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FBI Laments Lack of Anthrax Arrests

November 02, 2002|From Reuters

WASHINGTON — FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III expressed dissatisfaction Friday that those responsible for last year's deadly anthrax attacks had not yet been caught, saying scientific analysis of the anthrax spores had been difficult.

"Am I satisfied? No, because we don't have the person or persons responsible identified, and charges being brought against them," he said when asked about the FBI's investigation into the anthrax-laced letters that killed five people.

"Are we making progress? Yes. And we continue to make progress. We continue to have a number of individuals that we are looking at," he told a news briefing. The letters were sent to two U.S. senators and to the news media.

"We are looking at the scientific analysis of the anthrax and replicating the ways, or possible way or ways, in which it might have been manufactured," Mueller said.

"But it is not a process that is easily accomplished," he said, explaining that scientists are undertaking analyses that have never been done before to get information that might help find the source of the anthrax, who manufactured it and those capable of obtaining and making it.

"We're looking at the DNA of the analysis. We're looking at the chemical breakdown of the anthrax. We're replicating the manufacture of the anthrax," Mueller said.

"There are ... different scientific studies that are ongoing to give us all of the information available in the scientific community on the anthrax," he said.

"We are going into new territory in some areas," Mueller said.

And the FBI only has a limited amount of anthrax to analyze, he said.

In November 2001, the FBI released a possible profile of the anthrax mailer, saying a man in the U.S. most likely sent the letters and that he was probably a loner with a scientific background.

Mueller said the FBI had not updated its profile, but that did not mean the agency had excluded other possibilities.

"We have never ruled out any scenario, and to the extent that there are leads that come up, whether it be to individuals or methods of manufacturing or what have you, we pursue them," Mueller said. "No possibility has been ruled out."

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