Terrorist Anthrax Redux?

By Sean Osborne, Associate Director, Senior Analyst, Military Affairs Analyst

10 June 2006: Last evening a couple of items concerning recent and long-term Islamic terrorist activities suddenly began to coalesce for me, fitting together like two matching pieces of a much larger puzzle.

On Thursday, June 8, 2006 a 24-foot box truck truck was reported stolen from the parking lot of Savol Bleach, 91 Prestige Park Circle, East Hartford, Connecticut. I received the following from an anonymous source:

Specific Vehicle Identification:

CT Tag# 27585A
Blue letters on side “SAVOL BLEACH”
Glass found at the scene of the theft indicates the drivers-side window was broken out.
Box contents: chlorine.

Shortly thereafter, I received a similarly anonymous Be-On-Look-Out (BOLO) advisory issued by the East Hartford Police Department. The BOLO informed me that the cargo within the box actually consisted of 64 5-gallon drums and a single 165 gallon drum of HYPOCHLORITE SOLUTION. Therefore, what was stolen amounted to 485 gallons of potential terrorist chemical mayhem in the northeastern United States.Allow me to reiterate, the inherent properties of hypochloite solution made it a threat in and of itself in Islamic terrorist possession. Especially in high-density public places. However, the obvious soon became manifest as I fully engaged my “think-like-a-terrorist” mindset, i.e.: How would terrorists effectively deploy such a large amount of this chemical substance?

Sure, they could mix it with some common household cleaners to make deadly chlorine gas. However, while effective deployment to a target-of-opportunity remained a solvable problem, it was a problem never-the-less.

I then began to investigate the other more common uses for hypochlorite solution. I soon discovered, much to my amazement, that hypochlorite solution is recommended by the U.S. CDC to clean the outside of ziplock baggies filled with bacillus anthracis (anthrax) in a laboratory or anthrax-present environment.

Source: http://www.bt.cdc.gov/agent/anthrax/environmental-sampling-apr2002.asp

I have known and kept fresh in my mind a few fascinating and not widely-known facts concerning a machine capable of producing weaponized anthrax which was published in July 2002 in the Weekly Standard by reporter David Tell. The report details how the $100,000 machine and its Pakistani purchaser, Syed Ather Abbas, disappeared from a false-flag jihadi operation in Ft. Lee, New Jersey during the spring of 2001; several months prior to the terrorist anthrax mailings in the fall of that year via from US Post Offices in Manhattan, NYC and Hamilton, New Jersey.

Source: http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/001/470lfsdb.asp?ZoomFont=YES

An excerpt from the above linked article:

“No, what the FBI discovered, instead, was that Syed Athar Abbas was an abruptly vanished fugitive who, using an alias, had recently arranged to pay $100,000 in cash”–roughly the amount he’d stolen from Wells Fargo and Fleet–for the purchase and shipment of a “fine-food particulate mixer,” a “sophisticated machine used commercially” to do various things you wouldn’t expect an outfit called “Computers Dot Com” to do. Like “mix chemicals,” for example.


Mr. Parascandola reports that it’s been established Abbas did take possession of this machine at the “Computers Dot Com” offices in Fort Lee last summer, but had the thing “immediately transported elsewhere” before taking off himself for Pakistan. Federal investigators, Parascandola adds, “have not been able to locate the industrial food mixer” in question, which problem continues to be of some “concern.”

All the more so because, despite his guilty plea and promise of restitution to the banks he bilked, Abbas has “refused to cooperate with investigators trying to find out more about his accomplices or the mixer.”


The $100,000 particulate mixer Parascandola describes, incidentally, is the exact same technology commonly employed by major food and pharmaceutical manufacturers to process fluid-form organic and inorganic compounds into powder: first to dry those compounds; next to grind the resulting mixture into tiny specks of dust, as small as a single micron in diameter; then to coat those dust specks with a chemical additive, if necessary, to maximize their motility or “floatiness”; and finally to aerate the stuff for end-use packaging. In other words, this is how you’d put Aunt Jemima pancake mix in its box. Or place concentrations of individual anthrax spores into letters addressed to Senators Tom Daschle and Patrick Leahy.”

Based upon these to seemingly unrelated and time-displaced events, it is my current assessment that there might very well exist a high-volume terrorist anthrax production facility somewhere in the NYC-Boston, MA metropolitan corridor. In combining my long-held knowledge of Syed Athar Abbas’ missing weaponized anthrax production-capable machine with the very recent theft of 485 gallons of hypochlorite solution the obvious becomes inescapable to my mind.

It is conceded that this is just one of the possible terrorist uses for 485 gallons of hypochlorite solution. However, my hunch is that terrorist related production of weaponized anthrax is the primary use of the $100,000 machine and the underlying reason this specific truck was stolen. Sure beats having to purchase large amounts of Clorox and do all the required diluting and chemical mixing yourself, and to keep such islamic jihadi’s anthrax infection free.

UPDATE 25 September 25, 2006: Prompted by an inquiry from a producer for America’s Most Wanted television program, I embarked on a follow-up to this report. In telephone contact with Savol Bleach this afternoon I was informed by a female Savol employee that the truck cited in this report was recovered a few days after its reported theft and that the vehicle contents were intact. The employee added that this was “not very exciting in the end” - Sean Osborne.

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