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Anthrax Terrorist Identified?But Who Is He?

The FBI has identified the man behind last year's fatal anthrax mailings but has not brought charges against him, according to Dr. Barbara Rosenberg, a director with the Federation of American Scientists.

Rosenberg says many scientists working in the anthrax field have long been aware of the suspect?s identity, and she has been questioned at least twice by authorities. She says the FBI is reluctant to arrest the scientist because he knows U.S. government secrets, despite the fact that they have known his identity since October. ?There are a number of insiders - Government insiders - who know people in the anthrax field who have a common suspect,? she says. It has long been known that the source of the anthrax was a U.S. government laboratory, but Rosenberg's comments - made at a conference at Princeton University and reported by the Trenton Times newspaper in New Jersey- are the most specific yet. The accusation says the terrorist may have worked at the same laboratory that tested the letters, in Fort Detrick, Maryland, and traveled to Britain to post an infected letter to U.S. Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle.

Most of the genuine and many of the hoax letters were posted from near Trenton, New Jersey. ?We can draw a likely portrait of the perpetrator as a former Fort Detrick scientist who is now working for a contractor in the Washington, D.C. area,? says Rosenberg, who is director of the federation's chemical and biological arms control program. He would have been vaccinated and would have access to classified information about modifying the spores to make them stay airborne. ?He had reason for travel to Florida, New Jersey and the United Kingdom,? she says. ?There is also the likelihood the perpetrator made the anthrax himself. He grew it, probably on a solid medium, and weaponized it at a private location where he had accumulated the equipment and material.

?There are a number of insiders - government insiders - who know people in the anthrax field who have a common suspect. The FBI has questioned that person more than once so it looks as though the FBI is taking that person very seriously.? She doesn?t say whether she knows the suspect?s name, but she did refer several times to ?he.? ?We know that the FBI is looking at this person, and it?s likely that he participated in the past in secret activities that the government would not like to see disclosed,? says Rosenberg. ?And this raises the question of whether the FBI may be dragging its feet somewhat and may not be so anxious to bring to public light the person who did this. I know that there are insiders, working for the Government, who know this person and who are worried that it could happen that some kind of quiet deal is made that he just disappears from view.?

?They ought to be able to narrow the investigation down to a fairly limited number of facilities; that number is certainly less than 20,? says Dr. Elisa Harris, a former national security council adviser. ?So I find it puzzling that the FBI has approached all 40,000 members of the American Society of Microbiologists.? The FBI has declined to comment.

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