Amidst the boutiques, bistros and Bentleys along Delray Beach sits Huber Discount Drugs, a small-town apothecary. In August 2001, 9/11 ringleader Mohammed Atta and fellow pilot and hijacker Marwan Al-Shehhi entered Gregg Chatterton’s drugstore desperate for help.
Chatterton’s testimony has fueled worldwide speculation that Al-Qaeda operatives cowardly mailed the anthrax-laced letters that killed five and terrorized millions. Atta’s repeated attempts to rent and modify a chemical spraying crop-duster plane, anthrax manuals found in Afghanistan and the anthrax letters stating “Death to America. Death to Israel. Allah is Great ” all further implicate Al-Qaeda. Weapons grade anthrax spores were first detected on October 4, 2001 at American Media Inc., of Boca Raton, just five miles from Delray Beach. The CDC lists skin anthrax symptoms as swollen and itchy skin legions usually on the hands and inhalation anthrax symptoms as flu-like, including a deep cough.
Q: What did the terrorists say to you?
A: Atta said, “My hands, they’re burning and they’re itching.”
I replied, “Well, how did it happen?”
“I’m not sure”
“Are using some kind of cleaning fluid?”
“No, I work in computers.”
I figured he was lying so I threw out the term, toluene
Atta said, “I don’t use those type of chemicals.”
He knew damn well about chemicals. The chemical I asked him about is also used to make nitroglycerine for bombs.
Q: What did Atta’s hands look like?
A: They were completely red up to his wrist as if dunked in a bleach as to kill whatever was on them.
Q: What was Al-Sherri’s problem?
A: After I told Atta he could use Acid Mantle for his hands and started to walk away, he put his hands up against my chest and said, “My friend has a cough and night sweats.”
He could hardly breathe. I gave him some Robitussin and Atta took them and checked out.
Q: Do you believe they were responsible for the anthrax attacks?
A: I believe they had something to do with it.
Q: What was their demeanor?
A: Cocky. You could tell these people were on a mission. Atta looked like a real commander.
Q: How did the FBI respond to your testimony?
A: Right away. They put a 45-day watch on my house. After a virus saying, “Usama bin Laden kills” crashed my computer they arranged for a new one.
Q: Where do you believe the remaining chemical weapons are?
A: There has to be a place in South Florida where they’re locked up for future use.
Chatterton’s testimony implies that, with the anthrax case still unsolved and massive quantities of Iraqi chemical weapons still unaccounted for, terrorists continue to threaten our liberty and peace.
Pete Trombadore can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.