June 19, 2002

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.

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