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Sunday, March 24, 2002
Always go with your first guess?
The FBI is investigating a report that some of the 9/11 hijackers were treated for anthrax.
The two men identified themselves as pilots when they came to the emergency room of Holy Cross Hospital in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., last June. One had an ugly, dark lesion on his leg that he said he developed after bumping into a suitcase two months earlier. Dr. Christos Tsonas thought the injury was curious, but he cleaned it, prescribed an antibiotic for infection and sent the men away with hardly another thought.

But after Sept. 11, when federal investigators found the medicine among the possessions of one of the hijackers, Ahmed Alhaznawi, Dr. Tsonas reviewed the case and arrived at a new diagnosis. The lesion, he said in an interview this week, "was consistent with cutaneous anthrax."
Got that? This was in June -- months before 9/11, and months before the other anthrax attacks. So if this story is true -- and I should point out that a retroactive diagnosis is of questionable validity -- it adds a new twist to the story.

Originally, everyone assumed the anthrax attacks were caused by terrorists. Lately, as the proof for that hypothesis has failed to turn up, a revisionist theory has sprung up that a disgruntled former member of the U.S. biodefense program is responsible for the attacks. But if the hijackers got anthrax four months before the other anthrax victims, that would either be one of the biggest coincidences in the history of the planet, or incredibly strong circumstantial evidence that there's a terrorist connection.

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