This article originally appeared in Global Security Newswire, produced independently by National Journal Group under contract with the Nuclear Threat Initiative, a nonprofit, nonpartisan group whose mission is preventing the spread of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons.
A leaked U.S. document suggests that the owner of several drugstores in New York City could be an a Qaida agent with knowledge of anthrax, Mother Jones reported on Monday (see GSN, April 26).
The transparency organization WikiLeaks has made public hundreds of documents with information on suspected extremists held at the U.S. detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
One document states that a person held since 2003 had a diary with details on how to reach a "possible al-Qaida anthrax operative" who was said at the time to reside and own a number of pharmacies in New York.
The man's name was included in the document, but was not published by Mother Jones as he could not be reached directly to address the assertion included in the U.S. document. The article notes that the validity of the claim linking the man to the terrorist network could not be determined.
The 2008 U.S. document says the name of the Pakistani-born entrepreneur was cited in a paper discovered at a Qaida location in his home nation, seemingly connected to an allusion to a vaccine for anthrax, which is considered a potential bioterror agent. A calendar retrieved from one possible militant contained unspecified information connecting the businessman to biological-weapons activities.
The suspect held at Guantanamo Bay said that the pharmacy owner was a longtime acquaintance and an operative for a Taliban-backing organization active in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Internet information indicates that the man owns no fewer than four drugstores around New York City. A call to one location reached a man who said he was the brother of the owner, who, he said, had returned to Pakistan.
A woman in Pakistan who said she was the businessman's wife said that no U.S. official had ever made contact on the matter. The FBI said it would not address assertions made in leaked papers (David Corn, Mother Jones, May 9).
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