DXer said

      To revisit the issue:

      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). While I have to google images, I may have seen a 7-legged brown recluse spider today in an old cabin on an island. He had joined us for lunch and I found him scarier than my colleagues.

      Dr. Tara O’Toole of the Biodefense Center at John Hopkins, now head of biosecurity at Homeland Security, concluded the hijacker’s leg lesion 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.

      As noted above by the distinguished new author who has lent his voice to the discussion, 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 that on most days 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, of course, concerns the use of chlorine bleach to decontaminate anthrax. Like the leg lesion, it is not something to overlook lightly.

  6. DXer said

    The article was submitted in 2011 before Yazid Sufaat’s interview. In that filmed interview, he explains that he had been a member of Malaysia’s former biological weapons program. Thus, that was a source of sophisticated, practical and hands-on learning. His statements are corroborated by documents and equipment seized, the statements by his his assistants who were captured, and in his facebook and private chat with me.

    Al Qaeda anthrax lab tech says he had been part of Malaysian Armed Forces biological weapons program
    Posted by Lew Weinstein on March 23, 2012
    https://caseclosedbylewweinstein.wordpress.com/2012/03/23/al-qaeda-anthrax-lab-tech-says-he-had-been-part-of-malaysian-armed-forces-biological-weapons-program/

    * On The Question Whether Yazid Sufaat Was Using Virulent Ames (see NAS Report), We Need One Of These Top-Flight Journalists To Succeed In Getting Substantive, On-The-Record Responses From Yazid
    Posted on May 3, 2012
    https://caseclosedbylewweinstein.wordpress.com/2012/05/03/on-the-question-whether-yazid-sufaat-was-using-virulent-ames-see-nas-report-we-need-one-of-these-top-flight-journalists-to-succeed-in-getting-substantive-on-the-record-responses-from-yazid/

    * Yazid Sufaat was happy with the anthrax work when he stayed with KSM for 6 days in 2001 and when he reported to Dr. Ayman on the results 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).
    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/

    * Al Qaeda anthrax lab tech Yazid Sufaat discusses Zacarias Moussaoui in this 2011 French language television interview
    Posted on March 28, 2012
    https://caseclosedbylewweinstein.wordpress.com/2012/03/28/al-qaeda-anthrax-lab-tech-yazid-sufaat-discusses-zacarias-moussaoui-in-this-2001-french-language-television-interview/

    * In today’s installment of a continuing series, Al Qaeda anthrax lab technician Yazid Sufaat defends his decision to go to Afghanistan to work on his “anthrax project” for Al Qaeda
    Posted on March 20, 2012
    https://caseclosedbylewweinstein.wordpress.com/2012/03/20/interview-yazid-sufaat-released-in-november-2008-says-he-met-osama/

    * NSA ORCON: CIA and FBI Dropping the Ball In Anthrax Mailings and 9/11 Involved Same Failure To Track And Intercept Al-Midhar And Nawaf After Meeting At Kuala Lumpur Condo Of Anthrax Lab Tech Sufaat and Anthrax Planner Hambali
    Posted on January 27, 2012

    * Atta Was Coordinating With Jdey’s Associate Al-Hazmi, First In Fort Lee, NJ In Late August 2001 And Then In Laurel, MD in September 2001 ; Jdey’s Associate Nawaf Al-Hazmi Had Been At The Planning Meeting At Yazid Sufaat’s Kuala Lumpur Condo With Anthrax Planner Hambali And Anthrax Lab Director Yazid Sufaat And Yet The FBI Never Told The Public That Jdey Had Been Detained Along With Moussaoui In August 2001 (With Biology Textbooks) And Then Released
    Posted on January 25, 2012
    https://caseclosedbylewweinstein.wordpress.com/2012/01/25/atta-was-coordinating-with-jdeys-associate-al-hazmi-first-in-fort-lee-nj-in-late-august-2001-and-then-in-laurel-md-in-september-2001-jdeys-associate-nawaf-al-hazmi-had-been-at-the-planning/

    * In Late August 2001, Atta Went With Jdey’s Associate Nawaf Al-Hazmi From The Fort Lee, NJ Main Street Location That The Particulate Mixer Had Been Delivered To Laurel, MD Where The FBI Later Has Atta On Film At KINKOS Copying; Jdey’s Associate Nawaf Al-Hazmi Had Been At The Planning Meeting At Yazid Sufaat’s Kuala Lumpur Condo With Anthrax Planner Hambali And Anthrax Lab Director Yazid Sufaat
    Posted on January 25, 2012
    https://caseclosedbylewweinstein.wordpress.com/2012/01/25/in-late-august-2001-atta-went-with-jdeys-associate-nawaf-al-hazmi-from-the-fort-lee-nj-main-street-location-that-the-particulate-mixer-had-been-delivered-to-laurel-md-where-the-fbi-later-has-a/

    * Anthrax Lab Director Yazid Sufaat Wrote This Letter Of Introduction For Zacarias Moussaoui, Who Made The Cropduster Inquiries
    Posted on January 23, 2012
    https://caseclosedbylewweinstein.wordpress.com/2012/01/23/anthrax-lab-director-yazid-sufaat-wrote-this-letter-of-introduction-for-zacarias-moussaoui-who-made-the-cropduster-inquiries/

    Marwan Hadid al-Suri, who was assisting Yazid Sufaat at Omar Hospital in May 2001 and then helped set up the anthrax lab in Kandahar later that month, was killed in 2006 in northwestern Pakistan. Marwan al-Suri, 38, was said to be a close aide of al-Qaida No. 2 Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri. But where is Yazid Sufaat now?
    Posted by Lew Weinstein on May 15, 2011
    https://caseclosedbylewweinstein.wordpress.com/2011/05/15/marwan-hadid-al-suri-who-was-assisting-yazid-sufaat-at-omar-hospital-in-may-2001-and-then-helped-set-up-the-anthrax-lab-in-kandahar-later-that-month-was-killed-in-2006-in-northwestern-pakistan-m/

    In The Second Front, Kenneth J. Conboy explains that Yazid Sufaat took over a room in Omar Hospital (near Kandahar) while waiting in May 2001 for the equipment he had amassed to reach Kandahar.
    Posted by Lew Weinstein on May 9, 2011
    https://caseclosedbylewweinstein.wordpress.com/2011/05/09/in-the-second-front-kenneth-j-conboy-explains-that-yazid-sufaat-took-over-a-room-in-omar-hospital-near-kandahar-while-waiting-in-may-2001-for-the-equipment-he-had-amassed-was-shipped-to-kandahar/

    • DXer said

      Dr. Ezepchuk recognizes that the access to Ames strain is an open but critical issue. Let’s address it.

      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.

      A Washington Post explained:

      “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.

      While it is easy to find fault with an FBI’s “Ivins Theory”, no one can envy them the difficult mystery they faced given the difficulties of proof associated with such a crime.

      • DXer said

        As an example of another minor error that could be corrected given it is an online journal, the first victim’s name is “Ernesto Blanco.”

      • DXer said

        The author notes a fun fact:

        “In early 2002, traces of spores were found in approximately twenty pieces of commercial and business mail addressed to Federal Chairman Alan Greenspan. The infected pieces were detected at an undisclosed, offsite Federal Reserve mail facility, according to the US Central Bank.” (citing Broad WJ, Johnson D (2002) Anthrax in letters proves progressively more deadly. The Denver Post.)

        Comment:

        I used to play poker every Wednesday with folks who advised Greenspan to include one fellow nicknamed “Mr. Big.” Mr. Big would not have been pleased to know this.

        (I used to lose pretty consistently but it was great fun; I did not realize that my host was charting my losses over years and correlating my results with my partaking of refreshments). :0)

      • DXer said

        Th author, a former member of the Russian anthrax research program, has interesting comparisons with what the Russians might have done.

        We have an even more recent example. Faced with an outbreak with anthrax this past month, they decontaminated a local army base.

        Russian Army Moves To Prevent Anthrax At Kyrgyz Air Base

        September 03, 2012

        Russia’s military officials say that efforts to prevent an anthrax epidemic have been increased at a Russian air base in Kyrgyzstan because of an outbreak of anthrax nearby.

        Officials from Russia’s Central Military District say one of the outbreaks is within 20 kilometers of the Kant Air Base in Kyrgyzstan’s northern region of Chui.

        He says all military buildings on the base — including apartments for officers and their families — have been disinfected and safety checks on food supplies have been increased.

        The move was undertaken after Kyrgyz health officials announced last week that several cases of anthrax had been confirmed in Chui and in the southern regions of Jalal-abad and Batken.

    • DXer said

      Dr. Ezepchuk’s discussion of acquisition of Ames without discussing the Abdur Rauf’s correspondence with Dr. Ayman Zawahiri is a dramatic error making the piece more suitably published in 2002 or 2003.

      But, hey, it is better than a pair of stained panties being thrown in the public’s face to see if they will swallow it.

      ANTHRAX AND AL QAEDA: THE INFILTRATION OF US BIODEFENSE

      By ROSS E. GETMAN

      http://www.blurb.com/bookstore/detail/3459068

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