Al-Timimi’s computer skills got him a job at SRA International where Ali worked as a “bioinformatics software architect” providing information technology to the government. Some of his jobs required that Ali obtain a high-level security clearance. One job resulted in a letter of recommendation from the White House.
Bin Laden's Infiltration Of Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency
By Ross E. Getman http://www.bloggernews.net/111298
a. Hardball Tactics In An Era Of Threats
A colleague of famed Russian bioweaponeer Ken Alibek and former USAMRIID head Charles Bailey, a prolific Ames strain researcher, has been convicted of sedition and sentenced to life in prison. He worked in a program co-sponsored by the American Type Culture Collection and had access to ATCC facilities, as well as facilities of the George Mason University Center for Biodefense. The Center for Biodefense was funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. The Center was run by Dr. Alibek and Dr. Bailey. The bionformatics grad student once had a high security clearance for mathematical support work for the Navy. In the 1990s, Ayman Zawahiri had Ali Mohammed infiltrate the CIA and US Army, and dupe the FBI. He did it all over again with Ali Al-Timimi. If we do not learn from history, we are doomed to repeat it.
The Washington Post, in an article “Hardball Tactics in an Era of Threats,” dated September 3, 2006 summarized events relating to George Mason University microbiology graduate student Ali Al-Timimi. The well-spoken Al-Timimi had rock star status in Salafist circles. He lectured in July 2001 (in Toronto) and August 2001 (in London) on the coming “end of times” and signs of the coming day of judgment. He spoke alongside officials of a charity, Islamic Assembly of North America (”IANA”) promoting the views of Bin Laden’s sheiks. Another speaker was Ali’s mentor, Bilal Philips, an unindicted WTC 1993 conspirator (among about 170 others). Bilal Philips worked in the early 1990s to recruit US servicemen. Dr. Philips has explained the Saudi-funded program in magazine interviews.
The Washington Post explained last Fall:
‘In late 2002, the FBI’s Washington field office received two
similar tips from local Muslims: Timimi was running ‘an Islamic group known as the Dar al-Arqam’ that had ‘conducted military-style training,’ FBI special agent John Wyman would later write in an affidavit.
Wyman and another agent, Wade Ammerman, pounced on the tips. Searching the Internet, they found a speech by Timimi celebrating the crash of the space shuttle Columbia in 2003, according to the affidavit. The agents also found that Timimi was in contact with Sheikh Safar al-Hawali, a Saudi whose anti-Western speeches in the early 1990s had helped inspire bin Laden.
The agents reached an alarming conclusion: ‘Timimi is an Islamist supporter of Bin Laden’ who was leading a group ‘training for jihad,’ the agent wrote in the affidavit. The FBI even came to speculate that Timimi, a doctoral candidate pursuing cancer gene research, might have been involved in the anthrax attacks.
On a frigid day in February 2003, the FBI searched Timimi’s brick townhouse on Meadow Field Court, a cul-de-sac near Fair Oaks Mall in Fairfax. Among the items they were seeking, according to court testimony: material on weapons of mass destruction.”
According to witness testimony in the prosecution of the Virginia Paintball Defendants, after September 11, 2001, “Al-Timimi stated that the attacks may not be Islamically permissible, but that they were not a tragedy, because they were brought on by American foreign policy.” The FBI first contacted Timimi shortly after 9/11. He met with FBI agents 7 or 8 times in the months leading up to his arrest. Al-Timimi is a US citizen born in Washington DC. His house was searched, his passport taken and his telephone monitored. Ali Al Timimi defended his PhD thesis in computational biology shortly after his indictment for recruiting young men to fight the US.
Some of his communications in 2002 with dissident Saudi sheik Sheik Safar al-Hawali, one of the two fundamentalist sheikhs who were friends and mentors of Bin Laden, were intercepted. The two radical sheiks had been imprisoned from September 1994 to June 1999. Al-Hawali’s detention was expressly the subject of Al Qaeda’s claim of responsibility for Bin Laden’s 1996 Declaration of War against the United States and the 1998 embassy bombings.
Upon his indictment, in September 2004, al-Timimi explained he had been offered a plea bargain of 14 years, but he declined. He quoted Sayyid Qutb. He said he remembered “reading his books and loving his teaching” as a child, and that Qutb’s teaching was prevented from signing something that was false by “the finger that bears witness.” He noted that he and his lawyers asked that authorities hold off the indictment until he had received his PhD, but said that unfortunately they did not wait.
The indictment against the paintball defendants alleged that at an Alexandria, Virginia residence, in the presence of a representative of BIF, the defendants watched videos depicting Mujahadeen engaged in Jihad and discussed a training camp in Bosnia. His defense lawyer says that the FBI searched the townhouse of “to connect him to the 9/11 attacks or to schemes to unleash a biological or nuclear attack.” Famed head of the former Russian bioweaponeering program Ken Alibek told me that he would occasionally see him in the hallways at George Mason, where they both were in the microbiology department, and was vaguely aware that he was an islamic hardliner. When what his defense counsel claims was an FBI attempt to link him to a planned biological attack failed, defense counsel says that investigators focused on his connections to the men who attended his lectures at the local Falls Church, Va. In the end, he was indicted for inciting them to go to Afghanistan to defend the Taliban against the United States.
During deliberations, he reportedly was very calm, reading Genome Technology and other scientific journals. He was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment plus 70 years.
The month before they searched Ali’s townhouse, they questioned Umar Lee. Police arrested Mr. Lee, an American-born Muslim in St. Louis, in mid-February 2003 on an unrelated charge and questioned him about whether he was planning any attacks against the U.S. government. Bret Darren Lee, whose Muslim name is Umar ben-Livan (and for simplicity he shortens it to “Umar Lee”), said that he was stunned by the questions asked by the FBI agents: “I just looked at them. I didn’t think they’d asked me anything worth responding to.” Mr. Lee said he was sleeping in his apartment about 5 a.m. Sunday when he was woken by loud knocking on his door. But rather than a Muslim neighbor waking him for prayers, it was several police officers with weapons drawn.
They put Lee up against a wall and asked whether he had any weapons in the apartment. The National Rifle Association sticker affixed to the apartment’s front door was a cheap version of an alarm system. While he was down at the station house, the FBI agents spent a half-hour questioning his wife about whether he was a terrorist and his thoughts about the Taliban. Umar tells me that the suspicion reported in the Washington Post that Ali was involved in the anthrax mailings is nonsense. On his popular and lucidly-written blog, he clarified a quotation of his that appeared at the time in the Washington Post’s “Hardball Tactics in an Era of Threats.”
Two weeks later, at the same time the FBI was searching the townhouse of PhD candidate Ali Timimi, searches and arrests moved forward elsewhere. In Moscow, Idaho, FBI agents interviewed Nabil Albaloushi. (The FBI apparently searched his apartment at the same time they searched the apartment of IANA webmaster Sami al-Hussayen, who they had woken from bed at 4:00 a.m.) Albaloushi was a PhD candidate expert in drying foodstuffs. His thesis in 2003 was 350 pages filled with charts of drying coefficients. Interceptions showed a very close link between IANA’s Sami al-Hussayen and Sheikh al-Hawali, to include the setting up of websites, the providing of vehicles for extended communication, and telephone contact with intermediaries of Sheikh al-Hawali. Al-Hussayen had al-Hawali’s phone number upon the search of his belongings upon his arrest.
Former Washington State University animal geneticist and nutrition researcher Ismail Diab, who had moved to Syracuse to work for an IANA-spin-off, also was charged in Syracuse and released as a material witness to a financial investigation of the IANA affiliate “Help The Needy.” After the government failed to ask Dr. Diab any questions for nearly 3 months, the magistrate bail restrictions and removed the electronic monitoring and curfew requirements.
In Moscow, Idaho, the activities by IANA webmaster Sami al-Hussayen that drew scrutiny involved these same two radical sheiks. U.S. officials say the two sheiks influenced al Qaeda’s belief that Muslims should wage holy war against the U.S. until it ceases to support Israel and withdraws from the Middle East. Sami Hussayen, who was acquitted, made numerous calls and wrote many e-mails to the two clerics, sometimes giving advice to them about running Arabic-language websites on which they espoused their anti-Western views.
At his sentencing, Dr. Al-Timimi spoke in clear and measured tones:
“I will not admit guilt nor seek the Court’s mercy. I do this not out of any disrespect to the Court. I do this simply because I am innocent.
My claim of innocence is not because of any inherent misunderstanding on my part as to the nature of the crimes for which I was convicted nor is it because my Muslim belief recognizes sharia rather than secular law. It is merely because I am innocent. …
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquillity, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
I declare the government’s recitation poor as it stripped those words of their meaning.
***Imprisonment of any term, as this Court well knows, is a crisis for the incarcerated and his or her loved ones. I am no exception to that.
But the real crisis brought on my imprisonment, I sincerely believe is America’s. For if my conviction is to stand, it would mean that two hundred and thirty years of America’s tradition of protecting the individual from the tyrannies and whims of the sovereign will have come to an end. And that which is exploited today to persecute a single member of a minority will most assuredly come back to haunt the majority tomorrow.”
KSM invoked George Washington in his statement to a military tribunal in March 2007. That was far less compelling because he was admitting to many serious crimes. The evidence presented at trial, however, was offered only to show that Dr. Al-Timimi was guilty of nothing other than exhorting some young men to go abroad and defend their faith. It seems that, under the government’s case, his only crime was to put his religion before his nation-state. He was sentenced to life in prison plus 70 years. As one Washington Post reporter said of such cases, the government seems to be engaged in shadow boxing.
As Al-Timimi explained in his eloquent statement upon sentencing, he was convicted out of fear.
The former head of the DARPA Biological Counermeasures Program, Dr. Stephen S. Morse, in an interview airing on Charlie Rose on October 10, 2001, explained that there was no need for the public to fear. He noted that maybe the mailer had a personal reason — no reason to assume the Florida death related to terrorism or a large group. Dr. Morse urged that we put it into perspective and inform the public so as to remove the mystery. He explained we should not allow ourselves to feel fear . As reiterated in other interviews that week, he said mailed anthrax was not a great danger. As those words aired, however, more letters were en route from that mailbox at 10 Nassau St. in Princeton. The anthrax mailer asked a pointed question in the letter containing a much more highly refined product — product that aerosolized much more readily. The new batch of letters asked: “Are you afraid?”
The answer was clearly yes.
In a November 30, 2004 letter of appeal circulated in sympathetic circles in the US and the UK, Bilal Philips encouraged Muslims to assist Al-Timimi “financially, morally or politically.” The letter urged that “whatever the charges against him [Al-Timimi] may be, from an Islamic perspective they are false and contrived in order to silence the Da’wah to correct Islam.” Dr. Timimi has a substantial pending appeal relating to warrantless wiretapping and the First Amendment. Dr. Timimi’s attorney likely is understandably annoyed that they keep moving Al-Timimi between prisons. George Washington University Professor Turley, his counsel on appeal, explained that last year they were playing a game of “Where’s Waldo?”, preventing him from consulting with his client.
b. The Education of Ali Al-Timimi: Summons to Conquest
Milton Viorst, who knew Ali as a teenager, wrote a fascinating, balanced and sympathetic portrait in “The Education of Ali Al-Timimi” that appeared in The Atlantic Monthly, June 2006. In Saudi Arabia, Al-Timimi had been mentored by a Saudi-trained Canadian imam Bilal Philips. Philips was Al-Timimi’s Islamic Studies teacher at Manaret Riyadh High School in the early 1980s. Al-Timimi adopted Philips’ view that “The clash of civilizations is a reality,” and “Western culture led by the United States is an enemy of Islam.” Between 1991 and 1993, Philips relocated to the Mindinao, Philippines, where he taught at an islamic school. In 1993, according to an interview he gave in a London-based Arabic-language magazine interview, Philips ran a program to convert US soldiers to Islam stationed in Saudi Arabia during the first Persian Gulf War.
Philips was made a proselytization official by the Saudi Air Force. Philips followed up in the US, with telephone calls and visits intended to recruit the veterans as potential members of Bin Laden’s network. He enlisted assistance from others based in the U.S. and members of Islamic centers all over the US. These conversion specialists financed pilgrimages for US veterans and would later send Muslim clerics in the United States to their homes. Bilal Philips encouraged some converts from this program to fight in Bosnia in the 1990s. He enlisted WTC plotter Clement Rodney Hampton-El to help him with the program. Hampton-El was associated with the Al-Kifah center in Brooklyn. Hampton-El in trial testimony described a meeting at the Saudi embassy in 1992 at which Philips gave him a list of US Army personnel to approach. Bilal Philips was named along with Osama bin Laden and Bin Laden brother-in-law Khalifa (and many others) as unindicted co-conspirators in the Day of Terror trial that sent the “blind sheik” to prison.
Bilal Philips in one interview explained:
“[US Army Sergeant Ali Mohammed] used to coordinate with US intelligence. And, when Croatia closed its borders to Arab volunteers, there were a group of black Americans who completed their training and knew Islam through me. [Ali Mohammed] contacted Shaykh Umar Abd-al-Rahman and offered to use this group for sabotage acts inside the United States. The offer was made on the telephone, which apparently was tapped by US intelligence. Shaykh Umar replied by saying: ‘”Avoid civilian targets.’ ”
Bilal Philips was a good friend of Adnan El-Shukrijumah’s father. Philips wrote in his guestbook on the family website his son created about learning Arabic: “He was one of my first teachers in Arabic and is a dear friend, though geography and world politics has separated us. Tell him that, as always, I love him for the sake of Allaah. Was salaam, Bilal.” Adnan’s family website also contained a picture of another “unindicted co-conspirator” of the ’93 bombing, Siraj Wahhaj, who would speak as the same Falls Church mosque as Al-Timimi. Siraj Wahhaj would host Sheik Abdel-Rahman at Masjid At-Taqwa in Brooklyn where two of the WTC bombers worshipped. Wahhaj was a character witness for Sheik Abdel-Rahman at his 1995 trial.
After completing his religious education in Saudi Arabia in Medina, Ali Al Timimi had returned to the United States and received a second bachelor’s degree — this time in computer science at the University of Maryland, while also studying software programming at George Washington University. Timimi spoke at IANA conferences in 1993 and 1994. A senior al Qaeda recruiter, Abdelrahman Dosari, also spoke at three IANA conferences in the early 1990s. In December 1993, Al-Dorsari (a.k.a. Shaykh Abu Abdel Aziz “Barbaros”) spoke on ‘Jihad & Revival” and exhorted young men to fight for their faith, just as Al-Timimi would later be accused of doing privately with young men in Virginia.
At the first annual IANA conference in 1993, other scheduled speakers included Bilal Philips, a fellow named Mohammed Abdul-Rahman from Afghanistan, Mohammad Qutb from Cairo, and Gamal Sultan from Cairo.
There was a Mohammad Abdul-Rahman from Afghanistan who was the blind sheik’s son. The blind sheik would soon be sentenced for terrorism relating to WTC 1993 and the “Day of Terror” plot directed at NYC landmarks. In 2000, Mohammed Abdel Rahman, a/k/a “Asadallah,” who is a son of Abdel Rahman, was sitting alongside Bin Laden and Zawahiri and was videotaped encouraging others to “avenge your Sheikh” and “go to the spilling of blood.
And there was a Mohammad Qutb who was Syed Qutb’s brother who taught Bin Laden at university in Saudi Arabia, having emigrated to Saudi Arabia in the 1980s. Qutb, as al-Hawali’s teacher, also strongly influenced al-Hawali. Al-Hawali would be sent to prison in 1994. In the 1970s, bin Laden was taught by Sayyid Qutb’s brother, Dr. Mohammad Qutb, and a Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood member, Dr. Abdullah Azzam, who later would found Al Qaeda. Azzam’s ideas of non-compromise, violent means, and organizing and fighting on a global scale were central to Al Qaeda methods.
Gamal Sultan was the former EIJ member who would seek to start a political party in 1999 with EIJ founder Kamal Habib that sought to chart a nonviolent course. The effort was acknowledged to be a response to the practical reality that the movement had been so infiltrated by the security forces, but that the blind sheik declined to endorse the project. In 2000, on a trip to Pittsburgh, Gamal Sultan and his colleagues thought Pittsburgh reminded them of Kandahar given its rolling hills.
In 1995 Ali Al Timimi headed an IANA delegation to China together with IANA President Bassem Khafagi and Syracuse oncologist and IANA Vice Chairman Rhafil Dhafir. The IANA condemned the UN women’s rights conference as “an attack on Islam.” They urged Imams worldwide to tell Muslims about “the hidden agenda of this UN Conference, and how to foil the libertine and Westernization movements in the Islamic world.”
Salafist commentator Umar Lee has explained that in the early 1990s “the most dynamic part of the salafi movement in the DC-area were the students Sheikh Ali al-Timimi. In the DC area, who in the 1990’s co-founded a very small group with a small office in DC for an organization called the Society for the Adherence to the Sunnah. In 1994, cooperation with Al-Timimi’s Society for the Adherence to the Sunnah, Washington, D.C., IANA held its first annual summer camp in English in early July, Frederick, MD. The theme of the camp is, “Living the Shahadah in America.”This is what Sheikh Ali was teaching kids at the 1st Annual IANA Summer Camp at Frederic, MD, July 2-4, 1994.
“Reflections on the Meaning of Our Testimony of Faith: ‘There is no god but Allah and Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah” by Ali Al-Timimi.***“6 Wage Jihad in the Path of Allah…Allah — ta’ala– has said: “Slay the idolaters wherever you find them, and take them (captive) and beseige them, and lie in wait for them at every place of ambush.” (The Qur’an 9:5) Fight those who believe not in Allah and the Last Day and do not forbid what Allah and His Messenger have forbidden, and practice not the true religion (Islam), being of those who have been given the Scripture (the Jews and the Christians) — until they pay tribute readily and have been brought low. (The Qur’an 9:29)
The Prophet .. has said:
I am commanded to fight mankind till they testify that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah, establish the prayers and pay the charity. When they do that they will keep their lives and their property safe from me.”
Author Milton Viorst, the father of a boy who knew Al-Timimi as a young teen, wrote: “Dozens of his talks are available on the Internet in text and in audio format. They contain little about Arab concerns with the Arab-Israeli wars, the rivalries between the Arab states, the problems faced by Muslims living in the West, or even the war in Iraq. Rather, they reveal a man who reflects deeply on the Islamic vision of Judgment day, prophecy, the nature of the divine, and fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence) — subjects with which he grappled in Medina and in his private reading.”
Al Timimi’s lectures (in English after Arabic opening) include “The Negative Portrayal Of Islam In the Media,” “Signs Before the Day of Judgement,” “Advice to the UK Salafis” and “Crusade Complex: Western Perceptions of Islam.” In one of his taped talks available online, al-Timimi warned Muslims not to become too friendly with non-Muslim “disbelievers” or even work for them if other jobs were available. “A Muslim should never allow the disbeliever to have the upper hand.” He was echoing the sentiments expressed in a lecture available on the internet by the IANA Chairman Rafil Dhafir, who said if a non-muslim mows your lawn, by all means, mow his lawn. But don’t be a friend to a non-muslim.
Al-Timimi’s increasing computer skills got him a job at SRA International where Ali worked as a “bioinformatics software architect” providing information technology to the government. Some of his jobs required that Ali obtain a high-level security clearance. One job resulted in a letter of recommendation from the White House. He then enrolled in a PhD program in computational biology at George Mason University.
By 2000, Ali Al-Timimi was already taking advanced courses at Mason in computational sciences. Timimi once explained his research: “I am currently a research scientist at the Center for Biomedical Genomics and Informatics, George Mason University. I am involved in the analysis of the microarray data generated by the CTRF Cancer Genomics Project. Likewise, I am developing new computational approaches and technologies in support of this project.” The webpage for Timimi’s program at the time explained: “Faculty members and graduate students in the Program in Bioinformatics and Computational Biology participate in numerous collaborative efforts including but not limited to the following Laboratories and Research Centers:
Center for Biomedical Genomics and Informatics (GMU) , Laboratory for Microbial and Environmental Biocomplexity (GMU) and Center for Biodefense (GMU). Beginning the Spring of 2002, GMU hired Ali to develop a computer program that coordinated the research at several universities, letting him go only after he came under suspicion by the FBI. In Spring 2002, according to salary information obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, GMU hired him for $70,000 a year. In 2002, the employment was through the School of Computational Sciences and in 2003, it was through Life Sciences Grants & Contracts.
The School of Computational Sciences at George Mason is a joint venture between the American Type Culture Collection (”ATCC”) and George Mason. The joint venture is an effort to maximize research efforts by combining the academic and applied approaches to research. The School’s first activity was to teach an ATCC course in DNA techniques adapted for George Mason students. The ATCC is an internationally renown non-profit organization that houses the world’s largest and most diverse archive of biological materials. The Prince William Campus shares half of Discovery Hall with ATCC. ATCC moved to its current state-of-the-art laboratory at Discovery Hall (Prince Willam II) in 1998. ATCC’s 106,000-square-foot facility has nearly 35,000 square feet of laboratory space with a specialized air handling system and Biosafety Level 2 and 3 containment stations.
The ATCC bioinformatics (BIF) program carries out research in various areas of biological information management relevant to its mission. BIF scientists interact with laboratory scientists in microbiology, cell biology, and molecular biology at ATCC and other laboratories throughout the world. ATCC has strong collaborations with a large number of academic institutions, including computational sciences at George Mason University.
Through these partnerships, the George Mason Prince William Campus offers George Mason microbiology students an opportunity for students to be involved in current research and gain access to facilities and employment opportunities at ATCC and other partner companies.
While I’ve not yet found any reference directly confirming Timimi’s room number, the person who inherited his old telephone number (3-4294) is Victor Morozov in the Center for Biodefense, who upon joining the faculty and inheriting the phone number was in Rm. 154A, very near Dr. Bailey in Rm 156B. It has been suggested that it instead was Rm. 154B, in the middle of the office suite. GMU Information Services helpfully looked up the listings from 2001 directory. As of October 2001 (when the directory is published according to GMU Information Services), judging from the directory, Al-Timimi was still just a graduate student.
Former USAMRIID head and Ames strain anthrax researcher Charles Bailey, in Rm 156B, was given a Gateway desktop computer in mid-March 2001 (upon his arrival) — serial number 0227315480. It was like the one Dr. Alibek would get the next year in 156D. One way to think of proximity analysis — a form of true crime analysis — is the number of feet or inches between 154B and 156B/156D. Another way is to think of it is in terms of the number of feet or inches to the hard drives. You can judge the distance for yourself from First Floor plan, available on-line, clicking upon 154-156 area to enlarge.
c. “The Straight Path”: Connecting the Dots
Al-Timimi was on an advisory board member of Assirat al-Mustaqueem (”The Straight Path”), an international Arabic language magazine that published out of Pittsburgh. Assirat, produced in Pittsburgh beginning in 1991, was the creation of a group of North American muslims, many of whom were senior members of IANA. Its Advisory Committee included Bassem Khafagi and Ali Al-Timimi. Two staff members who wrote for Assirat then joined IANA’s staff when it folded in 2000. They had been members of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad and were activists in the movement. One of the former EIJ members, Gamal Sultan, was the editor of the quarterly IANA magazine in 2002. Mr. Sultan’s brother Mahmoud wrote for Assirat also. The most prominent writer was the founder of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad, Kamal Habib. He led the Egyptian Islamic Jihad at the time of Anwar Sadat’s assassination when young doctor Zawahiri’s cell merged with a few other cells to form the EIJ. Two writers for Assirat in Pittsburgh had once shared a Portland, Oregon address with Al Qaeda member Wadih El-Hage who served a Bin Laden’s “personal secretary.”
Kamal Habib had been a founding member of Egyptian Islamic Jihad and had spent 10 years in jail for the assassination of Anwar Sadat. In the late 1970s, the cell run by the young doctor Zawahiri joined with three other groups to become Egyptian Islamic Jihad (EIJ) under Habib’s leadership. After a visit in 2000, Gamal Sultan said Pittsburgh was known as the “American Kandahar,” given its rolling hills. Besides forming the Islah (”‘Reform) party wth Gamal Sultan, Mr. Kamal Habib contributed to Al Manar al Jadeed, IANA’s quarterly journal.
The pair sought the blind sheik’s endorsement of their political party venture in March 1999. They were not seeking the official participation of organizations like the Egyptian Islamic Jihad or the Egyptian Islamic Group, they were hoping the groups would not oppose it. The pair wanted members of the movement to be free to join in peaceful partisan activity. They were not deterred when the blind sheik responded that the project was pointless, at the same he withdrew his support for the cease-fire initiative that had been backed by the imprisoned leaders of the Egyptian Islamic Group.
In early April 2001, Nawaf Alhazmi and Hani Hanjour rented an apartment in Falls Church, Virginia, for about a month, with the assistance of a man they met at the mosque. Nawaf Al-Hazmi had been at the January 2000 meeting at Yazid Sufaat’s Malaysian condominium in January 2000. Hijackers Nawaf and Hani Hanjour, a fellow pilot who was his friend from Saudi Arabia, attended sermons at the Dar al Hijrah mosque in Falls Church, where Al-Timimi was located until he established the nearby center. The FBI reports that at an imam who had recently also moved from San Diego had closed door meetings with hijackers Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar in 2000 while all three of them were living in San Diego. Police later found the phone number of the Falls Church mosque when they searched the apartment of 9/11 planner Ramzi bin al-Shibh in Germany. In his 2007 book, Center of the Storm, George Tenet noted that Ramzi bin al-Shibh had a CBRN role.
Yusuf Wells, who was a fundraiser for the Benevolence
International Foundation, visited Northern Virginia over the April 14-15, 2001 weekend. The previous month he had been at Iowa State University on a similar visit. On April 15, 2001, he was brought to a paintball game. In the second season, they had become more secretive after an inquiry by an FBI Special Agent was made in 2000 of one of the members about the games. Part of BIF fundraiser Wells’ job involved writing reports about his fund raising trips. In his April 15, 2001 report he writes:
“I was taken on a trip to the woods where a group of twenty brothers get together to play Paintball. It is a very secret and elite group and as I understand it, it is an honor to be invited to come. The brothers are fully geared up in camouflage fatigues, facemasks, and state of the art paintball weaponry. They call it ‘training’ and are very serious about it. I knew at least 4 or 5 of them were ex US military, the rest varied.
Most all of them young men between the ages of 17-35. I was asked by the amir of the group to give a talk after Thuhr prayer. I spoke about seeing the conditions of Muslims overseas while with BIF, and how the fire of Islam is still very much alive in the hearts of the people even in the midst of extreme oppression. I also stressed the idea of being balanced. That we should not just be jihadis and perfect our fighting skills, but we should also work to perfect our character and strengthen our knowledge of Islam. I also said that Muslims are not just book reading cowards either, and that they should be commended for forming such a group.
Many were confused as to why I had been ‘trusted’ to join the group so quickly, but were comforted after my brief talk. Some offered to help me get presentations on their respective localities.”
According to what Ali’s friend Umar Lee tells me, Al-Timimi was not friends with the Virginia defendants — at least he did not regularly associate with them outside his classes they attended. But it has been said that they were awed by Timimi, a man who could both translate 7th-century Koranic Arabic, talk about astrobiology with friends, or joke about the Redskins. The prosecutor argued that the paintball defendants “couldn’t figure out how to tie their shoelaces without asking al-Timimi.” The group looked up to Al-Timimi and sought his advice on all sorts of questions — to include whether it was permissible to pray in a moving car and whether one could cut short his prayers due to an approaching scorpion.
After 9/11, although a dinner that night was cancelled in light of the events of the day, Al-Timimi sought “to organize a plan in case of anti-Muslim backlash and to get the brothers together.” The group got together on September 16. Al-Timimi when he came in told the group to turn of their phones, unplug the answering machine, and pull down the curtains. Al-Timimi told the group that Mullah Omar had called upon Muslims to defend Afghanistan. Al-Timimi read parts of the al-Uqla fatwa to the group and gave the fatwa to Khan with the instructions to burn it after he has read it. Al Timimi said the duty to engage in jihad is “fard ayn” — an individual duty of all Muslims.
Over a lunch, Al-Timimi with two of the group, Al-Timimi told them not to carry anything suspicious and if they were stopped on the way to Pakistan to ask for their mother and cry like a baby. He told them to carry a magazine. The next day the pair left for Pakistan. The group from the September 16 meeting met again in early October, and a number left for Pakistan immediately after that meeting.
One man, Kwon, who had just become a U.S. citizen in August 2001, went to the mountain training camps of Lashkar-e-Taiba. The U.S. placed on its terrorist list in December 2001. Kwon practiced with a semi-automatic weapons and learned to fire a grenade launcher, but he was not able to join the Taliban. The border between Afghanistan and Pakistan closed as U.S. forces took control of Afghanistan shortly before Kwon completed his training. His trainers suggested that he instead go back to the United States and gather information for the holy warriors. Kwon told jurors at al-Timimi’s trial how he first heard Al-Timimi speak in 1997 at an Islamic Assembly of North America conference in Chicago and then found that he lectured locally near his home in Northern Virginia.
“Russian Hell” — a jihad video that featured bloody clips of a Chechen Muslim rebel leader executing a Russian prisoner of war — was a favorite among the videos that the group exchanged and discussed. “They (the videos) motivated us. It was like they gave us inspiration,” Kwon told the jurors.
Kwon recalled driving Al-Timimi home from the mosque Sept. 11, 2001 after the terrorist attacks. He said Al-Timimi and another scholar argued, with Al-Timimi characterizing the attacks as a punishment of America from God, while his fellow scholar decried the attacks. “He told me to gather some brothers, to have a contingency plan in case there were mass hostilities toward Muslims in America.” Kwon said Al-Timimi told the group that the effort to spread Islam in the United States was over and that the only other options open to them were to repent, leave the U.S. and join the mujahadeen — the holy warriors preparing to defend Afghanistan against the coming U.S. invasion. Four days later, Kwon was on the plane to Pakistan. “I made the decision to go, but (Al-Timimi) was a big part of my decision to go.”
In 2001, Al-Timimi kept the personal papers of IANA President Khafagi at his home for safekeeping. His taped audio lecturers were among the most popular at the charity Islamic Assembly of North America in Ann Arbor, Michigan. He knew its President, Khafagi, both through work with CAIR and IANA. Al Timimi was close to his former teacher Safar al Hawali, the dissident Saudi sheik who once close to Osama bin Laden and whose writings hail what he calls the inevitable downfall of the West. Under pressure from authorities after 9/11, Al Hawali has played a public role in mediating between Saudi militants and the government. Al-Timimi sought to represent and explain the views of radical sheik Al-Hawali in a letter he sent to members of Congress. The same nondescript office building at 360 S. Washington St. in Falls Church where Timimi used to lecture at Dar al Arqam housed the Muslim World League.
The Hawali October 6, 2002 letter drafted by Al-Timimi was hand delivered to every member of the US Congress just before their vote authorizing the use of force against Iraq, warning of the disastrous consequences that would follow an invasion of Iraq. Dr. Timimi’s defense committee explained on their website:
“Because Dr. Al-Timimi felt that he did not have enough stature to send a letter in his name on behalf of Muslims, he contacted Dr. Al-Hawali among others to send the letter. Dr. Al-Hawali agreed and sent a revised version which Dr. Al-Timimi then edited and had hand delivered to every member of Congress.”
In addition to the lucidly written October 6, 2002 letter , Hawali had sent a lengthy October 15, 2001 “Open Letter” to President Bush in which he had rejoiced in the 9/11 attacks. One Al-Hawali lecture sought to be introduced in the prosecution of the IANA webmaster, applauded the killing of Jews and called for more killing, praised suicide bombings, and said of Israel that it’s time to “fight and expel this hated country that consists of those unclean, defiled, the cursed.”
Bin Laden had referred to Sheik al-Hawali in his 1996 declaration of war on America. Prior to the 1998 embassy bombings, Ayman’s London cell sent letters to three different media outlets in Europe claiming responsibility for the bombings and referring to Hawali’s imprisonment. In two of the letters, the conditions laid out as to how the violence would stop were (1) release of Sheik Hawali (who along with another had been imprisoned in Saudi Arabia in 1994) and (2) the release of blind sheik Abdel Rahman (who had been imprisoned in connection with WTC 1993). Hawali was released in 1999 after he agreed to stop advocating against the Saudi regime and agreed to limit himself to urging the destruction of the United States and Israel.
The authorities had an interest in a lecture by dissident Saudi Sheik al-Hawali upon a search on February 26, 2003 of an IANA-connected scientist, a respected and blameless radiological engineer, in Syracuse, New York. A federal magistrate found that we had not reached the point where such reading material would be a reason for denial of bail.
Al-Timimi sent out a February 1, 2003 email in Arabic containing an article that said:
“There is no doubt Muslims were overjoyed because of the
adversity that befell their greatest enemy. The Columbia crash made me feel, and God is the only One to know, that this is a strong signal that Western Supremacy (especially that of America) that began 500 years ago is coming to a quick end, God willing, as occurred to the shuttle.”
As Ali later explained to NBC, “To have a space shuttle crash in Palestine, Texas, with a Texas president and an Israeli astronaut, somebody might say there’s a divine hand behind it.”
d. GMU Center for Biodefense: Discovery Hall
Ali Al-Timimi worked at George Mason University’s Discovery Hall throughout 2000 and 2002 period. The Mason Gazette in “Mason to Pursue Advanced Biodefense Research” on November 17, 2000 had announced:”The School of Computational Sciences (SCS) and Advanced Biosystems, Inc., a subsidiary of Hadron, Inc., of Alexandria, are pursuing a collaborative program at the Prince William Campus to enhance research and educational objectives in biodefense research. The article noted that the program was funded primarily by a grant awarded to Advanced Biosystems from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).
Instead of starting a center from scratch, GMU chose to join forces with Dr. Alibek and Dr. Bailey’s existing research firm, Hadron Advanced Biosystems Inc., which was already working under contract for the federal government, having received funding from DARPA. Dr. Alibek told the Washington Post that he and Bailey had spent their careers studying an issue that only recently grabbed the country’s attention, after the anthrax mailings the previous fall. Dr. Bailey and Alibek met in 1991, when a delegation of Soviet scientists visited the USAMRIID at Ft. Detrick. Dr. Bailey explained that the purpose of the tour was to show the Soviets that the US was not developing offensive biological weapons. Bailey said he tried to engage Alibek in conversation but Alibek remained aloof.
Alibek, for his part, explains that he was suspicious of this American smiling so broadly at him. A year later, Alibek would defect to the US and reveal an illegal biological program in the Soviet Union of a staggering scope. Alibek says that one reason he defected was that he realized that the Soviet intelligence was wrong — that the US research was in fact only defensive.
Former USAMRIID head and Ames researcher Bailey was the named coinventor, with Ken Alibek, the process to treat cell culture with hydrophobic silicon dioxide so as to permit greater concentration upon drying.
He was in Room 156B of GMU’s Discovery Hall. at the Center for Biodefense. The patent application was filed March 14, 2001. Rm 154A was Victor Morozov’s room number when he first assumed Timimi’s phone number in 2004 (and before he moved to the newly constructed Bull Run Hall). Dr. Morozov was the co-inventor with Dr. Bailey of the related cell culture process under which the silica was removed from the spore surface — with the silicon perhaps still detectable by an EDX by reason of having been absorbed by the exosporium.
One ATCC former employee felt so strongly about lax security there the scientist called me out of the blue and said that the public was overlooking the patent repository as a possible source of the Ames strain. ATCC does not deny they had virulent Ames in their patent repository pre 9/11 (as distinguished from their online catalog). But nor does ATCC admit. ATCC is not saying. The spokesperson emailed me: “As a matter of policy, ATCC does not disclose information on the contents of its patent depository…”
George Mason University, Department Listings, accessed August 17, 2003, shows that the National Center For Biodefense and Center for Biomedical Genomics had the same mail stop (MS 4ES).
The most famed bioweaponeer in the world — the former head of the Russian bioweapons program (to include anthrax) — was not far from this sheik urging violent jihad in an apocalyptic struggle between religions. Dr. Alibek’s office was Rm. 156D in Prince William 2. The groups both shared the same department fax of 993-4288. Dr. Alibek advises me he had seen him several times in the corridors of GMU and was told that he was a religious muslim hard-liner but knew nothing of his activities. At one point, Timimi’s mail drop was MSN 4D7
Charles Bailey at 3-4271 was the former head of USAMRIID and joined the Center in April 2001. He did research with Ames after 9/11. Dr. Alibek reports that shortly after the mailings, he wrote Director Mueller and offered his services but was advised that they already had assembled a large group.
Ali Al Timimi had the same telephone number that Dr. Victor Morozov, of the Center for Biodefense would later have when he joined the faculty and occupied the newly constructed Bull Run Building, which opened in late 2004 (Rm. #362). If only to show the sophisticated cutting edge work they do at the Center, Dr. Morozov focuses on the development of new bioassay methods for express analysis, high-throughput screening and proteomics. He has recently developed a new electrospray-based technology for mass fabrication of protein microarrays.
Dr. Morozov is currently supervising a DOE -funded research project directed at the development of ultra-sensitive express methods for detection of pathogens in which slow diffusion of analytes is replaced by their active transport controlled and powered by external forces (electric, magnetic, gravitational or hydrodynamic). His homepage explains that: “A variety of projects are available for students to participate in
1. Develop methods for active capturing of viruses and cells.
2. AFM imaging of macromolecules, viruses and cells.
3. Develop active immunoassay.
4. Analyze forces operating in the active assay of biomolecules and viral particles.
5. Develop immobilization techniques for antibodies and other biospecific molecules.
6. Study crystallization dynamics and morphology of organic and inorganic crystals in the presence of protein impurities.
7. Develop software to analyze motion of beads.
8. Develop software to analyze patterns in drying droplets.
9. Develop an electrostatic collector for airborne particles.”
Al-Timimi obtained a doctorate from George Mason University in 2004 in the field of computational biology — a field related to cancer research involving genome sequencing. He successfully defended his thesis 5 weeks after his indictment. Curt Jamison, Timimi’s thesis advisor, coauthor and loyal friend, was in Prince William II (Discovery Hall) Rm. 181A.
The staff of Advanced Biosystems was in Rm. 160, 162, 177, 254E and several others. Computational sciences offices were intermixed among the Hadron personnel on the first floor of Prince William II to include 159, 161, 166A, 167, 181 B and 181C. Rm. 156B was Charles Bailey, former commander of the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, who was head of the Center for Biodefense.
Over 13 years, Dr. Bailey had served as a Research Scientist, Deputy Commander for Research, Deputy Commander and Commander at the U.S. Army Medical Research Instiute. As a USAMRIID scientist, he designed and supervised the construction of BL-3 containment facilities. His hands-on experience with a wide variety of pathogens is chronicled in 70 published articles. During his 4 years with the Defense Intelligence Agency, he published numerous articles assessing foreign capabilities regarding biological weapons.”
When I asked Dr. Bailey to confirm Al-Timimi’s room number relative to his own, his only response was to politely and succinctly refer me to University counsel. Counsel, although responsive, then never responded substantively to my inquiry regarding their respective room numbers, noting the privacy and confidentiality principles that seemed to apply. Dr. Jamison, Ali’s good friend and supervisor, never responded to an emailed query either. GMU may be nervous about losing the $25 million grant for a new BL-3 regional facility to be located very near our country’s capital.
In Fall 2001, the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology (”AFIP”) had detected silicon dioxide (silica) in the attack anthrax — with a characteristic big spike for the silicon. The reason for the silicon dioxide/silica claimed to have been detected by AFIP has never been explained (and it’s been nearly a half decade). Dr. Alibek and Dr. Matthew Meselson report that there was no silica was observable on the SEMS images that saw. The Daschle product was “pure spores.”
But was silicon dioxide used as part of a microdroplet cell culture process used prior to drying to permit greater concentration? As explained in a later related patent, the silica could be removed from the surface of the spore through repeated centrifugaton or an air chamber.
Dr. Alibek and the former head of USAMRIID, Ames anthrax research Charles Bailey, had filed a patent application in mid-March 2001 involving a microdroplet cell culture technique that used silicon dioxide in a method for concentrating growth of cells. The patent was granted and the application first publicly disclosed in the Spring of 2002. Weren’t the SEMS images and AFIP EDX finding both consistent with use of this process in growing the culture? It’s been suggested informally to me that perhaps the silicon analytical peak was more likely due to silanol from hydrolysis of a silane, used in siliconizing glassware.
But didn’t the AFIP in fact also detect oxygen in ratios characteristic of silicon dioxide? Wasn’t the scientist, now deceased, who performed the EDX highly experienced and expert in detecting silica? Hasn’t the AFIP always stood by its report. In its report, AFIP explained: “AFIP experts utilized an energy dispersive X-ray spectrometer (an instrument used to detect the presence of otherwise-unseen chemicals through characteristic wavelengths of X-ray light) to confirm the previously unidentifiable substance as silica?”
The nuance that was lost — or just never publicly explained for very sound reasons — was that silica was used in the cell culture process and then removed from the spores through a process such as centrifugation.
Dr. Morozov the scientist who inherited Al-Timimi’s telephone number, is co-inventor along with Dr. Bailey for a patent “Cell Culture” that explains how the silicon dioxide can be removed from the surface. Perhaps it is precisely this AFIP finding of silicon dioxide (without silica on the SEMS) that is why the FBI came to suspect Al-Timimi in 2003 (rightly or wrongly, we don’t know). The FBI would have kept these scientific findings secret to protect the integrity of the confidential criminal/national security investigation.
There was still a processor and mailer to catch — still a case to prove. Above all, they needed to protect the due process rights of Al-Timimi while he defended himself on other charges. The FBI is many things to many people but most agree that they tend to be inscrutable as part of their job.
e. Ali and The Islamic Ruling On The Peace Process
Establishing a center for Islamic education, al-Timimi contacted Egyptian-born Salafi Abd al-Rahman Abd al-Khaliq and translated his works into English. A London charity, JIMAS, at whose conferences Ali would speak, published the translation of the al-Khaliq’s book. He would give talks such as “Our Need for a Fiqh Suitable to Our Time and Place” at the 1997 conference in London or his “Cure for the Cancer of Globalization” or “The Position of Palestine in Allah’s Revelation” at the JIMAS conference in London August 24-27. (Fiqh relates to the principles of islamic jurisprudence to include the principles governing warfare). The UK Islamic charity published the book calling on Muslims worldwide to “overthrow” peace treaties between Arab states and Israel.
Sheikh Abdur Rahman Abdul Khaliq’s book published by JIMAS, The Islamic Ruling on The Peace Process, arguing that “the Jews are the enemies of the Islamic ummah (nation).” The US government’s National Commission for investigating the 9/11 attacks listed the book as one of a number of texts “espousing violence and hatred towards the west and reinforcing the victimization of Muslims as the hands of the infidels.”
“The Jews have been the enemies of the Islamic ummah since the Messenger of Allah, Muhammad, peace and blessings of Allah be on him, began his call to Allah; and their hostility to this ummah will continue till the Day of Resurrection,” the National Commission’s website quoted from the book. “War or Jihad is an obligatory duty which remains in force till the Day of Resurrection. According to another version of the book made available by a separate jihadist website (currently offline), Muslims are completely prohibited from making peace with non-Muslims “except when the kafir (infidel) is humbled and surrenders.”
Any peace made by Muslim countries with Israel contravenes the Quran and must be reversed, the book argues. “Their (the Jews) hostility to the Muslims continues, so much so that stones and trees call out to the Muslims saying: ‘O Muslim, here is a Jew behind you, so fight him,’” a chapter in the book declared, based on an Islamic hadith (reported saying of Islam’s prophet, Muhammad).
The author commands Muslims to “firmly believe in the invalidity” of peace agreements with Israel, and calls on them “to work towards overthrowing these treaties.”
The letters to the news organizations were mailed — coincidentally or not — on September 17 or September 18, either the day the Camp David Accord was signed in 1978 or the next day when it was approved by the Israeli knesset. Abdel-Rahman, the blind sheik, in the early 1980s, said: “We reject Camp David and we regret the normalization of relations with Israel. We also reject all the commitments that were made by the traitor Sadat, who deviated from Islam.” He continued: “As long as the Camp David Agreement stands, this conflict between us and the government will continue.”
The letters to the Senators were mailed on the date Sadat was assassinated, October 6, for entering the peace treaty with Israel. Al-Timimi had hand-delivered the letter from Bin Laden’s sheik to every member of Congress on October 6, 2002, the first anniversary of the mailing to Senator Leahy and Senator Daschle.
After 9/11, a sweet young muslim Egyptian woman came to stay with a close relative. She was the daughter of a senior Egyptian official who worked at the UN. Given that peace seems a good thing, as we walked along a local duck pond, we discussed how Sadat seemed a hero of historic proportion.
Now I don’t know enough about international relations or history to be confident whether that is right or not. But in profiling Amerithrax, and having watched the tv detective Columbo for many years, I know when a motive seems to fit a person of interest and when the facts seem to point to the motive.
When pundits point to the targeting of Senator Leahy as pointing away from militant islamists as responsible for mailing, it may be that they were just unaware that he had the single most important role in appropriations to Egypt and Israel as head of the relevant Senate subcommittee overseeing the appropriations.
The government’s indictment alleged that after the space shuttle disaster in February, Timimi said the United States “was the greatest enemy of Muslims.”
f. The 2006 Arrest Of Falls Church “911 Imam” And Fellow Salafist Lecturer Awlaqi
Falls Church imam Awlaqi (Aulaqi), who met with hijacker Nawaf, reportedly was picked up in Yemen by Yemen security forces at the request of the CIA last summer. British and US intelligence had him and others under surveillance. Al-Timimi would speak alongside fellow Falls Church imam Awlaqi (Aulaqi) at conferences such as the August 2001 London JIMAS and the August 2002 London JIMAS conference. They would speak on subjects such as signs before the day of judgment and the like — dozens of their lectures are available online.
Aulaqi was hired in early 2001 in attempt by the mosque’s leaders, who were criticized as being too conservative, to increase its appeal to younger worshipers. Born in New Mexico and raised in Yemen, he had the total package. He was young, personable, fluent in English, eloquent and knowledgeable about Middle East politics. In 2001, Awlaqi came to Falls Church from San Diego shortly before Nawaf did. Hani Hanjour and Nawaf Al Hazmi, worshiped at Aulaqi’s mosque for several weeks in spring 2001.
The 9/11 commission noted that the two men may have showed up because Nawaf Hazmi had developed a close relationship with Aulaqi in San Diego. Aulaqi told the FBI that he did not recall what Nawaf and he had discussed in San Diego and denied having contact with him in Falls Church.
In March 2002, Awlaqi suddenly left the US and went to Yemen, thus avoiding the inquiry the 9/11 Commission thought so important. (Eventually Aulaqi would be banned from entering both the UK and US because of his speeches on jihad, martyrdom and the like).
g. The Ability of Intelligence To Prevent Domestic Bioterrorism
A former FBI agent in the New York office who asked not to be identified, told author Peter Lance: “Understand what this means. You have an Al Qaeda spy who’s now a U.S. citizen, on active duty in the U.S. Army, and he brings along a video paid for by the U.S. government to train Green Beret officers and he’s using it to help train Islamic terrrorists so they can turn their guns on us. … By now the Afghan war is over.” Steve Emerson once said of the former US Army Sergeant who was Ayman Zawahiri’s head of intelligence and taught Bin Laden and Atef and others spycraft: “Ali Mohamed is one of the most frightening examples of the infiltration of terrorists into the infrastructure of the United States.
Like a [character in a] John Le Carre thriller, he played the role of a triple agent and nearly got away with it.” Well, not even Ali Mohammed could boast a letter of commendation from the White House, previous work briefly for White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card (while at the Department of Transportation), and a high security clearance. Ali Mohammed did not even have a security clearance but was merely a supply sergeant at the base where Special Operations were located. Ali Mohammed would steal high resolution satellite image maps out of the map shack and take them to Zawahiri.
Those officials who sought to minimize the security breach would have to explain away the classified maps of Afghanistan he stole from the map shack, and the classified cables and manuals found in such places as the home of Nosair, the assassin of Rabbi Kehane. The FBI viewed and prosecuted Nosair as a “lone wolf” leaving dozens of boxes seized from his residence, where Ali Mohammed would stay, untranslated.
Many commentators others who have long held strong and divergent opinions of what had been published in the media based on what they knew and their political views. But it turns out that they apparently have just been seeing the elephant in the living room from a different angle. Actually, they’ve just been in a position to see the elephant’s rump from outside the living room door. One US law professor, Francis Boyle, who has represented islamists abroad originated the theory that a US biodefense insider was responsible, later reported that he was on all five terror watchlists.
Separately, and independently, the theory was adopted by professor Barbara Rosenberg and others. But Professor Boyle and Rosenberg were not so far from the truth — just incorrect as to motive. We need to stop seeing such important issues through political lenses that lead to knee-jerk reactions rather than careful factual analysis.
For example, the lawyer advocating for islamist clients, Professor Boyle, assumes that the correspondence between Ayman Zawahiri and Rauf Ahmad provided me by the Defense Intelligence Agency under FOIA were forgeries — an insupportable supposition in my opinion. If that were true, Ayman Zawahiri who appears on television more often than Wolf Blitzer, would say so and ridicule the United States government for the fraud.
Instead, the documentary shows that Zawahiri’s plan was to infiltrate the US and UK biodefense establishment, and he did.
In a June 2005 interview in a Swiss (German language) weekly news magazine, Neue Zurcher Zeitung, Ken Alibek, insightfully addresses the anthrax mailings:
A. “…What if I told you Swiss scientists are paid by Al Qaeda? You could believe it or not. It has become somewhat fashionable to disparage Russian scientists. Americans, Iraqis, or whoever could just as well be involved with Al Qaeda. Why doesn’t anyone speculate about that?”
Q. “But could one of your students build a biological weapon in the garage?”
A. “Let me reply philosophically: Two hundred years ago, it was unthinkable to believe that people would be using mobile telephones, wasn’t it? Everything changes. Our knowledge grows, and technology develops incredibly quickly. These days even high-school kids can breed recombinant microbial strains. I am not saying that a student is in a position to build a biological weapon all by himself. But the knowledge needed to do it is certainly there.”
No one who responded to my inquiries ever knew Al-Timimi to ever have been involved in any biodefense project. For example, former Russian bioweaponeer Sergei Popov did not know of any such work by Al-Timimi, and Anna Popova had only seen him in the hall on a very rare occasion. Dr. Alibek thought of him as a “numbers guy” rather than a hands-on type.
Given that the FBI knows what Al-Timimi had for dinner on September 16, 2001 and lunch on September 17, it is very likely that the past years have involved a continued search for the mailer and/or processor. His attorney emphasizes that while they searched for materials related to a planned biological attack when they searched his townhouse in late February 2003, they came up empty.
Peter Leitner at GMU supervised a 2007 PhD thesis by a graduate student that explores biosecurity issues at GMU. He tells me that other students took a “red cell” approach that have corroborated the findings of the thesis. The thesis points to a pretty big iceberg indeed.
It turns out that Mohammed Islambouli, the brother of Sadat’s assassin, may be the final key that unlocks the Amerithrax mystery. Islambouli was part of a cell with KSM. KSM took over from the Al Qaeda military head Atef as head of the anthrax weaponization operation. The same Al Qaeda spymaster, Egyptian al-Hakaymah, who wrote about Amerithrax, announced Islambouli was leading those Egyptian Islamic Group members who have joined Al Qaeda to seek the release of their leader blind sheik Abdel-Rahman. Someone was expected to visit the US from Saudi Arabia in helping to plan the next attack.
The December 4, 1998 Presidential Daily Brief to President Clinton declassified and published in the 911 Commission Report discussed Islambouli’s role in planning an attack involving airplanes and other means Everyone focuses on the PDB in the summer of 2001 directed to President Bush while forgetting that there was a PDB with the same substance from December 1998 to President Clinton.
It’s not a question of finding fault or laying blame with 20/20 hindsight. We just need to learn from history or we are doomed to repeat it. In January 2002, FBI Assistant Director Van Harp told the 40,000 members of the American Society for Microbiology that it was “very likely that one or more of you know this individual.” They very likely did.
Courtesy Grendel Report