The Hoaxes

1997 – April, B’nai B’rith headquarters received a package HOAX of anthrax. The material turned out to be Bacillus cereus, a substitute simulant used by the military … index.html
The incident, and more recent hoaxes are addressed by the ADL:
Another site of collected hoaxes is here:
February 19
“NEW YORK (CNN) — The FBI has taken two men into custody in Las Vegas after suspecting them of developing the deadly biological agent anthrax, top FBI sources told CNN on Thursday…A spokesman for Nellis Air Force Base, near Las Vegas, said authorities impounded a vehicle at the request of the FBI…one of the men in custody apparently made references to New York in some writings…New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani said there was no connection between Wednesday’s arrests and a purported plot to attack New York City.”…
February 20  “LAS VEGAS, Nevada (CNN) — A man arrested on charges of possessing what is believed to be the deadly toxin anthrax predicted on a radio talk show the day before his arrest that the United States would be the target of a major biological attack within two years. Tuesday, Larry Wayne Harris, speaking on Talk America Radio Network’s “The Buck Stops Here,” gave a detailed description of what he said was a plot involving more than 200 “sleeper cells” of Iraqi students poised to unleash anthrax and bubonic plague bacteria on the American people….Harris claims Iraqi students smuggled ‘biologicals’….Harris and Leavitt met at a scientific convention in Denver last August and discussed a joint project to develop a vaccine for anthrax. “…
 March 24 “COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) – An Ohio man arrested in a Nevada anthrax scare was given a longer, more restricted probation on Tuesday for telling people he was with the CIA….his attorney Curt Griffith..after the hearing..then warned Harris: “Don’t let the word ‘CIA’ come out of your mouth.”…
1999 – anthrax threats (all hoaxes but one) comprise 82 of the entire 104 bioterror events in the U.S.
Friday, February 5, 1999; Page B08 Two letters containing an unidentified substance and one terrifying word — “anthrax” — were opened in Washington yesterday, one at The Washington Post and the other at the Old Executive Office Building. The letters proved to be a hoax. Similar letters arrived yesterday at an NBC News office in Atlanta and a U.S. post office in Columbus, Ga. They also appeared to be part of a deception that is becoming familiar across the nation.” (Washington Post)
BEFORE September 11 — Sean Hannity and Bill O’Reilly will later say (see Nov.1) that they received several anthrax threat letters before 9-11; Hannity will declare his matched the anthrax-containing, block-lettered envelopes.
“”NBC president and chief executive Robert C. Wright, who was at yesterday’s news conference.. said a number of people at NBC News received threatening letters during the past several weeks. Not all of them were turned over to security officials, he said, even the one containing the granules.” [Oct14, Newsday]
Oct 10-12
“St. Petersburg Times columnist Howard Troxler received a letter warning, in unsteady handwriting, “Howard Troxler… 1st case of disease now blow away this dust so you see how the real thing flys.” “This” was a white, sugarlike substance. By the weekend it had tested negative for the presence of anthrax and other pathogens.”
“Confusion swept The New York Times building in Midtown Manhattan as a threatening letter containing a white powder prompted first a lockdown and then an evacuation of the third-floor newsroom. The mail was addressed to reporter Judith Miller, a Middle East expert who co-wrote a recent best-seller on bioterrorism…

In Washington, the FBI and hazardous-materials experts were called to the State Department for the second time in three days when a suspicious white powder was found in an office. On Wednesday a white powder was found in a mail room, but was found not to be a threat….In California, police cordoned off the Los Angeles Times’ downtown building after employees found a “powderlike substance” in the third-floor newsroom. The substance was later found to be harmless.”

Oct 14 –  “in Tampa, staffers working without sleep struggled to deal with a flood of requests for anthrax tests. The samples coming in ranged from swabs wiped in suspicious powder to a T-shirt, and so far nothing has tested positive for anthrax. “We’ve got 16-zillion hoaxes going on here,” said Dr. Phil Amuso, director the facility. “Everybody is suddenly so afraid of powder. Powder was part of people’s normal lives, and now when people see it they freak out” …During the 24-hour period when the three St. Petersburg letters were at the forefront of the anthrax investigations, Pinellas County’s hazardous materials team cordoned off the section of the city’s main post office where incoming mail arrives and took samples that were sent to the University of South Florida in Tampa …. A U.S. Airways flight from Charlotte, N.C., to Denver stopped en route in Indianapolis after a flight attendant found white powder in a trash bin. An envelope with a powdery substance on it was found at CBS News’ Washington bureau and turned over to the FBI.”

Oct 16, 2001 – “FBI Director Robert Mueller said his agency had received 2,300 reports of anthrax incidents since October 1, but most of them have turned out to be hoaxes. Mueller said investigating the false reports has wasted millions of dollars worth of law enforcement and public health resources…Officials in Florida and New York, the two states where anthrax cases have been reported, also reported hoaxes…Florida Gov. Jeb Bush signed a new law making such hoaxes a felony”

“.. the Federal Aviation Administration grounded a domestic flight (Saturday) after an unidentified powder was found on board. It was later determined to be non-toxic.”

Oct 22, 2001   “In Florida, where residents were already spooked by reports that last month’s skyjackers had inquired about renting crop-dusters, authorities had received more than 100 calls about suspicious powders over the past few weeks; they all turned out to be innocuous substances such as plaster dust. In Trenton, N.J., two office buildings were evacuated early last week after employees reported opening packages containing a white powder. Tests found no traces of any pathogens. An Internal Revenue office in Covington, Ky., was sealed off and 200 employees briefly quarantined after powder was found in an envelope. It, too, was harmless–as was the brown powder found in an envelope sent to a state agency in Ohio, the powder in a Halloween card sent to The Columbus Dispatch and the yellow powder in an envelope that an Ohio couple opened exactly a month after the September terrorist attacks. That one also contained a note. “You are now infected with anthrax.” They weren’t. Nor was the divorce lawyer of a woman to whom a bitter husband sent a letter that, he warned, was impregnated with anthrax, the FBI told NEWSWEEK.”

Oct 24, 2001  “Ninety Planned Parenthood offices and clinics across the nation, including all of the organization’s local offices, have received suspicious letters since Mon., Oct. 15. The letters, which contained a powdery white substance, were signed from the Army of God, an anti-choice group. After laboratory tests, all of the letters–except one that was sent to the organization’s Pottstown clinic, whose results have not yet been returned–came back negative for anthrax….

Organized at Attorney General John Ashcroft’s behest as a way to address concerns at a local level, the task force is one of many across the country that meets weekly to discuss terrorism-related issues in each region. The Philadelphia version consists of representatives from 29 federal, state, county and local agencies from nine Southeastern Pennsylvania counties and three in South Jersey. (Bioterrorism, as it turns out, had been their previously scheduled topic even before the anthrax scare escalated last week.) At the press conference, U.S. Attorney Patrick Meehan first reported that neither 518 calls from citizens worried about anthrax-laden mail nor 362 regional bomb threats proved legitimate. (Of the 3,000 national anthrax threats received since Oct. 1, an FBI spokeswoman says 300 came to the Philadelphia field office.) Meehan echoed Ashcroft’s warning that pranksters would be prosecuted”

Oct 26, 2001 – SOUTH AFRICA; “A total number of 224 alleged anthrax incidents were reported to the police throughout the country. Of these, 51 were of such a nature that no further testing was necessary as the packages contained substances such as washing powder…These hoaxes have placed a severe strain on the SAPS in terms of time, money and human resources. Several other incidents were caused by worried persons alerting the police after they came across suspicious-looking substances.”

Nov 27, 2001 – British anthrax hoaxes investigated
British police investigate two major anthrax hoaxes in which dozens of powder-filled packages were sent to government and business premises across London. Detective superintendent Bob Randall says police believe two separate hoaxes are behind nearly 90 letters and packages, all containing white powder and threatening notes, that were sent to a number of diplomatic, government, and corporate addresses over the past 6 weeks.


Journalist Judith Miller was the recipient of an anthrax hoax letter after 9/11. Miller and two cohorts, Stephen Engelberg and William Broad, had recently released a book called Germs; Biological Weapons and America’s Secret War.


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