Amerithrax Fact Sheet
Amerithrax Fact Sheet
The investigation into the deadly 2001 anthrax attack is one of the largest and most complex investigations ever conducted by law enforcement. Today, the FBI's commitment to solving this case is undiminished. The men and women of the FBI and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service assigned to the case remain fully committed to bringing the perpetrator(s) of these murderous attacks to justice. While no arrests have been made, the dedicated investigators who have worked tirelessly on this case, day-in and day-out, continue to go the extra mile in pursuit of every lead. From the Director to the investigating agents, analysts and inspectors, there is confidence the case will be solved.
Second, while not well known to the public, the scientific advances gained from this investigation are unprecedented and have greatly strengthened the government's ability to prepare for—and prevent—biological attacks in the future. Since the first anthrax mailing, investigators have worked hand in hand with the scientific community to both solve this case, prevent another and to be best positioned should another occur.
Despite the frustrations that come with any complex investigation, no one in the FBI has, for a moment, stopped thinking about the innocent victims of these attacks, nor has the effort to solve this case in any way been slowed.
--Acting Assistant Director in Charge Joseph Persichini, Jr., Washington Field Office.
What is the status of the investigation?
This is a pending investigation and a top priority for the FBI.
The FBI has devoted hundreds of thousands of agent-hours to the case and conducted thousands of interviews. Eight panels of scientific experts have been convened to develop a comprehensive analytical scheme for evaluating and analyzing the anthrax evidence. As a result, valuable relationships have been forged in the scientific and public health communities, greatly increasing the government's ability to deal with biochemical threats in the future.
Is this a cold case?
This is an active case and the effort to solve it has in no way been slowed.
How many agents are currently assigned to the case?
At the present time there are 17 FBI special agents and 10 U.S. Postal Inspectors assigned to the AMERITHRAX Task Force. The number of Task Force members tends to vary on occasion due to career advancement opportunities and transfers. Within the last 30 days, 2 FBI agents transferred from the Task Force to other FBI assignments. Two additional agents are scheduled to be assigned positions on the Task Force in October.
What other statistics regarding the progress in this investigation are available?
To date, the number of interviews conducted exceeds 9,100. There have been over 6,000 grand jury subpoenas issued and 67 searches have been completed.
What kind of scientific advances have been made in the past five years?
Since the 2001 attacks, relationships between investigators and scientists have greatly expanded, resulting in tangible improvements in the FBI's and U.S. government's preparedness.
The FBI Laboratory has created or expanded three new scientific working groups (SWGs) consisting of scientists from academia, private industry, the National Laboratories, other U.S. federal government agencies, physicians, and researchers. These working groups identify areas where scientific advancements can be applied to terrorism investigations.
The FBI Laboratory has created a new unit, the Chemical Biological Sciences Unit (CBSU), staffed with forensic scientists with advanced degrees in Chemistry, Biology, and Nuclear Chemistry. This Unit has established extensive working relationships with partner laboratories in a variety of specialized scientific areas, based on the requirements of casework within the FBI. CBSU has developed and validated new analytical procedures to better characterize hazardous evidence, including anthrax, and has evaluated and applied existing methodologies in new and novel ways.
The FBI Laboratory has expanded the Hazardous Materials Response Unit (HMRU) with additional professional first responders, hazardous materials officers, doctorate-level scientists and former clinicians. These individuals conduct threat assessments, respond to WMD crime scenes, manage and train field personnel distributed in FBI field offices to effectively respond to collect, package, and transport hazardous evidence to specialized laboratories, including the FBI Laboratory.
The FBI has expanded their international liaison activities to include professional scientists in other countries in support of counterterrorism investigations.
The FBI Laboratory has supported an ongoing Department of Homeland Security initiative to build a dedicated bio-forensic laboratory at Ft. Detrick, Maryland. An interim laboratory is currently operational. The permanent facility, supported by a series of partner laboratories, will significantly increase forensic analytical capabilities and reduce analytical timelines.