Three agencies today announced that the federal government has formally concluded its investigation into the 2001 anthrax attacks, according to a Justice Department release. The FBI and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service joined in the announcement.
Over a period of several weeks following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, letters that contained anthrax were mailed to several news media offices and two senators. The attacks were responsible for the deaths of five people and sickening 17 others.
On Friday, representatives of the FBI and DOJ distributed a 92-page investigative summary of the investigation, along with attachments. The summary was delivered to those sickened in the attacks, the relatives of the people killed in the attacks and several congressional committees. The “Amerithrax” investigation was the largest investigation into a bio-weapons attack in U.S. history, according to the release.
Among the items released publicly are the investigative summary, the attachments and roughly 2,700 pages of FBI documents. According to the Justice Department release, “as disclosed previously, the Amerithrax investigation found that the late Dr. Bruce Ivins acted alone in planning and executing these attacks.” Ivins, a senior biodefense researcher at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases at Fort Detrick, Md., committed suicide on July 29, 2008, less than a week before the FBI declared him to have been the sole perpetrator of the attacks. That assertion has not satisfied a number of critics of the investigation, however.
The investigative summary was drafted by the Amerithrax Task Force which was comprised of roughly 25 to 30 investigators from the FBI, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, other law enforcement agencies, federal prosecutors from the District of Columbia and DOJ’s Counterterrorism Section. During the investigation, more than 10,000 witnesses on six different continents were interviewed, 80 searches were conducted, more than 6,000 items of potential evidence were collected, more than 5,750 grand jury subpoenas were issued and 5,730 environmental samples were taken from 60 sites, according to the DOJ release.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this article stated Ivins committed suicide a week after the FBI declared him to have been the sole perpetrator of the attacks.