Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

ANTHRAX 'MAY BE MADE IN U.S.'; Americans Confirm Link Beween Florida, and New York Attacks

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

ANTHRAX 'MAY BE MADE IN U.S.'; Americans Confirm Link Beween Florida, and New York Attacks

Article excerpt

Byline: JEREMY CAMPBELL;JAMES LANGTON

US AUTHORITIES say that anthrax spores found in Florida and New York are from the same strain.

This confirms that the nationwide anthrax letter campaign which has shut down part of Capitol Hill is based on the same source. Experts are also increasingly convinced that the anthrax is homemade within the US.

William Patrick, a scientist who used to make anthrax weapons for the US government, said it was more likely to be a US-based group because no nation produces strains of anthrax for biological war which respond so readily to antibiotics.

The first evidence of a firm link between the two attacks came from genetic tests which showed the strains of anthrax which infected people at NBC News in New York and a newspaper in Florida were the same, the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention said today.

Meanwhile, other evidence links the attacks in New York and Washington.

Letters posted in Trenton, New Jersey, and sent to Senate majority leader Tom Daschle and the headquarters of NBC TV in New York, had almost identical handwriting and contained similar threatening messages.

Experts now agree the anthrax has been produced in a sophisticated way, with the spores so small that they waft easily through the air undetected.

However, the strain is one that responds quickly to antibiotics, suggesting it was not produced for biological warfare.

Mr Patrick, who patented a secret process that freezedried, then milled anthrax spores to the requisite size, coating them with a special film that stopped "clumping" due to electrostatic charges, says he "suspects" it is weapons grade, but attributes it to a US-based group rather than to a foreign government-sponsored and funded programme on a

large scale. He finds this "just as ominous, if not more so". "Reducing the size of the particles is absolutely essential if you want to get the spores down into the respiratory tract," Mr Patrick said. "My worst fears regarding biological warfare have come to pass. In the past I've always felt that our local, home-grown terrorists were not capable of producing a powder, a sophisticated powder that we see today. …

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