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

* Tom Ridge, former Homeland Secretary (from ’03-’05), this week said that “al-Qaida did experiments on anthrax in animals” — did AQ use the “Ames strain” like Dr. Garvey reports the CIA detected at the Afghan lab?

Posted by DXer on November 15, 2015

Ridge (2)

Link to brief quote from Tom Ridge’s interview on FoxNews last week.

45 Responses to “* Tom Ridge, former Homeland Secretary (from ’03-’05), this week said that “al-Qaida did experiments on anthrax in animals” — did AQ use the “Ames strain” like Dr. Garvey reports the CIA detected at the Afghan lab?”

  1. DXer said

    The DOJ explained today in a filing submitted in federal district court:

    “Defendant provides notice that it has lodged for submission records for the Court’s in camera, ex parte review. The Interim Major Case Summary (“IMCS”) records submitted by Defendant contain classified information and cannot be disclosed without proper authorization. Accordingly, this submission has been lodged for secure storage and transmission to the Court with the United States Department of Justice, Litigation Security Group, 145 N Street, N.E., Washington, D.C. 20530, which can be reached at 202-305-9716.”

  2. DXer said

    Tom Ridge, chairman of the Blue Ribbon Study Panel, which has issued several warnings that the US needed to be better prepared for threats, said the strategy addressed the need for central, accountable leadership.

    “The White House made a great start with the implementation plan they included with the strategy,” he said. “We look forward to the White House assigning responsibilities for each element of this plan to specific federal departments and agencies, and establishing timelines for their completion.”

  3. DXer said

    And one more question. Just to follow up — when you talk about the potential of people that would be carrying out these types of attacks, you have to think about ISIS. How concerned are you that ISIS has its sights on this type of attack?

    SECRETARY AZAR: So, first, great question in terms of resources and statutory authority. And that’s actually one of the most important parts of this strategy. By having this coordinating committee that I, as Secretary of HHS, will chair, we’re going to be conducting immediately a review across all of the relevant agencies — so that’s Defense, State, Homeland Security, the Attorney General, EPA, Homeland Security, Agriculture — to basically get a survey of all of the activities going on in biodefense. And again, that’s natural, manmade, accidental threats.

    So what are all of the activities going — a full, sort of, collection of what resources do we have deployed against it, and then where do we see gaps. So it is really the first-ever holistic look across the government to see where are we acting, and where might there be any gaps in light of our awareness of threats, our preparedness needs, and our ability to respond.


    I don’t want to — as Ambassador Bolton said with regard to ISIS, I don’t want to get into any particular actors. Obviously, we follow — we’re tightly connected in to ensure that awareness — that first element of the strategy — is critical to know who’s operating and also what they might be operating on.

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

  4. DXer said

    Cologne ricin plotters bought a hamster to test biological weapon
    Deutsche Welle-Jul 24, 2018
    The wife of a Tunisian man who was detained last month over a ricin-based biological weapon plot was also arrested on Tuesday on suspicion …

    When the CIA Learned Cats Make Bad Spies
    Becky Little, August 8, 2018


    That tears it. If jihadists are going to be mean to hamsters, the CIA may want to reconsider and revisit the issue of deploying cats. My cat was trained to like me when I became the official giver of treats — so anything is possible.

    My guinea pig Lucy wanted my cat to adopt her as her daughter but the cat was nonplussed.

  5. DXer said

    With disturbing relish, Abu Nassim placed a rabbit in a glass aquarium by the lakeside and started piping in the hydrogen cyanide. White fumes started to fill the aquarium, and within seconds the poor creature started furiously licking its lips. Its breathing quickened and it started scratching furiously at the side of the tank before losing muscle control, rolling onto its back and convulsing. Finally, it was dead. The whole process had lasted a minute.

    Subsequently, Abu Kabab’s team would use the same aquarium for tests on dogs. And it was filled with much more than hydrogen cyanide as the experiments evolved. We tested chlorine and then cyanogen chloride. Then came phosphine, a toxic gas based on rat poison and phosgene….

    Aimen Dean book extract: how al-Qaeda tried to build a poison-gas bomb

    Aimen Dean


    My friend, James Vandevelde, at the group presentation organized by Ken Dillon and moderated by Lew Weinstein, was authorized by the CIA CTC to explain that Al Qaeda’s anthrax program was more tightly compartmentalized and controlled. Yazid Sufaat’s anthrax program was kept more secret — than Abu Khabab’s chemical program.

    Nonetheless, I imagine that even jihadists share gossip over meals and volleyball. What are Aimen Dean’s thoughts on Yazid Sufaat’s anthrax work.

    Geographically, which was located where?

    Below, at the conference, I question the former key scientist in the FBI’s haz mat unit who was the only one known to have made a dried powder out of Ames anthrax from Bruce Ivins’ Flask 1029.

  6. DXer said

    Gina Haspel Disgraced America Once. Promoting Her to CIA Chief Would Disgrace Us Again

    Torture is inhumane, and it also doesn’t work.

    By Roger Sollenberger | May 9, 2018

    But Sometimes You Gotta Play Dirty

    Some people feel that even though CIA lied about the program, and in spite of the convincing arguments about its illegality, sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do. This was a different time, and you need to remember the context: We’d just been attacked, and our national security was in immediate danger of more attacks. Bin Laden was reportedly talking to nuclear scientists and had an anthrax-testing program. The need was urgent, or in the language of the intel community, it was a Ticking Bomb scenario.


    Though the hearings might yield new information that in part exonerates or justifies Haspel’s decisions, it’s unlikely, given that she wanted to withdraw just last week. And indeed, if she’s asked about the program she might say she could only answer in a closed session, given the purported sensitivity of the information. That, however, shouldn’t stop Senators from pressing her publicly. As for those Senators, I emphasize again that this isn’t a partisan issue: Democrats and Republicans alike support Haspel. We can hope the opposite is true, too.

  7. DXer said

    Super Bowl anti-terrorism documents left on plane

    The Department of Homeland Security documents critiquing the response to a simulated anthrax attack on Super Bowl Sun…

    Updated: Feb. 5, 2018 6:27 AM

  8. DXer said

    “As I said before, there are often disagreements as to what a particular set of facts mean. That is not at all unusual, and one shouldn’t read into it more than is there.” — Robert Mueller

  9. DXer said

    Isis tests deadly terror chemicals on live victims
    Gareth Browne, Arbil
    May 20 2017, 12:01am, The Times

    “Isis has tested deadly poisons on prisoners in Nazi-style experiments as it seeks to develop new chemical weapons, according to documents obtained by The Times.”

    Isis tests chemical weapons on ‘human guinea pigs’, secret documents reveal
    Security forces now fear the Islamist group may hatch a plot to contaminate Western food supplies with formulas that quickly dissolve in liquid
    • Greg Wilford

    “The experiments were recorded in a stash of papers found hidden in Mosul University after Iraqi special forces recaptured the city from IS fighters.

    They reveal one victim was fed thallium sulphate – a colourless, tasteless salt that can be dissolved in water – and began to suffer fever, nausea, and swelling of the stomach and brain before dying in agony ten days later. “

    “Terrorists also injected a nicotine-based compound, said to have no antidote, into another victim who passed out within seconds and died hours later.”

    “Ingredients for the poison are contained in cigarettes and vaping supplies”

    First on CNN: ISIS creating chemical weapons cell in new de facto capital, US official says
    By Ryan Browne and Barbara Starr, CNN
    Updated 4:20 PM ET, Wed May 17, 2017


    I’m certainly not a religious expert, but I saw yesterday a headline in passing that Trump said the jihadists are going to lose their soul.

    Under their own belief system — under the applicable hadiths — I believe President Trump would be correct that the jihadists will lose their souls if they use chemical weapons to kill innocents or to poison food or water.

    I guess the difficulty is that these operatives are not familiar with the applicable hadiths governing their belief system. The Big Guy probably knows, though.

    Dr. Ayman Zawahiri, better read on the subject than the average jihadist, likely understands this and may have taken it to heart.

  10. DXer said

    It was reported today that Joseph Lieberman is being considered by President Trump as the next FBI Director. Joseph Liberman is often quoted with Tom Ridge on how Donald Trump can protect America from bioterrorism.

    Tom Ridge and Joseph Lieberman: How Donald Trump Can Protect America from Bioterrorism
    Tom Ridge and Joseph Lieberman
    Dec 13, 2016

    Ridge served as governor of Pennsylvania and the first Secretary of Homeland Security. Liberman is a former Senator from Connecticut. They are co-chairs of the bipartisan Blue Ribbon Study Panel on Biodefense.

    Leaders from more than 120 nations just concluded the Eighth Biological Weapons Convention Review Conference in Switzerland, which focused on the threat posed by biological terrorism. During the conference, the U.S. delegation urged countries to reduce that threat by implementing strategies for detecting and responding to bioweapons. The United States needs to heed its own advice. The country has been and continues to be ill prepared for a biological attack.

    When President-elect Trump assumes the Oval Office this January, he has a unique opportunity to fulfill his promise to make America safe again—by taking steps to protect the nation from bioterrorism.

    More than a year ago, the bipartisan Blue Ribbon Study Panel on Biodefense, which we chair, issued 87 recommendations for improving America’s biodefenses. They are easily achievable and require little extra funding. But they’d vastly improve our ability to detect, prevent and respond to biological attacks and major outbreaks.

    Fifteen years after the deadly anthrax attacks in the U.S., and more than two years after Ebola reached America, our nation still lacks a centralized leader to coordinate prevention and response activities to these kinds of events. We also have no strategic plan or unified approach to coordinate the biodefense budgets of more than a dozen agencies.

    In a new report, we have found that the government has made progress on just 17 of our recommendations and completed only two. Forty-six could have been accomplished by now.

    We’ve known about biological risks for a long time. In 1999, President-elect Trump himself warned in his book The America We Deserve about the need to better prepare for the threat of bioterrorism by stockpiling medicines, for instance. Yet by 2010, a report from a bipartisan commission on the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction had given the country an “F” for readiness against a bioterrorism attack.

    The risk has only increased. Earlier this year, the Director of National Intelligence cautioned Congress about the ease with which bioweapons could move around the globe. Belgium has found members of ISIL in possession of biological weapons materials. Turkish officials recently uncovered an ISIL plot to contaminate the country’s water supplies. This spring, Kenya said they foiled a plan by the Islamic State to unleash anthrax in the east African nation.

    Then there are the risks from naturally occurring pandemics—like the recent Zika and Ebola crises—or the repeated biological accidents by our own government labs. One federal report found that U.S. labs had mistakenly exposed nearly 1,000 workers to pathogens 199 times over just one year.

    Such attacks could be devastating. An attack on our nation’s agricultural sector, for instance, could prove catastrophic. The agricultural supply chain is a trillion-dollar business and employs almost one in every ten American workers.

    So what should President-elect Trump and the 115th Congress do when they take office?

    For his part, Mr. Trump should immediately put the vice president in charge of the nation’s biodefense efforts. The absence at the White House of an individual with this kind of authority has led to disjointed interagency efforts and financial inefficiency, as the government’s responses to Ebola and Zika have demonstrated. The vice president should have the authority to review and advise on biodefense budget matters and to oversee a biodefense coordination council that includes representatives from the private and public sectors.

    Congress must streamline oversight. At least 20 congressional committees have biodefense jurisdiction, but few spend much time on the issue. When a crisis arises, they all lose time providing reactive oversight and fighting over jurisdiction.

    The 115th Congress’s leaders should instead put together a bicameral, comprehensive oversight agenda, host joint House-Senate hearings and consolidate jurisdiction.

    Lawmakers have started to take action. Congress just passed the National Defense Authorization Act, which will require the federal government to develop a comprehensive biodefense strategy. We also urge Congress to implement uniform budgeting and build preparedness measures into annual budgets, instead of relying on emergency funding bills that cost lives and financial resources.

    These acts and the other measures we recommend don’t involve significant new spending. Most simply require better use of existing resources.

    Next year offers a real chance for our leaders to get biodefense right. The risks are clear. So are the solutions. President-elect Trump and the new Congress must simply enact them.

    • DXer said

      Washington (CNN)President Donald Trump will meet Wednesday afternoon with four FBI director candidates, just as he is facing fresh questions over his firing of James Comey.

      Among the candidates, Trump will meet with 2000 Democratic vice presidential candidate-turned-independent Joe Lieberman, a former senator who supported Republican Sen. John McCain in the 2008 presidential election.

    • DXer said

      President Trump is also consider Governor Frank Keating as FBI Director.

      Frank Keating, before 9/11, played himself in the “Dark Winter” exercise that sought to ensure the country was prepared to defend against an anthrax attack. Bin Laden had announced in 1999 that it was a religious duty to develop anthrax as a weapon — and members of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad had announced that Zawahiri would use anthrax against the US to retaliate for the rendering of Blind Sheik Abdel-Rahman.

      A NATION CHALLENGED: THE DISEASE; Drills Predicted Gaps in Preparedness Seen in the Anthrax Response


      Terrorism experts warned for years that federal, state and local governments were ill prepared to handle a biological attack, and elaborate drills found glaring gaps in coordination, communication and command. This month, real life looked frighteningly like the practice runs.

      As the nation grappled with anthrax, the F.B.I. at first took a letter that turned out to be harmless from NBC News to a New York City Health Department laboratory for testing; when a second letter, which did contain anthrax, was finally tested days later, technicians accidentally contaminated a special chamber in the lab, forcing its closing.

      Officials in Florida told executives at a tabloid newspaper office on a Friday that there was no reason to close shop because a photo editor had died of anthrax, then shut the office down that Sunday after much of the staff had worked there all weekend.

      And nowhere was confusion worse than at the seat of government on Capitol Hill. When more than two dozen workers were exposed to anthrax from a letter opened in the office of the Senate majority leader, Tom Daschle, the speaker of the House suggested wrongly that people were ”infected” and that spores were in the ventilation system. He sent his members home, while the Senate, which had raised the alarm, closed its offices but met as usual.

      So far, one person has died and a handful out of thousands tested have been infected and are responding to treatment with antibiotics or are cured.

      But repeated confusion about coordination, communication, politics, bureaucracy and science, amplified on television and the Internet 24 hours a day, also exposed many of the basic weaknesses in the nation’s sprawling and disparate emergency response system that the experts had warned about.

      It was just the kind of confusion that drills like ”Dark Winter” — a make-believe smallpox attack staged this summer by several think tanks — had shown might occur.

      ”Today is a horrific reprise,” said Gov. Frank Keating of Oklahoma, who played himself in the exercise, in which a million people were ”killed,” public order collapsed, state and federal officials disagreed over how to handle the situation and put out information, and the National Security Council wound up discussing the need for martial law.

      Assessing how various levels of government have responded since anthrax killed the tabloid photo editor in Florida on Oct. 5, Mr. Keating said, ”There was too much contradictory information too soon,” instead of ”crisp, intelligent, accurate information that is not contradictory and confusing.”

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

  11. DXer said

    My friend keeps asking if Sufaat made the anthrax used in these experiments on animals, and used in the anthrax mailings, then why didn’t they just keep making it?

    Hambali was ready to flee Kandahar by mid-October 2001. Bombing might have encouraged the decision-making here.

    In the next weeks, in Pakistan, he met Sufaat, the Malaysian helming the al-Qaeda anthrax program under Ayman Zawahiri.

    They discussed reconstituting the anthrax lab in Southeast Asia.

    But, alas, Sufaat, was picked up when he tried to enter Malaysia from Thailand in December 2001.

    Rauf Ahmad was also picked up in December 2001.

    Now as to whether Sufaat was successful in developing anthrax, Sufaat says publicly that he was but declines to identify the strain for me, pleading the Fifth when I asked him. (He was thrown in jail for another 8 years for withholding information about his terroristic activities)

    He says media reports to the contrary — such as the ones my friend is relying upon — are mistaken.

    So I guess it is a matter of who you believe — the Homeland director from 2003-2005 Tom Ridge, the Al Qaeda anthrax lab director Yazid Sufaat, and the CIA scientist Garvey who heads the Philly PD forensics who says Ames was detected — or some media reports.

  12. DXer said

    Michael Garvey, who last I looked was head of Philadelphia’s forensics, would be a great addition to a new Administration. Then maybe we could get to the bottom of the issue whether the Ames strain was detected at Sufaat’s lab as the CIA found — but the FBI disregarded. The FBI’s consultant was the former top guy at Porton Down who allowed Rauf Ahmad to visit and present on isolating anthrax at the annual conference sponsored by Porton Down.

  13. DXer said

    The Smithonian feature today refers to a cave in Afghanistan. Yazid Sufaat’s lab, even before the new equipment arrived, was in a hospital, not a cave.

  14. DXer said

    Evan McMullin, a former CIA counterterrorism officer, will run for president as a third-party conservative alternative to Donald Trump.
    CIA. Wharton Business School. Goldman Sachs. Former GOP Congressional Policy honcho.

    He would be good on Al Qaeda. That’s what he did. He was on the scene and operational.

    As for Trump, consider the LA Times, Op-Ed; “I was a Minuteman III nuclear launch officer. Take it from me: We can’t let Trump become president.”

    If you are Republican and find that Trump does not represent the ideals of the party of Lincoln, then follow the lead of a growing number of Republicans concerned about the damage Trump would do to our country’s national security and global stability.

    “Republican defectors of all stripes look for more serious contender than Trump”

    “The elected Republican lawmakers who have jumped ship from presidential nominee Donald Trump’s campaign span east and west, north and south. Some are conservative, and others more moderate. They are men and women.

    And to a person, they say Mr. Trump isn’t a serious enough candidate, either in personality or policy, for them to back him.”

  15. DXer said

  16. DXer said

    The CIA’s detection of the Ames strain of b. anthracis in Afghanistan was discarded by the FBI due to different testing results, sampling procedures, and methodology used by the FBI and IC (“Intelligence Community”)
    Posted by Lew Weinstein on April 30, 2015

  17. DXer said

    The FBI has known since 2001 that a paper at the 2000 UK conference chaired by the lone non-US Amerithrax advisor Les Baillie, explained how Al Qaeda’s anthrax lab scientist Rauf Ahmad had killed mice with 100 injected spores.
    Posted on November 16, 2014

    Indeed, the Chair of the Dangerous Pathogens 2000 conference at which the Al Qaeda scientist’s Rauf Ahmad’s research on killing mice with anthrax was presented, worked at the University of Maryland Biotechnology Center while advising the FBI’s Amerithrax Investigation ; the paper Dr. Baillie presented was co-authored with sequencer of the Ames strain.

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