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

Front Cover
Rowman & Littlefield, Mar 19, 2018 - Anthrax - 300 pages
1 Review
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.

What people are saying - Write a review

User Review - Flag as inappropriate

Finished reading one of the better FBI stories and how they conduct investigations. Scott Decker was the FBI Special Agent in charge of the Anthrax investigation wherein a suspect mailed envelopes containing Anthrax to several people. Mister Decker and a team were assigned the case and conducted the investigation. Easy to read and understand even the technical areas of the book. Good job FBI and kudos to the agents, especially Special Agent (Retired) Scott Decker. 

Other editions - View all

About the author (2018)

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.

Bibliographic information