It?s been alleged that terrorists and criminals can easily purchase weapons at gun shows, but at the ?Crossroads of the West? gun show in Salt Lake City, Utah, Timothy W. Tobiason was selling printed and CD copies of his book, ?Scientific Principles of Improvised Warfare and Home Defense Volume 6-1: Advanced Biological Weapons Design and Manufacture,? a germ-warfare textbook that experts say is accurate enough to be dangerous.
Mr. Tobiason is an agricultural-chemicals entrepreneur from Nebraska who hates the government. He says he sells about 2,000 copies of his self-published book each year as he travels to gun shows across America. The book contains directions for making ?mail delivered? anthrax. The cover says, ?Why pay to recruit troops and build factories to wage war and kill for you when nature can do it for free? Or, if you can make Jell-O, you can wipe out cities. Enjoy!?
?The guy who wrote this is very smart, very dangerous,? says Ken Alibek, a former top official in the Soviet germ-weapons program who is now president of Advanced Biosystems, a consulting company in Manassas, Virginia. ?We shouldn?t ignore this.? He describes Tobiason?s formula as ?not sophisticated, but this process is going to work.?
After weeks of confusing information from various bioterrorism experts, the F.B.I. now claims that the recent attacks might have been made by a loner with sufficient scientific knowledge and a deep grudge. Mr. Tobiason fits that description, but he denies any knowledge of the anthrax-laced letters, and federal officials say he is not a suspect. He?s part of a group of conspiracy theorists who share a profound mistrust of the government. Federal officials say they watched Mr. Tobiason for years before the attacks began last month, and there are indications they recently increased the surveillance.
Experts say his 250-page book does not give specific directions for producing the finely milled anthrax that was sent to Tom Daschle, the Senate majority leader, and even contains some basic errors. The book deals mostly with the production of wet anthrax, though it does suggest a way to grind clusters of anthrax into microscopic pieces, which could be inhaled. But Alibek says Tobiasons work ?could be a step on the road? for someone who wants to produce highly lethal anthrax.
Richard Spertzel, a former head of biological inspections in Iraq for the United Nations, says Mr. Tobiason?s instructions would produce ?a low- grade product? but feels that the book ?ought to be damn near illegal, if it?s not now.?
Tobiason says he got his information from military and biology books he borrowed from the University of Nebraska library. He says he?s made small amounts of pathogens, including anthrax, although he has never used them to harm anyone. He?s written about a dozen books on military history and germ warfare and says that if he wanted to, he could initiate a far more deadly biological attack than the recent one. ?It would be a hard thing to do, but I?m prepared to do it. All my morals and ethics are gone, just like the government?s.?
In June, he left copies of his book at the offices of dozens of United States senators, including Mr. Daschle, a Democrat from South Dakota, Fred Thompson, Republican of Tennessee, and Chuck Hagel, Republican of Nebraska.
He plans to write another soon that will describe how to make ?huge scale? germ weapons. ?It will have some planet killers in it,? he says. ?It will allow anyone to arm themselves with biological weapons in their basements.?
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