Two key articles:
“Suspect and A Setback In Al-Qaeda Anthrax Case,” Washington Post, October 31, 2006, A1
“Hardball Tactics in an Era of Threats,” Washington Post, September 3, 2006, A1
Ely Karmon, Ph.D., Senior Research Scholar and Internet Project Director, of the The International Policy Institute for Counter-terrorism (ICT)
published “The Anthrax Campaign: An Interim Analysis,” dated October 30, 2001. He thoughtfully addressed the various alternatives. What does Dr. Karmon think now?
The full report can be downloaded here.
Here is an excerpt:
“Bin Ladens network the first suspect.
In an article published on October 16, 2001 by the Sunday Mail, British terrorism expert Simon Reeve claimed that al-Qaida agents in Albania had obtained vials of anthrax and botulinum toxin in the Czech Republic. Reeve referred to transcripts of Egyptian interrogations of captured members of al-Qaida. But according to the Czech media, U.S. experts investigating cases of occurrence of anthrax in the United States have not linked the origin of the substance with the Czech Republic. Czech army medical service chief Jan Petras, said upon returning from a visit to the U.S. that according to his evaluation, supported by certain evidence, the anthrax used in the U.S. attacks was made in the U.S.
The San Francisco Chronicle claimed that testimony given during a terrorism trial two years ago in Egypt was rich with details about bin Ladens alleged efforts to acquire various germs. Among the biological agents purchased from countries in Eastern Europe by bin Ladens top aide, Egyptian Islamic Jihad leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, were anthrax and the deadly Ebola virus, the Chronicle said.
Significantly, recent reports in the British press, have claimed that followers of Osama Bin Laden planned to carry out a chemical weapon attack in Europe using a poisonous invisible gas, possibly cyanide. Reportedly, Italian anti-terrorist police recorded conversations taking place in an apartment outside Milan that served as a safe house for an al-Qaida cell. According to the Sunday Times, terrorists in Britain, Germany and Italy plotted to use tins of tomatoes to transport a liquid that suffocates people. The plan was foiled when a Libyan at the center of the plot was arrested in Munich. One theory is that the group planned to spread the poison in an American government building in London or Rome. Convicted Algerian terrorist Ahmed Ressam testified during his trial in the U.S. that experiments using poisonous cyanide gas pumped into an office building ventilation system took place at training camps run by bin Laden in Afghanistan.
It is clear by now that some of the letters bearing anthrax in the United States were sent from Trenton, New Jersey. It should be remembered that Jersey City was the cradle of the plot for the first bombing of the World Trade Center, in 1993, by a cell led by Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman. Likewise, the anthrax infection in Boca Raton, Florida, happened not far from the apartments where some of the hijackers of the September 11 planes lived and trained.
On September 28, U.S. government officials expressed concern about a plant located in Afghanistan that manufactures 34F2 Sterne, a non-virulent strain of anthrax, only suitable for use in the anthrax vaccine. The plant, which was renovated in 1997 with assistance from the International Committee of the Red Cross, manufactures about 10,000 doses of the vaccine per year. Officials are trying to assess whether the facility has the proper equipment and the lethal strains of anthrax necessary to produce biological weapons.
The modus operandi used during the present campaign of anthrax letters is not a mass destruction attack but rather a series of symbolic attacks against individuals representing the media and American power centers. ***
What is clear at this stage of the investigation is that all the tainted letters sent within the United Statesprobably all from New Jerseywere sent to targets in the U.S., beginning a week after the September 11 attacks. As for the cases of anthrax in Florida, they could be the result either of a letter opened by an AMI employee but not reported to the authorities, or of another kind of direct infection which has not been yet proposed by the investigators.
The low level of technology employed, while using a relatively virulent strain of the bacteria, could imply that the perpetrators do not have the sophisticated means to disseminate the anthrax as an aerosol.
From the above it seems that the letters in New Jersey and Florida (if indeed there was a letter sent to Florida) were prepared and sent by a small cell or cells, perhaps even by one individual. And yet, this cell or individual had prepared the necessary technical infrastructure, decided on the targets and taken the necessary security measures (medical and operational) in order to be ready immediately after the attacks of September 11
Bin Ladens network would have no difficulty preparing such an infrastructure, as it prepared the much more complex operation of the pilots training and hijackings in the U.S..
As long as there is no proof that bin Ladens men or American extremist elements have developed the capability to produce advanced forms of anthraxsomething that they have not had up to nowthe Iraqi track is still valid.”