Scientists find no answer to anthrax mystery

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Using the available scientific evidence, "it is not possible to reach a definitive conclusion" about the source of the anthrax used in the 2001 anthrax letter attacks which killed five people, according to a report issued Tuesday by the National Academy of Sciences.

The findings come two and a half years after the FBI said that Army microbiologist Bruce Ivins was behind the anthrax mailings, and that the spores could be traced to a flask labeled RMR-1029 in his lab.

The scientific panel said the anthrax used in mailings to news organizations and members of Congress was the Ames strain Bacillus anthracis, and spores from the letters shared "a number of genetic similarities" with spores in Ivins' flask. But the findings say the FBI did not fully explore other possible explanations for those similarities.

Ivins knew he was under suspicion by the FBI and committed suicide in July 2008 before any charges were filed against him. Ivins was involved in anthrax vaccine research at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute for Infectious Diseases at Fort Detrick in Frederick, Maryland.

In response to the report, the FBI said, while the scientific investigation could not pinpoint the source of the anthrax, it helped its agents and the Justice Department to focus resources and conclude that Ivins was behind the attacks....

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