Anthrax, Steven Hatfill, and More: Additions to the Complete 9/11 Timeline as of August 17, 2008

Most of the new entries published by the 9/11 Timeline this week deal with the anthrax scare. The main drug used to combat anthrax was Cipro, which a high government official advised some reporters to take shortly after 9/11. Although an inquiry was launched into a coverup of problems with it in May 2000, the FDA endorsed the drug two months later. Hoax letters similar to the later anthrax mailings were sent to Fox News from 2000, and one may have been received by a Florida tabloid in mid-September 2001.

The anthrax attacks are associated with the Patriot Act, which Democratic Senator Russ Feingold blocked on October 9. Two other Democratic senators were then targeted by the killer, and 28 congressional staffers tested positive for the disease. Congress then passed the bill without reading it.

The White House suggested the attacks could be international terrorism in October, although al-Qaeda was ruled out as a suspect shortly afterwards. The FBI publicly suspected three completely innocent Muslims of being involved in the attacks in November, and the US army confirmed it had violated an international treaty by making weapons-grade anthrax in December.

The FBI investigated whether a profit motive could have been behind the attacks and began to subpoena anthrax labs in January 2002. In the spring of 2002, the FBI found the anthrax used in the attacks probably came from a specific lab, USAMRIID, and pressure mounted on them to solve the case, although the investigation had apparently not narrowed by July 2002.

One of the people most associated with the anthrax scare is wrongly accused scientist Stephen Hatfill, whose security clearance was revoked in August 2001. He was first interviewed by the FBI in January 2002 and his home was searched a few months later. A professor's theories drove the FBI's suspicion of him, and New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof repeatedly suggested he was responsible.

The FBI smeared him with a very improbable story in August 2002, but was forced to concede he did not have the skills to make the anthrax shortly after this. Hatfill filed a lawsuit against the FBI and Justice Department in 2003 and was cleared of any involvement in 2008.

On the day of 9/11, a parent of a Flight 77 attendant told American Airlines of a call made from the plane before it hit the Pentagon, and CNN reported a third skyscraper in New York may have collapsed at 11:07. United Airlines watched Flight 93 on radar until it crashed, and a gate agent singled out suspicious passengers on the flight soon afterwards.

In Londonistan, radical imam Omar Bakri Mohammed said that militants in Britain were monitored or manipulated by British intelligence in 2004, but later admitted that he himself was an informer for the British. A counterterrorism expert also suggested that head 7/7 London bomber Mohammad Sidique Khan was an informer.

In the early days of al-Qaeda, which was first mentioned in the international media on May 30, 1993, operatives received explosives training from Hezbollah, and attacks on Islamic Jihad in Egypt brought that group closer to bin Laden.

In Africa, the CIA reportedly had multiple informants in the cell that conducted the 1998 African embassy bombings, an al-Qaeda operative was arrested and possibly tortured in Morocco in 2002, and Ethiopia invaded Somalia in 2006 with US support.

In Russia, the first Chechen war started in December 1994, allowing Islamist militants to gain a foothold there. An al-Qaeda leader who supported the rebels was captured near Chechnya in 2002.

Miscellaneous entries cover the 9/11 Commission staff's doubts about Vice-President Dick Cheney's statements concerned the issuing of a shootdown order on 9/11, and the resignation of Stephen Cambone, an aide to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, in 2006. CIA veteran David Edger, who was involved in the surveillance of the Hamburg cell, arrived in Oklahoma around the same time as Zacarias Moussaoui, and a 2003 study indicated extreme temperatures were involved in the WTC collapse. There is also more on the strange story of Aafia Siddiqui, an alleged al-Qaeda sleeper agent who disappeared in Pakistan in 2003, but was recently found in Afghanistan.

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