Jihad: More Than an Eight Second Ride

Viewpoints on the Global War on Terror from a Home on the Range.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Amerithrax Investigation Slowing - New Report

Thanks to the NTI Global Security Newswire I came across this Washington Post article on the joint FBI/Postal Inspectors investigation into the anthrax attacks of 2001, Little Progress In FBI Probe of Anthrax Attacks.

FBI agents and United States Postal Service inspectors are running out of leads in their investigation of the 2001 anthrax mailings that killed five people and contaminated 17 post offices, the Washington Post reported today (see GSN, July 29).

The agencies have issued more than 5,000 subpoenas, conducted more than 8,000 interviews on four continents and performed dozens of searches at homes, laboratories and other sites. Investigators went twice to Afghanistan following tips that failed to pan out, according to law enforcement sources.

In 2003, the FBI spent $250,000 to drain a pond in Maryland to look for potential evidence. They found nothing of use, authorities said.

Law enforcement official said the investigation, known as Amerithrax, needs a break.

The FBI has lowered the number of agents dedicated to the case from 31 to 21 over the last year, while the number of Postal Service investigators has gone from 13 to nine. A $2.5 million reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction remains unclaimed, the Post reported.

“This globe-spanning investigation remains intensely active and broadly focused,” said FBI spokeswoman Debbie Weierman. “The FBI and U.S. Postal Inspection Service remain steadfastly committed to the 22 victims of the attacks and to bring to justice those responsible.”

Law enforcement officials are taking inventory in a report that will review the investigation to this point. The report is expected to address investigators’ primary theory: that a U.S. scientist with access to anthrax was behind the mailings, according to authorities.

It also should include the names of people deemed “persons of interest” during the investigation and new scientific tests on the anthrax strain. While the laboratory of origin has not been identified, attention has been paid to the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases in Fort Detrick.

Investigations in high-profile, complex cases can last for years, law enforcement officials said.

“It doesn't sound like they're close to cracking the case,” said Eric Holder, deputy attorney general during the Clinton administration (Allen Lengel, Washington Post, Sept. 16).

I am still frightened by the fact that an American, or group of Americans, working at high levels in a top notch bio-weapons lab decided that post 9-11 was the perfect time to attack their own country, and has still not been caught. This person, or group, still poses a very real threat. Maybe not with anthrax but if they have or had access to the anthrax they did, the list of what else they could have had access to is a virtual cornucopia of bio-nastiness that could make Anthrax look like a skin rash.
And the particular strain and milling of anthrax used in the 2001 attacks was no particularly pleasant or lowgrade thing. It certainly wasnt the simple sort that pundits have screeched and squaked could be cooked up in the trunk of Abu Bin Hadji's used Volvo in the parking lot at CalTech.
To paraphrase from Malcolm Nance, author of the Terrorist Recognition Handbook - It was of the Ames strain, believed to have originated in U.S. BioWeapons stockpiles, but it had been milled to a level never before seen in either the U.S. or Russian bioweapons programs, 1.2 Trillion (with a T) Spores per Gram. It also used a proprietary U.S. developed Silica coating method. It was probably the finest anthrax ever produced, and there are probably only a few people in the world who could have produced this, and they couldnt have done it alone. The equipment needed would be of the type found only in the best labs here in the U.S.
Not only was this anthrax of truly a superior quality, but the attacks on the Senate were deliberately intended to be deadly. This wasnt someone trying to send his message to get more funding for vaciine research, as is commonly thought. If it was he could have sent less than a couple million spores, in ten envelopes, to far less important people than the Senate and done his job. As it was a combined 2.4 Trillion spores in two envelopes were mailed to the senate, with the easy possibility of killing every senator and their respective staffs.
Nance has said in internet posts that the person/people behind this are probably far-right extremists, who targetted an at the time Democratic majority senate without concern over non-"Liberal" victims, and also targetted major "Liberal Media", but not conservative media such as Fox or the Washington post. Seems a very plausible theory to me.
Whoever is behind this, whichever American(s) with severely misplaced values and loyalties, is still out there. They probably still have access to horrors beyond our scope of imagining, and they may well still have plans to use them. Their targets may remain their chosen "liberal enemy", but they have already proven that anyone (and everyone) else is just collateral damage. If this doesnt scare you, please share some of your barbituates and vodka with the rest of the class.


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