- The Washington Times - Friday, June 14, 2002

The FBI is investigating the possibility that someone grew the anthrax used in last fall's attacks in secret at an Army laboratory in Frederick, Md., and further refined it at home, a government source and a scientist questioned by investigators said yesterday.
The theory that anthrax was smuggled out of the biological warfare defense lab at Fort Detrick is one of several under active consideration by the FBI, but none has been assigned more prominence than the others, a law enforcement official said.
The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, indicated no arrests were imminent and that authorities remain largely frustrated by the lack of progress in their investigation.
Two FBI agents explored the smuggling theory during a three-hour interview Wednesday with Luann Battersby, a microbiologist who worked at the Fort Detrick lab for eight years, Miss Battersby said.
Miss Battersby, who voluntarily left the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases in 1998, said the agents asked her "if I wanted to grow something I wasn't supposed to, would there be somebody asking me about it, and could I have taken it out of the lab?"
"I told them no one checked, and it was far easier to get something out of Fort Detrick than into it," she said.
While speculating how a terrorist might have obtained anthrax as virulent and finely milled as that used in the mailings that killed five persons, "we came to the conclusion the source is really important," Miss Battersby said.
"It really is difficult to develop an organism from one you haven't cultured," she added.
Fort Detrick officials have said lab security was enhanced after the anthrax attacks. Charles Dasey, a post spokesman, said the theory that the anthrax came from Fort Detrick was "just more speculation."

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide