Which foreign-owned corporations owns
a controlling stake in the two private bio-tech labs
that had specimens of the virulent version of the Ames
strain of Anthrax?
There are 2 foreign-owned vaccine
companies that had the Ames strain used in the attack
on Senators Dashle and Leahy.
At issue here is the virulent version of the Ames strain
of the Anthrax bacteria, which was developed by the
US chemical- biological-warfare establishment (CBW)
For obvious reasons, a non-virulent version, lacking
a protective shell and toxic proteins, is provided to
non-CBW defense researchers. The virulent version is
stored in Fort Detrick, the Dugaway (Utah) testing facility,
and Department of Agriculture repositories at Iowa State,
Northern Arizona and Louisiana State universities.
But it was used by two vaccine-makers for testing.
One is located in Britain, the other in the United States.
The British lab is Porton Products.
David R. Franz, who headed the defense-related biological-research
program for the Army at Fort Detrick, Md., between 1987
and 1998, explained that when the U.S. military had
to obtain its Ames anthrax in the powdered form for
testing during his tenure, it obtained it from a British
military research laboratory. That lab, owned by the
British government, was the Porton Downs CBW facility
in Willshire. Subsequently, in 1993, part of the anthrax
defense program was "privatized" through a complex LBO
of the anthrax vaccine unit, Porton Products, by a company
called Speywood Holdings Ltd. Speywood, in turn was
controlled by another corporate front, I&F Holdings
NV, which was incorporated in the Netherlands Antilles.
The I&F shell was owned by Fuad El-Hibri, a Lebanese
Arab with German citizenship, his father, Ibrihim El-Hibri
and other undisclosed investors. Prior to the LBO,
Fuad El-Hibri had worked in the key Citibank branch
in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia that specialized in arranging
investments for large Saudi investors. Saudi Arabia,
at that point, was interested in obtaining an anthrax
vaccine, which the US would not provide, to counter
Saddam's CBW capabilities. When El-Hibri took over and
became biotech director of Porton, he reorganized its
bio-terrorism defense business, and helped supervise
deliveries of bio-tech defense products to Saudi Arabia.
The second foreign-controlled company is Bioport in
Michigan. Bioport had gotten in the CBW defense business
in September 1998 by taking over Michigan Biology Products
Institute, or MBPI. MBPI, which held the exclusive contract
for providing the US government with Anthrax vaccine,
originally had been owned by the State of Michigan,
In the mid 1980s, it was found that its Anthrax vaccine
was less effective against the Ames strain than against
the Vullom strain used by the USSR. So further testing
was necessary with the virulent version of the Ames
strain on guinea pigs, mice and monkeys. Like Porton,
MBPI got specimens of the virulent strain. (In November
2001, an environmental assessment report of its planned
laboratory renovations was found in the Kabul house
of a Pakistani scientist by US intelligence, suggesting
its facility was of interest to foreign scientists).
The take-over of MBPI had been organized by the same
Fuad El- Hibri who took over Porton in the UK, . He
used a labyrinth of corporations, including an entity
called Intervac, whose controlling shareholder was his
I and F Holdings N.V in the Netherlands-Antilles. To
facilitate the deal, El-Hibri applied for (and received)
US citizenship and gave a valuable stake in Intervac
to Admiral William J. Crowe Jr, who had headed the Joint
Chief of staff during the Clinton Administration. As
a result of these maneuvers, I&F NV— Ibraham and Fuad
and their Antillian associates— had a controlling stake
in two private labs that had the only vaccine for Anthrax.
Their facilities also may have had the only specimens
of the virulent version of the Ames strain outside of
government repositories. At least one of these facilities,
Porton, moreover, had it in the dry powder form used
in the attack on the US Senate Office Building. It would
take only one technician— bribed, blackmailed or otherwise
compromised— to steal a minute sample of the deadly
bacteria. The remaining mystery: Did such a bio-tech
transfer take place?