As is spelled out in “Was Abderraouf Jdey the Anthrax Mailer?“, the real Anthrax Mailer was not dedicated, patriotic, psychologically vulnerable U.S. Government scientist Bruce Ivins, as FBI so unpersuasively claims. Much more likely than not, the Mailer was in fact Abderraouf Jdey, a known al Qaeda operative based in Montreal who had been detained, then released, in the summer of 2001.
The anthrax had most likely been stolen from a DARPA-sponsored project at George Mason University’s National Center for Biodefense in Virginia by radical Muslim theologian and computational biology Ph.D student Ali al-Timimi. The graphic below (used with the permission of Ross Getman, a leading researcher on the anthrax mailings case) shows the floor plan of Discovery Hall at GMU. Al-Timimi’s office was in close proximity to those of Charles Bailey and Ken Alibek, the co-principal investigators in the DARPA anthrax project. As former Deputy Commander of the United States Army Medical Research Institute for Infectious Diseases, Bailey had been a boss of Bruce Ivins. He appears to have obtained a sample of high-grade anthrax that turned up in the letters to the senators from Bruce Ivins, who had prepared it for a DARPA project. Al-Timimi stole some of this anthrax, then handed it to Mohamed Atta.
Al Qaeda’s quest for anthrax had begun in 1999 with clear statements from Egyptian Islamic Jihad figures headed by Ayman Zawahiri, now #2 in al Qaeda, that they would retaliate with anthrax attacks for the rendition of captive members by the U.S. Government to other governments where they could be tortured. Here is a graphic by attorney-investigator Ross Getman of the key members of Egyptian Islamic Jihad/al Qaeda who were associated with this effort (with permission).
Some observers were misled by the letters accompanying the anthrax into thinking that they were not mailed by al Qaeda. But Ross Getman has offered interpretations that fit them into an al Qaeda framework, and Jdey seems like a very believable writer of the letters.
Kenneth J. Dillon is an historian who writes on science, medicine, and history. See the biosketch at About Us.