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October 14, 2001: ’Strange Coincidence’ Briefly Increases Suspicions Al-Qaeda Is behind Anthrax Attacks

Gloria Irish.Gloria Irish. [Source: AP / St. Petersburg Times]The FBI confirms that Gloria Irish rented an apartment to two of the 9/11 hijackers. Her husband is Michael Irish, who is an editor of the Sun, a Florida tabloid newspaper, and the first victim of the anthrax attacks earlier this month. Bob Stevens, who also worked at the Sun, and several others at the tabloid offices were injured. The FBI says that Irish rented different apartments in Delray Beach, Florida, to hijackers Marwan Alshehhi and Saeed Alghamdi during the summer of 2001. But one FBI spokesperson says, “Right now it looks like a coincidence,” and another calls it a “strange coincidence.” Two of the hijackers, including Mohamed Atta, also had subscriptions to the Sun. (Chardy, DeMarzo, and Greene 10/14/2001; Gillan 10/16/2001) But Irish says “there is no way” the hijackers could have known about any Sun connection through her. (Slevin and Blum 10/15/2001) Michael Irish is a licensed pilot who was a member of the Civil Air Patrol based at Lantana Airport. Atta reportedly rented a plane at that airport in August (see August 16-19, 2001). Stevens, who died of anthrax on October 5, also lived in Lantana. But there is no evidence that Irish or Stevens crossed paths with Atta. (St. Petersburg Times 10/15/2001) The story will quickly die after nothing more is found to the connection.

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