- The Washington Times - Saturday, November 10, 2001

The FBI yesterday said three anthrax-laced letters sent to Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, NBC News and the New York Post probably were written by the same person, an adult male who may have worked in a laboratory or has a scientific background.
"It is highly probable, bordering on certainty, that all three letters were written by the same person," the FBI said, adding that the letter writer is believed to have taken "appropriate protective steps to ensure their own safety," including taking anthrax vaccine or other antibiotics.
A detailed profile of the suspected culprit was released as part of an FBI appeal for help in locating the person responsible for sending anthrax letters that killed four persons in New York, Florida and Washington. The profile was developed by FBI behavioral experts, assisted by agents from the Terrorism Task Force.
Meanwhile, problems with the packaging of five truckloads of D.C. mail sent for decontamination to a firm in Lima, Ohio, caused the mail to be returned to the District without being treated, according to Russ Decker, director of the Hazardous Materials and Emergency Management Agency in Lima.
Postal officials in Washington yesterday declined to comment. "We're giving no specific information about the trailers," U.S. Postal Service spokeswoman Irene Lericos said.
But Mr. Decker said in an interview that 18 trucks packed with potentially contaminated D.C. mail had arrived at Titan Scan Technologies in Lima since Oct. 26. He said several of the first trucks failed Titan's packaging standards and sat for two weeks before being sent back Wednesday and Thursday.
The Postal Service has awarded contracts totaling more than $42 million to Titan and Ion Beam Applications Inc. of Chicago to provide electron-beam and X-ray technology to sanitize mail, officials said.
Also yesterday, the condition of three Washington-area men hospitalized last month with inhalation anthrax further improved, as two were sent home from the hospital. They are a State Department employee in a mailroom at a facility in Sterling, Va., and a postal worker at the Brentwood Road mail processing center in the District. Neither has been identified.
A second Brentwood postal worker, Leroy Richmond of Stafford, Va., remains at Inova Fairfax Hospital in Falls Church, where doctors said he is in fair condition and responding to antibiotics. Brentwood, the District's central mail-processing facility in Northeast, was closed Oct. 21, when two other workers, Thomas L. Morris Jr., 55, and Joseph Curseen Jr., 47, died of inhalation anthrax.
The FBI profile said the person who sent the letters "probably has a scientific background to some extent, or at least a strong interest in science," feels comfortable working with hazardous materials, has access to a source of anthrax, possesses knowledge and expertise to refine it, and works in a job where he has little contact with other people.
The profile also said he possesses or has access to laboratory equipment, such as a microscope, glassware and centrifuge; has exhibited an organized, rational thought process; and has familiarity, directly or indirectly, with the Trenton, N.J., area, where he is comfortable traveling, although he does not necessarily live there.
The anthrax letters went through a Trenton post office en route to their destinations.
Authorities believe the letter writer also may have held a grudge against those to whom he sent the letters, although investigators have not yet determined what that grievance might have been. The FBI said the targets were probably important to the culprit, and they may have been the focus of previous expressions of contempt that may have been communicated to or observed by others.
The FBI described the letter writer as nonconfrontational at least in his public life and who lacked the personal skills necessary to confront others face-to-face, instead choosing to confront problems by long distance. The bureau said the individual may hold grudges for a long time.
The profile said the letter writer may have chosen to anonymously harass others he perceived as having wronged him, while also using the mail on those occasions. It also said he prefers being by himself more often than not, and if he is involved in a personal relationship, it will likely be of a self-serving nature.
Investigators have not determined and the profile does not say whether the letter writer is a foreigner or a U.S. citizen, but the FBI did not rule out the possibility of his ties to a terrorist organization, including the al Qaeda network founded by Osama bin Laden, the prime suspect in the September 11 attacks.
The profile said he "did not select his victims randomly" and made a specific effort to locate correct addresses and ZIP codes for those to whom he sent the letters and made sure that each contained proper postage.
The September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon may have caused the letter writer to become more secretive and to change usual patterns of activity.
The profile said he also may have displayed a "passive disinterest" in the events of September 11 and may have "started taking antibiotics unexpectedly." It said the intense media coverage also may have caused him to alter his physical appearance or he may have begun to show pronounced anxiety or mood swings. He also may have become more withdrawn or unusually preoccupied, the FBI said.
In addition to Mr. Morris and Mr. Curseen, Bob Stevens, 63, picture editor of a Florida tabloid newspaper, also died from inhalation anthrax. A fourth person to die from inhalation anthrax was Kathy T. Nguyen, 61, who worked in a New York hospital. It has not yet been determined how she contracted the disease.
Regarding the returned mail, officials said it was improperly packaged or bags were torn open on three trucks. The other two trucks contained packages, magazines and catalogs. Titan's method of sterilization works only on letters.
Postal Service spokeswoman Deborah Yackley said the mail probably was sent back to the Brentwood facility to be repackaged, although it's not clear what will happen to the larger items Titan said it cannot treat. Before the Brentwood center closed, postal officials estimate it was processing about 3.5 million pieces of mail a day.
"We're all concerned that there may be other [contaminated] letters," Kenneth Newman, chief investigator for the U.S. Postal Service, told reporters at a news conference yesterday. "That mail is being sanitized, and we're looking for other potentially contaminated pieces."
About 1 million pieces of mixed mail are still inside the facility, said Tim Harvey, the Postal Service's plant manager for the District. If there is another contaminated letter, it could be mixed in with that mail, he said.
Postal officials say they don't expect Brentwood to reopen anytime soon. "We don't know yet," said Deputy Postmaster General John Nolan. "We're still working out the details of how to decontaminate it."
Although the Daschle letter passed through just one mail-sorting machine at Brentwood, tests show that anthrax spores were found on seven different sorting machines in the center's back work area.
The reason so many sorters tested positive is because anthrax spores got into the "wind" or airflow and spread around the work area, Mr. Nolan said.
Also yesterday:
Anthrax spores turned up in four more U.S. postal facilities in New Jersey, U.S. Postal officials said. Postal spokesman Bob Anderson said facilities in Palmer Square, Rocky Hill, Trenton Station E, and Jackson tested positive for the potentially deadly bacteria.
A federal judge ruled that New York City's main postal-processing center, which employs 7,000 people, must remain open while machinery is cleaned to eliminate possible anthrax contamination. The postal union had asked that the facility be closed.


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