Category Archive '2001 Anthrax Attacks'

26 Jan 2010

Laurie Mylroie and Neocon Conspiracy Theory

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Edward Jay Epstein, in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal, explains that the Anthrax spores used in postal attacks around the time of 9/11 had been weaponized by a coating of silicon greatly enhancing their effectiveness as an aerosal. Over 100 scientists had had access to the particular strain of Anthrax, and the FBI’s ham-handed investigative efforts applied such intense scrutiny, pressure, and public accusations that they resulted in two suicides and a public apology including a $5.8 million settlement with no actual resolution.

The crux of the investigative problem is the silicon. None of the scientist suspects or the laboratories they had access to possessed either the specialized equipment or expertise needed to weaponize the Anthrax. Over 8 years later, the case remains open.

The Epstein editorial came to mind this morning, as I was looking through the Memeorandum aggregator page and found a link to this sneering hit piece by Justin Elliott, one of Talking Points Memo’s little leftist elfs.

Elliott is busily trying to marginalize Laurie Mylroie, a Harvard-educated Arabist, who has served on the faculty of Harvard and the Navy War College and as an advisor to Bill Clinton, identifying her as a “crackpot” and conspiracy theorist. I had not been previously familiar with Dr. Mylroie, her books, or opinions, but looking into all this, it is very clear that she has taken a position very much at odds with the prevailing consensus of the foreign policy and intelligence establishments and the media, one attributing a far more significant ties between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda and an active role on the part of the Iraqi regime in both the first WTC bombing and 9/11.

I don’t own her books (I just ordered two of them), so I don’t know if I agree with her, find any of her evidence persuasive or her reasoning credible, but I am interested in seeing what she has to say. Thank you, Mr. Elliott. Whenever I see the left performing one of their little excommunication-on-the-basis-of-thought-crime ceremonies, I always develop the suspicion that the target of such attention may be perfectly correct.

The TPM hit piece notes that the Department of Defense’s Office of Net Assessment (an internal Pentagon think tank) was employing Dr. Mylroie as recently as 2007 as a consultant to produce reports on Saddam Hussein’s strategy for dealing with UN inspections and his intelligence service. She had previously written in 2005 a History of Al Qaeda. I plan to read it carefully.

The popularly prevailing theory, completely excluding state support for al Qaeda’s terrorist activities, is very useful if you are interested in asserting Iraqi innocence in order to indict Bush, but it does leave a number of important problems unanswered, like where did those weaponized Anthrax spores come from?

30 Oct 2006

Abdur Rauf, Al Qaeda’s Microbiologist, at Large in Pakistan

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The Washington Post is reporting a story of the capture in Afghanistan in December of 2001 of documents linking a Pakistani microbiologist named Abdur Rauf to an Al Qaeda project attempting to weaponize Anthrax bacillus.

The documents told of a singular mission by a scientist named Abdur Rauf, an obscure, middle-aged Pakistani with alleged al-Qaeda sympathies and an advanced degree in microbiology.

Using his membership in a prestigious scientific organization to gain access, Rauf traveled through Europe on a quest, officials say, to obtain both anthrax spores and the equipment needed to turn them into highly lethal biological weapons. He reported directly to al-Qaeda’s No. 2 commander, Ayman al-Zawahiri, and in one document he appeared to signal a breakthrough.

“I successfully achieved the targets,” he wrote cryptically to Zawahiri in a note in 1999.

Despite the evidence in US hands, Pakistan has refused to arrest him, and Rauf remains at large. The Post’s anonymous source said:

We will never close the door, but the chances of getting him into the United States are slim to none,” said one U.S. intelligence official, who, like others, agreed to discuss the case on the condition that he not be identified by name.

Beyond the mysterious reasons for Pakistan’s reluctance to cooperate in this particular case, there is also the question of whether Rauf’s biological weapons research was connected to the US Anthrax mailings in 2001.

U.S. officials are even more reticent in discussing possible links between al-Qaeda’s anthrax program and the 2001 U.S. attacks, which killed five people and briefly shut down the U.S. Capitol. Privately, FBI officials doubt that such a link exists. They note that the attacks came with an explicit warning — a letter advising the victims to take penicillin, resulting in a far lower death toll — but without an explicit claim of responsibility. “It doesn’t fit with al-Qaeda’s modus operandi,” one intelligence official said.

Yet U.S. officials have been unable to rule out al-Qaeda or any other group as a suspect. Earlier this month, FBI officials acknowledged that the ultra-fine powder mailed five years ago was simply made and could have been produced by a well-trained microbiologist anywhere in the world.

Several leading bioterrorism experts still contend that the evidence points to al-Qaeda or possibly an allied group that coordinated its attack with the Sept. 11, 2001, strikes on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. These experts point to hijacker Mohamed Atta’s inquiries into renting a crop-duster aircraft and to an unexplained emergency-room visit by another hijacker, Ahmed Ibrahim A. Al Haznawi, for treatment of an unusual skin lesion that resembled cutaneous anthrax.

The Post’s article references a web site published by a left-wing New York and District of Columbia attorney named Ross E. Getman which extensively discusses the Al Qaeda links to the 2001 Anthrax Mailings, and offers a theory explaining Al Qaeda’s motivations for attacking Senators Leahy and Daschle and the media.

Getman is discussed as one of the amateur investigators of the 2001 Anthrax Attacks in Wikipedia.

The same investigator has also published a shorter article titled, Al Qaeda, Anthrax and Ayman.

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I was wondering why an anonymous intelligence community source would be leaking such a story (not attacking the Bush Administration) to the Post, and it occurred to me that the relationship of spooks to certain elements in the media may have grown so cozy that they might actually use a Post leak to rattle the Pakistani government’s cage on a controversial issue currently in contention.


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