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That Time an Oregon Free-Love Cult Launched the Largest Bioterror Attack in US History

That Time an Oregon Free-Love Cult Launched the Largest Bioterror Attack in US History

While the 2001 “Amerithrax” event is the most well-remembered bioterror attack in US history, it was not the first or even the largest. Wielding power in the cult nearly equal to Ma Sheela, Ma Puja served as the Secretary and Treasurer of the Rajneesh Medical Corporation and the commune’s Pythagoras Clinic and Pharmacy. Undeterred, Ma Puja suggested infecting the town with Giardia or “Beaver Fever” by trapping local beavers, pulverizing them, and pouring the remains into the water supply. But in September 1984, five weeks before the election, Ma Puja and eleven others decided to carry out a full-scale dress rehearsal of their planned attack. Ma Sheela and Ma Puja were given prison sentences of 55 and 42 years respectively, though both were released on good behaviour after serving only 29 months.

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