When an envelope containing anthrax arrived as the office of Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, the question of who is behind this terror attack was raised anew. President Bush stated that there is a possible terror link, and the question became, who would be supplying the anthrax spores to the terrorists?
Investigators looking into the outbreaks have named Iraq as the most likely source of the deadly spores.
Pentagon strategists are discussing the possibility of supporting armed insurrections against Saddam by rebel Kurds in the north and Shia Muslims in the south. Contact has already been made with an Iraqi opposition group based in London.
Intelligence sources from both the CIA and the Defense Department say that they suspect Iraq is behind the anthrax attacks because the victims in Florida were infected with the airborne form of the disease. ?Making anthrax, on its own, isn?t so difficult,? according to a U.S. intelligence agent. ?But it only begins to become effective as a biological weapon if they can be made the right size to breathe in. If you can?t get airborne infectivity, you can?t use it as a weapon. That is extremely difficult. There is very little leeway. Most spores are either too big to be suspended in air, or too small to lodge on the lining of the lungs.?
Anthrax is useless in liquid form because droplets fall to the ground, rather than staying suspended in the air so they can be breathed by victims. In order to make anthrax powder, repeated washings in huge centrifuges are needed, followed by intensive drying, which requires ac sealed environment. This technology costs millions. U.S. intelligence believes Iraq has this technology, as well as supplies of anthrax suitable for terrorist use.
The bacteria used in Florida is similar to the ?Ames strain? of anthrax that was originally cultivated at Iowa State University in the 1950s and later given to labs throughout the world, including Iraq. Egyptian authorities say members of the al-Qaida network obtained phials of anthrax from the Czech Republic.
Last autumn, Mohamed Atta met Iraqi intelligence agent Ahmed Samir al-Ahani in Prague, who was later expelled by the Czechs for activities not compatible with his diplomatic mission. The Czechs are also examining the possibility that Atta met a former director of Saddam?s secret services, Farouk Hijazi, at a second meeting in the spring. Hijazi is known to have talked with Bin Laden.
Health officials in Britain have warned the nation?s doctors to be vigilant about anthrax. ?I think we have to be prepared to think the unthinkable,? says Chief Medical Officer Dr. Liam Donaldson. They are reviewing Britain?s ability to cope with chemical or biological attacks.
?They aren?t making this stuff in caves in Afghanistan,? says a CIA source. ?This is prima facie evidence of the involvement of a state intelligence agency. Maybe Iran has the capability. But it doesn?t look likely politically. That leaves Iraq.?
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