We all remember the horror of the Twin Towers, but who remembers the anthrax attacks on Congress? It was a one-two punch on our republic but comparatively, there was scant talk about the second blow that began with the first letters being sent seven days after 9/11. However, the ensuing $100 million investigation by the FBI was the largest and most complex in the history of law enforcement and it was code-named “Amerithrax.”
Who was behind the 2001 anthrax attacks in the United States?
The investigation leads to a shadow world.
Let’s recap: Just weeks after 9/11 hit, less than a teaspoon full of dry anthrax in an envelope shut down the United States Senate for the first time in modern history. Someone mailed letters laced with the deadly powder to the media and U.S. senators. Two media offices at Microsoft received letters containing anthrax, along with one at NBC News headquarters to anchor Tom Brokaw. A week after that, the FBI recovered an identical-looking spore-laden letter from the offices of the New York Post. A letter was also sent to Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle and Sen. Patrick J. Leah. Interestingly both were critics of the Patriot Act.
The letters read:
This is next / Take penicillin now / Death to America / Death to Israel / Allah is great.”
Robert Stevens, the Florida National Enquirer tabloid photography editor was the first to die. Four others followed. President Bush, albeit 20 years ago, said he could not rule out that Osama bin Laden was behind the scare. Meanwhile, now-deceased Colin Powell, the former Secretary of State, went in front of the United Nations, on February 3rd, 2003, to argue that the United States had justification to invade Iraq to stop Saddam Hussein’s Weapons Of Mass Destruction (WMD). He waved a vial that could have been anthrax but was more likely just talcum powder.
“Less than a teaspoonful of dry anthrax in an envelope shut down the United States Senate,” he said. “Saddam Hussein could have … enough to fill tens upon tens upon tens of thousands of teaspoons.”
According to rumors, Gavyn Davies, Chairman of the BBC at the time of the Iraq War, was the one who wrote the script for “shaking the white vial of anthrax.”
Two weeks later, Americans were told to buy duct tape and plastic sheeting to protect themselves from a bioterror attack. Fear of anthrax infected their psyche and panic spread throughout the nation. At any moment, spores could be delivered to someone’s home.
What followed was the invasion of Iraq by the U.S. and its allies, along with the destruction and destabilization of the region. The letters served to further encroach on our civil liberties and bring an anthrax vaccine to market. The letters were also crucial in justifying the war, further propelling the Patriot Act, and making DNA swabs mandatory, adds Webb. (While I don’t get into it in this series, according to Webb’s reports, Robert Malone was involved in the anthrax vaccine.
Were the anthrax attacks courtesy of good ol Boogie Man Bin or was this also an inside job like 9/11?
The United States of Hegalia
The Amerithrax Task Force consisted of roughly 25 to 30 full-time investigators from the FBI, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and other law enforcement agencies, as well as federal prosecutors from the District of Columbia and the Justice Department’s Counterterrorism Section. The investigation was described as “a herculean effort to identify the origin of the anthrax spores.”
The FBI wasn’t equipped to handle deadly germs, so the attack powder was rushed to Fort Detrick.
They expended hundreds of thousands of investigator work hours on this case. An extraordinary amount of FBI lab personnel were embedded at Fort Detrick for several years “going side-by-side and step-by-step with the scientists up there as things were processed, not necessarily to just keep an eye on them, but to also have this be a collaborative process.”
Investigators quickly recognized they were in an awkward situation. Any of the scientists could be the killer. Agents canvassed the tight-knit laboratory, inviting the researchers to finger their colleagues.
“We were heroes in the morning and suspects in the afternoon,” recalled Jeffrey Adamovicz, former deputy chief of the Bacteriology Division at USAMRIID.
As they edged through the evidence, the FBI identified things with the letters that seemed out of place.
The “Allah is great” line at the end of the letter seemed inauthentic; a devout Muslim would have begun the letter that way and used the phrase “Allahu akbar,” wrote WIRED in a now scrubbed piece. Meanwhile, the letters themselves were clean—no fingerprints or human DNA. The exact location of the letter drops was unknown.
This anthrax was dry and ionized—it would stay aloft and spread like a gas. It was the most sophisticated they had ever seen. It was potentially lethal to anyone in the vicinity. The spores, which were tiny enough to be inhaled, had been seemingly weaponized. But by whom?
Agents collected samples from Ames anthrax cultures around the world, to find morphs that matched the attack powder. Then they’d have a line on where the murder weapon was made and, perhaps, the identity of the killer.
Many bioterrorism experts argued that the quality of the mailed anthrax was such that it could have only been produced in a weapons program or using information from such a program.
The concentration exceeded that of weapons anthrax produced by the old U.S. offensive program or the Soviet biowarfare program, said Dr. Richard O. Spertzel, who worked at Detrick for 18 years and later served as a United Nations bioweapons inspector in Iraq, as reported in The Baltimore Sun.
Wait, wasn’t this Al Qaeda’s fault? Or Iraq? Nope. Not anymore. Now profilers were moving away from Islamic fundamentalists. The terrorists were from within. The government was seemingly changing its tune and hinting that the mailer was not overseas but rather a spore-happy Unabomber type —a highly trained, educated loner, likely with scientific training and “an agenda.”
There was no apology for their grave errors.
To be continued…For part 4, check out and subscribe to Maryam Henein’s Substack.
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Maryam Henein is an investigative journalist, and founder, and editor-in-chief of the health magazine and marketplace HoneyColony. She is also a functional medicine consultant/coach, and the director of the award-winning documentary film Vanishing of the Bees, narrated by Elliot Page. Follow her on Twitter @maryamhenein. Email her: email@example.com.