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

* Judith Miller addresses her anthrax reporting in “The Story: A Reporter’s Journey” (April, 2015) ; she reports that both Bush and Cheney were vaccinated against smallpox and anthrax

Posted by DXer on April 20, 2015

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4 Responses to “* Judith Miller addresses her anthrax reporting in “The Story: A Reporter’s Journey” (April, 2015) ; she reports that both Bush and Cheney were vaccinated against smallpox and anthrax”

  1. DXer said

    Judith Miller’s discussion of Iraq and Amerithrax, I think, is interesting from a historical standpoint dating to the 2001 and 2002 period. Fast forward a decade and a half, and the geography is entirely different. We now know that map. We now know a lot about Yazid Sufaat, Rauf Ahmad and Adnan El-Shukrijumah and Al Qaeda’s anthrax lab in Kandahar, Afghanistan. In light of the information of Dr. Ayman Zawahiri’s infiltration of Western biodefense, we see that obtaining the strain and know-how from Iraq was not at all necessary. The problem, though, is that the FBI and CIA knew that the Al Qaeda anthrax scientist, Rauf Ahmad, was already working with virulent anthrax in 2000 and obtaining know-how from attendees at the Porton Down-sponsored conferences organized by Les Baillie and an associated laboratory. We knew that a supporter of the jihadists that had worked for Andrew Card (to whom FBI Director Mueller was reporting on Amerithrax) shared a suite with the leading DARPA researchers who had co-invented a patent to concentrate anthrax using silica in the culture solution.

    So those blaming Ms. Miller for the invasion of Iraq might turn to the separate but related question of who has been responsible for suppressing information relating to the Fall 2001 anthrax mailings, the testing in Kandahar (the FBI discarded the CIA’s finding of Ames at the Kandahar lab), the identity of the second lab that Rauf Ahmad visited (see botched 2005 NYT article), the use of silica in the culture solution etc.

    Anthrax, Al Qaeda and Ayman Zawahiri: The Infiltration of US Biodefense

    When the order of undated letters was botched (based on Milton L’s spin to NYT reporter Eric L.), I complained to Judy Miller (one of those to whom I had given the letters at the same time I uploaded them). She said I should have given the NYT the letters exclusively so that there was more time to clarify the background documents. In contrast, I would have thought the priority was to make the documentary evidence available so that no one’s spin or interpretation would lead to self-interested error. I would have thought that the priority was not to make unwarranted assumptions in analysis.

    In a lawsuit filed this April 2015, Attorney Lambert says the FBI engaged in “an elaborate perception management campaign to bolster their assertion of Ivins’ guilt.”

    That operation was in overdrive at the August 8, 2008 press conference when US Attorney made egregious misstatements about the distribution of the genetically matching Ames — and where it was stored and who had access.

    The FBI’s genetic analysis merely narrowed things to several hundred scientists and others who had access. Any one of them could have given the genetically matching Ames strain to someone else. Security at labs was very lax. Anyone with access to a lab could simply walk out with a pathogen.

    The FBI had estimated up to 377 had access required elimination — and that was just at USAMRIID. US Taylor nonetheless falsely claimed in August 2008 that only 100 needed to be eliminated at USAMRIID. He premised his conclusion on the claim that only those with access at USAMRIID’s Building 1425 had to be eliminated — overlooking the fact that the genetically matching Ames was also stored in Building 1412.

    The potential access to Ames is not reasonably disputed. For example, a microbiologist connected to the Al Qaeda network, Ali Al-Timimi, shared a suite with the leading DARPA-funded Ames anthrax researchers at George Mason University. One, Ken Alibek, had been a former Russian bioweaponeer. The other, Charles Bailey, had been the former commander of USAMRIID.

    Indeed, one non-citizen from Sudan and then Egypt for a few days in 1998 worked alongside Bruce Ivins in the B3 with Ames anthrax. He studied at Cairo Medical where Dr. Ayman Zawahiri recruited students to jihad every Friday. Dr. Ayman’s sister Heba taught microbiology at Cairo Medical.

    David Relman, the Vice-Chairman of the National Academy of Sciences panel that reviewed the science relied upon in Amerithrax, explained in “Science” that Ames was detected at a lab in Afghanistan. Indeed, Ames was detected in the remains of the hijacker who came in June 2001. The hijacker had been at Kandahar, where Yazid Sufaat’s anthrax lab was located. Whenever there was a positive finding, however, the FBI concluded it was a false positive. Yet when a genetics test narrowed 700-1000 researchers to 300, the FBI closed the case.

    Yazid Sufaat told KSM that he was not at risk because he and his two assistants had been vaccinated to protect them against their work with virulent anthrax. One of those assistants was tortured and then kept in secret prisons in Jordan and Israel. He told his CIA interrogators that “I made the anthrax” but then later would recant.

    Yazid Sufaat was head of Al Qaeda’s anthrax lab in Kandahar. In a filmed interview, he explained that previously he was part of a secret Malaysian biological weapons program. In correspondence with me, Yazid Sufaat does not deny responsibility for the Fall 2001 anthrax mailings. Instead he “pleads the Fifth.”

    The former lead Amerithrax investigator writes:

    “WFO’s insistence on staffing the AMERITHRAX investigation principally with new Agents recently graduated from the FBI Academy resulting in an average investigative tenure of 18 months with 12 of 20 Agents assigned to the case having no prior investigative experience at all.”

    That would explain a lot. It is only a couple years in the field that experience teaches you to vet your witnesses by checking to see if they have written a book they sell on explaining that they are controlled by an alien that gave them instructions each night. I quickly discovered that the FBI’s key witness says she was psychotic at the time and imagined murderous astral entities were attached to the clients in her new part-time addictions counseling gig.

    You may recall that the FBI, in the case they initially touted as being established by the scientific evidence, then turned to its stock psychological profile of a lone nut. The FBI’s key witness however, was Dr. Ivins’ first counselor who has written a 2009 book explaining that when she counseled Dr. Ivins, she was receiving her instructions each night from an alien. She reports that the alien had implanted a microchip in her butt. She thought that murderous astral entities were attached to her clients in her new part-time addictions counseling gig. In her book, she explained that each night she would fly to Afghanistan and Ground Zero. The astral entities would chase her back home, and she would narrowly escape through a vortex of energy that would close up behind her. That counselor annotated the psychiatrists’ notes. Her notes and her annotations were handed to the second counselor in July 2008 — and the second counselor then sought a restraining order that day against Dr. Ivins leading up to Dr. Ivins’ suicide. She alleged he was a murderous sociopath — just as the first counselor controlled by the alien had claimed. This was part of the tragic chain of events that led to Dr. Ivins suicide.

    The former lead Amerithrax investigator writes:

    “Plaintiff continued to advocate that while Bruce Ivins may have been the anthrax mailer, there is a wealth of exculpatory evidence to the contrary which the FBI continues to conceal from Congress and the American people.”

    The main evidence relied upon by the FBI was Dr. Ivins’ work at night and on weekends in late September and early October 2001. The documents eventually produced by USAMRIID under FOIA and published on Lew’s blog, however, show that Dr. Ivins was working on an experiment with 52 rabbits. Checking on animals at night and on weekends was a one person job and would take a couple of hours. That is the amount of time Dr. Ivins spent in the lab. The binding and mandatory protocol required that the principal investigator conduct the observations for the first 7 days after the rabbits were injected in early October 2001. US Attorney Taylor in explaining Ivins’ overtime in Fall 2001 (including November and December) overlooked the 2-person rule first implemented in January 2002 that precluded such overtime. That is why there would have been no continuing late night hours working alone past December 2001. The FBI’s Amerithrax Investigative Summary makes no mention of the rabbits — it either was negligent for the FBI not to know of the experiment — or 52 rabbits were knowingly stuffed down into a hat. Paul Kemp explained that Dr. Ivins explained the reason for his time at the lab at the last meeting with the AUSAs.

    The former lead Amerithrax investigator refers to “the FBI’s subsequent efforts to railroad the prosecution of Ivins in the face of daunting exculpatory evidence.”

    He writes:

    “Following the announcement of its circumstantial case against Ivins, Defendants DOJ and FBI crafted an elaborate perception management campaign to bolster their assertion of Ivins’ guilt. These efforts included press conferences and highly selective evidentiary presentations which were replete with material omissions.”

    For example, a handwriting report by the FBI’s handwriting expert — nowhere mentioned in the Amerithrax Investigative Summary — concluded that Dr. Ivins probably did NOT write the letters. How could AUSA Lieber justify to herself failing to mention that trifling bit of evidence in a summary of the evidence relating to Ivins?

    In para. 53, the former lead Amerithrax investigator addresses

    “Defendant Kelley’s erroneous and subsequently quashed legal opinion that regulations of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) precluded the Task Force’s collection of evidence in overseas venues.”

    The genetically distinctive b. subtilis contaminant found in the Brokaw and New York Post anthrax letters was not found in Dr. Ivins’ lab. The FBI acknowledges it did not swab all the other suspect labs for the b. subtilis contaminant. Did Attorney Kelley think that FBI agents could not swab for b. subtilis in Afghan under OSHA regulations?

    One of the most bald and extreme spins that US Attorney Taylor put on the evidence was his use of the phrase “the murder weapon” in association with Flask 1029. He never mentioned meglumine and diatrizoate was in Flask 1029 but not in the mailed anthrax.

    Al Qaeda had a deep involvement in anthrax over many years.

    Dr. Ayman Zawahiri’s colleagues explained in 1998 that he intended to use anthrax against US targets to retaliate for the rendering of senior Egyptian Islamic Jihad (EIJ) leaders, to include Blind Sheik Abdel Rahman. Ali Mohammed, the EIJ head of intelligence, had a document on his computer seized by the FBI that outlined principles of cell security that would be followed. Ali Mohammed trained Dahab, a Cairo medical drop-out, to make deadly letters. Dahab was involved in the founding of the Blind Sheik’s Services Organization in Brooklyn.

    Zawahiri recruited Pakistan government scientist Rauf Ahmad to infiltrate Porton Down-sponsored conferences in the UK in 1999 and 2000. In 1999, after visiting a first lab that did not have pathogenic strain, Rauf Ahmad arranged to visit a second lab. He ominously began a letter to Dr. Ayman about that visit to the second lab: “I have successfully achieved the targets.” The public still does not know the identity of that second lab.

    Rauf Ahmad reported to Dr. Ayman that he had made contacts that were helpful in learning processing tricks. The official history of MI5 indicates that Ahmad was intercepted leaving with equipment and strains after the 2000 conference. At the 2000 conference, Rauf Ahmad and his co-authors presented a paper on harvesting anthrax in the wild and killing mice with 100 injected spores. That abstract is online. The FBI and CIA thus had reason to know that Al Qaeda’s anthrax scientist already had been working with virulent anthrax. The information on what he took with him from the 1999 lab continues to be suppressed. So it should be no surprise that the label of “anthrax spore concentrate” harvested in April 2001 appears to be in the handwriting of Rauf Ahmad. CIA Director Tenet reports in his book that Ahmad helped set up Yazid Sufaat’s lab in Kandahar in May 2001. Rauf Ahmad, in occasional correspondence, would not cooperate with me unless I paid him money. The Washington Post correspondent in Pakistan once arranged to conduct an interview but then the Pakistan Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence backpedaled on its consent.

    I think Adnan El-Shukrijumah was the mailer of the letters containing anthrax in Fall 2001. My friend, former intelligence analyst Ken Dillon, thinks that Jdey is the mailer.

    My reasoning: A number of the individuals associated with Al Qaeda’s anthrax program were closely associated with Adnan El-Shukrijumah. Adnan El-Shukrijumah was the son of a salaried Saudi missionary who while the family lived in Brooklyn would translate for Blind Sheik Abdel-Rahman. Shukrijumah was at a Sarasota, FL home with his accomplice, 911 lead hijacker Mohammed Atta. Shukrijumah called his mother on or about September 11, 2001 to tell her he was coming to the United States. He insisted he was coming over her protests that he would be arrested. The FBI reported that El-Shukrijumah, traveling under an alias, entered the United States sometime after September 1, 2001. The FBI did not tell the “Joint Inquiry” about Shukrijumah even though he was known to be an associate of Mohammed Atta. Shukrijumah was with Atta and the other hijackers at a Sarasota, FL home associated with a close advisor of a key Saudi Arabian prince.

    Leaked detainee statements from Guantanamo indicate that Shukrijumah lived in safe houses in Karachi from February 2002 to April 2002. Hawsawi was KSM’s assistant and had documents explaining how to turn anthrax into a powder. Al Qaeda’s anthrax lab was equipped with a dryer, centrifuge and the other equipment the FBI deems necessary to make a dried powder out of anthrax. Shukrijumah was killed in a raid in Pakistan’s tribal area late last year. The public may learn more about Shukijumah and his association with Mohammed Atta in a litigation under FOIA .

    Separately, documents in Ali Al-Timimi’s pending case may shed some light about his possible access to the genetically matching Ames. Ali Al-Timimi shared a suite with the leading DARPA-funded Ames anthrax researchers. “911 imam” Anwar Al-Awlaki was coordinating with his fellow Falls Church imam, Al-Timimi. The daughter of the lead Amerithrax prosecutor — a prosecutor who pled the Fifth Amendment in connection with leaking hyped details that derailed the investigation with the famous “Hatfill Theory” — then came to represent Ali Al-Timimi for free. Awlaki in the Al Qaeda publication “Inspire” — from his grave — urged followers to attack using a biological weapon. Ali Al-Timimi had unfettered access to American Type Culture Collection (“ATCC”) The ATCC bacteriology collection scientist was the future head of the Amerithrax science investigation who would help guide the review by the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) and the production of documents from the FBI to NAS.

    Do who were the real perpetrators?

    Yazid Sufaat was head of Al Qaeda’s anthrax lab in Kandahar. In a filmed interview, he explained that previously he was part of a secret Malaysian biological weapons program. In correspondence with me, Yazid Sufaat does not deny responsibility for the Fall 2001 anthrax mailings. Instead he “pleads the Fifth.”

    As I mentioned, I believe Adnan El-Shukrijumah, who like Yazid Sufaat stayed at the house of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in Kandahar in September 2001, was the lead anthrax mailer.

    Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM) was identified as “the principal architect of the 9/11 attacks” by the 9/11 Commission Report.

    Adnan El-Shukrijumah was an accomplice in Florida of the 9/11 hijackers. He was formerly from Brooklyn where his father, a Saudi missionary, translated for Al Qaeda spiritual leader Blind Sheik Abdel-Rahman. The FBI reports that Adnan El-Shukrijumah travelled to the United States in September 2001. Seized documents show he was directed by Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM) to smuggle himself in through Mexico.

    In her April 2015 book, Judy mentions my friend Scott Shane. After setting the standard for Amerithrax coverage for the Baltimore Sun, he came to the NYT. But he was being too facile in his 2002 reporting when he bought the idea that the fact that the Ames strain was being used somehow tended to exclude Al Qaeda. Instead, what was needed was an investigative reporter who bore down on the means of potential access of the virulent Ames strain and learned the reason the FBI discarded the CIA’s detection of the Ames strain at Sufaat’s Kandahar lab. (See GMU PhD thesis I’ve uploaded by the former CIA scientist who now heads forensics in Philadelphia).

    Al Qaeda anthrax lab director Yazid Sufaat was my only Facebook Friend. It was hard to find a second friend with him as my first. He does not deny Al Qaeda’s responsibility for the Fall 2001 anthrax mailings. His trial on promoting terrorism resumes early next month. He was thrown in jail when he declined to identify for me the strain of the anthrax that Rauf Ahmad harvested in April 2001, before the lab was moved to Kandahar in May.

    Aside from an occasional editorial urging that the investigation be reopened, the New York Times never fully redeemed its reporting on anthrax that led to the Iraq war. It missed the story in 2001 and 2002 — and has continued to miss it ever since. The New York Times inadequate skepticism of the Administration’s theory of the day has continued to this day — although it was Shane who brilliantly requested Ivins’ emails from USAMRIID and started that ball rolling. We had to turn to ProPublica, McClatchy and PBS to delve into issues like the lyophilizer. No journalist has yet addressed Ivins’ experiment with the 52 rabbits, which was dispositive of an Ivins theory in my opinion. (McClatchy found it difficult to sort out because there was more than one rabbit experiment).

    For those of us who love New York City and read the New York Times, we are still hoping that the New York Times lives up to its reputation as being the newspaper of record. I think that will require a simple FOIA request that I recommend in the Dillon thread. In light of Lambert’s claims, Dave Hardy is going to think long and hard before he allows the FBI to play hide the ball in producing exculpatory forensic reports.

    Anthrax, Al Qaeda and Ayman Zawahiri: The Infiltration of US Biodefense

    • DXer said

      Judith Miller’s twitter feed is here. She reports that her dog Hamlet really does eat her homework.

      For a flavor of some of the recent commentary on her book (and see her twitter feed for other links), see

      1. Maher Confronts Judith Miller: Why Weren’t You More Skeptical About Iraq?
      by Josh Feldman | 10:31 pm, April 17th, 2015

      Bill Maher faced off with ex-New York Times reporterJudith Miller tonight and asked her why she wasn’t more skeptical in her reporting leading up to the Iraq War. Miller told him that she “couldn’t have been more skeptical” if she tried, but politicians lie.
      Miller doesn’t believe that Dick Cheney‘s evil orGeorge W. Bush was naive or the Bush administration didn’t cherry-pick, but Maher said he does believe all of those thing. He asked, “Why should I believe you if I don’t believe any of these assertions?”
      Miller talked about a mix of hawks and doves in the administration and the misguided “high confidence” they had about WMDs in Iraq, and said she was going off the same information that every other major news outlet did.
      Maher vented a little about the media and told Miller it’s the job of the fourth estate to call out “bullshit” from the military-industrial complex, but they’re not doing a great job of that.

      2. Former NYT Reporter Judith Miller Pleads Her Shaky Case
      Her reporting on Saddam Hussein’s purported WMDs sold the story the Bush administration was pushing. In a new memoir, she tries to explain herself, and comes up short.
      As the war proved increasingly costly and catastrophically quixotic (“dumb,” as Senate candidate Barack Obama called it), she later admitted her WMD stories were “totally wrong,” albeit unavoidably so—mistakes committed in good faith by a truth-seeking journalist working hard to do her best.
      Much of The Story, including a chapter titled “Scapegoat,” is Miller’s self-pitying account of how she was demonized by critics and enemies, inside and outside theTimes, as an influential cheerleader for an unjustified and ultimately ruinous war conducted under false pretenses.
      Executive Editor Bill Keller and Managing Editor Jill Abramson (who succeeded Keller as top editor after Miller left the paper) unfairly blamed her for the mistakes of others, she contends.
      No doubt, some of Miller’s detractors were motivated by sexism, jealousy, personal animus, and the primal reflex for bureaucratic survival and ass-covering—but surely not by valid concerns about the inadequacy of her journalistic methods, she argues.
      But after this winsome effort at self-criticism and painful confession, copping to her inexcusable betrayal of the Times accounting department, Miller quickly adds: “But I had never lacked skepticism. Nor had I twisted or ignored facts to achieve a political outcome. Yet that was the crime of which I was accused.”

      Hello? For someone who presents herself as a Washington-savvy insider—after all, House Armed Services Committee Chairman (and future defense secretary) Les Aspin was, for a time, her live-in boyfriend—Miller’s surprise at being used by the White House recalls Captain Renault’s claim of being “shocked! shocked!” that gambling was going on at Rick’s Café.

      3. Review: Judith Miller’s ‘The Story: A Reporter’s Journey’
      APRIL 7, 2015
      It was a devastating exile for a proud and influential reporter. Cast out of the journalistic temple, she says she felt “stateless,” and from the evidence here she remains a bit lost. This sad and flawed book won’t help her be found.

      A Reporter’s Journey
      By Judith Miller
      381 pages. Simon & Schuster. $27.
      Terry McDermott, a former national correspondent for The Los Angeles Times, is the author, with Josh Meyer, of “The Hunt for KSM: Inside the Pursuit and Takedown of the Real 9/11 Mastermind, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.”

    • DXer said

      Here is some additional background debunking the Iraq/anthrax connection that was promoted by some.

      Debunked: Atta, Prague and the Alleged Iraq Connection

      According to some reports encouraged by Vice-President Cheney’s aide “Scooter” Libby Atta met in Prague with an Iraqi case handler and obtained the anthrax from Iraq then. The reported transfer of a vial of anthrax, however, is totally unproven. The origin of the story seems to have been based simply on speculation of what might have occurred (at a meeting never established to have occurred). For his part, al-Ani denies meeting with Atta. In a statement submitted for the record to the Armed Services Committee and released in July 2004, the CIA concluded that there was an “absence of any credible evidence” that a meeting occurred in 2001 between Atta and Iraqi intelligence in Prague. A declassified portions of classified June 21, 2002 CIA report, “Iraq and al-Qa’ida: Interpreting a Murky Relationship” states: “Reporting is contradictory on hijacker’s Mohammad Atta’s alleged trip to Prague and meeting with an Iraqi intelligence officer, and we have not verified his travels. A declassified portion of “CTC Iraqi Support for Terrorism” dated January 29, 2003 similarly concludes “the most reliable reporting to date casts doubt on this possibility.”

      In contrast to what most of the senior Czech officials have said, the Prague Post quoted the director general of the Czech foreign intelligence service UZSI (Office of Foreign Relations and Information), Frantisek Bublan, denying the much-touted meeting. He also now may (or perhaps not) have been joined by the Czech President. But never let it be said the White House was consistent on the issue either. Apparently the report is based on a waiter’s recollection of customers several months earlier. Even the Czech intelligence officials who support the report only cite a 70 percent probability that it was Atta. The bottom-line is that Al Qaeda did not need Iraq to commit this crime. It was more prudent to limit the conclusion to Al Qaeda’s involvement absent additional evidence.

      Some hawks advising the Administration, both in the government and in private business (to include Richard Perle and James Woolsey), argued that there was powerful evidence showing Iraq is giving biological and chemical weapons and training to Al Qaeda. Rumsfeld, whose comments of course should not be taken lightly, describes the evidence as “bulletproof.” CIA intelligence assessments such as the declassified portions of classified June 21, 2002 CIA report, “Iraq and al-Qa’ida: Interpreting a Murky Relationship” noted the involvement of Iraqi nationals in al-Qa’ida CBRN efforts, but concluded “we cannot determine, which, if any, of these Iraqi national Baghdad directed.” There are, indeed, some reports by defectors concerning Al Qaeda’s coordination with Saddam on biological and chemical weapons but those reports all depend on the reliability and detail of those reports by defectors. We now know, for example, that the son of a Chalabi aide made up info about mobile biolabs. Similarly, someone else forged documents relating to uranium. Shouldn’t there have been criminal prosecutions? Classified CIA and DIA reports to the White House expressly questioned and doubted the reliability of senior Al Qaeda Al-Liby — who Secretary of State Powell would later expressly rely upon in his speech before the UN in which he held up a vial of anthrax.

      The briefs made by President Bush and Tony Blair lacked a “smoking gun” in this regard. The information released by Powell similarly contained no “smoking gun” on the question of an Iraq/ Al Qaeda connection. It may turn out that there was merely a tolerance of Al Qaeda and Ansar al-Islam by the Iraqi regime. The nature of any cooperation between Al Qaeda and Iraq was still an open (at least disputed) question though criticism of the Administration’s distortion of intelligence continued to grow sharply. (Judging by some reviews of Judy Miller’s book (April, 2015), feelings still run high even after all these years.) As in the game Monopoly, sometimes practical alliances can be formed for tactical purposes against a common enemy. A detailed argument relating to the connections between Iraq and Al Qaeda can be found online in the trillion dollar complaint against Iraq filed by the law firm Kreindler & Kreindler in connection with 9/11. There was also is a lengthy Spring 2003 article by PhD microbiologist Dany Shoham who had been with the Israeli military intelligence and now is at an Israeli university.

      As United States District Judge Harold Baer noted, and as Director Tenet has acknowledged, some of the early high-level contacts between Al Qaeda and Iraq related to a non-aggression pact. Judge Baer, upon the default of all the opposing parties and their failure to defend the lawsuit brought by the law firm Kreindler & Kreindler, found that CIA Director Woolsey and Laurie Mylroie had not presented any facts supporting their position, but that a jury could find in their favor by crediting their opinion. He described the evidence relied upon as consisting of layers of hearsay and therefore inadmissible.

      Mylroie’s theory required that Khalid Mohammed is an Iraqi intelligence agent — along with his nephew Ramzi Yousef. She even posits that Murad, a participant in the Bojinka operation, was necessarily an Iraqi agent. It is odd, then, that Murad did not disclose the fact in “tactical interrogation” (i.e., torture) by Philippine authorities and that his statement to US officials recount the names and location and details of his many family members. It was odder still that KSM did not disclose the fact in his months of interrogation. Yousef also failed to admit the fact — even in the course of extensive operations by the FBI involving a mafiosa defendant who had a nearby cell. In June 2004, yet another nephew of KSM was captured. No clear evidence emerged even after Iraq was invaded.

      When a mid-level of aide of Jordanian poison expert Zarqawi captured in Iraq was a member of Zawahiri’s Egyptian Islamic Jihad, that sort of development points to Al Qaeda’s presence in Iraq — not a connection with the regime.

      Dr. Richard Spertzel, the former UN inspector in Iraq — one of Judy Miller’s sources — said that the product here was well within Iraq’s capability. UNSCOM determined that the Iraqi weapons program produced dried anthrax as well as the more primitive wet form. Dr. Spertzel states: “Iraq certainly knows how to produce 100 percent pure spores. That is a technique that they developed .. which is capable of giving them the kind of concentrations that we are seeing in the Daschle letter.”

      Given that at the time we knew where Saddam lived, and he was a survivalist, he would have wanted to maintain deniability in the event he had assisted in the anthrax mailing. A terrorist state sponsor would want to use a strain that was not associated with it. Thus, Iraq as a source of the Ames is entirely possible. It just was indicated by any of the evidence. Two top Iraqi scientists, codenamed Charlie and Alpha, helped the coalition to learn more about Iraq’s anthrax program according to Dr. David Kay, head of the Iraq survey group in charge of the hunt for WMD, said. He has said that the Iraqis had made surprising innovations in the milling and drying processes needed to weaponize anthrax.

      One source, Ghorbanifar, who dates back to the Iran-contra days — and at times has been stridently discredited by the CIA as highly unreliable — even claimed that Iran was the source of the anthrax.

      In February 2003, in a much anticipated presentation about Iraq and its weapons, Secretary of State Colin Powell reported that a senior al Qaeda operative in custody has said that a terrorist operative was sent to Iraq several times between 1997 and 2000 for help in acquiring biological and chemical weapons. He was sent after Bin Laden determined that Al Qaeda labs were not sophisticated enough. In a document found on his computer, Zawahiri had indicated that experts would have to be recruited, particularly using universities as a cover, because using unsophisticated talent had not proved successful. Accordingly, based on what Ayman has written, the FBI should have been giving priority to connections with researchers at universities and NGOs.

      There’s every reason to think Zawahiri succeeded in recruiting the necessary expertise — just no compelling reason to think he obtained the expertise from Iraq. The papers found at headquarters of the Mukhabarat, Iraq’s feared secret police, show that an entourage from Al Qaeda group was sent to the Iraqi capital in March 1998 from Sudan. The talks are thought to have ended badly for Iraq. According to some reports, Bin Laden rejected the suggestion of an alliance — preferring to pursue his own concept of jihad. According to other information, it was Saddam who wanted to distance himself from Al Qaeda. He reportedly never responded to an Al Qaeda request that it be allowed to establish training camps. He viewed Al Qaeda as a threat to his regime.

      Ramadan, former Iraqi Vice-President who hosted Ayman in Baghdad in 1998, was arrested by Kurdish forces. Saddam, of course, was also captured.

      Some have pointed to reports that a leader, the late Abu Musab Zarqawi, thought to be involved in the planned ricin attacks, was a clear link between Al Qaeda and Iraq. Zarqawi reportedly was at the safe house in Afghanistan where traces of ricin and other poisons were found. According to an article that appeared in the conservative National Review, Iraq’s embassy in Islamabad hosted some Iraqi biochemical scientists, who trained Zarqawi and his lab technicians under the cover of the Taliban embassy. No further details ever emerged or were corroborated and the speculation arose that Al-LIbi had merely misled US interrogators after his capture in December 2001. He recanted his claims in 2004.

      There were reports of an Al Qaeda facility in northern Iraq where there was testing of chemical and biological weapons (such as ricin) on barnyard animals and a human. The area, however, was in an area not controlled by Saddam Hussein. Al Qaeda had sent four of its senior leaders, including Abu Yasir (Taha), the former head of the Egyptian Islamic Group, to northern Iraq. Taha, 51, with a degree in commerce from Assiut University, served a five-year sentence for terrorist activities. Following his release, he left the country and settled in Afghanistan. He is credited with planning the massacre of tourists in Luxor in 1997.

      Taha and his colleagues formed a fighting group of 600 men — known as Ansar al-Islam — out of an amalgamation of existing groups. ABCNEWS reported that there is evidence the terrorists tested ricin in water, as a powder and as an aerosol. (Some experts dispute that ricin can effectively be used as an aerosol or water contaminant.) The militants used it to kill donkeys and chickens, and at one point, allegedly exposed a man to the toxin in an Iraqi market and followed him home and watched him die several days later. In a television interview in January 2006, Michael Scheuer said he was 100% sure that in 2002, Ansar al-Islam was also experimenting with anthrax.

      The senior Al Qaeda leader (and successor to the blind sheik) Abu Yasir, (Taha) before being extradited to Egypt, had lived in a suburb of the capital of Iran. Under the former Bush Administration’s logic, does that mean there is also state sponsorship by Iran?

      The “bomb Iraq” crowd relied on only wisps of hearsay evidence and glimmers of ambiguous facts. In other contexts, the evidence was fabricated (such as related to the purchase of enriched uranium from Niger or the mobile bio labs). No hijacker was shown to have trained at Salman Pak, alleged to be a terrorist training facility (where a 747 was located), rather than a counterterrorist training facility.

      On the other hand, while Bin Laden has declared Saddam’s party apostate and infidel, he has urged that there is a religious duty to cooperate with a secular ruler if it furthers jihad. The Iraqi intelligence chief Hijazi, who according to the Iraqi National Congress allegedly met with Osama in Afghanistan a few years ago was captured. In August 2003, former Iraqi Vice-President Ramadan, who met Zawahiri in 1998, was also captured. Saddam seemed to enjoy the debate with interrogators and at trial was defiant towards the court.

      Polls show that most Americans think that the invasion of Iraq has led to an increase in the likelihood of terrorism rather than a decrease. Richard Clarke’s book, Against All Enemies, presented powerful support for the view, from an insider’s perspective. He was not merely “in the loop” — he as much as anyone was or should have been the loop. The same applies to the threatened use of biological weapons. The late William Patrick, former UN arms inspector and anthrax expert, another of Judy Miller’s sources, said:

      A lawsuit by former FBI counterterrorism official, John O’Neill, filed in August 2003 alleges connections between Al Qaeda and Iraq, based in part on statements by Iraqi defectors, information from Iraq and al-Qaeda prisoners, and documents uncovered in Afghanistan and Iraq. The Complaint alleges that Iraqi intelligence provided al-Qaeda with training in document forgery and chemical and biological weapons in a series of contacts that spiked in 1996, and again after 1998.

      For example, the Complaint, In re Estate of John P. O’Neill, Sr. et al. v. Republic of Iraq et al, D.D.C. 8/20/03 ^ alleges that -Zawahiri met with Iraqi intelligence in 1992 and 1998, and that contact between Iraq and al-Qaeda increased in 1998, when Al Qaeda bombed two U.S. embassies in Africa.

      A memo by Undersecretary of Defense Feith is even more dramatic. Not credited by the CIA or Richard Clarke, the memo does not represent an analysis of the relationship between Iraq and Al Qaeda, as much as a laundry list of possible data points, many of which are not confirmed.

      The 9/11 Commission, in contrast, concluded that Atta did not visit Prague in April 2001. On April 4, 2001, there is a picture of him at a Virginia ATM. On April 6, 9, and 10, 2001, there were calls made to his cell phone from within Florida to Florida. Then on April 11, 2001 he is known to have been in Florida. Moreover, “Newsweek has also learned that Czech investigators and U.S. intelligence have now obtained corroborated evidence which they believe shows that the Iraqi spy who allegedly met Atta was away from Prague on that day.”

      In late November 2004, Iraqi troops in Fallujah, Iraq discovered a site with lab manuals on manufacturing explosives and toxins — including anthrax — according to Iraq’s national security adviser. When seeking to resolve such issues, people need to put politics aside and pull together to get conclusive objective proof, one way or the other.

      In the case of Amerithrax, all the evidence — documentary and otherwise — would point to Afghanistan as the pieces to the puzzle came to be known over the years.

      Anthrax, Al Qaeda and Ayman Zawahiri: The Infiltration of US Biodefense

    • DXer said

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