The Porton Lab


Which foreign-owned corporations owns a controlling stake in the two private bio-tech labs that had specimens of the virulent version of the Ames strain of Anthrax?


There are 2 foreign-owned vaccine companies that had the Ames strain used in the attack on Senators Dashle and Leahy.

At issue here is the virulent version of the Ames strain of the Anthrax bacteria, which was developed by the US chemical- biological-warfare establishment (CBW) For obvious reasons, a non-virulent version, lacking a protective shell and toxic proteins, is provided to non-CBW defense researchers. The virulent version is stored in Fort Detrick, the Dugaway (Utah) testing facility, and Department of Agriculture repositories at Iowa State, Northern Arizona and Louisiana State universities.

But it was used by two vaccine-makers for testing. One is located in Britain, the other in the United States.

The British lab is Porton Products.

David R. Franz, who headed the defense-related biological-research program for the Army at Fort Detrick, Md., between 1987 and 1998, explained that when the U.S. military had to obtain its Ames anthrax in the powdered form for testing during his tenure, it obtained it from a British military research laboratory. That lab, owned by the British government, was the Porton Downs CBW facility in Willshire.

Subsequently, in 1993, part of the anthrax defense program was "privatized" through a complex LBO of the anthrax vaccine unit, Porton Products, by a company called Speywood Holdings Ltd. Speywood, in turn was controlled by another corporate front, I&F Holdings NV, which was incorporated in the Netherlands Antilles. The I&F shell was owned by Fuad El-Hibri, a Lebanese Arab with German citizenship, his father, Ibrihim El-Hibri and other undisclosed investors.

Prior to the LBO, Fuad El-Hibri had worked in the key Citibank branch in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia that specialized in arranging investments for large Saudi investors. Saudi Arabia, at that point, was interested in obtaining an anthrax vaccine, which the US would not provide, to counter Saddam's CBW capabilities. When El-Hibri took over and became biotech director of Porton, he reorganized its bio-terrorism defense business, and helped supervise deliveries of bio-tech defense products to Saudi Arabia.

The second foreign-controlled company is Bioport in Michigan.

Bioport had gotten in the CBW defense business in September 1998 by taking over Michigan Biology Products Institute, or MBPI. MBPI, which held the exclusive contract for providing the US government with Anthrax vaccine, originally had been owned by the State of Michigan, In the mid 1980s, it was found that its Anthrax vaccine was less effective against the Ames strain than against the Vullom strain used by the USSR. So further testing was necessary with the virulent version of the Ames strain on guinea pigs, mice and monkeys. Like Porton, MBPI got specimens of the virulent strain. (In November 2001, an environmental assessment report of its planned laboratory renovations was found in the Kabul house of a Pakistani scientist by US intelligence, suggesting its facility was of interest to foreign scientists).

The take-over of MBPI had been organized by the same Fuad El- Hibri who took over Porton in the UK, . He used a labyrinth of corporations, including an entity called Intervac, whose controlling shareholder was his I and F Holdings N.V in the Netherlands-Antilles. To facilitate the deal, El-Hibri applied for (and received) US citizenship and gave a valuable stake in Intervac to Admiral William J. Crowe Jr, who had headed the Joint Chief of staff during the Clinton Administration.

As a result of these maneuvers, I&F NV— Ibraham and Fuad and their Antillian associates— had a controlling stake in two private labs that had the only vaccine for Anthrax. Their facilities also may have had the only specimens of the virulent version of the Ames strain outside of government repositories. At least one of these facilities, Porton, moreover, had it in the dry powder form used in the attack on the US Senate Office Building. It would take only one technician— bribed, blackmailed or otherwise compromised— to steal a minute sample of the deadly bacteria. The remaining mystery: Did such a bio-tech transfer take place?