One week after the 9/11 attacks, America appeared to be under another attack. However, this attack was something America had never faced before. Beginning September 18, 2001, letters began to show up to various media outlets and two U.S. senators. These letters contained anthrax spores and ultimately infected 17 people and killed five others.
What ensued was an investigation that is still being described as “one of the largest and most complex in the history of law enforcement.” The FBI named this anthrax probe case “Amerithrax”.
Anthrax is an acute disease caused by the bacteria Bacillus anthracis. The disease is usually lethal and it affects both humans and animals alike. Anthrax does not spread directly from one infected person to another through contact; rather it is spread by spores.
Because of a century’s worth of animal vaccination programs, sterilization of raw animal waste materials, and anthrax eradication programs across most of the Industrialized world, anthrax infection is can hardly be found in domesticated animals. Globally, only a few dozen cases of anthrax infection is reported every year. However, Anthrax spores can be and is produced in laboratories to be used as biological weapons. These spores, like that natural counterparts, can be transported by clothing, shoes, and even in envelopes.
To try to determine who was sending these deadly spores through the mail and why, the FBI created the Amerithrax Task force. This special task force consisted of 25 to 30 full-time investigators from the FBI, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and other law enforcement agencies, as well as federal prosecutors from the District of Columbia and the Justice Department’s Counter-terrorism Section.
The FBI estimated that these special agents spent “hundreds of thousands of investigator work hours” in solving this case. The number of work hours was not the only extreme these investigators had to endure. This complicated case also consisted of:
• 10,000 witness interviews on six different continents
• 80 searches
• 6,000 items of potential evidence
• 5,750 grand jury subpoenas
• 5,730 environmental samples collected from 60 site locations.
On Feburaury 19, 2010, the FBI and the Justice Department announced the results of all of this work and effort. They released a 92-page Investigative summary along with 2,700 pages of FBI documents that chronicle the investigation from its inception, the milestones, and (ultimately) the conclusion.
The FBI concluded that Dr. Bruce E. Ivins was the culprit in question. Ivins was a senior biodefense researcher at the United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) in Fort Detrick, Maryland.
Though Ivins took his own life before formal federal charges could be brought up, the FBI considers the case formally closed. Ivins was initially looked at as a suspect due to the fact that he was a skilled and accomplished microbiologist.
The FBI’s theory was that Ivins, who had complained about the limits of testing anthrax drugs on animals, might have sent the anthrax letters in order to test a vaccine he had been developing. Another motive was that Ivins stood to profit from the attacks because he was a co-inventor on two patents for a genetically-engineered anthrax vaccine.
However, the final motive the FBI seemed to have settled on was that he upset that the anthrax vaccine, that he had spent years helping to develop, was being pulled from the market. The FBI also came to the conclusion that Ivins was the “sole culprit” in the 2001 attacks.
Even though this is the FBI’s final word on the matter, there are many out there who do not agree with it. Those is disagreement with the FBI fall into two camps. One camp believes that Ivins had nothing to do with the attacks and the FBI bullied him into suicide. The other camp believes that Ivins was not only responsible for the attacks, but that he did not act alone.Originally published on TopSecretWriters.com