Suspect and Setback in Al-Qaeda Anthrax Case
The Washington Post reports that a microbiologist with "alleged al Qaeda sympathies" was under investigation in December 2001, but that he remains abroad and out of reach. The article is filled with unsubstantiated allegations based on flimsy evidence, but clearly it is intended to suggest the Amerithrax scare of 2001 was not the product of the US military.
Consider how this paragraph establishes how the whole story is baseless speculation:
"Precisely what Rauf achieved may never be known with certainty. That's because U.S. officials remain stymied in their nearly five-year quest to bring charges against a man who they say admitted serving as a top consultant to al-Qaeda on anthrax -- a claim that makes him one of a handful of people linked publicly to the group's effort to wage biological warfare against Western targets."
Later, the link is made with the Amerithrax scare (again, look at how little is verifiable in this story):
"Exactly how far al-Qaeda progressed with Rauf's help is not publicly known. No one has turned up any links between his work and the U.S. anthrax attacks, in which spores were mailed in letters to news organizations and U.S. Senate offices. Coalition forces discovered rudimentary laboratories in Kandahar but no evidence of bioweapons production. Yet both the White House and a presidential commission have hinted at additional findings suggesting that the terrorists were much further along than was first thought."
"U.S. officials are even more reticent in discussing possible links between al-Qaeda's anthrax program and the 2001 U.S. attacks, which killed five people and briefly shut down the U.S. Capitol. Privately, FBI officials doubt that such a link exists. They note that the attacks came with an explicit warning -- a letter advising the victims to take penicillin, resulting in a far lower death toll -- but without an explicit claim of responsibility. "It doesn't fit with al-Qaeda's modus operandi," one intelligence official said.
Yet U.S. officials have been unable to rule out al-Qaeda or any other group as a suspect. Earlier this month, FBI officials acknowledged that the ultra-fine powder mailed five years ago was simply made and could have been produced by a well-trained microbiologist anywhere in the world.
Several leading bioterrorism experts still contend that the evidence points to al-Qaeda or possibly an allied group that coordinated its attack with the Sept. 11, 2001, strikes on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. These experts point to hijacker Mohamed Atta's inquiries into renting a crop-duster aircraft and to an unexplained emergency-room visit by another hijacker, Ahmed Ibrahim A. Al Haznawi, for treatment of an unusual skin lesion that resembled cutaneous anthrax.
Whether or not al-Qaeda was involved, U.S. officials and bioterrorism experts agree on this: The alliance between the terrorist group and a little-known Pakistani scientist could have yielded disastrous results in time."
Obviously, the simple juxtaposition of this speculation with talk of the Amerithrax scare suggests a link, especially when the headline declares an "Al-Qaeda Anthrax Case."