Recounting the Anthrax Attacks: Terror, the Amerithrax Task Force, and the Evolution of Forensics in the FBI

Recounting the Anthrax Attacks: Terror, the Amerithrax Task Force, and the Evolution of Forensics in the FBI

by R. Scott Decker


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It was September 18, 2001, just seven days after al-Qaeda hijackers destroyed the Twin Towers. In the early morning darkness, a lone figure dropped several letters into a mailbox. Seventeen days later a Florida journalist died of inhalational anthrax. The death from the rare disease made world news. These anthrax attacks marked the first time a sophisticated biological weapon was released in the United States. It killed five people, disfigured at least 18 more, and launched the largest investigation in the FBI’s history.

Recounting the Anthrax Attacks explores the origins of the innovative forensics used in this case, while also explaining their historical context. R. Scott Decker’s team pursued its first suspect with dogged determination before realizing that the evidence did not add up. With renewed energy, they turned to non-traditional forensics—scientific initiatives never before applied to an investigation—as they continued to hunt for clues. These advances formed the new science of microbial forensics, a novel discipline that produced critical leads when traditional methods failed. The new technologies helped identify a second suspect—one who possessed the knowledge and skills to unleash a living weapon of mass destruction.

Decker provides the first inside look at how the investigation was conducted, highlighting dramatic turning points as the case progressed until its final solution. Join FBI agents as they race against terror and the ultimate insider threat—a decorated government scientist releasing powders of deadly anthrax. Walk in the steps of these dedicated officers while they pursue numerous forensic leads before more letters can be sent until finally they confront a psychotic killer.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781538131480
Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
Publication date: 10/18/2019
Pages: 300
Sales rank: 795,495
Product dimensions: 5.94(w) x 9.03(h) x 0.85(d)

About the Author

R. Scott Decker, Phd, retired from the FBI as a supervisory special agent at the end of 2011, after 22 years of service. He spent his early FBI career in pursuit of bank and armored car robbers throughout Boston. He then gained a promotion and joined the Bureau’s fledging Hazardous Materials Response Unit in Quantico. On September 12, 2001, he led a team of FBI hazmat specialists to Ground Zero in New York City, and then joined the developing Amerithrax Task Force against the anthrax threat. Decker coordinated the early genetics and DNA forensics of the bioterror investigation, and supervised a squad of agents whose work charted new ground and established the discipline of microbial forensics. In 2009, he and his team received the FBI Director’s Award for Outstanding Scientific Advancement. In 2008, The Washington Post featured Decker in a front-page article by national security reporter Joby Warrick, “Trail of Odd Cells Led FBI to Army Scientist.” In 2017, the Public Safety Writers Association’s Annual Writing Competition awarded Recounting the Anthrax Attacks first-place in their non-fiction unpublished book category.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Beyond Ground Zero
Chapter 2: Second Wave
Chapter 3: Under Attack
Chapter 4: Denial
Chapter 5: A Zillion Spores
Chapter 6: Floating through Air
Chapter 7: Assault on Brentwood
Chapter 8: The Springfield Operation
Chapter 9: Persons of Interest
Chapter 10: A Forensic Strategy
Chapter 11: Collecting Ames
Chapter 12: Many Directions
Chapter 13: The Ponds
Chapter 14: Genetics
Chapter 15: Consent to Search
Chapter 16: American Eagle
Chapter 17: Discrepancy
Chapter 18: Midnight Access
Chapter 19: US Secret Service
Chapter 20: Change of Command
Chapter 21: Increased Scrutiny
Chapter 22: Inconsistency and Contradiction
Chapter 23: Final Resolution
Chapter 24: Epilogue

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Recounting the Anthrax Attacks: Terror, the Amerithrax Task Force, and the Evolution of Forensics in the FBI 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Reader_Views More than 1 year ago
Reviewed by Robert Leon Davis for Reader Views (12/18) Soon after that fateful and sad day of September 11, 2001, now known as 9/11, the terror on the people of the United States didn’t cease, as a hidden terror began. Weeks after 9/11, a then unknown perpetrator began sending anthrax-laced letters through the U.S. Mail System, injuring and killing many postal employees and others. Included in these biologic attacks were anthrax-laced letters sent to various reporters such as Tom Brokaw, NBC, CBS, and Senator Tom Daschle. The FBI's Biological Task Force, or Hazmat Specialist, led by this author, began working secretly and discreetly on apprehending the perpetrator(s). This book, “Recounting the Anthrax Attacks; Terror, The Amerithrax Task Force, And The Evolution Of Forensics In The FBI” by R. Scott Decker details the evolutionary methods that were utilized to detect not only "who" the sender was, but the microscopic makeup, or identifying characteristics of this rare agent. The author’s credentials are impeccable; an FBI agent with a PhD in Genetics, with experience working in DNA and Biology. Eventually, the perpetrator was identified, but only through thousands of man hours and various investigations. “Recounting The Anthrax Attacks,” is a detailed behind the scene look at how the FBI and the author had to race against time to avoid further deaths. “Recounting The Anthrax Attacks” by R. Scott Decker, is a riveting, exciting, whodunnit book about what this country's leading law enforcement agency had to do to protect all Americans. After reading this book, you'll realize as well as appreciate, the author sharing with us why the FBI is viewed worldwide as one of the best law enforcement agencies in the world. I must also say that this book should be a basic, must read book for any student of Biology, DNA Research, Hematology, and Forensics Studies. And every college or university teaching the classics of Biology should have this book available as well.