Tabloid Editor's Wife Rented Apartments to Two Hijackers

The wife of the editor of the tabloid where anthrax first turned up nearly two weeks ago rented apartments to two of the suspected hijackers who died in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the FBI said Monday.

"Right now we consider it a coincidence because we don't have any tie between the anthrax and the terrorists," FBI spokeswoman Judy Orihuela said.

"It may be investigated further," she said, "but right now we're considering that a coincidence."

Gloria Irish, a real estate agent, rented two apartments in nearby Delray Beach to Hamza Alghamdi and Marwan al-Shehhi this summer. Both were on United Airlines Flight 175, the second jet that was flown into the World Trade Center.

Irish is the wife of Michael Irish, editor at the Sun, the American Media Inc. tabloid newspaper company where photo editor Robert Stevens died of anthrax Oct. 5 and as many as seven other employees have been exposed to the deadly disease.

On Sunday, Florida Department of Health spokesman Tim O'Connor said more than 300 AMI employees would undergo blood tests as early as Wednesday to detect for the presence of anthrax antibodies in their blood stream.

In St. Petersburg, health officials said Sunday that final anthrax test results from samples taken from a U.S. Postal Service distribution center came back negative.

Tests were done because two letters postmarked from St. Petersburg and sent to New York were possibly contaminated with anthrax. The confirmed anthrax case in an NBC employee was eventually traced to a second, unrelated letter postmarked Trenton, N.J. Additional tests by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention were expected Tuesday.