- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 11, 2001

From combined dispatches
An FBI task force descended on the State Department, a bomb scare closed part of the U.S.-Canadian border and fighter jets diverted a Los Angeles-bound Delta airliner yesterday as terrorism scares continued to jangle the nerves of a jittery nation.
Meanwhile, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported it was swamped with calls from Americans worried about a rare outbreak of anthrax that killed a Florida man last week.
In Boca Raton, Fla., last night, the FBI announced that a third person had tested positive for exposure to anthrax, a 35-year-old woman whose name was not released. The woman was hospitalized in unknown condition. The disease is not spread by person-to-person contact and, if caught early, is treatable by antibiotics.
Officials said the anthrax germs that caused the death of Bob Stevens, 63, last week did not come from a natural source. A 73-year-old mailroom clerk at the quarantined headquarters of supermarket tabloid publisher American Media appears to be recovering from pneumonia after antibiotics have prevented him from developing anthrax.
The FBI has determined that the anthrax spores found in the building are part of a strain produced more than 50 years ago in an Iowa laboratory, and the bureau has opened a criminal investigation into the matter.
Also yesterday, at least four firetrucks and three ambulances were dispatched to Foggy Bottom after an employee found a white powder on the floor of the State Department's sixth-floor mailroom. Members of the FBI's terrorism task force entered the building, but the situation was apparently a false alarm.
"The person who found it, she's fine, so they really don't think there's anything serious," said State Department spokeswoman Lynn Cassel.
Major border crossings into Canada at Champlain, N.Y., and Highgate, Vt., were closed for some seven hours yesterday after a man phoned in a bomb threat against a freight company.
The call was made shortly before 9 a.m. to an office of Deringer, a customs broker and international freight handler.
"The caller said: 'There's a bomb that's going to go boom,'" said John Holzscheiter, Deringer marketing vice president and co-owner. The company's offices were evacuated.
A Delta flight from Atlanta to Los Angeles was diverted to land in Shreveport, La., yesterday after a passenger passed a threatening note to a flight attendant.
The pilot of the Boeing 757 reported a problem at 2:43 p.m., and two F-15 fighters were sent to escort the plane to Shreveport, where it landed about a half hour after the incident began.
Edward A. Stephenson, 36, was arrested and charged with interfering with a flight crew member and attendants.
The flight, with 139 passengers aboard, continued on to Los Angeles two hours after it was forced to land.
In other terror scares yesterday:
* In Texas, Abilene Christian University's administration building remained closed yesterday after an employee opened a suspicious letter that appeared to suggest an anthrax threat.
* Officials in Los Angeles confirmed that a man was removed from an American Airlines flight Tuesday after he tried to grab a cabin intercom microphone to lead fellow passengers in a preflight prayer. The passenger, whom officials did not identify, was ejected from the Dallas-bound plane but not detained or arrested at Los Angeles International Airport.
The CDC in Atlanta fielded a flurry of calls from people asking "whether the anthrax is contagious and whether they should buy antibiotics or a gas mask," said spokeswoman Lisa Swenarski.
She said the CDC had access to enough antibiotics to treat 2 million people for the disease, and advised the public to remain calm, although pharmacies in Boca Raton reported they were were running low on an antibiotic used to treat anthrax as area residents rushed to fill prescriptions.
Several false alarms have struck the Washington area:
* In Hyattsville, a suspected car bomb that led to an evacuation of 10 homes in a residential neighborhood turned out to be a tracking device left on the undercarriage of a car by a private investigator
* A Manassas man with flulike symptoms was feared to have contracted anthrax, but tests revealed no trace of the deadly bacteria.
* Prince George's County police said a Tuesday incident that shut down a Green Line station "appears at this point to be an isolated incident," and not a terrorist act. Kenneth Ranger, 23, remained in custody charged with attempted murder after he sprayed cleaning fluid on Metro passengers and fired a pistol at officers who sought to arrest him for fare-jumping.
* Gov. James S. Gilmore III urged Virginians to try to go on with their normal lives despite fears of terrorism, even though he conceded, "You can't eliminate all risks."

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