August 14, 2003

Accused scientist says letter links to anthrax mailers

(8/12/03) It is the saddest commentary of all, perhaps, that you must read about the latest developments in the Anthrax snail mail terrorist case in the Washington Times instead of the WASHPs or the NYTwits. Well, actually, there is something even sadder: what you read in the Washington Times might be more accurate or more germaine to the life of the story that what you would read in the WASHPs or the NYTwits...After two years, we really know very little about it except that the Anthrax snail mail terrorist tried to take out (or at least intimidate) the Democratic leadership at a time when it still had control of the Senate (it lost control in the mysterious election of 2002, in which Georgia and Minnesota ended up on the wrong side of the late minute pre-election polling). We know the anthrax snail mail terrorist had access to the product of US bio weapons lab. We know that many respected scientists, led by Barbara Rosenberg, are unimpressed with the Ashcroft Just Us Dept. investigation (cover-up?). We know little else...We surmise that the anthrax snail mailer terrorist wil surface again -- at the worst possible moment...

Accused scientist says letter links to anthrax mailers

By Guy Taylor

The FBI won't release an anonymous letter, which
in the days before the 2001 fatal anthrax mailings,
accused an Egyptian-born scientist of plotting
biowarfare against the United States, saying it would
divulge secret sources in the continuing
In a July 7 note citing the sources, the FBI
denied Ayaad Assaad, the letter's subject, access to
the evidence. Mr. Assaad said he's convinced it is
linked to a person or a group responsible for the
anthrax mailings that killed five persons.
"They know damn well that this letter is connected
to the anthrax sender," he said, adding that the FBI's
refusal to provide a copy suggests "they're trying to
protect whoever sent it." He said he suspects it led
investigators to the Army's biodefense lab at Fort
Asked about the anonymous letter Friday, a
spokeswoman at the FBI's Washington field office said
it is "unrelated to the anthrax mailings."
However, that assertion hasn't stopped the bureau
from withholding it for nearly two years from Mr.
Assaad. According to the July 7 note to him, in which
the Justice Department denied his latest request for a
copy of the letter, releasing it "could reasonably be
expected to disclose the identities of confidential
sources and information by such sources."
About two weeks before the anthrax mailings became
known, the FBI was given the unsigned letter
describing Mr. Assaad, who once worked at Fort
Detrick, as an anti-American religious fanatic with
the means and expertise to unleash a bioweapons
He has been seeking a copy of the letter ever
since agents with the FBI's Washington field office
questioned him about it on Oct. 3, 2001.
The Hartford Courant first reported the FBI's
continued refusal to release it last month. During an
interview with The Washington Times on Thursday, Mr.
Assaad said he's baffled by what he calls the FBI's
contradictory actions.
"They're trying to protect someone who hurt me,"
he said, explaining that from what he saw of the
letter it was laden with false and negative statements
about him. While it didn't specify his religion, he
said it called him a "religious fanatic."
Mr. Assaad, who holds graduate degrees from Iowa
State University and has lived in the United States
since the mid-1970s, claims he was discriminated
against when he worked at the Army's Medical Research
Institute for Infectious Diseases at Fort Detrick. He
now works as a toxicologist for the Environmental
Protection Agency.
He said when the FBI questioned him about the
anonymous letter, agents told him he could file a
Freedom of Information-Privacy Acts request to get a
copy of it. When the interview was completed, the
agents cleared him and said he was free to go.
However, he said when he made repeated calls to
the FBI asking if agents wanted to speak with him
again or if his past work with bioweapons could assist
in their investigation, he was turned away.
Meanwhile, he said, the FBI had given him a wrong
case number for filing the request to obtain a copy of
the letter.
FBI agents recently were seen near Fort Detrick
unsuccessfully squishing through the muck at the
bottom of a drained pond in search of evidence in the
anthrax mailings. They reportedly were hunting for
something tangible to connect the anthrax mailings to
scientist Steven Hatfill, whom authorities have called
a "person of interest" in the case.
No charges have been filed against Mr. Hatfill,
but investigators who searched his apartment twice
last year are said to have him under 24-hour
Mr. Hatfill denies involvement in the anthrax
mailings. He worked at Fort Detrick for two years,
until 1999, before taking a job with defense
contractor Science Applications International Corp.,
where he worked as a senior scientist until March
According to a report last month in The New York
Times, he was involved in building mock biological
weapons labs to train special operations personnel on
what to look for in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere.

Posted by richard at August 14, 2003 07:51 AM