We don't know:
1) When it began. Was it before or
after September 11th?
The first Anthrax victim (and fatality)
was Robert Stevens, a photo editor at the Sun tabloid
owned by American Media. He was admitted to a Florida
Hospital on Oct 2, 2001. But since the period between
exposure and symptoms can be up to eight weeks, he could
have been exposed anytime between August 2 and October
1st, or, even earlier if he delayed opening whatever
letter or container the anthrax was in.
2) The Proximate Location. Where did
the anthrax in first attack come from?
Robert Stevens was exposed to anthrax,
as were at least eight other employees, in the offices
of America Media in Florida. No letter was found there
containing either anthrax or a warning. So there is
no tell-tale post-mark.
3) Means of delivery.
The issue of how the anthrax got to the
offices of American Media is unresolved. Anthrax spores
were found in the entire building, not just the mail
room, so it could have been delivered anywhere in the
building. Not do we know that it came by letter. The
microscopic traces found at local post office could
have come as easily from cross- contamination of out-going
mail as ingoing mail. It could have come by any parcel—
letter, Fedex— or been brought there, wittingly or unwittingly,
by a person from another location (including another
facility of American Media).
It is also unknown how the anthrax was
delivered to the news offices of CBS in NY, the state
troopers' room at Governor George Pataki's secure office
in NY, the child of an ABC producer in NY, Kathy T.
Nyguyen in NY and Mrs. Ottilie Lundgren in Oxford, Connecticut.
No letter was found. Nor was any trace of anthrax in
their mail boxes, offices or homes. They could have
encountered anthrax from a contaminated tabloid newspaper
or other carrier as easily from a letter.
4) Where the five envelopes containing
Anthrax were prepared.
Envelopes containing anthrax colonies
were recovered from 5 anthrax attacks: they were addressed
to Tom Brokaw at NBC in NY, the editor of the NY Post
in NY, Senator Tom Daschle in Washington, Senator Patrick
Leahy in Washington and Dr. Antonio Banfi in Santiago,
Chile. Four were postmarked Trenton, New Jersey, the
fifth, though postmarked Zurich, was sent from New York
City. But there is no reason to assume that they were
sent from the same location as they were prepared. The
envelopes could have been filled with anthrax in a laboratory
anywhere in the world and sent, with the letter, in
sealed sip-lock bags to a sender or senders who re-mailed
them in Trenton and New York.
5) Who wrote the 2 photo-copied letters
found in 4 of the 5 envelopes.
One set of photo-copied letters was sent
on Sept 18th attack, with no return address, were sent
to NBC and the NY Post in New York City. It was written
in block letters warning about the anthrax, advising
letter-openers to take "penacilin" and ending, "Death
to America, Death to Israel, Allah is Great." A second
set of letters on October to Senators, Senator Tom Daschle
and Senator Patrick Leahy, with a fictive return address,
were also written in block letters. They warned: "You
can not stop us. We have this anthrax." They ended,
like first set, "Death to America, Death to Israel,
Allah is Great." That they carried the same message
does not mean they were sent by the same person. No
matching DNA, fingerprints or other unique identifiers
were found on the letters so they could have been sent
by any number of persons relaying a prepared and photo-copied
6) The proximate origin of the anthrax
At least two strains of anthrax bacteria
were used in the attacks. The bacteria accompanied by
warning letters was all consistent with the virulent
Ames strain, as was the bacteria that killed Stevens,
Nyguyen and Lundgren. The bacteria found in the letter
to Dr. Antonio Banfi in Santiago was a different strain
that has not yet been identified by the CDC. So either
the attacker had access to two different strains or
their are at least two different attackers. Even with
the virulent Ames strain, there are many sub-varieties.
Homeland Security director Tom Ridge said that the strains
used in the Florida, New York and Washington attacks,
while "indistinguishable," were not identical. And Anthony
Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and
Infectious Disease, described the strains only as "Ames-like."When
the bacteria reproduces, it makes slight errors in copying
itself, and therefore there are variants. The catalogue
of variants, or "family tree" was kept by the Department
of Agriculture facility until mid October 2001 when,
with FBI approval, it was incinerated. So it cannot
be more precisely placed.
7) The lab from which the anthrax was
The Ames strain comes in two forms: non-virulent
and virulent. The difference between them is that the
virulent anthrax produces toxin proteins and encapsulates
itself with a protective layer, which means it can survive.
The non-virulent, which has been mutated to make it
non-infectious, does not produce toxin proteins or protect
itself. It is the latter form that has been made available
to most researchers. But only five known labs in US
have specimens of the virulent strain— the Department
of Agriculture lab at Iowa State (which now destroyed
its specimens), the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta,
the US Army Medical Research Institute at Fort Detrick
in Maryland, the lab at Louisiana State University and
the lab Northern Arizona University. At each lab, the
specimens are kept under lock and key, and everyone
who uses them is recorded. But the FBI has not been
able to find any source in these known repositories.
This suggest that the anthrax came from a foreign or
8) How the anthrax was weaponized so
it turned into an aerosol.
The bacteria spores in the Daschle and
Leahy letters were as small as one micron and concentrated
to a density estimated to be a trillion spores per gram.
This meant that the larger spores found in a wet slurry
form had been dried and miniaturized in a process that
had not destroyed their protective coats. To be sure,
military labs in the US had achieved these results by
drying, freezing and cascading spores through computer-controlled
mills of super-hard ball bearings, but these CBW factories
were dismantled in the 1970s. Where such stealthed equipment
exists today is unknown.
9) The purpose.
We do not know whether the purpose of
the anthrax was:
a) to inflict physical or psychic damage on America.
b) to probe our bio-terrorism defenses in preparation
for a larger-scale attack.
c) as a demonstration to set the stage for a future
ultimatum or ransom demand.