Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Amerithrax 2001

Pre-September 11 Letters

On November 1, 2001, Murray Weiss of the New York Post reported that threatening letters to media personalities were mailed before 9/11 from Indianapolis and other locations. These letters did not contain anthrax, but the writing was allegedly very similar to that on the anthrax letters.

Sean Hannity, Fox News
Sean Hannity, Fox News
Coincidentally, anthrax was found the day before the article was printed on post office equipment in Indianapolis. Officials claim that it isn't related to the Indianapolis letters. The letters may have gone out to some 15 media people, among them was Sean Hannity of Fox News. Hannity told that he had begun getting the threatening letters in the winter of 2000 and again in August of 2001.

"In my gut, I know it's the same person," Hannity told his audience. "It was the exact same handwriting that I had recognized. ... When I saw it I said, 'Oh my God, that's the same guy.'" Because the letters were part of an ongoing investigation, he could not go into any more detail about them. The letters that were sent to Hannity were mailed from Indianapolis and from Trenton, N.J. – an anthrax hot spot.

Bill O'Reilly, Fox News
Bill O'Reilly, Fox News
Hannity wasn't the only popular Fox News talk show host to receive threatening letters. Controversial, but very popular Bill O'Reilly was also a recipient of letters very similar to those received by Senators Leahy and Daschle.

The FBI was been very silent on the pre-September 11 letters and the details of the investigation have been hidden from the media. In the absence of any additional information, it is impossible to evaluate the significance, if any, of the pre-September 11 threatening letters.


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