RE: virus: Murky past of a US bio-warrior

From: Blunderov (
Date: Sat Aug 17 2002 - 08:33:47 MDT

Please forgive this rather lengthy post. I did look for an electronic
version of this at the Mail&Guardians website
but I could not find one to point to. Suffice it to say I will be
keeping a keen eye on these proceedings!

Marlene Burger
Two months ago an Internet search for information about Steven Jay
Hatfill would have produced less than a dozen results, confined to
scientific research bearing his name.
This week surfers can choose from close on 7 000 "hits", ranging from a
50 page diatribe by the Jewish Defence Organisation which dubs the
American doctor "Steven Mengele" and challenges him to sue for
defamation to reports in French, German, Spanish, Danish, even
The reason for the sudden surge of data about the 48 year old former
United States government bio warrior is that he has jumped from being
one of 30 "persons of interest" to the main focus of FBI investigations
into last year's anthrax by mail attacks, which killed five people.
Amid the details of Hatfill's life that have emerged since the end of
June are links to the right wing Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging (AXV13)
and service with the former Rhodesian security forces. Last weekend
Hatfill and the three Washington lawyers he has hired went public for
the first time since the FBI turned its spotlight on him, accusing
agents of turning his life into a "wasteland" by deliberately leaking
"irrelevant" information about his past to the media and making him the
scapegoat for their failure to find the real culprit behind the anthrax
Hatfill has consistently refused to answer questions from the press.
But while Hatfill and his attorneys were at pains to proclaim his
innocence and lash out at investigators, they refused to talk about his
past. Yet it is precisely what he did, when and for whom that have
raised most of the questions now being asked.
On August 1 the FBI searched his apartment in Frederick, Maryland, for
the third time in seven months. They have also searched the home of
Hatfill's girlfriend and a storage locker in Ocala, Florida, where his
parents used to own a stud farm. So far neither the searches nor lie
detector tests or hours of questioning have produced any solid evidence
that Hatfill sent letters containing weapons grade anthrax to US
senators Tom Daschle and Patrick Leahy last November, but the
circumstantial case is mounting against the man who gave firearms
training during the late 1980s to members of jailed AWB leader Eugene
Terre'BIanche's shock troops, Aquila
Hatfill, who was born in St Louis, Missouri, lived in South Africa for
10 years after qualifying as a doctor at the University of Zimbabwe
Medical School in 1983. He claims to have spent 14 months in the
Antarctic as a member of the South African research team, that he served
the South African Air Force as a consultant flight surgeon from 1991 to
1993, and lists two master's degrees and a doctorate in molecular cell
biology from Rhodes University among his qualifications. Last Sunday,
however, his attorney, Victor Glasberg, said Hatfill had submitted a
thesis to Rhodes and "thought" he had been awarded the doctorate, but
had since learned that this didn't happen and had amended his CV
While working in the department of haematology at Stellenbosch
University for three years during the late 1980s and early 1990s,
Hatfill made no secret of his AWB links, using the Milnerton Shooting
Association's shooting range in Table View, Cape Town, to train members
of Aquila. When a colleague recognised Hatfill in a newspaper photograph
of Terre'Blanche surrounded by his uniformed bodyguards, the photo was
pinned up on a laboratory noticeboard, "where it remained for some time,
and led to Hatfill boasting that he was Aquila's weapons trainer in the
Western Cape".
Another former colleague says Hatfill alienated a number of staff
members in the radio biology laboratory, because "he always carried a
9mm pistol and constantly boasted about his military past" Female
colleagues particularly disliked Hatfill `because he used to invite them
to 'poke and puke' parties" ' According to Lothar Bohm, professor of
oncology at Stellenbosch, Hatfill was unpopular because "he just did not
respect other people's lives or their work or their needs in the lab. He
was the kind of person who would go into the labs late at night and take
pieces of equip-ment without asking."
Edward Rybicki, associate professor in Cape Town University's
microbiology department, said Hatfill would "talk about running around
in the bush and throwing grenades in Zimbabwe ... boast about shooting
up the ANC's offices".
How much of what Hatfill claims is true is open to debate. The exact
dates and nature of his activities in South Africa and throughout his
career are vague and filled with anomalies. His CV is riddled with
gaps, suggesting that he is either a liar or that his records have been
fudged to hide clandestine activities and account for "missing" periods
of time. Even his American military records were censored before being
released to the media, and there is growing speculation that Hatfill was
recruited by a covert US agency while an undergraduate at Southwestern
College in Winfield, Kansas, in the early 1970s, and worked as a double
agent throughout his service in crack units such as the Rhodesian
Special Air Service and Selous Scouts, and. while in South Africa.
Hatfill emerged as the prime suspect behind the anthrax attacks when the
FBI learned in June that he and a colleague, Joseph Soukup, commissioned
a report in February 1999 from US bio terror expert
William Patrick Ill on how a hypothetical anthrax attack could launched
by mail, and how it would best be dealt with. At the time, Hatfill was
working for an American defence contractor, Science Applications
International Corporation (SAIC). Although the report uncannily mirrors
the actual attacks following the events of September 11 last year, right
down to the amount - 2,5g of anthrax that could placed in an envelope
without causing it to bulge, and specifies the same number of spores and
microscopic particle size as were found in letters sent to the US
senators, it was turned over to investigators by SAIC at the time of the
anthrax scare.
It was not until June 20 that FBI obtained a copy of the top secret
report, and a week later agents and bio hazard teams spent more than a
day searching his home, removing computer components and half a dozen
black refuse bags of video tapes, books and files. On August 1, armed
with a search warrant, the FBI searched the apartment again, along with
trash cans outside the building after receiving unspecified new
Among the many unanswered questions about Hatfill is why, at least until
a fortnight ago, he continued to live in an apartment at Detrick Plaza,
a civilian complex inside the security perimeter of the US Army Medical
Research Institute of Infectious eases at Fort Detrick, home of some of
the deadliest pathogens known to man. Hatfill worked as a virologist at
Port Detrick only from September to January 1999, but continued to have
access to laboratories there and at another military bio war facility,
Dugway Proving Grounds in Utah, until at least March this year. Hatfill
claims his work at the institute focused on finding new treatments for
the killer Ebola and Marburg viruses, but the FBI says
he is one of "only a handful" of scientists who had both access and the
detailed knowledge needed to culture and weaponise the highly lethal
concentrated dry powder anthrax spores posted to the politicians.
Just two months before the first anthrax victim died in Boca Raton,
Florida, last October, Hatfill's security clearance was cancelled by the
US Department of Defence. His employers, SAIC, were given no reason for
the sudden withdrawal, and sacked Hatfill as a result. He told former
colleagues that he had applied for a higher security rating in order to
bid for a top secret government job, and was required to take a lie
detector test, which he failed "on aspects of his earlier activities in
Rhodesia," Hatfill allegedly complained that the polygraph was carried
out by "amateurs" incapable of "understanding what Cold Warriors like
himself had to do in Rhodesia".
Several of Hatfill's acquaintances said he had hinted over the years at
having been involved in the world's worst recorded anthrax outbreak,
which killed at least 180 of more than 10 500 human victims between 1978
and 1980 in the Rhodesian Tribal Trust Lands. The outbreak is believed
to have been caused deliberately by Rhodesian security forces with the
assistance of the late Professor Bob Symington, head of the anatomy
department at the Godfrey Huggins School of Medicine in Harare and
father of a crude but effective biowarfare programme launched against
guerrilla fighters and,conirmed in recent years by senior ex Rhodesian
military officers.
It was Symington who arranged or Hatfill to study medicine in Zimbabwe
and served as his mentor.
Although serving at the time as a signaller with US Special Forces,
Hatfill went to Zimbabwe in 1976 after spending eight months as a
`health assistant" at a Methodist mission hospital in Kapanga, Zaire. In
October 1976 he married chief medical missionary Glenn Eschlruth's
daughter, Caroline. In April 1977 a group of Cuban led mercenaries
invaded the mission station from Angola, and while eight Americans were
later evacuated unharmed, Eschtruth was executed and buried in a shallow
grave. Although his marriage ended after less than two years and Hatfill
did not even know his wife had given birth to a daughter, Kamin, until
she herself had a son in 1996 and tracked her father down, he often told
colleagues his father in law's brutal murder had "caused me to undertake
some actions other people wouldn't understand". However, when Hatfill
told the story he claimed Eschtruth had been killed by "terrorists in
Details about Hatfill's war experiences are shrouded in mystery,
starting with the fact that he could not have simultaneously served as a
member of the US's "Green Berets" and two Rhodesian military units
without high-level official sanction. US Military experts say it would
be "just about impossible" for anyone with known links to the last white
regime in Zimbabwe and the AWB in South Africa to have gained employment
at Fort Detrick - one of the most sensitive facilities within the US
military- unless this too was part of an official plan. Whatever the
truth about Hatfill's background, FBI and media interest have caused his
newest employer, Louisiana State University to suspend him on full pay
for 30 days before he starts his next job training emergency personnel
and federal agents - possibly including some of those involved in the
investigation against him - on how to deal with a bio terror attack.

Warm regards

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