- Note: Larry Wayne Harris was a guest
on this program for three hours on July 13, 1997. That program was rebroadcast
on 11-30-97. Both are available and can be heard in the RealAudio Archives.
- LAS VEGAS - Two men were charged Thursday with possessing the deadly germ
anthrax for use as a weapon. The FBI said one bragged in Las Vegas he had
enough to "wipe out the city" and last year laid out a plan to
unleash bubonic plague on New York City subways.
- The men were arrested in suburban Henderson
late Wednesday as they were allegedly trying to arrange a lab test of the
substance. Their beige Mercedes, sealed in plastic, was hauled off to a
military base for tests to confirm whether the material carried inside
was the germ warfare agent.
- An informant said one of the men told
him he had "military grade anthrax" in flight bags in the trunk
of the Mercedes, according to an FBI affidavit. The informant said
he saw eight to 10 bags marked "biological" in the trunk.
- Larry Wayne Harris, 46, of Lancaster,
Ohio, and William Leavitt, 47, of Las Vegas and Logandale, Nev., appeared
before a federal magistrate Thursday afternoon, handcuffed to each other
and shackled at the ankles.
- They were charged under a federal law
that prohibits the production and possession of any biological agent for
use as a weapon.
- Harris told the magistrate he could not
afford an attorney. Leavitt told the court he did not understand the charges
- A detention hearing for the pair was
continued until Monday while the government ran tests to determine whether
the anthrax was military grade or simply an anthrax vaccine.
- The FBI said the pair were trying to
arrange to buy the informant's testing equipment for $2 million up front
and another $18 million later.
- Bobby Siller, special agent in charge
of the Las Vegas FBI office, told a news conference before the affidavit
was released there was no indication the men had any target.
- Siller repeatedly reassured residents
of the Las Vegas area that there was no contamination and no danger.
- Anthrax is an infectious disease that
usually afflicts only animals, especially cattle and sheep. But anthrax
spores can be produced in a dry form suitable for weapons and can be fatal
to humans even in microscopic amounts.
- Anthrax can also be used in germ warfare;
many of the troops who fought in the Persian Gulf War were inoculated for
- Harris, identified by the FBI as a member
of the Aryan Nations, was previously given probation after pleading guilty
to illegally obtaining bubonic plague bacteria through the mail in 1995.
He is also author of a self-published book called "Bacteriological
Warfare: A Major Threat to North America."
- Leavitt, who has no criminal record,
owns a microbiology lab in rural Logandale, about 60 miles north of Las
Vegas, and another in Frankfurt, Germany, according to the affidavit prepared
by FBI Special Agent John H. Hawken.
- In background information in the affidavit,
the FBI said that last summer Harris described plans for the New York attack.
- "Harris told a group of plans to
place a 'globe' of bubonic plague toxins in a New York subway station,
where it would be broken by a passing subway train, causing hundreds of
thousands of deaths. Harris stated that the Iraqis would be blamed for
- The group was not identified and the
plans were not detailed further in the affidavit.
- The affidavit added: "Harris had
stated that the New York subway attack would ruin the economy and take
the military by surprise."
- The affidavit said the informant called
the FBI Wednesday to say he was a research scientist and had been contacted
by Harris and Leavitt, who asked him to use some of his equipment to test
vials of the bacterium Bacillus anthracis, which causes anthrax.
- Over the next 12 hours, the informant
kept in touch with the FBI and at least one phone call was tapped. The
document outlined a meeting of Harris and Leavitt with another man at the
Gold Coast Hotel.
- The man, who was neither identified nor
charged, was later tracked down by the FBI and related their conversation.
- "Harris had shown him what appeared
to be a vial, which was wrapped in cardboard and stated that it contained
anthrax," the affidavit said. "Harris held the vial in his hand
and further stated that there was enough there to 'wipe out the city."'
- The affidavit said the informant first
met Harris at a Denver science convention last August, and met Leavitt
about six weeks ago. The three were working on a project to test a device
to supposedly "deactivate" viruses and bacteria, the affidavit
- The men also had contacted the source
"some time ago" about testing E. coli and Bacillus subtilis bacteria,
and on Tuesday told the source they had other organisms to test, including
Bacillus licheniformis and Bacillus anthracis, the FBI said.
- The FBI confirmed the informant's claims
to be a research scientist, specializing in cancer research. The source
had two felony convictions for conspiracy to commit extortion in 1981 and
1981, but the FBI said there was no deal cut for his cooperation.
- According to the Southern Poverty Law
Center, which publishes the quarterly newsletter Intelligence Report about
such groups, Harris was an Aryan Nations member at the time of the plague
case, said spokesman Mark Potok.
- In Hayden Lake, Idaho, Aryan Nations
founder Richard Butler denied Harris was a member of his Christian Identity,
a white-separatist sect.
- Last year, Harris pleaded guilty to a
count of fraud after he was accused of illegally obtaining bubonic plague
bacteria through the mail from a laboratory. He said he never intended
to hurt anyone and was sentenced to 18 months on probation.
- Harris was arrested in May 1995 after
a Rockville, Md., laboratory sent three vials of the freeze-dried, inactive
bacteria to his home in Lancaster, Ohio.
- Even after pleading guilty to the charge,
Harris maintained he did nothing wrong. He said he wanted the bacteria
for research for his book.
- "I am a scientist. I am absolutely
of no harm to anyone. I never, never intended to hurt anyone," he
- By The Associated Press