Magazine article Insight on the News

Is FBI Following the Wrong Trail? the FBI Thinks a Homegrown Lone Wolf Is Responsible for Sending Deadly Anthrax Letters, but Some Experts Say Clues Suggesting Foreign Involvement Are Being Ignored. (Nation: The Anthrax Scare)

Magazine article Insight on the News

Is FBI Following the Wrong Trail? the FBI Thinks a Homegrown Lone Wolf Is Responsible for Sending Deadly Anthrax Letters, but Some Experts Say Clues Suggesting Foreign Involvement Are Being Ignored. (Nation: The Anthrax Scare)

Article excerpt

The deadly wave of anthrax spores coming through the U.S. mail seemed to have subsided until Jan. 3, when another potentially dangerous letter was found, but the poisonous effects primarily were psychological." Although casualties were not high -- four confirmed deaths and 17 infections -- the anthrax attacks took a heavy toll on the American way of life. Some newspapers no longer open letters to the editor, instead encouraging readers to correspond by e-mail. The Hart Senate Office Building, where half of the 100 U.S. senators have their offices, has been closed since Oct. 17 after an initial attempt to rid the building of anthrax was unsuccessful.

Meanwhile, law enforcement seems no closer to catching the perpetrators, although the FBI has announced that it is almost certain -- although it claims it is not ruling anything out -- that the anthrax attacks were the handiwork of a homegrown lone wolf, probably a domestic right-wing terrorist. At a November press conference, James R. Fitzgerald, head of the FBI's Behavioral Analysis Unit, said, "We're certainly looking in that direction right now, as far as someone being domestic." Ironically, he then compared the sender to the Unabomber, a left-wing environmentalist who sent letter bombs to people he thought were destroying the planet.

INSIGHT earlier looked into these rumors (see "Iraq Connections to U.S. Extremists," Nov. 19, 2001) and confirmed ties between racist militants and hostile foreign powers. Now more and more critics are saying the FBI may be overlooking vital clues that indicate the involvement of a foreign terrorist group and/or nation-state. These clues include mysterious letters from Iraq sent to the parent company of the National Enquirer a few weeks before the arrival there of the anthrax spores that infected two and killed one of its employees, and initial confirmation of anthrax spores being found in the mail of other countries, including Chile and Pakistan. These critics fear that unless all the individuals, terrorist groups and/or nation-states involved in these criminal acts are caught the next bioterror attacks will be much worse.

"Sept. 11 marked the most lethal terrorist attacks in human history, the most lethal day for civilians in the history of this country" Laurie Mylroie, adjunct fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and author of Study of Revenge: Saddam Hussein's Unfinished War Against America, tells INSIGHT. "It's followed shortly thereafter by another major attack. Anthrax is major because it can be used to kill many people." Because of their proximity to the events of Sept. 11, Mylroie believes the anthrax attacks are "probably foreign."

Indeed, the letters addressed to Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.), NBC anchorman Tom Brokaw and the New York Post seem to be connected to the terrorist attacks. They begin with the date "09-11-01" and end with the lines "Death to America. Death to Israel. Allah is Great." But the FBI's Fitzgerald says this suggests the perpetrator is just trying to throw authorities off the trail. "The attacker appears to be an opportunist [who] took advantage" of the terrorist attacks, Fitzgerald said at a press conference. Noting that there was no Arabic language in the letters, Fitzgerald said, "The rhetoric is made to sound like what a nonterrorist thinks a terrorist sounds like."

Fitzgerald said the alleged lone wolf probably is a nonconfrontational adult male who lives in the Trenton, N.J., area from which the letter to Daschle was postmarked. He said that because anthrax was sent to Daschle and an unopened letter containing suspected anthrax was sent to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (DVt.), "the perpetrator was probably a right-winger with an ax to grind. It's no secret that they [the intended recipients] are Democrats" Fitzgerald said. "People, including the Unabomber, have used representational targets for years."

Yet why would a right-wing nut with a grudge against hated Democratic senators pretend to be a fundamentalist Muslim? …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.