ANTHRAX ATTACKS AND MICROBIOLOGIST DEATHS
by Paul Thompson
The key to abbreviations and other explanations can be found on the main timeline page.
Some other events may be added to provide a chronological context.
This story is so complicated and long, I've tried to break it into threads of different colors to make it easier to digest, as well as the main page, the page for the day of September 11, and the abridged timeline.
Asian oil, Enron and the Afghanistan pipelines.
For a separate page of these entries only, click here.
Information that should have shown what kind of attack al-Qaeda would make. For a separate page of these entries only, click here.
US preparing for a war with Afghanistan before 9/11, increasing control of Asia before and since. For a separate page of these entries only, click here.
Incompetence, bad luck, and/or obstruction of justice. For a separate page of these entries only, click here.
Suggestions of advanced knowledge that an attack would take place on or around 9/11. For a separate page of these entries only, click here.
Cover-up, lies, and/or contradictions. For a separate page of these entries only, click here.
Israeli "art student" spy ring, Israeli foreknowledge evidence. For a separate page of these entries only, click here.
Anthrax attacks and microbiologist deaths. For a separate page of these entries only, click here.
Pakistani ISI and/or opium drug connections. For a separate page of these entries only, click here.
Bin Laden family, Saudi Arabia corruption and support of terrorists, connections to Bush. For a separate page of these entries only, click here.
April 24, 1997: A package containing a petri dish mislabeled "anthracks" is received at the B'nai B'rith headquarters in Washington, DC. "The choice of B'nai B'rith probably was meant to suggest Arab terrorists, because the building had once been the target of an assault by Muslim gunmen." The dish did not contain anthrax but did contain bacillus cereus, a very close, non-toxic cousin of anthrax used by the US Defense Department. There are similarities to the later real anthrax attacks (see October 4, 2001), such as the misspelling "penacilin." In July 2002, B'nai B'rith claims the FBI still hasn't asked them about this hoax anthrax attack. [New York Times, 7/12/02]
February 1999: A classified report discusses responses to an anthrax attack through the mail. The report, precipitated by a series of false anthrax mailings, is written by William Patrick, inventor of the US anthrax weaponization process, under a CIA contract. [New York Times, 12/3/01] The report was commissioned by Steven Hatfill, a good friend of Patrick. [Baltimore Sun, 6/27/02] The report describes what the US military could do and what a terrorist might be able to achieve. [New York Times, 12/3/01] The similarities between what the report predicted and the anthrax attacks that eventually happen after 9/11 are startling. The BBC later suggests the "possibility that there was a secret CIA project to investigate methods of sending anthrax through the mail which went madly out of control" and that the anthrax attacker knew of this study or took part in it. The CIA and William Patrick deny the existence of this report, even though copies have been leaked to the media. [BBC, 3/14/02, Baltimore Sun, 6/27/02]
February 1999 (B): There is another hoax anthrax attack (see April 24, 1997). A handful of envelopes with almost identical messages are sent to a combination of media and government targets including The Washington Post, NBC's Atlanta office, a post office in Columbus, Georgia (next to Fort Benning, an Army base), and the Old Executive Office Building in Washington. The letters contained fake anthrax powder. "That's interesting because as of 1997, US bio-defense scientists were working basically only with wet anthrax, while by 1999 some had experimented with making powders." The New York Times later suggests that Steven Hatfill could have been behind this attack and the one in 1997 (see April 27, 1997). [New York Times, 7/12/02] Could there be a connection between this hoax and a classified CIA report about sending anthrax through the mail released the same month (see February 1999)?
September 1999 (B): Steven Hatfill, later suspected of being behind the 2001 anthrax attacks (see October 4, 2001), ends his two-year contract working at USAMRIID. But his contact held little meaning after February, when he had started working full time somewhere else. [Weekly Standard, 9/16/02] It is later reported that the strain of anthrax used in the attacks could be no older than September 1999. [New York Times, 6/23/02] While at USAMRIID, Hatfill also worked on virology in a different building than where anthrax was studied, so the odds of Hatfill getting access to the type of anthrax used in the attacks at USAMRIID seems extremely small. [Weekly Standard, 9/16/02]
May 14, 2000: An inquiry is launched into the behavior of Bayer in an English trial of the anti-anthrax drug Cipro. The drug is tested on hundreds despite the company having conducted studies which showed its drug reacted badly with other drugs, seriously impairing its ability to kill bacteria. These results are kept secret. Nearly half of those operated on at one test center develop a variety of potentially life-threatening infections, data at other test centers is unknown. [Sunday Times, 5/14/00]
July 27, 2000: The FDA endorses the use of Bayer's Cipro drug to prevent inhalation anthrax. [Reuters, 7/28/00] Perhaps they hadn't been reading the Sunday Times recently (see May 14, 2000)? An official recommendation like this is highly unusual for the FDA. A 1997 Pentagon study of anthrax in rhesus monkeys showed that several other drugs were as effective as Cipro. The reason given for only recommending Cipro was the government wanted a weapon against anthrax should they come up against a strain resistant to drugs in the penicillin and tetracycline families of antibiotics. [New York Times, 10/21/01] The pharmaceutical industry spent $177 million on lobbying in 1999 and 2000 - more money than any other industry. The FDA has been accused of conflict of interest with companies including Bayer. [New York Times, 11/4/01]
January 21, 2001: George Bush Jr. is inaugurated as the 43rd US President, replacing Clinton. The only major figure to permanently remain in office is CIA Director Tenet, appointed in 1997 and reputedly a long time friend of Bush Sr. FBI Director Louis Freeh stays on until June 2001. Numerous figures in Bush's administration have been directly employed in the oil industry, including Bush, Vice President Cheney and National Security Advisor Rice. Enron's ties also reach deep into the administration. [Washington Post, 1/18/02]
August 2001 (H): Future anthrax suspect Steven Hatfill's high level Department of Defense security clearance is revoked. He is working at a private company at the time, but no explanation is given to his employers. [Baltimore Sun, 7/18/02]
September 4, 2001 (approx.): On approximately this date, a "weird love letter to Jennifer Lopez" is sent to The Sun, a tabloid with offices in Florida. "But inside the oddly-worded letter was what was described as a 'soapy, powdery substance' and in the pile of that a cheap Star of David charm." The letter was handled both by Ernesto Blanco, who contacted anthrax, and Bob Stevens, who died of anthrax. The letter was thrown away, so it's not known if it contained anthrax. [Newsweek, 10/8/01] Could the letter have been part of a pre-9/11 series of anthrax attacks reported by the New York Post (see before September 11, 2001)? The only specific target mentioned by the Post was Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly. [New York Post, 11/1/01] Bob Stevens was admitted to a hospital on October 2; the period between anthrax exposure and symptoms can be up to eight weeks. The anthrax attacks targeted media outlets, sending both real and hoax letters. Could this have been part of that series? Newsweek also reports a Middle Eastern intern working at the Sun that summer left a curious farewell e-mail. [Newsweek, 10/8/01]
before September 11, 2001: In a story seemingly unreported anywhere else, the New York Post later claims that a series of hoax anthrax letters is sent out from Indianapolis, Indiana, at some point not long before 9/11. The FBI allowed the Post to see copies of these letters, which had handwriting and other features remarkably similar to the later letters containing real anthrax. [New York Post, 11/1/01]
September 11, 2001 (G): The 9/11 attack: four planes are hijacked, two crash into the WTC, one into the Pentagon, and one crashes into the Pennsylvania countryside. At least 3,000 people are killed. A more detailed timeline focusing on the hours of this attack appears on a separate page.
September 11, 2001 (Y): Some White House personnel, including Vice President Cheney's staff, are given Cipro, the anti-anthrax drug, and told to take it regularly on the evening after the attacks. [AP, 10/24/01] Judicial Watch later sues the Bush Administration to release documents showing who knew what and when, and why Presidential staff were protected while Senators, Congresspeople and others were not. [AP, 6/9/02] FTW
September 18, 2001: The first anthrax letters are mailed out, two days after the anti-terrorism bill USA Patriot Act is first proposed. But the anthrax crisis won't begin until October 4 with the first confirmed sickness. [CNN, 11/18/01, South Florida Sun-Sentinel, 12/01] With only one week between 9/11 and the first mailing, doesn't it seem likely planning for the anthrax attacks began before 9/11 (see also before September 11, 2001)?
October 1, 2001 (B): The New York Times notes the "stepped up warnings on the spread of chemical and biological weapons" based on a number of statements from officials in the past few days. White House chief of staff Andrew Card: "I'm not trying to be an alarmist, but we know that these terrorist organizations, like al-Qaeda, run by Osama bin Laden and others, have probably found the means to use biological or chemical warfare." Representative Henry J. Hyde (R) says biological weapons "scare" him more than nuclear weapons because they can be brought into the country "rather easily." Rumsfeld, Ashcroft and others give similar warnings. Just three days later, anthrax attacks become big news (see October 4, 2001). [New York Times, 10/1/01]
October 2, 2001: Days before the anthrax attacks begin, a strange letter is sent to a researcher in Fort Detrick, Maryland (USAMRIID). The letter is addressed to Dr. Ayaad Assaad, a Muslim anthrax researcher who was born in Egypt. The unsigned letter calls Assaad a "'potential terrorist,' with a grudge against the United States and the knowledge to wage biological warfare against his adopted country." This is the latest in a series of attacks against Assaad, which include anonymous long hateful poems about him in the early 1990's. Assaad was laid off in 1997. The author of the letter says he is a former colleague of Assaad. The letter seems like a not-very-subtle attempt to frame Assaad for the anthrax attacks about to come. The letter strongly suggests the attacks could have been by someone at USAMRIID with a long time grudge against Assaad. [Hartford Courant, 12/9/01, Salon, 1/26/02] Anthrax suspect Philip Zack later emerges as one (but not the only) coworker with such a grudge (see January 20, 2002).
October 2, 2001 (B): The "anti-terrorism" USA Patriot Act is introduced in Congress, but is not well received by all. One day later, Senate Majority Leader and future anthrax target Tom Daschle (D) says he doubts the Senate will take up this bill in the one week timetable the administration wants. As head of the Senate, Daschle has great power to block or slow passage of the bill. Attorney General Ashcroft accuses Senate Democrats of dragging their feet. [Washington Post, 10/3/01] On October 4, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman and future anthrax target Patrick Leahy (D) accuses the Bush administration of reneging on an agreement on the anti-terrorist bill. Leahy is in a key position to block or slow the bill. Some warn that "lawmakers are overlooking constitutional flaws in their rush to meet the administration's timetable." Two days later, Ashcroft complains about "the rather slow pace…over his request for law enforcement powers… Hard feelings remain." [Washington Post, 10/4/01] The anthrax letters to Daschle and Leahy are sent out on October 9 and difficulties in passing the Act continue (see October 9, 2001). Could Daschle and Leahy have been targeted by some person or entity who wanted to see the USA Patriot Act pass?
October 4, 2001: The first case of anthrax infection, in Florida, appears in the media. Letters containing anthrax continue to be received until October 19. After many false alarms, it turns out that only four letters contain real anthrax. They are sent to NBC, New York Post, Democratic Senator Daschle and Democratic Senator Leahy. There are a number of hoax letters however, likely sent by the same person to all the recipients of the real anthrax letters, plus to CBS, Fox News, New York Times, and the St. Petersberg Times. Eleven people are infected, five people die. [South Florida Sun-Sentinel, 12/01]
October 9, 2001: Senator Feingold (D) blocks an attempt to rush the USA Patriot Act to a vote with little debate and no opportunity for amendments. Feingold criticizes the bill as a threat to liberty. [AP, 10/10/01] One day earlier, in the story "Cracks in Bipartisanship Start to Show," the Washington Post reports, "Congress has lost some of the shock-induced unity with which it first responded to the [9/11] attacks." [Washington Post, 10/8/01] Also on October 9, identical anthrax letters are postmarked in Trenton, New Jersey, with lethal doses to Senators Daschle and Leahy. Inside both letters are the words: "Death to America, Death to Israel, Allah is Great" (see October 15, 2001). [South Florida Sun-Sentinel, 12/01]
October 10-11, 2001: The FBI allows the original batch of the Ames strain of anthrax to be destroyed, making tracing the anthrax type more difficult. Suspicions that the anthrax used in the letters was the Ames strain are confirmed on October 17. [New York Times, 11/9/01, South Florida Sun-Sentinel, 12/01] What possible excuse can the FBI have for allowing this destruction, especially when the Ames strain was already suspected?
October 14, 2001 (B): Investigators of the anthrax attacks believe Iraq is the prime suspect. One CIA source says, "They aren't making this stuff in caves in Afghanistan. 'This is prima facie evidence of the involvement of a state intelligence agency. Maybe Iran has the capability. But it doesn't look likely politically. That leaves Iraq." [Observer, 10/14/01] However, this theory lasts only a few days. On October 20, the International Herald Tribune reports a new theory: "A disgruntled employee of a domestic laboratory that uses anthrax carried out the attacks." It also states investigators "have tentatively concluded that [the anthrax] is a domestic strain that bears no resemblance to strains that Russia and Iraq have turned into biological weapons." [International Herald Tribune, 10/20/01] However, in late 2002 with war against Iraq growing increasingly likely, the Iraq theory appears to make a comeback (see October 28, 2002).
October 15, 2001: Senator Daschle's office opens the letter mailed October 9, containing a lethal dose of anthrax. Senator Leahy's similar letter is misrouted to Virginia on October 12, and isn't discovered until November 17. [South Florida Sun-Sentinel, 12/8/01]
October 15, 2001 (B): The BBC says "Bush has pointed the finger at Osama bin Laden" for the anthrax attacks. Bush states, "There may be some possible link. We have no hard data yet, but it's clear that Mr. Bin Laden is an evil man." [BBC, 10/16/01]
October 16-17, 2001: 28 congressional staffers test positive for anthrax. The Senate office buildings are shut down, followed by the House of Representatives. [South Florida Sun-Sentinel, 12/8/01]
October 18, 2001: Canada overrides Bayer's patent for Cipro and orders a million tablets of a generic version from another company. The US says it is not considering a similar move. Patent lawyers and politicians state that adjusting Bayer's patent to allow other companies to produce Cipro is perfectly legal and necessary. [New York Times, 10/19/01] The New York Times notes that the White House seems "so avidly to be siding with the rights of drug companies to make profits rather than with consumers worried about their access to the antibiotic Cipro," and points out huge recent contributions by Bayer to Republicans. [New York Times, 10/21/01]
October 21, 2001: The Bayer Corporation, holders of the US patent on the anthrax antibiotic Cipro, agrees with the US to reduce the price of Cipro in the US from $1.83 to 95 cents. Analysts say the price reduction will reduce Bayer's profit margin from 95% to 65%. This reduction applies only to sales to the US government, not sales to the public. [New York Times, 11/4/01] Bayer has allowed no other companies to produce or import Cipro into the US. Other countries with less stringent patent laws sell Cipro for 1/30th the US price, and have offered to import large quantities into the US. [New York Times, 10/21/01] Nevertheless, a class action suit by over one million Americans has been filed against Bayer and two other companies, alleging that Bayer has paid $200 million to two competitors to not make generic versions of Cipro. [Bayer lawsuit press release, 10/25/01] The profits from Cipro are considered a "lifesaver" for Bayer, which had been considering pulling out of pharmaceuticals altogether. [Guardian, 10/31/01]
October 23, 2001: The New York Times reports that health officials and experts believe numerous other drugs are as effective as Cipro in combating anthrax. "Several generic antibiotics, including doxycycline, a kind of tetracycline, and various penicillins, are also effective against the disease," and they all are in plentiful supply. [New York Times, 10/23/01] A 1997 Pentagon study of anthrax in rhesus monkeys showed the other drugs to be equally effective. But Cipro remains the only drug officially recommended by the FDA (see July 27, 2000). [New York Times, 10/21/01]
October 24, 2001: The House of Representatives passes the final version of the USA Patriot Act and other previously unpopular Bush projects: Alaska oil drilling, $25 billion in tax cuts for corporations, taps into Social Security funds and cuts in education. [CNN, 10/25/01] Republican Congressman Ron Paul states: "It's my understanding the bill wasn't printed before the vote - at least I couldn't get it. They played all kinds of games, kept the House in session all night, and it was a very complicated bill. Maybe a handful of staffers actually read it, but the bill definitely was not available to members before the vote." It is later found that only two copies of the bill were made available in the hours before its passage, and most House members admit they voted for the Act without actually reading it first. [Insight, 11/9/01] Two days later, the Senate passes the final version of the USA Patriot Act. Anthrax targets Senators Daschle and Leahy now support the bill. Bush signs it into law the same day. [Fox News, 10/26/01] Were the anthrax attacks a deliberate plot to help pass the USA Patriot Act, and whip up public support?
October 27, 2001 (B): The US government no longer thinks bin Laden is behind the anthrax attacks: "Everything seems to lean toward a domestic source... Nothing seems to fit with an overseas terrorist type operation." The Washington Post suggests neo-Nazi groups are behind it. Not long after, the FBI releases a profile of the perpetrator of the anthrax attacks. He is suspected of being a lone, male domestic terrorist, with a scientific background and laboratory experience who could handle hazardous materials. [Washington Post, 10/27/01, St. Petersburg Times, 11/10/01] On the same day, the London Times claims that Atta was given a flask of anthrax by an Iraqi agent in April 2001, which then was used in the US anthrax attacks. [London Times, 10/27/01] However, US and Czech officials eventually conclude the meeting never even took place (see September 19, 2001-October 20, 2002).
12, 2001: The beginning of numerous mysterious deaths of renowned microbiologists.
A good place to start learning about this is a Globe and Mail article, which
calls these deaths a "tale only the best conspiracy theorist could dream
up" yet hard to explain [Globe and
Mail, 5/4/02] (The Memphis Flyer also provides a good overview, but is
much more speculative: [Memphis Flyer,
3/7/02]). The first dead microbiologist is Dr. Benito Que, 52, was "an
expert in infectious diseases and cellular biology at the Miami Medical School.
Police originally suspected that he had been beaten on November 12 in a carjacking
in the medical school's parking lot. Strangely enough, though, his body showed
no signs of a beating. Doctors then began to suspect a stroke." [Globe
and Mail, 5/4/02]
November 16, 2001: Dead microbiologist: Dr. Don Wiley, 57, disappears during a business trip to Memphis, Tennessee. [Fox News, 11/24/01] He had just bought tickets to take his son to Graceland the following day. Police found his rental car on a bridge outside Memphis. His body was later found in the Mississippi River. Forensic experts said he may have had a dizzy spell and fallen off the bridge. Police will only say, "We began this investigation as a missing person investigation. From there it went to a more criminal bent." [CNN, 11/29/01] "Wiley is seen as one of the world's leading researchers of deadly viruses, including HIV and the Ebola virus." [CNN, 12/22/01] Wiley worked at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute at Harvard University, and was an expert on the immune system's response to viral attacks. He was widely regarded as the nation's foremost expert in using special X-ray cameras and mathematical formulas to make high-resolution images of viruses. [Boston Globe, 12/21/01] The FBI is monitoring the investigation because of his research knowledge. [Globe and Mail, 5/4/02]
November 21, 2001 (B): Dead microbiologist: World-class microbiologist and high-profile Russian defector Dr. Vladimir Pasechnik, 64, dies of a stroke. Pasechnik, who defected to Britain in 1989, had played a huge role in the development of Russian biowarfare, heading a lab of 400 "with an unlimited budget" and "the best staff available." He says he succeeded in producing an aerosolized plague microbe that could survive outside the laboratory. He was connected to Britain's spy agency and recently had started his own company. "In the last few weeks of his life he had put his research on anthrax at the disposal of the [British] Government, in the light of the threat from bioterrorism." [London Times, 11/30/01, New York Times, 11/23/01, Globe and Mail, 5/4/02]
November 24, 2001: Three more dead microbiologists: A Swissair flight from Berlin to Zurich crashes during its landing approach; 22 are killed and nine survive. Among those killed are Dr. Yaakov Matzner, 54, dean of the Hebrew University school of medicine; Amiramp Eldor, 59, head of the haematology department at Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv and a world-recognized expert in blood clotting; and Avishai Berkman, 50, director of the Tel Aviv public health department and businessman. [CNN, 11/25/01, Swissair manifest, 11/24/01]
November 30, 2001: A report suggests that the strain of anthrax used in the attacks likely originated from USAMRIID and was shared with only a small number of other labs. USAMRIID gave it to Battelle Memorial Institute, in Columbus, Ohio; the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center, in Albuquerque, New Mexico; the Defense Research Establishment Suffield, in Canada; the US Army Dugway Proving Ground, in Utah; and the Chemical Defense Establishment at Porton Down, Britain. These in turn sent it to seven more labs, for a total of a dozen. But only five labs total received the virulent form, and some of these may have received strains that were too old (it is known the anthrax used was two years old or less [New York Times, 6/23/02]). [Washington Post, 11/30/01]
December 10, 2001: Dead microbiologist: "Dr. Robert Schwartz, 57, was stabbed and slashed with what police believe was a sword in his farmhouse in Leesberg, Va. His daughter, who identifies herself as a pagan high priestess, and three of her fellow pagans have been charged." [Globe and Mail, 5/4/02] All were part of what they called a coven, and interested in magic, fantasy and self-mutilation. The police have no motive as to why they would have wanted to kill Schwartz, who was a single parent and said to be very close to his children. Schwartz worked at Virginia's Center for Innovative Technology on DNA sequencing and pathogenic microorganisms. He was "a brilliant scientist who had a gift for explaining complex scientific subjects in simple language." [Washington Post, 12/12/01]
December 13, 2001: The US Army responds to a journalistic investigation and confirms that it has been making weapons grade anthrax in recent years, in violation of an international treaty. The US offensive biological weapons program was supposedly closed in 1969 when the US signed a biological weapons treaty. In 1998 scientists at the Army's Dugway Proving Ground in Utah turned small quantities of wet anthrax into powder. This weaponized anthrax appears to be very similar or identical to the anthrax used in the recent attacks. [Baltimore Sun, 12/13/01, New York Times, 12/13/01]
December 14, 2001: Dead microbiologist: Nguyen Van Set, 44, dies in an airlock filled with nitrogen in his lab in Geelong, Australia. The lab had just been written up in the journal Nature for its work in genetic manipulation and DNA sequencing. Scientists there had created a virulent form of mousepox. "They realized that if similar genetic manipulation was carried out on smallpox, an unstoppable killer could be unleashed," according to Nature. [Sydney Morning Herald, 12/12/01, Globe and Mail, 5/4/02]
December 21, 2001 (B): The FBI is now investigating "whether potential profit from the sale of anthrax medications or cleanup efforts may have motivated" the anthrax attacks. Battelle, a company doing anthrax work for the CIA, is the one company most discussed in the article and is strongly featured in another. [Washington Post, 12/21/01, ABC, 12/20/01] The same day, the FBI says it is not investigating a former Battelle scientist in relation to an anthrax scare, contrary to national broadcast news reports. A US Senator further claims FBI Director Mueller told him "no one with or formerly with Battelle is a suspect." [Columbus Dispatch, 12/21/01] Is Bayer also under investigation (see October 21, 2001)?
January 2002: Two dead microbiologists: Ivan Glebov and Alexi Brushlinski. Pravda reports that Glebov died as the result of a bandit attack and reports without explanation that Brushlinski was killed in Moscow. Both were "well known around the world" and members of the Russian Academy of Science. [Pravda, 2/9/02, Globe and Mail, 5/4/02]
January 2002 (B): The FBI finally begins subpoenaing laboratories that worked with the Ames strain of anthrax used in the attacks. But when the labs start to send their samples, they are told to wait another month because a new storage room for the sample needs to be built. "The FBI's delay in requesting the samples - and the government's lack of readiness to receive them - is part of a pattern." Other examples include taking six months to begin testing mailboxes surrounding Trenton, New Jersey, where the anthrax letters were postmarked, and nearly a year to go back into the American Media building in Boca Raton, Florida, to hunt for the source of anthrax that killed the first victim there. [Hartford Courant, 9/7/02]
January 2002 (C): Steven Hatfill, later to emerge as a suspect of the anthrax attacks, is interviewed by FBI investigators for the first time. He is then given a lie-detector test as part of a wide-ranging FBI review of the scientific community. Hatfill was told he gave satisfactory answers on the test. The FBI returned for a two-hour interview in March. [Washington Post, 8/11/02] Why was such a likely suspect not questioned for so many months?
January 20, 2002: Evidence comes to light that a scientist named Lt. Col. Philip Zack had a history of suspicious behavior in the nation's most classified anthrax research center, USAMRIID. Zack was fired for unprofessional behavior centering on numerous hateful attacks on his colleague Dr. Assaad (Zack is Jewish and Assaad is Muslim, which may explain the enmity). Security cameras show Zack came into the lab at night on occasion without permission, after being fired. [Hartford Courant, 1/20/02] There is also a history of missing viruses, including anthrax and Ebola, that seem connected to these incidents. [New York Times, 7/19/02, note that the Times story mentions Hatfill (as "Dr. Z") in the article and not Zack, even though Hatfill didn't join USAMRIID until years after these incidents] A former lab technician who worked with some of the anthrax that was later reported missing said all he ever handled was the Ames strain. [Hartford Courant, 1/20/02] Dr. Assaad received a letter just prior to the anthrax attacks in October that appear to frame him (see October 2, 2001). [Hartford Courant, 12/9/01] Zack seems a very likely suspect, but has not been arrested (and wasn't even questioned for months after the attacks).
January 26, 2002: Salon exposes details about the FBI's anthrax investigation. The FBI appears to be casting a very wide net, for instance approaching all 40,000 members of the American Society of Microbiologists and putting flyers asking for information all over New Jersey. Yet all the evidence suggests that the anthrax strain could only be made in one of two places: USAMRIID in Maryland or US Army's Dugway Proving Ground in Utah. Meanwhile, the FBI has not yet subpoenaed employee records of the few labs that used the strain of anthrax used in the attacks. Numerous anthrax experts express puzzlement. Barbara Hatch Rosenberg, a biological arms control expert, believes the FBI is dragging its heels for political reasons. She is convinced the FBI knows who mailed the anthrax letters, but isn't arresting him, because he has been involved in secret biological weapons research that the US does not want revealed. "This guy knows too much, and knows things the US isn't very anxious to publicize. Therefore, they don't want to get too close." [Salon, 1/26/02]
February 9, 2002 (B): Dead microbiologist: Victor Korshunov, 56, is bashed over the head and killed at the entrance of his home in Moscow, Russia. He was the head of the microbiology sub-faculty at the Russian State Medical University and an expert in intestinal bacteria. [Pravda, 2/9/02, Globe and Mail, 5/4/02]
February 10, 2002: Katherine Smith is killed a day before appearing in court on charges she helped five Muslim terrorists get illegal drivers licenses. Her car supposedly hit a tree and then caught on fire. The FBI later determined that gasoline was poured on her clothing before she died in an arson fire. A suicide note was found, but prosecutors say they are looking for murder suspects. One of the five Muslims, Sakhera Hammad, was found with a visitor's pass for the WTC, dated September 5, 2001, in his wallet. Hammad claims he was a plumber and worked on the WTC's sprinkler system. Smith was being investigated by the FBI; the five later plead guilty of fraud. [AP, 2/13/02, Reuters, 2/15/02, Go Memphis, 2/12/02, Memphis Commercial Appeal, 2/21/02]
February 11, 2002: Dead microbiologist: Dr. Ian Langford, 40, is found dead, partially naked and wedged under a chair in his home in Norwich, England. When found, his house was described as "blood-spattered and apparently ransacked." He was an expert in environmental risks and disease and a senior Fellow at the University of East Anglia's Centre for Social and Economic Research on the Global Environment. One of his colleagues states: "Ian was without doubt one of Europe's leading experts on environmental risk, specializing in links between human health and environmental risk... He was one of the most brilliant colleagues I have ever had." [London Times, 2/13/02, Globe and Mail, 5/4/02]
February 28, 2002 (B): Two dead microbiologists in San Francisco: While taking delivery of a pizza, Tanya Holzmayer, 46, is shot and killed by a colleague, Guyang Huang, 38, who then apparently shot himself. Holzmayer moved to the US from Russia in 1989. Her research focused on the part of the human molecular structure that could be affected best by medicine. Holzmayer was focusing on helping create new drugs that interfere with replication of the virus that causes AIDS. One year earlier, Holzmayer obeyed senior management orders to fire Huang. [San Jose Mercury News, 2/28/02, Globe and Mail, 5/4/02]
Early March 2002 (B): William Patrick (see February 1999) is interviewed by the FBI in relation to the anthrax attacks. He is surprised that the FBI didn't interview him earlier. [BBC, 3/14/02] After passing a lie detector test, the FBI invites him to join the inner circle of technical advisers to the anthrax investigation. [Baltimore Sun, 6/27/02] It is later noted that "many of the experts the FBI has turned to for help are also, almost by definition, potential suspects. That has put FBI agents in the uncomfortable position of having to subject their scientist-consultants to polygraph tests, and then, afterward, ask those same experts to help analyze evidence." [Hartford Courant, 9/7/02]
13, 2002: A bomb and two smaller explosive-type
devices are found and defused in the stairwell outside of the Shelby County
Regional Forensic Center, Memphis, Tennessee, where county medical examiner
Dr. O. C. Smith works. Smith states, "We have done several high-profile
cases from (missing Harvard researcher) Dr. (Don) Wiley to Katherine Smith but
there has been no indication that we offended anyone... We just don't know if
we were the intended target or not.'' The police state, "It potentially
could have been a large blast if exploded." The mystery gets deeper: in
June, Dr. Smith is attacked, bound with barbed wire and left with a bomb tied
to his body (see June 1, 2002). [Memphis
Commercial Appeal, 3/14/02]
March 22, 2002 (B): US officials claim to have found an al-Qaeda biological weapons lab near Kandahar, Afghanistan. But the lab was incomplete, and "there is still no indication that al-Qaeda ever succeeded in producing biological agents." [New York Times, 3/22/02]
March 23, 2002: Close on the heels of reports about al-Qaeda wanting to make anthrax in Afghanistan, a new report suggests that one of the 9/11 hijackers had an anthrax wound months before 9/11. Ahmed Alhaznawi went to a hospital in Fort Lauderdale, Florida in June 2001 complaining of a nasty leg lesion that authorities believe could have been caused by anthrax. But an FBI spokesman says these possibilities were dismissed months ago, and "nothing new has in fact developed." [Observer, 3/24/02] The spokesman adds, "Exhaustive testing did not support that anthrax was present anywhere the hijackers had been." [CNN, 3/23/02] Phone calls from one of the hijacked planes suggest the hijackers kept passengers at bay with a chemical spray (see July 18, 2002) - could this wound be related to that chemical?
March 24, 2002 (B): Close on the heels of reports about al-Qaeda wanting to make anthrax in Afghanistan, a new report suggests that one of the 9/11 hijackers had an anthrax wound months before 9/11. Ahmed Alhaznawi went to a hospital in Fort Lauderdale, Florida in June 2001 complaining of a nasty leg lesion that authorities believe could have been caused by anthrax. But an FBI spokesman says these possibilities were dismissed months ago, and "nothing new has in fact developed." [Observer, 3/24/02] Phone calls from one of the hijacked planes suggest the hijackers kept passengers at bay with a chemical spray (see July 18, 2002) - could this wound be related to that chemical?
March 24, 2002 (C): Dead microbiologist: David Wynn-Williams, 55, is hit by a car while jogging near his home in Cambridge, England. He was an astrobiologist with the Antarctic Astrobiology Project and the NASA Ames Research Center. He was studying the capability of microbes to adapt to environmental extremes, including the bombardment of ultraviolet rays and global warming. [London Times, 3/27/02, Globe and Mail, 5/4/02]
March 25, 2002: Dead microbiologist: Steven Mostow, 63, dies when the airplane he was piloting crashes near Denver, Colorado. He worked at the Colorado Health Sciences Centre and was known as "Dr. Flu" for his expertise in treating influenza, and expertise on bioterrorism. Mostow was "one of the country's leading infectious disease experts" and was associate dean at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center. Three others died in the crash. Mostow's death bring the total number of leading microbiologists killed in a six-month period to at least 15. [KUSA TV, 3/26/02, Globe and Mail, 5/4/02]
April 4, 2002: Dr. David Franz, a former commander of USAMRIID, says of the anthrax attacks: "I think a lot of good has come from it. From a biological or a medical standpoint, we've now five people who have died, but we've put about $6 billion in our budget into defending against bioterrorism." Plentiful evidence suggests that the anthrax came from USAMRIID, but investigators say they have no suspects at all. They also say they have come up "against some closely held military secrets" which are slowing down the investigation. "Federal investigators tell ABCNEWS that military and intelligence agencies have withheld a full listing of all facilities and all employees dealing with top-secret anthrax programs where important leads could be found." [ABC News, 4/4/02] Did the anthrax attacker(s) use similar logic as Franz, reasoning that the attacks would serve as a wake up call to protect the US against bioterror attacks?
May 2, 2002: After extensive testing, the DNA sequence of the anthrax sent through the US mail in 2001 is deciphered, and it confirms suspicions that the bacteria originally came from USAMRIID. Furthermore, analysis of genetic drift determines that the attacker's anthrax was not separated from the source anthrax at USAMRIID for many generations. It suggests that USAMRIID or USAMRIID samples given to Dugway Proving Grounds in Utah and/or Porton Downs in Britain are the most likely sources of the anthrax used in the attacks. [New Scientist, 5/2/02]
May 21-24, 2002: A New York Times editorial says it's time to "light a fire under the FBI in its investigation of the anthrax case. Experts in the bioterror field are already buzzing about a handful of individuals who had the ability, access and motive to send the anthrax." [New York Times, 5/24/02] Similarly, the Guardian suggests that the FBI investigation is moving deliberately slow because the federal authorities have something to hide, stating "there is surely a point after which incompetence becomes an insufficient explanation for failure." [Guardian, 5/21/02]
June 1, 2002: Memphis, Tennessee, medical examiner O.C. Smith is attacked with chemical spray, bound with barbed wire, and left lying in a nearby parking lot with a bomb tied to his body. He is rescued several hours later. In recent months, Smith has been working on two interesting cases. One is the death of Harvard University microbiologist Don Wiley, who supposedly fell from a Memphis bridge in December (see November 16, 2001). He also helped identify the body of Katherine Smith, a state driver's license examiner who was found burned beyond recognition in February 2002, a day before a hearing on federal charges of helping five Middle Eastern men obtain fake driver's licenses (see February 10, 2002). Adding to the mystery, Smith had received a series of death threat letters early in 2001. [AP, 6/4/02] Perhaps it's all coincidence, but the events around O.C. Smith, Katherine Smith and Don Wiley seem to tie 9/11 and the rash of microbiologist deaths together in some inexplicable way. If someone wanted O.C. Smith dead, why didn't they just kill him instead of attacking him in such a strange way and then leaving him to live? Was this, and the earlier bomb attack against his office (see March 13, 2002), meant as a warning?
June 25, 2002: The FBI search the home of an anthrax researcher who worked at USAMRIID. [AP, 6/25/02] He remains anonymous in most stories, but some name him as Steven Hatfill. In the wake of all these stories, one microbiologist states, "Their intent was clearly to put [Hatfill's] name in the public eye. The only question is why." The FBI announces that the search found nothing and Hatfill is not a suspect. [Hartford Courant, 6/27/02] The FBI also announces voluntary lie detector tests at USAMRIID and Dugway Proving Ground in Utah. [New York Times, 7/2/02] Numerous experts have pointed out for months that these two facilities are the only likely places the anthrax used in the attacks could have been made, and that there are only several dozen possible scientists who could have made it. Why is the FBI only now even beginning to look into this? The New York Times had been running a series of articles about "Mr. Z" [New York Times, 5/24/02, New York Times, 7/2/02, New York Times, 7/12/02], who is eventually revealed as Hatfill. [New York Times, 8/13/02]
21, 2002: In an article titled, "Anthrax:
the Noose Widens," Time magazine reports, "Despite recent claims by
some in the bioterrorism community that the investigation should be homing in
on one particular American bioweapons expert, the FBI appears to be moving in
the opposite direction. US government officials say the investigation is still
ranging far and wide and that the FBI has not ruled out a foreign connection."
August 1, 2002: FBI names Steven Hatfill as a "person of interest" in the anthrax attacks, the first person to be so named. FBI agents are also seen investigating his trash and conducting a second search of his house (first search, see June 25, 2002). [AP, 8/1/02, London Times, 8/2/02] On the same day, Barbara Hatch Rosenberg, one of the world's top anthrax specialists is interviewed by FBI agents who ask her whether a team of government scientists could be trying to frame Hatfill. Rosenberg has been very publicly critical of the FBI investigation. [Washington Times, 8/3/02] Newsweek follows with a lengthy article purporting to detail the entire anthrax investigation, but it focuses entirely on Hatfill and fails to even mention people like Philip Zack (see January 20, 2002). [Newsweek, 8/4/02] The Washington Post does a similar story focusing on Hatfill only (and even claims the US biowarfare program ended decades ago). [Washington Post, 8/4/02]
August 1, 2002 (B): The US Justice Department sends an e-mail to Louisiana State University's biomedical research and training center, telling them to "immediately cease and desist" from employing researcher Steven Hatfill on department-funded programs. The next day Hatfill is placed on administrative leave. [CNN, 9/5/02] On September 4, he is fired. [AP, 9/4/02] A day after that, the person who hired him is fired as well. [AP, 9/5/02] The LSU center relies on funding from the Justice Department for 97% of its money. [Weekly Standard, 9/16/02] The New York Times later reports that "several senior law enforcement officials expressed embarrassment over the e-mail incident, saying the domestic preparedness office acted improperly because Mr. Hatfill has never been charged with any wrongdoing and has not been identified as a suspect." [New York Times, 9/5/02]
August 8, 2002: No physical evidence connects anthrax suspect Steven Hatfill to the deadly anthrax mailings. The main reason he's considered a suspect is smell: bloodhounds trained to recognize the scent of the anthrax envelopes reacted strongly to Hatfill's apartment, his girlfriend's apartment and a Denny's restaurant in Louisiana where he had eaten the day before the hounds were there. According to Newsweek, when the dogs merely got near Hatfill's apartment building complex, "They went crazy." [Newsweek, 8/4/02] But the Baltimore Sun interviewed three veteran bloodhound handlers; all were highly skeptical that a useful scent of the anthrax mailer would have remained on the letters eleven months after they were mailed, rubbed against other letters and then decontaminated to kill the anthrax (additionally, the letters were likely handled with gloves in a special room). The managers at the 12 Denny's in Louisiana said they have not been visited by federal agents with bloodhounds. [Baltimore Sun, 8/8/02]
August 9, 2002: New details emerge about anthrax suspect Steven Hatfill's experiences in Africa. After leaving the US Army in late 1978, he studied at the Godfrey Huggins School of Medicine in Zimbabwe, graduating in 1983. That was just a few years after the world's largest outbreak of human anthrax in what was then known as Southern Rhodesia. Between 1978 and 1980, nearly 200 people died and more than 10,000 cases were recorded. "Researchers characterize the outbreak as suspicious and some believe it may have been the result of deliberate action by white Rhodesian security forces in the waning days of what was a long and brutal war with black liberation fighters." [Voice of America News, 8/9/02, New York Times, 7/2/02] Hatfill claimed on a resume that he was in the US Special Forces at the time, the US claims he dropped out of training. [Washington Post, 8/11/02] However, it is later reported that information in these stories of his past always trace back to "an outfit called the Jewish Defense Organization (JDO)." The JDO is a "radical, breakaway faction of Meir Kahane's already-quite-radical Jewish Defense League (JDL) by a man named Mordechai Levy" - a man who was recently sent to prison after firing an automatic rifle from his roof and wounding a bystander. The Weekly Standard claims that all such evidence is nothing but "transparent innuendo" written by JDO member A. J. Weberman, who was briefly famous for obsessively studying the garbage of musician Bob Dylan, and who was recently successfully sued for libel. The Standard also points out that the anthrax outbreak took place before Hatfill arrived in Zimbabwe, and by the time he started studying and working in that country, the white racist regime had already been replaced by a black one. [Weekly Standard, 9/16/02]
August 11, 2002 (C): ABC TV reports, "the FBI concedes [Steven Hatfill] could not himself make anthrax, does not have what they call 'the bench skills' to make it." [ABC, 8/11/02] The New York Times has reported of Hatfill (without naming him): "His anthrax vaccinations are up to date, he unquestionably had the ability to make first-rate anthrax..." [New York Times, 5/24/02] Yet there are other claims Hatfill has not had anthrax vaccinations for several years. [Washington Post, 8/11/02] It also later emerges that Hatfill has alibis for the times the anthrax letters were mailed. A former FBI agent says, "Most investigations don't prosper when they are public, and that's what bothers me about this case. It tells me they have either reached a dead end or their case has a great big hole in it and they are trying to put pressure on this person." [Hartford Courant, 9/7/02]
August 11, 2002 (D): Anthrax suspect Steven Hatfill defends himself in a public speech and Washington Post interview. He claims that he is being set up as the "fall guy" for the anthrax attacks. He says his life "has been completely and utterly destroyed," and he has twice lost a job due to the allegations. His lawyer also accuses the FBI of leaking documents to the press and conducting searches of Hatfill's residence in a highly visible way when a more discreet method could have been arranged. [Washington Post, 8/11/02, Fox News, 8/12/02]
August 11, 2002 (E): The New York Times has an article on the mysterious deaths of numerous microbiologists, and strongly argues the entire thing is a coincidence. Says a professor of statistics, ''We can never say for a fact that something isn't a conspiracy. We can just point out the odds that it isn't.'' [New York Times, 8/11/02]
August 15, 2002 (B): Trace elements of anthrax are found in a post office box across the street from Princeton University in New Jersey. [MSNBC, 8/12/02] The FBI declares Steven Hatfill has not "received any more attention than any other person of interest in the investigation." [Fox News, 8/12/02] Yet Hatfill's photo is the only one being shown by the FBI to residents of the neighborhood near the mailbox. [AP, 8/15/02] A law enforcement official later admits to the Los Angeles Times that, "to be honest, we don't have anybody that is real good [as a possible anthrax suspect]. That is why so much energy has gone into Hatfill - because we didn't have anybody else." [Weekly Standard, 9/16/02]
18, 2002: The Washington Post blasts the FBI's
treatment of Steven Hatfill. "Each slipshod case whittles away our collective
liberties, our self-respect, our confidence in the legal system."
The article also blasts the media's coverage: "Wittingly or unwittingly,
reporters and government investigators may collude, creating the appearance
of a posse mentality that discredits them both." [Washington
August 18, 2002 (B): An FBI forensic linguistics expert says the anthrax mailer was probably someone with high-ranking US military and intelligence connections. He says he has identified two suspects who both worked for the CIA, USAMRIID and other classified military operations. He expresses frustration about accessing evidence. "My two suspects both appear to have CIA connections. These two agencies, the CIA and the FBI, are sometimes seen as rivals. My anxiety is that the FBI agents assigned to this case are not getting full and complete cooperation from the US military, CIA and witnesses who might have information about this case." He also says the killer seems to have tried implicating two former USAMRIID scientists who had left the laboratory in unhappy circumstances by posting the letters from near their homes in New Jersey. [BBC, 8/18/02] Could one of the framed people be Dr. Assaad (see October 2, 2001)?1)?
August 26, 2002: Anthrax suspect Steven Hatfill releases photos he claims show that the FBI "trashed" his girlfriend's apartment. The photos "evoked an uneasy sense of recognition among law enforcement experts," who have seen these kinds of strong armed tactics when the FBI is desperate for a conviction. "Veteran FBI-watchers suggest the Bureau, looking at Steven Hatfill off and on for nearly a year, does not have the goods on him. Law enforcement sources confirm he passed a polygraph test administered by the FBI last fall ... Apparent absence of evidence suggests either incompetence at the level of false accusations in the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Park bombing - or something worse." [New York Post, 8/3/02]
September 10, 2002 (B): The FBI searches Steven Hatfill's house for anthrax residue for a third time. Hatfill had moved out several weeks earlier. [MSNBC, 9/11/02]
October 22, 2002: Investigators say they are building a "growing circumstantial evidence case" against anthrax suspect Steven Hatfill. Supposedly, "their secret weapon" is bloodhounds tying "scent extracted from anthrax letters" to Hatfill's apartment. [ABC News, 10/22/02] But the bloodhound story has already been reported and largely discredited (see August 8, 2002).
October 28, 2002: The Washington Post reports, "A significant number of scientists and biological warfare experts are expressing skepticism about the FBI's view that a single disgruntled American scientist prepared the spores and mailed the deadly anthrax letters that killed five people last year." More than a dozen experts suggest investigators should "reexamine the possibility of state-sponsored terrorism, or try to determine whether weaponized spores may have been stolen by the attacker from an existing, but secret, biodefense program or perhaps given to the attacker by an accomplice." These experts suggest that making the type of anthrax used could take a team of experts and millions of dollars. The article focuses on the possibility that Iraq could be to blame. [Washington Post, 10/28/02] Why would Iraq have targeted Democratic Senators Leahy and Daschle? Why is the possibility of a team of anthrax attackers from within the US continually brushed aside?
December 12-17, 2002: At least 15 FBI investigators conduct a six-day search of Gambrill State Park (outside Frederick, Maryland) and Frederick Municipal Forest in connection with the anthrax investigation. Frederick Municipal Forest is located about four miles northwest of USAMRIID, the Army's principal biodefense lab. In addition to a ground search and excavation of some areas, teams of divers search small lakes and ponds in the park. The search is based on information that former USAMRIID government scientist Steven Hatfill may have disposed of laboratory equipment in one of the ponds near his former Maryland home (see February 1999, September 1999 (B), August 1, 2002, and August 8, 2002). [ABC, 12/12/02, CNN, 12/13/02, Washington Post, 12/13/02, Baltimore Sun, 12/13/02] The FBI search turns up nothing. [ABC News, 1/9/03] Afterwards, Hatfill alleges that a virtual caravan of unmarked vans and cars are keeping him under constant surveillance, following him on errands and to restaurants and driving past his house with a video camera pointed out the window. He also believes that his telephone is wiretapped. [UPI, 11/23/02]