Skip to comments.Analysis of Anthrax Letters and Envelopes [Atta Did It?]
Posted on 06/20/2002 5:58:10 AM PDT by aculeus
[Glenn Reynolds writes on his blog] A READER WHO PREFERS TO REMAIN ANONYMOUS forwards this chunk from a memo to the FBI regarding last fall's anthrax mailings:
Analysis of Anthrax Letters and Envelopes
The letters were written and sealed prior to September 11 by Mohammed Atta. The letters to the Post and Brokaw were given to one individual or organization to mail. The letters to Senators Leahy and Daschle were given to another individual or organization to mail. These individuals did not know the contents of the letters nor whom the letters originally came from. The anthrax was smuggled into the U.S. by one of the September 11th hijackers and represents all the anthrax smuggled in at that time.
Support for Analysis
Sometimes things are just what they seem to be. The letters are all dated 09-11-01. It is not unlikely that they could have been written on September 10th by someone who knew the plans for September 11th and dated the letters accordingly. It is likely that the letter on display on the FBI website that begins "You can not stop us." was the first one to be written. The size of the printing is smaller and thus indicates a more tentative approach to the message writing and the message.
What is particularly noticeable by its absence is any significant celebratory nature in these letters. Had they been written after the events of September 11, it seems highly likely that they would have made much more of the outcome of the events. "Allah is great" is just a standard expression to close with. "You die now" can be read several ways, but it is hardly the equivalent of, e.g., "Now thousands more die." "This is next" is really a very weak threat when juxtaposed to the events of September 11, especially considering the quantity of anthrax sent out.
If there had been more anthrax available, its most effective use would have been a massive simultaneous mailing. A staggered mailing puts people on alert and diminishes the effect of the effort. If they had more, it should have been sent out all at once. If they had surviving operatives that they could trust, all four letters would have been sent out together. A check of the weather in the Trenton/Philadelphia area on September 10 shows a trace of rain, just the amount reflected by the running of the ink on the Daschle envelope and the likely clumping of the powder inside. The letters, sealed in their envelopes, were likely transported that day as part of a bundle of other mail to be sent out and given to someone or some company to mail, with the bottom of the Daschle envelope sticking out slightly. Since no one has come forward about this, it is likely that they were delivered to this person or place in a manner that would not have caused anyone to remember the source of these bundles. It is likely that the letters were divided between two bundles that were sent to two different places just to help guarantee that a least one set was sent out. It is also probable that someone at a distance (overseas) knew of these mailings and two kinds of anthrax were being evaluated for effectiveness. The reason more anthrax was not available was that this attack was secondary to the airplane hijackings, that their most trusted people were involved in this primary effort, and that they felt secure in bringing in such a small amount of anthrax without risking these operatives, but more might have jeopardized the primary operation. It thus follows that the likely smuggler of the anthrax was on one of the planes on September 11.
Why was Atta the likely writer?
Obviously, from the media reports he was the leader of the 19 hijackers and thus in the best position to know what was going on and the one most likely to be entrusted with the anthrax. But further, especially if one gives merit to the suggested sequence of the writing of the letters, the Brokaw and Post letter singular because they are the same letter) were written last. The writer at that point would be more certain of his message and what he was doing. The writing is more open and widely spaced, indicating that he is more at ease with what he is doing.
At that point it is not unlikely that knowing the next day was his last and that this was his last "public" statement that he might contemplate his place in history and have a desire to claim credit for his role. Thus a search of this letter for signs of that are not as much of a stretch as one might think. So what do we see in it? The initial block letter in the message is a "T" that has extra strokes in it. The same with the start of the second line. The same with the start of the last line. In fact, based on the limited quality of the copy available on the FBI website, there are several other letters that have extra strokes (an extra boldness). All of them appear to be A's and T's. They of course are all the letters needed to spell ATTA. It could have been subconscious. The capital D's that start the other lines of the letter show no extra strokes. Also this letter seems not to be written with a felt-tip pen, and thus might yield more information based on the pressure of the various strokes of the pen -- but this cannot be determined from the website example. . . .
It would be hard at this point, but if people in the greater New York/Philadelphia area are asked to remember any bundles of mail to be mailed that they received by an out-of-the-ordinary source on or around September 10, it might be useful. . . .
There are other areas of interest in these letters that might give up a clue or two -- such as the downhill slant of the writing, how the "1" was made, how the "4" was made, the spelling of "penacilin" and the warning including it, the absence of periods on one of the letters, the presence or absence of fingerprints on the letters and particularly on the envelopes, how the letters were folded, etc., etc., etc. -- but most of these would be aided by a direct conversation and better copies of the letters and envelopes than are available on the website. Also, there is the matter of the letter not posted on the website. Perhaps it is simply a photocopy of the other letter, but if it is different, there could be something to be learned by it.
I'm not sure about this -- but I remember a flurry of information about the likelihood that Atta and some of the other 9/11 hijackers actually had anthrax symptoms at the time of the hijacking. We certainly haven't heard much on this subject lately.
FBI questions Delray pharmacist about purchases by hijackers
The FBI has questioned a Delray Beach pharmacist who may have provided antibiotics and skin ointments to suspected hijackers Mohammed Atta and his nephew, Marwan Al-Shehhi.
In the weeks before the Sept. 11 attack, Atta and another man walked into Huber Drug on Atlantic Avenue, searching the aisles with confused looks, pharmacist Gregg Chatterton said.
He remembers them clearly, he said, because most of his customers are elderly, so those men stood out.
After reporters interviewed him about the demand for the antibiotic Cipro to treat anthrax infections, Chatterton said, he began to wonder if the customer with the irritated hands was one of the suspected terrorists. His mind raced: Could the man's hands have turned red after mixing a batch of anthrax and trying to decontaminate himself?
"I looked real closely, and I said, `Wow. Oh God, I recognize that guy. Then I pointed at the guy with the glasses, Al-Shehhi -- they were in here together," Chatterton said on Sunday.
Joann Chappell, the store's pharmacy technician, also recognized Atta and al-Shehhi, plus two suspects, brothers Waleed M. al-Shehri and Wail al-Shehri.
She recalled the brothers walking up and down the aisles and stopping to talk.
Wasn't that actually Arte Johnson? Or are the little voices lying to me again? Tough to remember, I was a toddler at the time.
His funniest laugh-in routine was the dirty old men who would make a suggestive remark to Emily Latilda (Gilda Rander) and get wacked by her pocketbook.
ROFLMAO....once again on FR, anything that supports one's preconceived belief is treated totally without suspicion.
Why should I believe this is ACTUALLY from an FBI document? Anonymously sent to a blogger? Geez, well, it MUST be real.
Here's a funny idea. Could the two letters mailed on Sept. 18 be dated, signed letters written by Mohamed Atta on the morning of Sept. 11?
Here are the letters (if your window is wide enough, they'll be next to each other):
Brokaw letter N.Y. Post letter
These two letters are identical to the point that a copy machine was almost certainly used (either one is a copy of the other, or they're both copies of the same original). Look at the four letters of the alphabet that were gone over with a pen, repeatedly and heavily.
Here's what I mean when I ask if these are dated, signed letters. Imagine that the writer of these is basically writing a letter as usual. He starts by putting today's date at the top, flush right the way one would ordinarily date a letter. He then writes the letter. Finally, he'd like to sign it, but he can't. So he finds the letters of his last name in the message and goes over them repeatedly with his pen: A-T-T-A. They're even roughly in a column, making the word ATTA easy to read once you point it out.
Was this letter written by Mohamed Atta on the morning of 9/11, before the World Trade Center attack? Somebody else would have mailed the letters on 9/18, of course. This second person might have done the copying too.
I realize that I'm reading a lot into the way four letters of the alphabet were written; maybe the whole idea is silly. But why were four letters of alphabet, and no others, gone over repeatedly with a pen, making them stand out?
Originally posted on 11/21/01 10:32 AM Pacific by Mitchell
See my post #17 for starters. Of course I have no idea whether this post truly describes an FBI memo, but the scenario outlined is generally believable.
That was Arte Johnson.
ACTUALLY it isn't. It is from a letter TO the FBI by some unidentified person.
It's a web log (they're called blogs) maintained by a netizen. It's one of the best.
Check it out.
As noted it is not "an FBI memo". It was sent to the FBI by someone who is not identified.
Boy... did I ever get off the subject of this thread... sorry.
You're right. Thanks for the correction (and for posting the article in the first place).
He could have gotten it from his buddy Saddam. He has the capability of making high quality anthrax.
Gilda came along in the later era of Saturday Night Live.
God, what trivia owneth my brain!
DOH, I confused Gilda and Emily Latilda with Ruth Buzzi-"Never Mind".
One of these "people" might be dead: Kathy Nguyen, the Manhattan ENT Hospital clerk. The only explanation thus far for her death is a hazy cross-contamination theory that miraculously affected no one else. She was so innocuous as to be invisible -- a perfect unsuspecting and unsuspected courier (and, of course, women are very dispensable to Islamists).
Speak for yourself! Maybe if you wrote such a letter... (but even I wouldn't say that -- I disagree with you, but I don't think you're a random crank). Are you really suggesting that everybody who writes a letter to the FBI is a random crank? (Not that there aren't some, of course.)
I do agree that it should have been called a letter, not a memo, of course. It's just an analysis by a blogger (there's nothing wrong with that -- that's what it is).
So why letters to Daschle and Leahy? Leahy, outside the US, is not a high-profile figure, and neither of the two are the most pro-Israel Senators. And apparently not even an attempt to get a letter INSIDE the White House or Pentagon, or anywhere in the Executive Branch(kind of odd to attempt to crash a plane into it but to not bother trying to get anthrax in, if it's the same attackers.) Making it LOOK like a domestic right-winger, like OKC, supposedly? Then why a letter that doesn't attempt to make it look like a domestic right-winger?
No, I don't think the terrorists' knowledge of domestic politics is sophisticated enough for that to have been the rationale. Sen. Daschle is the leader of the Senate, and Sen. Leahy has an important committee chairmanship. As for the White House, they thought it was going to be destroyed -- why would they plan on sending anthrax there? They wanted to attack both the executive and the legislative branches, and they did, in two different ways (although I still think the anthrax mailings may have been more of a threat than an attack).
The Iraqi bioweapons lab reportedly developed a process that passed anthrax spores across a bed of bentonite, which deionized the spores.
This particular process was said to be unique to Iraq.
It's not that unlikely -- Ottilie Lundgren was another completely isolated case.
But there is another theory regarding Nguyen. Ed Lake has pointed out that when the missing letters from CBS News and ABC News were thrown out, anthrax spores must have been thrown willy-nilly into the garbage. Kathy Nguyen might have been contaminated by anthrax spores blown out of a garbage truck carrying those spores, or possibly from a dumpster.
I don't agree with Ed's theories in general, but this seems like a possibility for Kathy Nguyen.
And a tip of the hat to you for your earlier analysis as posted above. (Why not alert instapundit.com to the matter of the A T T A letters?)
Atta and company lived here long enough to know who was making headlines politically -- Leahy and Daschle were prominently featured in the news in 2001, and represented the government. The White House was widely-rumored to have security screening (whether or not they screened mail for anthrax, who knew?), making it a waste of a letter.
The perp also selected the major newspapers and TV networks, along with the publisher of what a Muslim would consider blasphemous -- the National Enquirer. The New York Post is not a liberal publication, but it has always been known for its pro-Israel support. Think of the targets as chosen by a non-American America-hater, holed up mostly in hotel rooms, watching TV and reading newspapers.
Also, if it was Atta, his expectation might be that the White House and Pentagon would no longer exist by the time the letters reached their destination.
|T in "THIS"||5-6 horiz strokes||Distinct|
|T in "NEXT||2 horiz strokes||Possible|
|T in "TAKE"||3-4 horiz strokes||Distinct|
|A in "PENACILIN"||2 strokes, all||Possible|
|A in "DEATH"||2 completely distinct letters.||Probable|
|H in "DEATH"||2 horiz strokes, 2 vert strokes?||Possible|
|T in "TO"||2 horiz strokes||Possible|
|T in "TO"||3 horiz strokes||Possible|
|A in "ALLAH"||2-3 strokes||Distinct|
|A in "ALLAH"||2 vert strokes, both sides||Possible|
|T in "GREAT"||Two vert strokes, 3 horiz strokes||Probable|
By itself, this wouldn't mean much at all. But in light of all the other, established connections between anthrax and the hijackers (which you have enumerated well in post #36 above), I think it's suggestive. And it points to Atta as one particular terrorist involved in the anthrax mailings (which is consistent with the Prague report).
I've read Lake's theory, but it seems more of a rationalization than an explanation. New York, in particular was hyped for anthrax at the time Nguyen became ill, so any case remotely resembling anthrax would have had a high probability of being flagged. And yet, Nguyen was the only one affected by a garbage truck spewing spores? There was no mention of her being in poor health.
Nguyen's case has always nagged me -- NYPD could find no suspicious connections, but the fact that her son (she was a Vietnamese immigrant) died in an accident in the Middle East, and her ex-husband was never found (no one even claimed the body) still leaves a question mark -- as does her hospital employment. Many of these mosque leaders of reps are doctors (mainly Pakistani) and the liklihood of her running a seemingly innocent errand (mailing letters) for a doctor in the course of her work sounds more than plausible -- and untraceable.
The truth is that all the evidence is circumstantial, and no individual piece of evidence is definitive. But the totality and consistency of all this evidence points to a connection between the 9/11 hijackers and the anthrax mailings. (Plus, there is the total lack of evidence for any other theory regarding the anthrax mailings. None of the other theories that have been proposed are backed even by circumstantial evidence.)