Five people died, and 17 more got sick. Buildings were evacuated, and more than $1 billion was spent decontaminating every building that the biohazardous mail might have touched. Everyone from the Bush administration to your grandma thought the whole thing had to go back to bin Laden.
But no direct evidence appeared to tie it to al-Qaida. Months passed. Then years. We never got details about which terrorist cell orchestrated the attack, or how they got hold of a deadly bioweapon. Eventually, everybody kind of stopped talking about it. That's right -- we got bored with a story about terrorists sending weaponized diseases in the mail. Hey, we all got tired of Charlie Sheen, too.
Sheen prefers the more personal approach to spreading disease.
The Story You Didn't Know:
First, if you followed the story in the years since, you know that eventually investigators started to think that maybe it wasn't al-Qaida at all. They finally narrowed in on a suspect: American bioweapons expert Dr. Steven Hatfill. But Hatfill didn't do it -- in fact, he eventually got over $5 million from the U.S. government for their accusations.
Suspect No. 2 was a Dr. Bruce Ivins, and we say "was" because he committed suicide in 2008. And the reason he took his life, besides his long history of mental illness and depression, was that the FBI was on the brink of naming him as their chief suspect in the attacks. The FBI traced the anthrax spores to a laboratory where he worked, and not all that many people had access to them. So, what, was he a secret jihadist? Was he paid by al-Qaida? Or was he a right-wing anti-government type, like Timothy McVeigh?
Nope, he was 10 years old. We got this, everyone!