Thursday, February 21, 2002

MORE ANTHRAX: American Samizdat also has the link to this little-blogged New Scientist piece on who sent the anthrax around and killed that National Enquirer editor and that nurse in New York City and those postal workers. Their analysis is it was an inside job, due to the strains that were used being available at only a few places. Someone working at the US Army Medical Research Institute for Infectious Diseases is a good possibility:

One more clue points to someone who worked at USAMRIID itself. A US marine base got a letter in late September, after the anthrax letters were posted but before Stevens was diagnosed, calling an Egyptian-born scientist, Ayaad Assaad, a bioterrorist.

Assaad was laid off by USAMRIID in 1997, and was harassed while he worked there. He was cleared of the bioterrorist charge. Barbara Rosenberg, a bioweapons expert for the Federation of American Scientists, suspects the letter was the real attacker's attempt to frame Assaad by capitalising on anti-Muslim feeling after 11 September. It revealed an insider's familiarity with USAMRIID.

The attacker also masqueraded, unconvincingly, as a Muslim in the anthrax letters themselves. This could be a clue to his motivations. If he wished to scale up US military action against Iraq, he almost succeeded-many in Washington tried hard to see Saddam Hussein's hand in the attacks.

If he wished merely to make the US pour billions into biodefence, he did succeed. And as a US bioweapons expert, he might already be reaping the increased funding and prestige that now goes with the job.

Actual conspiracy theory stuff here.

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