"This is an eye opening account of all that goes into an investigation like this, one that is a threat to all of us. As ordinary citizens we never hear about the hard work that is done to protect us from things like the anthrax threat. Scott Decker did an excellent job both with the investigation and writing about it."
— Marilyn Meredith, author of the Deputy Tempe Crabtree and Rocky Bluff P.D. mystery series; serves on the board of Public Safety Writers Association
"Decker provides a deep and detailed account of how the FBI and other federal agencies used the new field of microbial forensics as well as DNA analysis and other cutting-edge techniques to conduct one of the largest terrorism investigations in the nation's history. His inside knowledge offers something for sleuths and scientists alike."
— Ed Palattella, editor of Erie Times-News; author of Pizza Bomber: The Untold Story of America’s Most Shocking Bank Robbery and A History of Heists: Bank Robbery in America
"With a keen eye for detail, PhD scientist and former FBI agent, Scott Decker, takes the reader deep inside the government’s investigation of the 2001 anthrax letter attacks."
— David Willman, author, The Mirage Man: Bruce Ivins, the Anthrax Attacks and America's Rush to War
A Synopsis of Recounting the Anthrax Attacks:
FBI agents race against terror and the ultimate insider threat— a decorated government scientist releasing powders of deadly anthrax. A true story due for publication, April 2018.
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, on October 5, a Florida journalist died of inhalational anthrax. The death from the rare disease made world news. More deaths, crippling illness, and near chaos followed.
The anthrax attacks of 2001 marked the first time a sophisticated biological weapon was released in the United States. It killed five people, disfiguring at least 18 more, and launched the largest investigation in the FBI’s history. My book, Recounting the Anthrax Attacks: Terror, the Amerithrax Task Force and Evolution of Forensics in the FBI, will provide the first inside look at how the investigation was conducted, highlighting dramatic turning points as the case progressed. For six years, I worked on all aspects of the investigation—collecting evidence, delivering deadly bacteria by helicopter and private jet, analyzing forensic data, and interviewing the killer. I will relate from the FBI’s perspective how the investigation began, took shape, survived wrong turns, and was ultimately solved.
Recounting the Anthrax Attacks will draw on the investigative skills I learned as a senior FBI agent as I apply them to bringing to light facts previously undisclosed. The story of how the letter mailed to news anchor and author Tom Brokaw was recovered, lost, and recovered again has never been told. Indeed, few people, even within the FBI, know it. It will also be the first time the events leading up to locating the anthrax letter mailed to Senator Patrick Leahy will be disclosed and how FBI scientists realized that paper envelopes are riddled with invisible porosity.
Faced with a serial murderer using an almost untraceable weapon of biology, our squad of agent-scientists developed the new field of Microbial Forensics. The analysis of print defects was taken to new limits. For the first time, the story of how these defects allowed tracing the four attack envelopes—from a total production of 45 million—to a single post office, will be told. The book will also relate how forensic psychiatry resolved lingering questions of guilt or innocence. Recounting the Anthrax Attacks is a story of pioneering efforts. Readers will have a front-row seat as dozens of leads and initiatives are pursued, as our next moves and strong hunches are debated, as we finally catch the deranged killer we’d been seeking all along.