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FBI: Hijacker-anthrax link coincidental

BOCA RATON, Florida (CNN) -- In what the FBI calls a strange coincidence, two apartments used by suspected hijackers named in the September 11 terrorist attacks were rented to them by a real estate agent married to the editor of the tabloid newspaper where an employee died from anthrax.

The FBI said there is nothing, however, to link the apartments to the anthrax outbreak.

FBI spokeswoman Judy Orihuela told CNN, "We consider this to be a strange coincidence. We have nothing more to go on. We cannot tie this apartment to the anthrax."

The Miami Herald identified the real estate agent as Gloria Irish, wife of Michael Irish, who is editor of The Sun. Sun photo editor Bob Stevens died from inhalation anthrax. At least two other people in the American Media Inc. headquarters building were exposed to anthrax, and others are being tested.

The Herald said the suspected hijackers who rented the apartments this summer were Marwan al-Shehhi and Hamza Alghamdi, both aboard the second plane to hit the World Trade Center.

The two apartments were in Delray Beach, Florida, about five miles from the newspaper building in Boca Raton. The Herald said Alghamdi rented a unit at the Delray Racquet Club, and Al-Shehhi rented an apartment at the Hamlet Country Club complex.

An FBI suspect list has linked several other hijackers to these and other locations in Delray Beach in the months leading up to the September 11 terrorist attacks.

The anthrax scare began October 4 in Florida when it was confirmed that The Sun photo editor had contracted the inhaled form of the bacteria. His death was the first such death in the United States since 1976.


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