Free Republic
Browse · Search
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

Analysis of Anthrax Letters and Envelopes [Atta Did It?] ^ | June 19, 2002 | Glenn Reynolds

Posted on 06/20/2002 5:58:10 AM PDT by aculeus

[Glenn Reynolds writes on his blog] A READER WHO PREFERS TO REMAIN ANONYMOUS forwards this chunk from a memo to the FBI regarding last fall's anthrax mailings:


Analysis of Anthrax Letters and Envelopes

Executive Summary

The letters were written and sealed prior to September 11 by Mohammed Atta. The letters to the Post and Brokaw were given to one individual or organization to mail. The letters to Senators Leahy and Daschle were given to another individual or organization to mail. These individuals did not know the contents of the letters nor whom the letters originally came from. The anthrax was smuggled into the U.S. by one of the September 11th hijackers and represents all the anthrax smuggled in at that time.

Support for Analysis

Sometimes things are just what they seem to be. The letters are all dated 09-11-01. It is not unlikely that they could have been written on September 10th by someone who knew the plans for September 11th and dated the letters accordingly. It is likely that the letter on display on the FBI website that begins "You can not stop us." was the first one to be written. The size of the printing is smaller and thus indicates a more tentative approach to the message writing and the message.

What is particularly noticeable by its absence is any significant celebratory nature in these letters. Had they been written after the events of September 11, it seems highly likely that they would have made much more of the outcome of the events. "Allah is great" is just a standard expression to close with. "You die now" can be read several ways, but it is hardly the equivalent of, e.g., "Now thousands more die." "This is next" is really a very weak threat when juxtaposed to the events of September 11, especially considering the quantity of anthrax sent out.

If there had been more anthrax available, its most effective use would have been a massive simultaneous mailing. A staggered mailing puts people on alert and diminishes the effect of the effort. If they had more, it should have been sent out all at once. If they had surviving operatives that they could trust, all four letters would have been sent out together. A check of the weather in the Trenton/Philadelphia area on September 10 shows a trace of rain, just the amount reflected by the running of the ink on the Daschle envelope and the likely clumping of the powder inside. The letters, sealed in their envelopes, were likely transported that day as part of a bundle of other mail to be sent out and given to someone or some company to mail, with the bottom of the Daschle envelope sticking out slightly. Since no one has come forward about this, it is likely that they were delivered to this person or place in a manner that would not have caused anyone to remember the source of these bundles. It is likely that the letters were divided between two bundles that were sent to two different places just to help guarantee that a least one set was sent out. It is also probable that someone at a distance (overseas) knew of these mailings and two kinds of anthrax were being evaluated for effectiveness. The reason more anthrax was not available was that this attack was secondary to the airplane hijackings, that their most trusted people were involved in this primary effort, and that they felt secure in bringing in such a small amount of anthrax without risking these operatives, but more might have jeopardized the primary operation. It thus follows that the likely smuggler of the anthrax was on one of the planes on September 11.

Why was Atta the likely writer?

Obviously, from the media reports he was the leader of the 19 hijackers and thus in the best position to know what was going on and the one most likely to be entrusted with the anthrax. But further, especially if one gives merit to the suggested sequence of the writing of the letters, the Brokaw and Post letter singular because they are the same letter) were written last. The writer at that point would be more certain of his message and what he was doing. The writing is more open and widely spaced, indicating that he is more at ease with what he is doing.

At that point it is not unlikely that knowing the next day was his last and that this was his last "public" statement that he might contemplate his place in history and have a desire to claim credit for his role. Thus a search of this letter for signs of that are not as much of a stretch as one might think. So what do we see in it? The initial block letter in the message is a "T" that has extra strokes in it. The same with the start of the second line. The same with the start of the last line. In fact, based on the limited quality of the copy available on the FBI website, there are several other letters that have extra strokes (an extra boldness). All of them appear to be A's and T's. They of course are all the letters needed to spell ATTA. It could have been subconscious. The capital D's that start the other lines of the letter show no extra strokes. Also this letter seems not to be written with a felt-tip pen, and thus might yield more information based on the pressure of the various strokes of the pen -- but this cannot be determined from the website example. . . .

It would be hard at this point, but if people in the greater New York/Philadelphia area are asked to remember any bundles of mail to be mailed that they received by an out-of-the-ordinary source on or around September 10, it might be useful. . . .

There are other areas of interest in these letters that might give up a clue or two -- such as the downhill slant of the writing, how the "1" was made, how the "4" was made, the spelling of "penacilin" and the warning including it, the absence of periods on one of the letters, the presence or absence of fingerprints on the letters and particularly on the envelopes, how the letters were folded, etc., etc., etc. -- but most of these would be aided by a direct conversation and better copies of the letters and envelopes than are available on the website. Also, there is the matter of the letter not posted on the website. Perhaps it is simply a photocopy of the other letter, but if it is different, there could be something to be learned by it.


I'm not sure about this -- but I remember a flurry of information about the likelihood that Atta and some of the other 9/11 hijackers actually had anthrax symptoms at the time of the hijacking. We certainly haven't heard much on this subject lately.

TOPICS: Anthrax Scare; Crime/Corruption; Culture/Society; Editorial; News/Current Events
Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
first previous 1-2021-4041-6061-8081-83 next last
To: aculeus
Can't be true. Must have been a white guy. Islam is a religion of peace.


41 posted on 06/20/2002 9:49:05 AM PDT by Redcloak
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Mitchell
You're right. Thanks for the correction (and for posting the article in the first place).

And a tip of the hat to you for your earlier analysis as posted above. (Why not alert to the matter of the A T T A letters?)

42 posted on 06/20/2002 9:49:31 AM PDT by aculeus
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 29 | View Replies]

To: John H K
So why letters to Daschle and Leahy? Leahy, outside the US, is not a high-profile figure, and neither of the two are the most pro-Israel Senators. And apparently not even an attempt to get a letter INSIDE the White House or Pentagon, or anywhere in the Executive Branch(kind of odd to attempt to crash a plane into it but to not bother trying to get anthrax in, if it's the same attackers.) Making it LOOK like a domestic right-winger, like OKC, supposedly? Then why a letter that doesn't attempt to make it look like a domestic right-winger?

Atta and company lived here long enough to know who was making headlines politically -- Leahy and Daschle were prominently featured in the news in 2001, and represented the government. The White House was widely-rumored to have security screening (whether or not they screened mail for anthrax, who knew?), making it a waste of a letter.

The perp also selected the major newspapers and TV networks, along with the publisher of what a Muslim would consider blasphemous -- the National Enquirer. The New York Post is not a liberal publication, but it has always been known for its pro-Israel support. Think of the targets as chosen by a non-American America-hater, holed up mostly in hotel rooms, watching TV and reading newspapers.

Also, if it was Atta, his expectation might be that the White House and Pentagon would no longer exist by the time the letters reached their destination.

43 posted on 06/20/2002 9:49:36 AM PDT by browardchad
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 33 | View Replies]

To: Mitchell
I'm skeptical of the A-T-T-A "signature" of letter 3a (Brokaw)

Using the high-res scans from
Line 1:
T in "THIS" 5-6 horiz strokes Distinct
T in "NEXT 2 horiz strokes Possible

Line 2:
T in "TAKE" 3-4 horiz strokes Distinct
A in "PENACILIN" 2 strokes, all Possible

Line 3:
A in "DEATH" 2 completely distinct letters. Probable
H in "DEATH" 2 horiz strokes, 2 vert strokes? Possible
T in "TO" 2 horiz strokes Possible

Line 4:
T in "TO" 3 horiz strokes Possible

Line 5:
A in "ALLAH" 2-3 strokes Distinct
A in "ALLAH" 2 vert strokes, both sides Possible
T in "GREAT" Two vert strokes, 3 horiz strokes Probable

The distinctions as to what to include and discard from
amongst all the "highlighted" characters is too much for me.
The almost exclusive focus on the A' and the T's could be key,
but why just some and not all of these 2 letters?
Is it possibly Atta's signature? Sure, why not?
Was someone else trying to immortalize Atta? Sure, why not?
But the "signature" seems scrawled, at best.
And if it is chest-thumping, why isn't it louder?
44 posted on 06/20/2002 9:50:49 AM PDT by My Identity
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 17 | View Replies]

To: John H K
I meant to add that it's hard to come up with a concrete reason that right-wing conspirators would have selected Sens. Daschle and Leahy to target (plus the NY Post and AMI). While these may not be their favorite Senators, they aren't the icons that the supposed VRWC hates. How could "right-wing militia types" have failed to target the IRS, or BATF, or Sen. Clinton, or Sen. Kennedy?
45 posted on 06/20/2002 9:51:14 AM PDT by Mitchell
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 33 | View Replies]

To: My Identity
I certainly agree that it's speculative, but I do think the evidence is stronger than you suggest. Your counting of the strokes is consistent with my suggestion, and I think that most people, when looking at the letter, would see the referenced A-T-T-A as highlighted letters, rather than any of the others. (Everyone can look at the letters in post #17 above and reach their own judgment.)

By itself, this wouldn't mean much at all. But in light of all the other, established connections between anthrax and the hijackers (which you have enumerated well in post #36 above), I think it's suggestive. And it points to Atta as one particular terrorist involved in the anthrax mailings (which is consistent with the Prague report).

46 posted on 06/20/2002 10:00:37 AM PDT by Mitchell
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 44 | View Replies]

To: Mitchell
Ed Lake has pointed out that when the missing letters from CBS News and ABC News were thrown out, anthrax spores must have been thrown willy-nilly into the garbage. Kathy Nguyen might have been contaminated by anthrax spores blown out of a garbage truck carrying those spores, or possibly from a dumpster.

I've read Lake's theory, but it seems more of a rationalization than an explanation. New York, in particular was hyped for anthrax at the time Nguyen became ill, so any case remotely resembling anthrax would have had a high probability of being flagged. And yet, Nguyen was the only one affected by a garbage truck spewing spores? There was no mention of her being in poor health.

Nguyen's case has always nagged me -- NYPD could find no suspicious connections, but the fact that her son (she was a Vietnamese immigrant) died in an accident in the Middle East, and her ex-husband was never found (no one even claimed the body) still leaves a question mark -- as does her hospital employment. Many of these mosque leaders of reps are doctors (mainly Pakistani) and the liklihood of her running a seemingly innocent errand (mailing letters) for a doctor in the course of her work sounds more than plausible -- and untraceable.

47 posted on 06/20/2002 10:04:16 AM PDT by browardchad
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 40 | View Replies]

To: browardchad
I think Michael Savage said that Kathy Nguyen's ex-husband was Somali.
48 posted on 06/20/2002 10:07:32 AM PDT by Mitchell
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 47 | View Replies]

To: Mitchell
I think it's suggestive. And it points to Atta as one particular terrorist involved in the anthrax mailings (which is consistent with the Prague report).

I agree with you there.
My only point is that the "signature" is a little too scrawled to be definitive.
But I'm willing to put it in the "maybe" category.

Best Freegards,
49 posted on 06/20/2002 10:07:38 AM PDT by My Identity
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 46 | View Replies]

To: My Identity
Thanks -- I agree.

The truth is that all the evidence is circumstantial, and no individual piece of evidence is definitive. But the totality and consistency of all this evidence points to a connection between the 9/11 hijackers and the anthrax mailings. (Plus, there is the total lack of evidence for any other theory regarding the anthrax mailings. None of the other theories that have been proposed are backed even by circumstantial evidence.)

50 posted on 06/20/2002 10:14:55 AM PDT by Mitchell
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 49 | View Replies]

To: steve50
Why wouldn't he?
51 posted on 06/20/2002 10:43:57 AM PDT by Intimidator
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 34 | View Replies]

To: aculeus
Most of this analysis is reasonable enough -- certainly much better than the ludicrous "profile" touted by the FBI. In the end, though, it's largely about details which are not particularly important. It's been perfectly obvious to any intelligent person that the anthrax came from the 9-11 terrorists, ever since the first victim was struck down in the tabloid offices of the hijackers' landlord a few days after 9-11. The various revelations that have emerged since then are pure gravy.

The Bush administration was never naive about the ultimate author of the WTC attacks. Several members of the administration had previously endorsed the analysis of the 1993 attempt to topple the WTC towers by Laurie Mylroie. Cheney and his staff were put on Cipro the night of September 11. The reasoning was not complicated, because we know Saddam Hussein is not suicidal -- to up the ante in his ten year war with the United States to this level, he would have to present a credible backup threat using the only WMD at his disposal, anthrax. Unlike his buddy Osama bin Laden, Saddam is in a fixed position -- he can't run away and hide.

So, Saddam is the author of 9-11. Saddam supplied the hijacker team with enough weaponized anthrax to follow up the attack with a credible threat to kill millions of Americans if the administration points the finger at Iraq. Since it is a credible threat -- the boast "YOU CAN NOT STOP US" is true -- Bush is doing exactly what you would expect him to do, caught "between Iraq and a hard place:" he's keeping up the rhetorical heat on Saddam, and stalling for time.

This has all been obvious for months. Anybody who doesn't get by now is just plain stupid, IMO.

52 posted on 06/20/2002 10:59:36 AM PDT by The Great Satan
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Mitchell
Sorry for the dumb question, but who is Ed Lake??
53 posted on 06/20/2002 12:02:05 PM PDT by Nogbad
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 40 | View Replies]

To: Nogbad
He's known as an expert on the anthrax letters, and he is convinced that they came from a disgruntled American scientist, as I recall. He's posted here in the past to defend his point of view.

Ed Lake's anthrax investigation page

54 posted on 06/20/2002 12:39:14 PM PDT by denydenydeny
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 53 | View Replies]

To: denydenydeny
Posted under what name?
There is an EdLake but member since April 25, 2002
but he has no posts.
55 posted on 06/20/2002 12:41:57 PM PDT by Nogbad
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 54 | View Replies]

To: Nogbad
As I recall, he joined just to comment on some threads that were discussing his research. All of his posts are over 30 days old, and thus are not searchable.
56 posted on 06/20/2002 12:59:09 PM PDT by denydenydeny
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 55 | View Replies]

To: Nogbad
Ed Lake is the author of He has a great deal of useful information, but last I checked he strongly believed that the "Milwaukee scientist" (remember him?) and an accomplice were the perpetrators. This was an early version of the Barbara Hatch Rosenberg theory.

Ed and I had a very long exchange at this FR thread, and several others joined in too -- see posts 51-85.

57 posted on 06/20/2002 1:30:54 PM PDT by Mitchell
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 53 | View Replies]

To: denydenydeny
I've posted a couple of links for Ed Lake in post #57.
58 posted on 06/20/2002 1:32:02 PM PDT by Mitchell
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 56 | View Replies]

To: The Great Satan
Seems to me that the Anthraxer was a rookie, got a small sample of weapons-grade material and tried to reproduce it, not realizing (as any "scientist" familiar with the weaponization of anthrax would) that the milling and coating would not be transferred to any successive generations produced from the original sample. This second-generation material was sent to media outlets, with fairly minor results, then the remaining original material was sent out.

The big question is where did the original sample come from?? It still looks like Fort Dietrick.

59 posted on 06/20/2002 1:42:31 PM PDT by UncleJeff
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 52 | View Replies]

To: The Great Satan
... ever since the first victim was struck down in the tabloid offices of the hijackers' landlord a few days after 9-11.

It was actually the newspaper building where the husband of the rental agent worked, not the office of the rental agent herself. This may even be a coincidence (although the geographic proximity is undoubtedly not). When you rent a house, do you usually know where the rental agent's spouse is employed?

60 posted on 06/20/2002 1:48:14 PM PDT by Mitchell
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 52 | View Replies]

Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
first previous 1-2021-4041-6061-8081-83 next last

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794 is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson