Maclean’s SPECIAL REPORT

TERROR FROM THE SKIES AND IN THE U.S. MAIL

James Deacon October 22 2001
Maclean’s SPECIAL REPORT

TERROR FROM THE SKIES AND IN THE U.S. MAIL

James Deacon October 22 2001

TERROR FROM THE SKIES AND IN THE U.S. MAIL

James Deacon

Watch out, Osama bin Laden-John Walsh is on your case. After U.S. officials released a list of 22 sought-after terrorists last week, Walsh, the tough-talking host of Fox’s America’s Most Wanted, said he’d help “take these lowlifes down.” He was serious: the show’s Web site claims it has helped bring 683 fugitives to justice, so why not the alleged mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks and his “psycho buddies,” as Walsh called them?

On a day when the FBI warned of possible new terrorist threats, any help was welcome. Last week’s U.S.-led bombings of targets in Afghanistan heightened fears of reprisals against America and its allies. Especially worrying for Westerners living abroad was the murder in Kuwait of Luc Ethier, 36, an aircraft technician from Montreal who was gunned down on the street along with his wife, who survived.

Security fears were further fuelled by cases of anthrax, a potentially deadly disease that is caused by spores making their way into the lungs or, in a less dangerous form, the skin. Three positive tests for pulmonary anthrax occurred in Boca Raton, Fla., at the offices of American Media Inc., which publishes the tabloid National Enquirer and The Sun. Bob Stevens, a 63-year old Sun photo editor, died of the disease on Oct. 5; traces of anthrax were discovered on his keyboard. Two other employees who had anthrax spores in their nasal passages but had not developed the disease were placed on antibiotics and were considered in no danger. In New York City, an assistant to NBC news anchor Tom Brokaw was diagnosed with the less serious cutaneous anthrax after handling an envelope filled with a brown granular substance. And on Saturday, another envelope, delivered to a Microsoft subsidiary in Reno, Nev., tested positive for anthrax.

The war on terrorism, meanwhile, continued. As the U.S. and Britain sent more troops to neighbouring countries for an anticipated ground campaign in Afghanistan, President George W. Bush made one more offer to the Taliban. Turn over bin Laden, he said, and the alliance may halt its assault. The Taliban refused, defiantly, so the bombardment, including the use of so-called bunkerbusters designed to attack underground hideouts, continued. “We are dismantling their military, disrupting their communications,” Bush told reporters. “And slowly but surely, we’re smoking AlQaeda out of their caves so we can bring them to justice.” But Bush also acknowledged that, in a remote and desolate land, that goal may take a long time to achieve.