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

* At the Dangerous Pathogens 2000 Conference, Dr. Zawahiri’s infiltrating scientist Rauf Ahmad presented on the isolation of Bacillus Anthracis

Posted by DXer on November 15, 2014

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Source:  Dangerous Pathogens 2000



11 Responses to “* At the Dangerous Pathogens 2000 Conference, Dr. Zawahiri’s infiltrating scientist Rauf Ahmad presented on the isolation of Bacillus Anthracis”

  1. DXer said

    Les Baillie, the Dangerous Pathogens 2000 Conference Chairman, was a “special advisor to the FBI on the anthrax postal attacks (sole non-US advisor).” Les Baillie was the Conference Chairman where the Al Qaeda scientist was acquiring samples (according to MI5) and where the public documents show his paper on killing the mice with anthrax was presented.

  2. DXer said

    It was Rauf Ahmad’s employer PCSIR that confirmed that the powder sent to Prime Minister Gilani was anthrax and possibly treated with silica.

    GAO: What genetic strain was the anthrax reportedly sent to Prime Minister Gilani? Did guinea pigs die when exposed to it so as to rule out possibility of a false positive? Was there a Silicon Signature?
    Posted by Lew Weinstein on February 2, 2012

    “The Secretariat sources told The News that Deputy Secretary Abdul Hafiz, in his written complaint said: “The Secretariat received a registered envelop (Registered No 209) from Sindh University, Campus Colony, Jamshoroo, in the name of Prime Minister of Pakistan Yusuf Raza Gilani through the Post Office in the inner CR Section of this Secretariat on October 18, 2011, at 3:20pm. There was also a plastic envelop inside the outer paper envelop, containing some type of powder or chemical. On receipt of the envelop, the security officer of the Secretariat sent the envelop, along with the material, to Dr Shaukat Pervaiz, PCSIR, Islamabad, for its examination and submission of report.”

    We also learn from the Daily Times that the anthrax may have been weaponized:

    “A senior police official, on the condition of anonymity, told Daily Times that the packet was received by a security official at the main gate of the secretariat. The security official found that the packet was filled with a suspicious powder and sent it to the PCSIR laboratories for test. “The PCSIR report confirmed that the packet was filled with anthrax, which could also contain silica or other sophisticated additives to make it float more easily in the air,” the police official maintained.

    Given that the anthrax was real and possibly even weaponized accounts for the fear shown by Gilani’s security staff:

    The security staff members of Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani on Wednesday went into a state of shock over the revelation that a parcel received at their boss’s official residence in October last year carried deadly anthrax.”

  3. DXer said

    MI5 knew about Rauf Ahmad as revealed by the university professor who wrote MI5’s authorized biography.

    MI5 thinks Muslim extremism has been contained
    Published Oct 06, 2009

    “The book says that in 2000, MI5 – without realising it at the time – foiled a plot by Al Qaeda to obtain biological weapons when it found samples and equipment in the luggage of a Pakistani microbiologist, Rauf Ahmad, who had attended a conference on pathogens in Britain. American intelligence later revealed that Rauf Ahmad had been in touch with Al Qaeda’s No 2, Ayman al Zawahiri.”

    LA Times. too, reported that the MI5 “found samples and equipment in the luggage of a Pakistani microbiologist, Rauf Ahmad, who had attended a conference on pathogens in Britain.”

    Advance press of new authorized history of MI5 by history professor on 100th anniversary addresses infiltrator Rauf Ahmad gave the first details:

    “Unknown to MI5, Britain had already been targeted by al-Qaeda. It was only after September 11 that officers discovered that a Pakistani microbiologist called Rauf Ahmad, also known as Abdur Rauf, who traveled to a conference in Britain in September 2000 to try and buy pathogens from fellow delegates, was a high-ranking member of al-Qaeda.”

    Okay, so what b. anthracis strains were in Rauf Ahmad’s luggage in 2000 and who gave them to him?

    And what strains did he obtain in 1999 when he wrote Dr. Ayman and said he had successfully obtained the targets?

    And was Rauf Ahmad really cooperating with Pakistan ISI against Al Qaeda? Or did Rauf Ahmad play the US CIA and FBI for fools in early 2002 like he did MI5 in 2000.

  4. DXer said

    Rauf Ahmad’s articles were not selected for publication in the Journal of Applied Microbiology in October 2001: That journal issue was published online and available for free in July 2008. It is a pity that Rauf Ahmad’s article about killing mice with anthrax was not reported and part of the discussion.

    The FBI withheld the information, the FBI says, because it wanted to spare the UK and Pakistan embarrassment.

    Although the FBI withheld the fact he had been killing mice with anthrax from the NAS on the grounds that it was classified and thus not the FBI’s to disclose, it actually was unclassified. Rauf Ahmad’s “Dangerous Pathogens 2000” article about killing mice with anthrax could have been provided the NAS — but wasn’t. GAO should ask Vahid Majidi to explain..

    • Les Baillie (Conference Chairman)1 and
    • Alan Godfree2

    Journal of Applied Microbiology
    Volume 91, Issue 4, page 571,October 2001

    Les Baillie and Alan Godfree
    Article first published online: 7 JUL 2008

  5. DXer said

    Dr Rauf Ahmad, Dr. Zawahiri’s infiltrating scientist, also attended the 1999 conference on “Dangerous Pathogens” sponsored by Porton Down. It was called “First European Dangerous Pathogens Conference.” Before turning to the film of his presentations, let’s consider some of the other talks from 1999.

    Doctors told how to spot terrorist anthrax attack
    By Roger Highfield, Science Editor
    Last Updated: 11:56PM BST October 12, 2001

    At the First European Dangerous Pathogens Conference two years ago, Dr Lightfoot outlined the infrastructure needed after a bio-terrorist attack.

    According to one report, an eminent US participant later said privately that “the Brits should be sure to have adequate mortuary space ready”. However, the PHLS is just one part of a broader national planning exercise for bio-terrorism, Dr Lightfoot said.

    “At the time I gave the presentation in 1999, time had already been spent addressing these broader issues of preparedness. A great deal more work has been done since 1999 to further develop plans to respond to bio-terrorist activity.”

    National planning was co-ordinated by the Home Office and the Department of Health.

  6. DXer said

    The Report of the Commission on the Prevention of WMD Proliferation and Terrorism

    Click to access a510559.pdf

    “Islamist terrorist groups such as al Qaeda have also sought to acquire biological weapons in the past. Former CIA Director George Tenet wrote in his memoir that in 1999, in parallel with planning for the September 11 terrorist attacks, al Qaeda launched a concerted effort to develop an anthrax weapon that could inflict mass casualties. The group hired a Pakistani veterinarian named Rauf Ahmad to set up a bioweapons laboratory in Afghanistan, but he became disgruntled with the amount of money he was paid and eventually quit. To con- tinue the anthrax work, al Qaeda then hired a Malaysian terrorist, Yazid Sufaat, who had studied biology at California State University in Sacra- mento. But in December 2001, after the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, Sufaat fled; he was captured by authorities as he tried to sneak back into Malaysia.”

  7. DXer said

    Here is some background:

    Suspect and A Setback In Al-Qaeda Anthrax Case

    Author: Joby Warrick
    Publication: The Washington Post
    Date: October 31, 2006

    Scientist With Ties To Group Goes Free

    In December 2001, as the investigation into the U.S. anthrax attacks was gathering steam, coalition soldiers in Afghanistan uncovered what appeared to be an important clue: a trail of documents chronicling an attempt by al-Qaeda to create its own anthrax weapon.

    The documents told of a singular mission by a scientist named Abdur Rauf, an obscure, middle-aged Pakistani with alleged al-Qaeda sympathies and an advanced degree in microbiology.

    Using his membership in a prestigious scientific organization to gain access, Rauf traveled through Europe on a quest, officials say, to obtain both anthrax spores and the equipment needed to turn them into highly lethal biological weapons. He reported directly to al-Qaeda’s No. 2 commander, Ayman al-Zawahiri, and in one document he appeared to signal a breakthrough.

    “I successfully achieved the targets,” he wrote cryptically to Zawahiri in a note in 1999.

    Precisely what Rauf achieved may never be known with certainty. That’s because U.S. officials remain stymied in their nearly five-year quest to bring charges against a man who they say admitted serving as a top consultant to al-Qaeda on anthrax — a claim that makes him one of a handful of people linked publicly to the group’s effort to wage biological warfare against Western targets.

    Rauf, 47, has been under scrutiny in Pakistan since he was detained there for questioning in late 2001, according to U.S. and Pakistani officials who agreed to talk about the case for the first time. But officially he remains free, and Pakistan now says it has no grounds for arrest. Last year, in an acknowledgment of the impasse in its four-year joint investigation with Pakistan, the FBI officially put the case on inactive status.

    “We will never close the door, but the chances of getting him into the United States are slim to none,” said one U.S. intelligence official, who, like others, agreed to discuss the case on the condition that he not be identified by name.

    The documents that first revealed Rauf’s role were part of a large stack of papers discovered in a house after coalition forces overran an al-Qaeda base in Kandahar, in southern Afghanistan. He emerges from documents and interviews as one of the most intriguing, and in some ways most troubling, figures in an international investigation into al-Qaeda’s biological weapons program.

    With the evidence against Rauf, some U.S. officials say they are perplexed about why Pakistani authorities have refused to further pursue him, while acknowledging that the case presents both legal and political difficulties for Pakistan.

    To terrorism experts, Rauf is a symbol of a dangerous convergence: a marriage of militancy and technical expertise that could someday yield new kinds of highly lethal weapons to be used against civilians.

    “He was someone who at least understood the professional procedures and methods,” said Milton Leitenberg, an expert on biological weapons with the University of Maryland’s Center for International and Security Studies who reviewed the seized documents. “In theory, if he went in the laboratory and tried and tried, maybe he could have gotten it right.”

    Exactly how far al-Qaeda progressed with Rauf’s help is not publicly known. No one has turned up any links between his work and the U.S. anthrax attacks, in which spores were mailed in letters to news organizations and U.S. Senate offices. Coalition forces discovered rudimentary laboratories in Kandahar but no evidence of bioweapons production. Yet both the White House and a presidential commission have hinted at additional findings suggesting that the terrorists were much further along than was first thought.

    Last year’s presidential commission on intelligence failures, led by retired judge Laurence H. Silberman and former senator Charles S. Robb (D-Va.), described al-Qaeda’s biological program as “extensive” and “well-organized,” particularly with regard to “Agent X,” a pathogen that terrorism experts say was almost certainly anthrax.

    “Al-Qaeda had acquired several biological agents possibly as early as 1999, and the necessary equipment to enable limited, basic production of Agent X,” the commission said.

    U.S. officials are even more reticent in discussing possible links between al-Qaeda’s anthrax program and the 2001 U.S. attacks, which killed five people and briefly shut down the U.S. Capitol. Privately, FBI officials doubt that such a link exists. They note that the attacks came with an explicit warning — a letter advising the victims to take penicillin, resulting in a far lower death toll — but without an explicit claim of responsibility. “It doesn’t fit with al-Qaeda’s modus operandi,” one intelligence official said.

    Yet U.S. officials have been unable to rule out al-Qaeda or any other group as a suspect. Earlier this month, FBI officials acknowledged that the ultra-fine powder mailed five years ago was simply made and could have been produced by a well-trained microbiologist anywhere in the world.

    Several leading bioterrorism experts still contend that the evidence points to al-Qaeda or possibly an allied group that coordinated its attack with the Sept. 11, 2001, strikes on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. These experts point to hijacker Mohamed Atta’s inquiries into renting a crop-duster aircraft and to an unexplained emergency-room visit by another hijacker, Ahmed Ibrahim A. Al Haznawi, for treatment of an unusual skin lesion that resembled cutaneous anthrax.

    Whether or not al-Qaeda was involved, U.S. officials and bioterrorism experts agree on this: The alliance between the terrorist group and a little-known Pakistani scientist could have yielded disastrous results in time.

    The Quest for Anthrax

    For all his expertise, Rauf was hardly the ideal candidate for helping al-Qaeda realize its ambition of making biological weapons.

    The tall, thin and bespectacled scientist held a doctorate in microbiology but specialized in food production, according to U.S. officials familiar with the case. He had to learn about anthrax and other bioterrorism agents as he went along, slowing his progress considerably.

    “He could potentially do a great deal of harm because of his knowledge and skills,” said one U.S. intelligence expert connected with the case. “On the other hand, he lacked the specific knowledge and training al-Qaeda needed most.”

    Exactly how he became acquainted with Zawahiri remains unclear. Rauf worked at the prestigious Pakistan Council of Scientific and Industrial Research in his home town of Lahore, and officials speculate that he may have crossed paths professionally with Zawahiri, a physician.

    In any case, captured documents suggest a close collaboration between the two men as they sought equipment for a bioweapons lab.

    “I hope my letter will find you in the best of health and circumstances by the God Almighty,” Rauf writes to Zawahiri in one of three intercepted notes.

    The heavily redacted notes and other documents were obtained from the Defense Department through the Freedom of Information Act after they were first described in the journal Science in a 2003 article by three researchers at the National Defense University. Rauf’s name was redacted, but U.S. and Pakistani officials confirmed his authorship in interviews with The Washington Post. Rauf’s name was first publicly associated with the documents by Ross Getman, a New York lawyer who maintains a Web site devoted to the 2001 anthrax attacks.

    Rauf was a member of the Society for Applied Microbiology, an international professional organization based in Britain, and he appears to have used his membership to make contacts and arrange visits related to his quest. One note from Rauf was handwritten on the group’s stationery, apparently while he was attending a 1999 scientific conference at Porton Down, Britain’s premier biodefense research center in the southern city of Wiltshire.

    Rauf, who writes to Zawahiri in occasionally faltering English, admits in one note to several setbacks. For starters, he had found a supplier who could sell him Bacillus anthracis — the bacterium that causes anthrax — but it was a harmless strain incapable of killing anyone.

    “Unfortunately, I did not find the required culture of B. anthrax — i.e., pathogenic,” he writes to Zawahiri. He then describes a new attempt to acquire a lethal strain from a different lab.

    In a later note he is more upbeat, telling his patron he had “successfully achieved the targets” and had “tried to solve technical problems of our work.” He ticked off a list of items he had acquired or arranged to purchase, including respirators, a fermenter used for growing bacteria and vaccines to protect lab workers against accidental exposure.

    Rauf also describes an unusual visit — apparently as the guest of another scientist — to a high-containment biological lab where dangerous pathogens such as anthrax are kept.

    “I visited along with [the host] all the units . . . including the special confidential room in which thousands of cultures are placed,” the note reads.

    Another handwritten note includes a crude diagram of a biological lab, identifying how space should be allocated for major tasks such as animal testing and growing bacteria.

    A recurring theme in the notes is money, or Rauf’s apparent lack of it. He complains in one note that his salary was cut while he was on leave from his job for postdoctoral research. “This is highly objectionable, unaffordable and unpracticable with me,” he writes.

    Rauf’s money demands may have led to a falling-out with Zawahiri, who appears to have decided to explore other options for obtaining bacteria and lab equipment, said Rohan Gunaratna, an al-Qaeda expert with the Institute of Defense and Strategic Studies in Singapore.

    Gunaratna said al-Qaeda leaders also collaborated with Yazid Sufaat, a member of an allied Southeast Asian group called Jemaah Islamiyah, in purchasing equipment for the Kandahar lab. Sufaat, who once studied chemistry at California State University at Sacramento, has been in custody since late 2001.

    “Rauf was financially driven, and al-Qaeda didn’t entirely trust him,” Gunaratna said.

    Rauf’s detention kicked off a joint U.S.-Pakistani investigation that at first was remarkably successful.

    “There was great cooperation at the start,” said one U.S. intelligence official who closely followed the case.

    The FBI’s New York office took the lead U.S. role, and its agents worked closely with the CIA and bureau officials in Pakistan in carrying out interrogations. Though not formally charged with any crimes, Rauf consented to questioning and provided useful leads, U.S. and Pakistani officials said. But problems began when the U.S. side sought to expand the investigation with the goal of pursuing criminal charges, including possible indictment and prosecution in the United States, officials from both countries confirmed.

    In earlier cases, the Pakistani government incurred the wrath of Islamic leaders when it sought to prosecute professionals for alleged ties to al-Qaeda.

    In 2003, the Pakistanis shut off U.S. access to Rauf. According to Pakistani officials familiar with the case, there simply was not enough evidence showing that he succeeded in providing al-Qaeda with something useful.

    Since then, Rauf has been allowed to resume his normal life. Whether he has returned to his former workplace is unclear; officials at the research council declined to respond to requests for information about the scientist. Attempts to contact Rauf in Lahore were unsuccessful.

    “He was detained for questioning, and later the courts determined there was not sufficient evidence to continue detaining him,” said Tariq Azim Khan, Pakistan’s information minister. “If there was evidence that proved his role beyond a shadow of a doubt, we would have acted on it. But that kind of evidence was not available.”

    Special correspondent Kamran Khan in Karachi, Pakistan, contributed to this report.

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