- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 14, 2001

Law enforcement authorities nationwide remained on "highest alert" yesterday for possible new terrorist strikes, while a jittery public reacted with caution to anthrax scares in a dozen states.
Five more employees at American Media Inc., in Boca Raton, Fla., tested positive for exposure to anthrax, bringing the total of known cases there to eight, a spokesman for the publisher of supermarket tabloids said.
Gerald McKelvey said the company was told about the five employees yesterday by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). He said he had no further information on the exposed employees or their conditions.
Authorities also confirmed that the potentially deadly anthrax bacteria were present in letters sent to NBC News in New York and from Malaysia to a Microsoft Inc. office in Reno, Nev.
No one has tested positive for the disease in Nevada, although Gov. Kenny Guinn said tests on powder found in a letter contained the bacteria. He said the test was the third conducted, but there would be further testing at the CDC.
Authorities yesterday were trying to reach Microsoft employees in Reno to determine who may have handled the letter. No one has reported being ill, and Mr. Guinn told reporters the risk to the public was "very low."
Anthrax bacteria were found last week in a letter sent to American Media. The only death in the Florida cases is Bob Stevens, a 63-year-old photo editor for the Sun tabloid who inhaled anthrax spores. His colleagues are expected to recover.
Florida health officials were awaiting results of more than 35 anthrax tests of employees and visitors to the media company's headquarters. About 20 postal employees who handled the company's mail also were waiting for test results.
Criminal investigations by the FBI into the anthrax mysteries continued in Florida and New York.
New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani told reporters the letter opened byErin O'Connor, a personal assistant to anchorman Tom Brokaw, contained the anthrax bacteria in a brown powder. Although she tested positive for skin anthrax, the mayor said, she will recover.
The FBI confirmed that the letter to NBC was postmarked Sept. 18 in Trenton, N.J., and included an unspecified threat. It was the second known threatening letter to NBC containing a powdery substance. The other one, postmarked Sept. 20 in St. Petersburg, Fla., tested negative for the anthrax bacteria.
Mr. Giuliani urged calm to New York residents, some of whom flocked to doctors, clinics, emergency rooms and pharmacies for the antibiotic Ciprofloxacin. He said there was "no indication" of any spread of the disease.
"The reality is that the treatment for it that exists is effective, so that people shouldn't be overwrought about it or nervous about it. It's something that can be dealt with," Mr. Giuliani said.
The FBI, which warned law enforcement authorities Thursday to be on the "highest alert" for terrorist strikes and advised Americans to report "unusual or suspicious" activities, said no connection has been established between the anthrax cases and the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
Some Americans clearly are alarmed. Dozens of reports from at least 12 states surfaced concerning unknown powders found in letters, on streets corners and in other places. Airliners have been diverted and businesses closed. Mailrooms were shut down temporarily at various news outlets.
A letter containing a powdery white substance was sent to New York Times reporter Judith Miller, who has written a book on bioterrorism. The incident prompted a temporary evacuation of the building Friday. The powder later tested negative for anthrax and other dangerous biological materials.
A Denver-bound US Airways flight from Charlotte, N.C., made an unscheduled landing yesterday in Indianopolis after the crew discovered a suspicious substance on board, officials said. The substance later proved to be nonhazardous.
The FBI's search for accomplices in the Sept. 11 attacks in New York and Washington has focused on more than 150 Middle Eastern men now in custody and particularly targeted those who might have been involved in planning additional attacks.
Law enforcement authorities said the FBI has expanded its search for "sleeper agents" already in this country, in an attempt to prevent new strikes against U.S. targets.
The FBI also sent to banks and financial institutions a list of 370 names of persons the agency wants to question. Several of them listed U.S. addresses or Social Security numbers on legal documents.
Law enforcement officials said said 77 of the 370 listed had lived near flight schools, and several had been identified as associated with the 19 hijackers who carried out the suicide airliner attacks Sept. 11.
One federal official said the FBI now believes most of the 655 men being held on immigration violations or other criminal charges were not involved in the Sept. 11 attacks. But, the official said, a "critical examination" of about 150 has begun including a review of their activities in this country and any communications or meetings they may have had with the 19 hijackers.
Also yesterday, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported that the hijackers surveyed other sites as possible targets, including the Sears Tower in Chicago, various sports facilities, two Disney theme parks and the Mall of America outside Minneapolis, Minn., the country's largest shopping mall.
The newspaper, citing internal government documents, said investigators had not determined whether any of those sites actually had been chosen as targets.
A key figure in the probe is Zacarias Moussaoui, a French Algerian arrested Aug. 17 after officials at Pan Am Flight School in Eagen, Minn., told the FBI he had offered cash to learn how to steer Boeing jetliners, but not to land or take off.
Mr. Moussaoui, 33, taken into custody on immigration charges, has been named as a material witness in the case. That means investigators can hold him indefinitely without a formal charge.
Three days after the attacks, he was transferred from the Sherburne County Jail in Minnesota to New York City, where he is being questioned by the FBI's terrorism task force.
U.S. law enforcement authorities have confirmed Mr. Moussaoui has ties to a top lieutenant of Saudi exile Osama bin Laden, the prime suspect in the Sept. 11 attacks and one object of the U.S.-led military assault on Afghanistan.
French officials identified Mr. Moussaoui as a member of bin Laden's al Qaeda terrorist network. German authorities said he made at last one telephone call to Mohamed Atta, the pilot aboard the American Airlines flight that struck the World Trade Center's north tower.

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