Five years after an anthrax mail attack killed a Connecticut woman and four others, an FBI microbiologist has argued that the killer needed no sophisticated equipment or intimate knowledge to produce the anthrax mailed to two U.S. congressmen, reports the Hartford Courant. So wrote Douglas Beecher in a trade magazine for microbiologists, apparently broadening the pool of potential suspects. Beecher, a microbiologist in the FBI’s hazardous materials response unit, was the bureau’s point man commenting on the attacks in 2001.
Beecher makes it clear that the anthrax did not have to be produced at the equivalent of a military lab. An anthrax expert, Louisiana State University Prof. Martin Hugh Jones, said the article indicates that “with the right commercially available equipment one can readily produce a good product involving essentially individual spores.” He estimates that it would cost $20,000 or so to buy the proper equipment. Jones said it appears that the FBI’s probe is stalled. Forensic testing that authorities hoped would pinpoint the exact laboratory that produced the strain of anthrax used in the attacks has not panned out.