George Bush: If you see anyone with a crop-dusting airplane that does not belong to him, call the police!

The president of the USA made this statement when asked by a reporter about what to do to take measures against terrorist attacks, summing up the understandable climate of fear on the streets of the large towns in the USA today. The main reason: anthrax.

To read between the lines of the conflicting stories about positive and negative tests for this bacteria, it appears clear that one man died of pulmonary anthrax in Florida, seven more have been infected at the same place (a tabloid newspaper headquarters), and a further case has tested positive in New York. All the incidents were the result of a poisoned letter campaign. Another letter, sent from Malaysia to Microsoft offices in Reno, Nevada, tested positive but did not provoke human casualties.

Florida seems to be the center of many of these attacks, whether real of hoaxes. The letter that infected the woman at the NBC News with cutaneous anthrax was sent from Trenton, New Jersey, on September 18th. It was addressed to the main anchorman, whose assistant opened it. Another letter addressed to him two days later from Florida contained a substance that tested negative. Three hundred fifty NBC employees have now been tested.

Many false alarms have also come from Florida. A letter was sent to a clinic at Palm Beach containing plaster powder, another substance sent to the University of Florida proved to be Talcum powder, and another at Davie was fire extinguisher material or humidity absorber. Other hoax letters were received by Sony Pictures in Los Angeles and Judith Miller at the New York Times.

This may or may not provide a clue as to who or what is behind this poison pen campaign, if indeed there is one single source. Whereas Judith Miller has written chronicles about Islamist extremism in recent months, the eight confirmed anthrax cases in Florida appear to have been due to a revenge attack by an embittered ex-employee of the addressee newspaper. A question is therefore raised as to whether these incidents are connected. Indeed, there is a trend for the weaker minded to try to obtain cheap thrills at such times of crisis, a power ride by proxy.

The fact that there are positive cases in the midst of a wave of hoaxes lends reason to the growing anxiety on the streets in the USA. The comment by one New York resident to a t.v. reporter, “Do you think this looks like New York? It seems as if we’re in Israel” is exactly where the terrorists wanted to arrive, perversely.

The target is the mind-set of the American people, the psyche of the nation. The government can tell them to remain calm but vigilant, as it must, but the fact is that the USA has never had a war on its own soil since the Civil War and experience with terrorism, until now, has been limited to the car bomb at the WTC in the early 1990s and Timothy McVeigh’s “collateral damage” at Oklahoma.

Ordinary Americans should be speaking about Israel and questioning the facts behind the issue is exactly what Osama Bin Laden wanted.


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