August 18, 2004

Malaysian police rule out anthrax in
powder scare at U.S. Embassy

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) - Police were confident Wednesday that suspicious powder found in a letter posted to the U.S. Embassy in Malaysia was not anthrax.
Emergency services rushed to the embassy Monday after a staffer opened an envelope containing a yellowish powder and a threatening leaflet from an unknown group called Jemaah Muhajirin Mohamad. Complete laboratory test results were not ready, but there has been no indication of anthrax spores or other toxins in the powder, said Abdul Aziz Bulat, Kuala Lumpur's police chief of criminal investigations.
"We're quite positive that it's not anthrax," Abdul Aziz said, adding that forensics experts were still testing the substance.
Three embassy staff members exposed to the powder were cleared by a medical checkup Monday. The embassy remained open and operations continued as usual.
The leaflet demanded that Washington remove its troops from Iraq "or face the consequences." It threatened to blow up the embassy and kill or kidnap Americans in Malaysia.
Police believe the threat was a hoax and that Jemaah Muhajirin Mohamad doesn't exist.
It was the second anthrax scare involving a U.S. mission in Asia in less than a week. The U.S. Embassy in Sri Lanka was closed Aug. 10 after receiving mail containing a suspicious powder. Tests found the powder harmless.
Malaysia -a moderate, predominantly Muslim nation that opposed the U.S.-led invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan -is considered one of Asia's most peaceful, stable countries.
Since 2001, Malaysia has arrested more than 70 alleged members of the al-Qaida-linked Jemaah Islamiyah terror network, which has been accused of plots and deadly bombings, including the 2002 Bali blasts in Indonesia that killed 202 people, including one Canadian.


Parent site: "Focus on Malaysia"