Justice Department releases copies of three letters

Wednesday, October 24, 2001

WASHINGTON -- Reaching out to the public for help, the Justice Department released copies of three letters that contained anthrax. Two appeared to be identical; all three contained anti-American and anti-Israeli messages.

The notes written in block letters to NBC News anchor Tom Brokaw and the editor of The New York Post warned recipients to "Take penacilin now," an apparent misspelling. "Death to America," "Death to Israel" and "Allah is Great" were written on each.

The envelope that contained the New York Post letter was written in the same sort of block letters, slanted to the right, as two envelopes addressed to Brokaw and Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, released earlier.

The letter to Daschle contained seven lines written in block letters similar to the other two. "You can not stop us. We have this anthrax. You die now. Are you afraid? Death to America. Death to Israel. Allah is great."

All three letters were dated Sept. 11.

Attorney General John Ashcroft said investigators hope to garner new leads by releasing photographs of the letters and to warn Americans of mail to watch out for.

"All of these ... we hope will alert citizens and others to the kind of thing to look for," said Ashcroft.

Meanwhile, Ashcroft also said a terrorist cell operating out of Hamburg, Germany, since at least 1999 included three of the hijackers and three accomplices who are being sought in connection with the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States.

Ashcroft said the three fugitives, Said Bahaji, Ramsi Binalshibh and Zakariya Essabar, are sought for planning the attacks. German authorities previously issued international arrests warrants for the three.

"Their connections to the hijackers are extensive," said Ashcroft, appearing at a news conference with German Interior Minister Otto Schily. He identified the three hijackers as Mohamed Atta and Marwan Al-Shehhi, the suspected pilots of the hijacked planes that crashed into the World Trade Center in New York, and Ziad Jarrah, suspected of flying the plane that crashed in Pennsylvania.

Ashcroft said the three hijackers were roommates in Hamburg while attending school there in the 1990s. He said Binalshibh and Atta started a Muslim prayer group in Hamburg and Essabar went to Florida in February at a time when both Atta and al-Shehhi were known to be there. And Essabar, Jarrah and al-Shehhi all appeared in a video of Bahaji's wedding, he said.

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