N.Y. pharmacy owner might have al-Qaeda anthrax ties

According to a recent release by Wikileaks, a detainee captured by the CIA in 2003 for having contact information of a possible al-Qaeda anthrax operative now owns several pharmacies in New York City.

The businessman of Pakistani origin could not be reached for comment and the information is as of yet unverified by a source other than Wikileaks, Mother Jones reports. The report was written in 2008 and contains the suspected terrorist’s name juxtaposed with a reference to an anthrax vaccine.  

The report also found a calendar belonging to another suspected terrorist that linked the pharmacy owner to anthrax and biological weapons.

“The intelligence referenced in the detainee report could be legit or iffy,” David Corn, the Washington bureau chief of Mother Jones, said, according to Mother Jones. “But, if true, an al-Qaeda op who runs drug stores in an American city could pose a serious national security threat. At the least, this businessman could provide other al-Qaeda operatives with medications that could be of use to those handling anthrax or other biological agents.”

Corn contacted the pharmacies that were allegedly owned by the detainee and found that the man does own at least four pharmacies in New York City and an herbal remedies store in Karachi, Pakistan. Upon reaching a woman who identified herself as the man's wife, the woman said that the detainee had never been contacted by U.S. authorities.

The leak of this information causes a predicament for both the Pakistani businessman and the U.S. intelligence community.

“Here's the dilemma," Corn said, according to Mother Jones. "Either the information regarding this suspect is accurate or not. If it is, an al-Qaeda operative linked to biological and chemical weapons owns pharmacies in New York, giving him access to a variety of controlled substances that could be of use to terrorists. Though the US intelligence community possessed information about his al-Qaeda links at least three years ago, he's still running drug stores in a city that is a magnet for al-Qaeda attacks and which is now on high alert following Bin Laden's death. Alternately, if the information in this now-public document is incorrect, an innocent Pakistani businessman can easily be branded a terrorist, his life and businesses ruined, his family harmed, and his own safety jeopardized.”