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Government skeptical of threat against NFL stadiums


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WASHINGTON (AP) -- A Web site is claiming that seven NFL football stadiums will be hit with radiological dirty bombs this weekend, but the government on Wednesday expressed doubts about the threat.

The warning, posted Oct. 12, was part of an ongoing Internet conversation titled "New Attack on America Be Afraid." It mentioned NFL stadiums in New York, Miami, Atlanta, Seattle, Houston, Oakland and Cleveland, where games are scheduled for this weekend.

The Homeland Security Department alerted authorities and stadium owners in those cities, as well as the NFL, of the Web message but said the threat was being viewed "with strong skepticism." Officials at the NCAA, which oversees college athletics, said they too had been notified.

Homeland Security spokesman Russ Knocke said there was no intelligence that indicated such an attack was imminent, and he said the alert was "out of an abundance of caution."

"The department strongly encourages the public to continue to go about their plans, including attending events that involve large public gatherings such as football games," Knocke said.

The FBI also expressed doubt about the threat.

"While the credibility of the threat is questionable, we have passed the information on because it has been carried in some open source reporting," said FBI spokesman Richard Kolko. He said the FBI was discussing the threat with the NFL as "part of our routine discussions this week."

The nation's alert level remains at yellow, signaling an elevated risk of an attack. The threat level for airline flights is at orange, a higher level, where it has been since a foiled plot to bomb U.S.-bound commercial jets was revealed on Aug. 10.

NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said stadiums around the country "are very well protected through the comprehensive security procedures we have in place, including secure facility perimeters, pat-downs and bag searches."

Officials were made aware of the Web posting on Oct. 16. The threat was timed to be carried out on Sunday, Oct. 22, marking the final day in Mecca of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month.

"The death toll will approach 100,000 from the initial blasts and countless other fatalities will later occur as result from radioactive fallout," according to a copy of the posting that was obtained by The Associated Press.

The bombs, according to the posting, would be delivered to the stadiums in trucks. All but one of the stadiums -- Atlanta -- are open-air arenas, the posting noted, adding: "Due to the open air, the radiological fallout will destroy those not killed in the initial explosion."

Explosions would be nearly simultaneous, the posting said, with the cities specifically chosen in different time zones.

The posting said that al-Qaida would automatically be blamed for the attacks and predicted, "Later, through al-Jazeera, Osama bin Laden will issue a video message claiming responsibility for what he dubbed 'America's Hiroshima."'

Tony Wyllie, the vice president of communications for the Houston Texans, said the team had been in contact with the NFL regarding what security precautions should be taken for Sunday's game against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

In Indianapolis, where the Colts were preparing for a home game this weekend, head coach Tony Dungy said, "I've been waiting for this to happen for a couple of years now and you try and handle the security and put it out of your mind."

"We'll let the security people do their job, and we'll do our job," Dungy said. "We've got a lot of confidence in NFL security and our own security here."

Amy Trask, CEO of the Oakland Raiders, said, "We work closely with a number of governmental agencies, including the FBI, and with the NFL on an ongoing basis."

Stacey Osburn, associate director of public relations for the NCAA, said the organization passed the warning to members "so that they may take the appropriate precautions."

The postings were made on a Web site dubbing itself "The Friend Society," which links to various online conversations and off-color cartoons.

Authorities traced the site's Internet provider back to Voxel Dot Net Inc., which has support and engineering staff based in Troy, N.Y. A man who answered the phone at Voxel, who declined to give his name, said he was unaware of the posted threat on the Web site and refused further comment.

The author of the threats, posted at 9:31 p.m. EDT on Oct. 12, identified himself online as "javness."

"In the aftermath civil wars will erupt across the world, both in the Middle East and within the United States," javness wrote. "Global economies will screech to a halt. General chaos will rule."

Fellow online posters sounded skeptical about the claims.

"This isn't something you should joke about," a poster identified as "Kim Possible" wrote in response almost two hours later. "If you are (serious) about this may I see your sources. Unless you're a psychic."

Associated Press writers Dave Goldberg and Ralph Russo in New York, Kristie Rieken in Houston, Josh Dubow in Alameda, Calif., and Michael Marot in Indianapolis contributed to this report.


What does everyone think of this? I think that, God forbid, if something like this should happen one day, that there won't be an AP article released days before it. I think this is another scare tactic, but I suppose you can't be too careful when it comes to the safety of hundreds of thousands of people.

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This was posted on a website called "The Friend Society" which is currently offline, probably due to this story.

I found the thread through Google's cached feature, though and it references this article...


Anybody know anything about the Canada Free Press? Being in the southeastern US, I've never heard of it. Is it a legit publication?

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its probably gov't scaremongering. I don't believe a single word our homeland insecurity officials say.



When there's a warning, it's scaremongering.

When there's a foiled plot, it's a publicity stunt.

When there's an attack, someone will have to be blamed for not doing the above two things.

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Election in November! Election in November!

We better all vote Republican, since they've done such a great job protecting us from terrorism since W was innaugurated on January 20, 2001. After all, they always prevent terrorist attacks that are specifically detailed in reports that are given to them weeks before terrorists attack. Man, they sure are better than those lousy liberals, who love the terrorists and just want to welcome them to America. They would never respond to an attack as effectively as Bush has.

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its probably gov't scaremongering. I don't believe a single word our homeland insecurity officials say.

I don't understand how they would be trying to scare people by saying they don't take the threat seriously... silliness, all around me.

I don't want this to turn into another lame Bush vs. the World threads, because those really go nowhere, so everyone gets to stop the flinging.... now!

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I don't want this to turn into another lame Bush vs. the World threads, because those really go nowhere, so everyone gets to stop the flinging.... now!

Sorry. I realize those usually end up going nowhere, too. Just frustration speaking.

To get back on topic, I think this 'threat' is a bunch of BS. As we know all too well, blogs and discussion forums aren't usually reliable sources when it comes to rumors. This hasn't been reported anywhere else, so I think it's pretty likely that this was a 14 year old kid who just discovered message boards and wanted to make a splash.

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