- The Washington Times - Saturday, October 20, 2001

Three anthrax-laced letters sent to the U.S. Capitol and media outlets in New York and Florida contained matching strains of the bacteria, although not the "weapons-grade" variety designed to be resistant to antibiotics, the Bush administration said yesterday.
The discovery of similarities in anthrax samples taken from NBC in New York, American Media Inc. in Florida and the office of Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle in Washington came as authorities confirmed that a New York Post employee was the seventh person infected by the potentially deadly disease.
"The tests to date have concluded that the strains are indistinguishable," White House Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge said. "It does appear that it may have been from the same batch. It may have been distributed to different individuals also to infect and descend into different communities."
Anthrax sold by governments that sponsor terrorism generally consists of a "weapons-grade" strain manipulated to resist antibiotics. The anthrax found in New York, Florida and Washington has been called a common strain that can be obtained or stolen from universities, commercial laboratories, government laboratories and nearly 50 germ banks worldwide.
Johanna Huden, who opens letters to the editor at the New York Post, was infected in the new incident there. The 30-year-old woman is being treated for skin anthrax, but returned to work yesterday to write a first-person account for today's editions of the Post.
Meanwhile, three of the 31 persons on Capitol Hill who initially tested positive for anthrax exposure have had their test results reversed. Authorities said positive initial tests have been determined to be negative.
Two Senate office buildings remained off-limits yesterday to allow police and health officials to check the spread of anthrax spores on Capitol Hill.
The FBI's manhunt for the anthrax culprits continued yesterday to focus on New Jersey. The letters to NBC and Mr. Daschle both were postmarked in Trenton. Six of the hijackers in the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon that killed more than 5,000 people lived within 50 miles of Trenton.
A U.S. Postal Service mail carrier in Trenton also has been tested positive for skin anthrax, prompting investigators to focus on the Trenton area in which she picked up the mail. Authorities said the NBC and Daschle letters had been left in a mailbox on a street in West Trenton.
The unidentified carrier was diagnosed with the skin form of anthrax on Sept. 27. The letter to NBC was dated Sept. 18 timing that investigators believe is an important link to those who may have sent the letters. The Daschle letter also was postmarked in Trenton and was dated Oct. 8. Both are being examined by experts at the Army medical research facility Fort Detrick, Md.
FBI agents have focused on several research labs and universities including Princeton, a 20-minute drive from Trenton that may have access to the anthrax bacteria.
Authorities also have questioned several pharmacies trying to determine if anyone tried to buy large amounts of antibiotics particularly orders of Cipro in amounts larger than 60 tablets before the nationwide anthrax scare. A normal dosage would be 10 to 20 pills over a two-week period.
Agents also are checking post office surveillance videos. The envelopes were pre-stamped, investigators said, noting that those responsible may have been guarding against a DNA check.
The letters to NBC and Mr. Daschle contained similar messages about "Death to America Death to Israel Allah is Great We have this anthrax You die now. Are you afraid?"
While FBI agents assigned to the anthrax probe continue to search records, interview potential witnesses and comb through videotapes and other potential evidence in New Jersey, other agents have widened their investigation of the Sept. 11 attack to Europe, where they are searching for those who helped finance the suicide missions.
The FBI and other federal authorities already have frozen $24 million in assets belonging to Osama bin Laden, his al Qaeda terrorist network and the ruling Taliban regime in Afghanistan, and continue to track the money through various international banks and financial institutions.
A key focus of the international search is Germany, where authorities in that country have identified and have issued arrest warrants for two men believed to have been accomplices in the Sept. 11 attacks, including Zakariya Essabar, 24, of Morocco.
German police believe the men had close ties to Mohamed Atta, 33, an Egyptian, named as the ringleader of the 19 terrorists who crashed jetliners into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Atta is believed to have been at the controls of American Airlines Flight 11 when it hit the World Trade Center's north tower.
German authorities believe Atta and Marwan Al-Shehhi, 23, of the United Arab Emirates, were part of a group of Islamic terrorists in Hamburg who planned attacks on U.S. targets. Al-Shehhi was named as the pilot aboard United Airlines Flight 175, which crashed into the World Trade Center's south tower.
Shortly after the Sept. 11 attacks, German police found "airplane-related documents" in a suitcase belonging to Ziad Jarrah, another of the hijackers. The suitcase was seized in Bochum, Germany, at the apartment of Jarrah's girlfriend. He was aboard United Airlines Flight 93, which crashed in western Pennsylvania.
Kay Nehm, German federal prosecutor, said Jarrah, 26, of Lebanon, lived in Hamburg with Atta and Al-Shehhi.
German authorities also traced a call made by Zacarias Moussaoui, 33, a French Algerian arrested in Minnesota a month before the Sept. 11 attacks after he sought flying lessons but was not interested in learning how to take off or land. The call was made to Atta, they said.
Meanwhile, federal prosecutors yesterday brought an indictment against a college student from Jordan for lying to a grand jury in denying knowing two men suspected of hijacking the plane that crashed into the Pentagon. Osama Awadallah was named in an indictment handed down in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, where a grand jury is hearing testimony.
A college student in San Diego, he was charged with two counts of making false statements when he denied knowing suspected hijackers Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar. A criminal complaint, signed by FBI Agent Thomas D. Rosato Jr., does not accuse Mr. Awadallah of being involved in the hijackings or knowing they were going to occur, but of lying to agents when asked about the two air pirates who were aboard American Airlines Flight 77.

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