Was code used in the anthrax letters?
Use of Code
In planning 9/11, Atta used code in instructing Ramzi Binalshibh to send “the skirts” to “Sally”. The 9/11 Commission Staff explained that the coded reference to “Sally” referred to sending money to Zacarias Moussaoui. (Ramzi then sent Zacarias $14,000). Former CIA Director Tenet in his 2007 book Center of the Storm included Ramzi Binalshibh along with KSM and Hambali as among al-Qa’ida’s leadership “linked to the group’s highly compartmentalized chemical, biological, and nuclear networks.”
Atta and Ramzi Binalshibh used coded phrases as they approached 9/11 to include:
Faculty of Fine Arts/arts = Pentagon
Faculty of Town Planning/architecture = World Trade Center
Faculty of Law / law = The Capitol
politics = White House
White Meat = Americans
Terminal = Indonesia
Market = Malaysia
Hotel = Philippines
Village = Egypt
The CSIS has explained that EIJ operative Jaballah used code in discussing operational or sensitive matters. For example, in a discussion with a Pakistan-based contact, with whom he was discussing acquiring false documents, he requested help in acquiring a “green outfit.” In describing Mabruk’s detention in Dagestan, and seeking funds to get him out, he told Florida cell member in Alberta, Canada, that the “medicine” needed was expensive and that it would cost $15,000. Daher commented that when the “patients” were Arab it seemed a lucrative trade. Similarly, US supporters of Abdel-Rahman in the 1990s used “Food and Beverage Industry” to refer to the FBI. It is worth considering, then, whether code was used in the anthrax letters. In the conversations that the blind sheikh’s spokesman, Sattar, had with people like the blind sheik’s successor Taha, EIJ/Vanguards of Conquest al-Sirri, and the blind sheikh’s son, they used the same language found in emails between Zawahiri and the Yemeni cell in email. If a brother was in the hospital, it meant he was in prison. If he had an accident, it meant perhaps that Egyptian security services had killed him.
KSM and Clouds (As Sahab)
The letter sending the first anthrax reportedly had clouds pictured on it. The flagship of American Media, Inc., National Enquirer, described the letter sent AMI as follows:
“Bobby Bender came around the corner with this letter in the upturned palms of his hands,” said photo assistant Roz Suss, a 13-year Sun staffer. “It was a business-size sheet of stationery decorated with pink and blue clouds around the edges. It was folded into three David charm, and something that seemed like soap powder. Hambali and two al-Qaeda minions considered attacking an Israeli restaurant, with a Star of David above it, in the Khao San Rd. backpacker area in Bangkok.
A December 1998 Presidential Daily Brief to President Clinton explained: “An alleged Bin Ladin supporter late last month remarked to his mother that he planned to work in ‘commerce’ from abroad and said his impending ‘marriage,’ which would take place soon, would be a ’surprise.’” The December 1998 PDB continued: “‘Commerce’ and ‘marriage’ often are code words for attacks.” Of course, sometimes, a young man just wants to tell his mom he’s got a job or warn her that she may not approve of the woman he intends to marry. Similarly, sometimes folks who write to tabloids are merely commenting on JLo’s impending nuptials.
Jennifer Lopez’s fame had withstood a number of under performing movies, to include the movie “The Cell” in the year 2000. In the movie, following a trail of bodies, an FBI agent tracks down and captures a disturbed serial killer. Before the killer can reveal the whereabouts of his next victim (a woman trapped in a cell on the verge of drowning), he falls into a coma. Enter beautiful FBI psychologist Lopez, who uses a radical link to the killer’s brain that could destroy her own sanity. “Her mission: Find the cell’s location before time runs out, and avoid getting trapped inside the killer’s head.” According to an early National Enquirer, Stevens held it up to his face and then put it down on the keyboard (where traces of anthrax were found). The publisher’s wife was the real estate broker who rented to two of the hijackers.
The heaviest concentration was in the mailroom on the first floor, with positive findings in many cubicles throughout the first floor. The second floor had positive traces mainly in the hallways. The third floor had the fewest positive traces. The FBI has a theory that the spores were distributed on copy paper, perhaps having fallen onto an open ream of paper in the mailroom where it was stored. Perhaps instead spores could have been spread by a vacuum cleaner and collected at copier machines because of the electrostatic charge and the fans on the machines.
Mrs. Stevens recently explained: “They get strange letters sometimes, and the consensus seems to be that if Robert wasn’t wearing his glasses and if it was something funny, he would hold the letters up to his face. They think perhaps that’s how he got it. Just bad luck.” The key expert evidence on this issue of the Jennifer Lopez letter thus far is the New England Journal of Medicine in which Stevens’ doctor concludes that the letter, opened 9/19 and resulting in symptoms appearing 9/30, evidenced an incubation period consistent with inhalational anthrax.
A CDC report discusses a second letter of possible interest thought to have been opened on September 25 by a different woman who was exposed. The jury will have to remain out unless and until there is more information on the letter(s) that transmitted the anthrax to AMI. The FBI went back to AMI in August 2002. A February 2003 article in Esquire says the “cops and the doctors” have concluded that there were two letters, following two different paths, with one having been mailed to an old address of the National Enquirer before being forwarded. If there were two different letters, were they to two different AMI publications? That would make sense — with one directed to the Sun and one directed to the National Enquirer.
What does the J.Lo letter tell us about the sender, or senders? J.Lo is what they used to call a “sex bomb” — and the biggest one at the time. She had international fame. The vehicle had a “weird” love letter, a Star of David, maybe a cigar. Who had “issues” and weird obsessions with women, sex (with a cigar being a crude symbol) and Jewish symbolism? Atta, for example, had strict instructions in his will about what women would be allowed to do at his funeral. Follow the anomalies.
Two of the hijackers had subscriptions to AMI publications, as did Al Qaeda operative al-Marabh. Boston cab driver Al-Marabh had been in contact with the hijackers, to include Alghamdi who rented an apartment from the wife of the AMI publisher. Atta was seen at the apartment of Al-Marabh and his uncle (the co-founder with Jaballah of an islamic school in Toronto in the Spring of 2001. After coming to Canada in 1996, Jaballah spoke with Ayman regularly on Ayman’s satellite phone.
”In The Hearts Of Green Birds” (Inside Green Birds)
It was widely published among the militant islamists that martyrs go to paradise “in the hearts of green birds.” The stamp’s image of photos and graphics contain messages embedded with a technology known as steganography. The code instead perhaps was there for all to see on the stamps of the lethal missives being sent.
In early Fall 2001, the Azzam.com website was mirrored by someone who lived 6 miles from the mailbox where the anthrax was mailed. He was indicted in Spring 2007 for income tax invasion. To the left of the advertisement for the “Green Birds” video, you’ll see the description of al-Hawali’s imprisonment. The imprisonment of al-Hawali and certain other scholars was the “Cover Theme” (which includes a related article on the torture of prisoners in Saudi prisons). GMU computational biology grad al-Timimi drafted a letter for al-Hawali and had it hand-delivered to every member of Congress on the first anniversary of the anthrax mailings.
Of course, given that the symbolism used in this regard in the anthrax mailings had an origin in religious writing, there is no direct tie with the website — the tie could be with the hadith. The London webmaster once said that the FBI allowed it to remain up (while it moved from server to server) for another year hoping to get leads on supporters.
Even Zarqawi invoked the imagery in a 60-minute audio message:
“The martyrs rejoice in the bounty provided by God. Their souls are inside the bodies of green birds that fly in heaven.”
Bin Laden was using “Green Birds” in the same way he used the repeated phrase “Looming Tower” to hint of what was to come with the planes attack on the World Trade Center. He would say
“Wherever you are, death will find you
even in the looming tower.”
In a prerecorded tape aired October 7, 2001, at the time of the anthrax mailing to the Senators, Bin Laden said “The winds of faith have come.”
An advertisement for “In The Hearts of Green Birds” sold by Al Qaeda’s website read: “In the Summer of 1996, Azzam Recordings released the first audio tape of its kind to be produced in English. The name of this tape was: ‘In the Hearts of Green Birds.’ It outlined some of the stories of these men. This tape was so successful, that it spread, by the Will of Allah, throughout many Muslim homes in the UK, North America and Australia. Due to popular demand, in the Summer of 1997, Azzam Recordings produced the sequel to this tape: ‘Under the Shades of Swords.’ The Virginia Paintball defendants really liked videos like “In the Hearts of Green Birds” and found them inspirational.
”Greendale School” is the return address of the anthrax letters to Senators Daschle and Leahy. In December 2002, the Arabic paper London Al-Sharq al-Awsat reported that correspondence on Zawahiri’s computer (which was obtained by the Wall Street Journal) shows Zawahiri uses “school” as code for Egyptian Islamic Jihad. The letter was found on Al Zawahiri’s computer. The letter was designed to look innocent. It was dated 3 May 2001 and signed “Dr. Nour, Chairman of the Company.” Nour is one of Zawahiri’s aliases. In this context, it was Egyptian Islamic Jihad, not Al Qaeda, of which he was Chairman.
“We have been trying to go back to our main, previous activities. The most important step was the opening of the school. We have made it possible for the teachers to find openings for profitable trade.”
The letter read
From: Ayman al-Zawahir
Date: May 3, 2001
The following is a summary of our situation: We are trying to return to our previous main activity. The most important step was starting the school, the programs of which have been started. We also provided the teachers with means of conducting profitable trade as much as we could. Matters are all promising, except for the unfriendliness of two teachers, despite what we have provided for them. We are patient. (This refers to an internal dispute with two senior London Egyptian islamists).
As you know, the situation below in the village [Egypt] has become bad for traders [jihadis]. Our Upper Egyptian relatives have left the market, and we are suffering from international monopolies. Conflicts take place between us for trivial reasons, due to the scarcity of resources. We are also dispersed over various cities. However, God had mercy on us when the Omar Brothers Company [the Taliban] here opened the market for traders and provided them with an opportunity to reorganize, may God reward them. Among the benefits of residence here is that traders from all over gather in one place under one company, which increases familiarity and cooperation among them, particularly between us and the Abdullah Contracting Company [bin Laden and his associates]. The latest result of this cooperation is the offer they gave. Following is a summary of the offer: Encourage commercial activities [jihad] in the village to face foreign investors; stimulate publicity; then agree on joint work to unify trade in our area. Close relations allowed for an open dialogue to solve our problems. Colleagues here believe that this is an excellent opportunity to encourage sales in general, and in the village in particular. They are keen on the success of the project. They are also hopeful that this may be a way out of the bottleneck to transfer our activities to the stage of multinationals and joint profit. We are negotiating the details with both sides.”
The full message, decoded, is thought to say:
“We have been trying to go back to our military activities. The most important step was the declaration of unity with al-Qaeda. We have made it possible for the mujahideen to find an opening for martyrdom. As you know, the situation down in Egypt has become bad for the mujahideen: our members in Upper Egypt have abandoned military action, and we are suffering from international harassment.”
“But Allah enlightened us with His mercy when Taliban came to power. It has opened doors of military action for our mujahideen and provided them with an opportunity to rearrange their forces. One benefit of performing jihad here is the congregation in one place of all mujahideen who came from everywhere and began working with the Islamic Jihad Organization. Acquaintance and cooperation have grown, especially between us and al-Qaeda.”
In December 2002, the Arabic paper London Al-Sharq al-Awsat reported that correspondence on Zawahiri’s computer (which was obtained by the Wall Street Journal) shows Zawahiri uses “school” as code for “Al Qaeda.”
Dr. Jean Rosenfeld, a researcher associated with the UCLA Center for the Study of Religion, and an expert on the symbolism of religious extremist movements, wrote me: “Greendale’ to me signified a conscious choice to use the symbolic color of Islam.” She continued: “The franked eagle on the envelope of the anthrax letters was identical to the one I caught on a documentary that showed a one-second shot of the site where Sadat was assassinated –- the huge eagle above the podium where he was when he died. That assassination was of great significance to Egyptian Jihad and produced the pamphlet by Faraj that justifies “fard ‘ayn”/individual duty as the basis of jihadist doctrine.” She explained that Al Qaeda “is rooted in Egypt and Salafism, not Saudi Arabia and Wahhabism. Al-Zawahiri, I believe, is intensely nostalgic for the Nile Valley.”
The CIA factbook explains that the color green — such as used by anthrax lab technician Yazid Sufaat in naming his lab “Green Laboratory Medicine,” and by the mailer who used the return address “Greendale School” – is the traditional color of islam. Green symbolizes islam, Mohammed and the holy war. In its section on Saudi Arabia, and the “Flag Description,” the CIA “Factbook” explains that the flag is “green with large white Arabic script (that may be translated as There is no God but God; Muhammad is the Messenger of God) above a white horizontal saber … ; green is the traditional color of Islam.”
An intelligence document first released in 2007 involves an operation by EIJ members headed by Atef and including Saif Adel in which the group headed to Somalia to work at developing a new base of operations. The group was called The Green Team. “Greendale School” was used as the return address in the letters and likely is code referring to the Egyptian Islamic Jihad. The stamp on the prestamped envelopes was of a green bird. For a video depicting the Green Bird’s point of view and invoking Allah’s guidance to “the straight path,” see this video “The 3D Kabah – A green birds eye view.” The koranic “Green Birds” reference is from the sentence relating to being set on “The Straight Path.” Timimi, the graduate student who had access to the Alibek/Bailey patent about concentration using silanized hydrophobic silica, advised the EIJ founder Kamal Habib in writing for the publication called Assirat Al-Mustaqeem (“The Straight Path”).
Likely for the same reason, Al Qaeda anthrax lab technician Yazid Sufaat and Zacarias Moussaoui used the name Green Laboratory Medicine as the name of the company that he used, for example, to buy 4 tons of ammonium nitrate, and that he used to cover his anthrax production program. Green dale refers to green “river valley” — Egypt, Cairo, Egyptian Islamic Jihad and/or Egyptian Islamic Group. Put it all together and you have their new official name (though the American press does not use it) — Qaeda al Jihad. At the Darunta complex where jihadis trained, recruits would wear green uniforms, except for Friday when they would be washed.
Given that using the same address helps the second recipient receiving the letter to identify it and avoid opening it, the perp would have no reason to use the same address unless he was communicating something and wanted to draw attention to it.
Adham Hassoun and Kassem Daher used “school” as code. Canadian businessman Daher is an associate of EIJ member Jaballah, who was detained in Canada and had maintained regular contact with Ayman by satellite telephone after coming to Canada in 1996. “Is there a school over there to teach football?” Hassoun asked, using what the FBI says is code for jihad.
The Amerithrax Task Force explanation of Greendale is as follows:
“The investigation into the fictitious return address on envelopes used for the second round of anthrax mailings, “4th GRADE,” “GREENDALE SCHOOL,” has established a possible link to the American Family Association (AFA) headquartered in Tupelo, Mississippi. In October 1999, AFA, a Christian organization, published an article entitled “AFA takes Wisconsin to court.” The article describes a lawsuit filed in federal court, by the AFA Center for law and Policy (CLP), on behalf of the parents of the students at Greendale Baptist Academy. The articles focuses on an incident that occurred on December 16, 1998, in which case workers of the Wisconsin Department of Human Services went to the Greendale Baptist Academy. The article focuses on an incident that occurred on December 1, 1998, in which case workers of the Wisconsin Department of Human Services went to the Greendale Baptist Academy in order to interview a fourth grade student. The case workers, acting on an anonymous tip that Greendale Baptist Academy administered corporal punishment as part of its discipline policy, did not disclose to the staff why they wanted to interview the student. The case workers interviewed the student in the absence of the student’s parents and informed the school staff that the parents were not to be contacted. The AFA CLP filed suit against the Wisconsin Department of Human Services, citing a violation of the parents’ Fourth Amendment rights.”
[D]onations were made to the AFA in the name of “Mr. and Mrs. Bruce Ivins” on eleven separate occasions beginning on December 31, 1993. After an approximate two year break in donations, the next donation occurred on November 11, 1999, one month after the initial article referencing Greendale Baptist Academy was published in the AFA Journal. It was also discovered that the subscription to the AFA Journal, in the name of ‘Mr. & Mrs. Bruce Ivins,’ … was active until March 2005.”
The logical fallacy is that Ivins would have had no reason to use the same address unless he was sending a message he wanted to be received. There was no audience that reasonably would have perceived the message being sent. He had no reason to send such a message. The theory was fine for an affidavit in support of a search of a residence — but not on which to close a case.
On the return address, Greendale School purported to be in Franklin Park. Padilla, the former Broward man suspected of plotting to explode a ‘’dirty bomb’’ to spread radiation in the United States, worshipped at a Broward County mosque, Masjid Al-Iman, in Fort Lauderdale. That mosque was across the street from Franklin Park. It’s address was 2542 Franklin Park Drive. Padilla was a former gang member who converted to islam while in South Florida and became an extremist while in Egypt beginning in 1998. He attended al Azhar University in Egypt and started a family there after leaving his American wife. In 1999, Padilla left for Pakistan. Authorities detained him May 8, 2002 when he got off a plane at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport. The FBI has found no ties between Padilla and the September 11 hijackers, even though several of them had lived in Broward County.
While in Pakistan, Padilla had reported to KSM, the al Qaeda’s No. 3 leader who had anthrax production documents on his laptop when he was arrested. It appears that in April 2002, Khalid Mohammed dispatched Padilla to the United States, with several thousand dollars for a mission to disperse a radiological device that was still in the thinking stage. He was placed in a military brig in North Carolina and was held incommunicado for years, forbidden from contacting his family or attorney.
A Padilla acquaintance, Adham Hassoun, was detained in June 2002 in Sunrise by federal agents. His home had been searched in November 2001 but authorities laid back, not arresting him and hoping surveillance would lead to insights. Hassoun once served as distributor of a magazine published in Australia advocating Muslim holy war and was associated with one or more charities accused by the Bush administration of funding terrorists. Padilla reportedly had contacted Hassoun from overseas and was apparently en route to meet Hassoun when he was arrested. Investigators monitored the communication between Padilla and Hassoun and arrested Hassoun after he was called by a reporter from Miami about his acquaintanceship with Padilla. State records indicate that he was the Florida registered agent of the Chicago-based Benevolence International Foundation. The leader of the mosque across from Franklin Park was Awad, the Florida representative of Holy Land Foundation.
Hassoun had established Benevolence International Foundation in Plantation, Florida in 1992. In 1993, the headquarters was moved to Chicago area. A man named Mohammed Loay Bayazid was its president in 1993 and 1994. Bayazid was arrested while visiting Northern California in December 1994 along with Osama Bin Laden’s brother-in-law. Bayazid, according to authorities, had been looking to purchase enriched uranium for Bin Laden. On his driver’s license, his listed address was BIF headquarters. Thus, things had quickly come full circle for BIF to once again be involved in an investigation relating to Al Qaeda’s attempt to obtain weapons of mass destruction.
In late 2002, it was announced that authorities were urgently seeking a Florida pilot El Shukrijumah, who worshipped at this same Fort Lauderdale mosque across from Franklin Park and had possible ties to Adham Hassoun. A federal undercover agent repeats that he saw Atta and El-Shukrijumah together at the mosque. The pilot El Shukrijumah is said to be at the level of Mohammed Atta and is thought to have been associated with Aafia Siddiqui, an MIT-trained biologist. Aafia Siddiqui reportedly also has a yet-undisclosed connection to Adham Hassoun. Mohammed Atta lived 11 miles away from this mosque across from Franklin Park, where these members of the Egyptian Islamic Group worshipped. Holy Cross hospital –where Dr. Tsonas treated Flight 93 hijacker Ahmad al-Haznawi for a suspicious leg lesion that he and other experts think was due to cutaneous anthrax — is only 7 miles from the mosque. Is it all a coincidence? Possibly.
Remember: Given that using the same address helps the second recipient receiving the letter to identify it and avoid opening it, the mailer would have no reason to use the same address unless he was communicating something and wanted to draw attention to it.
There was a detailed description at a June 1, 2004 press conference of Padilla’s plot and his relationship with Jafar the Pilot by a senior DOJ official. The official also described Padilla’s relationship with Atef, Zubaydah, KSM, and Ramzi Binalshibh. He emphasized that there is an urgent need to find Adnan (Jafar). Ali Al-Timimi’s mentor, Bilal Philips, was a good friend of Jafar the Pilot’s father.
Allusion to Both Atta and Genomic Sequencing of Ames Strain
The writing of the text of the letter is also interesting in that the “As” and “Ts” are double-lined — to suggest ATTA, the lead hijacker.
When the US Centers for Disease Control first identified that the Ames strain had been used in the mailing to Florida in October 2001, Keim and his colleagues at The Institute for Genomic Research (TIGR) had nearly finished a project to sequence Bacillus anthracis— specifically, the chromosome of an anthrax isolate from a laboratory in Porton Down, U.K.Ayman had a microbiologist attending Porton Down-sponsored conferences at which presentations were made about the sequencing of Ames. The letter writer appears to have even double-lined A’s and T’s in the letters accompanying the anthrax possibly to simultaneously allude to Atta and the genomic sequence.
As explained at the Porton Down conferences attended by Ayman’s operative Rauf Ahmad, Keim’s research team eventually discovered 60 new ‘markers’ in the Bacillus anthracis genome—DNA sequences that may vary from one isolate to another. These include insertions or deletions of DNA, and short sequences that are repeated at different lengths in the genome known as VNTRs (variable-event. That, according to New York Times journalists, is why the CIA got so anxious to have the Buffalo boys arrested. Apart from an email about a “big feast,” the young men from Buffalo had started talking about a planned wedding. Interpreting such code is not without risk. The CIA kicked down the door in Bahrain and dragged him away from the altar to the horror of his bride-to-be.
But putting aside this question of nuptials, impending or annulled, the fact remains that the sender of the anthrax letters would have had no reason to use the same address on the second letter unless he was communicating something. That identical return address, in fact, helped authorities locate and intercept the letter to a Senator. All of the coding together may have served to tell the world, for example, that Mohammed Atta and the others were going to fly to paradise in a green bird and that the anthrax was courtesy of the Vanguards of Conquest. If you mistreat our prisoners or continue appropriations to Israel and Egyptian regimes, we may attack Washington, D.C. and New York City with aerosolized anthrax. You act at your peril. Zawahiri simultaneously framed the US Army by using the “Ames strain” while telling them who did it. Now that 911 imam Anwar Aulaqi has formally urged that it would be islamically permissible to kill a million civilians, this is not the time to be distracted by a bag of stained panties found in the basement of the residence of some USAMRIID scientist.
In contrast, not even the expert the FBI consulted as to its theory of the code thought that its theory passed the “giggle test.”
- Published December 4, 2012 at 864 × 1074