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DEBKAfile sends NYC into frenzy with false terror alarm
New York authorities were taking extra counterterrorism precautions Friday in response to what they said was an unsubstantiated report on an Israeli Web site regarding a radiological threat to the city.
Officials said Friday that they had not changed the city's terror alert status in response to online chatter mentioning a truck packed with radioactive material.
But police deployed extra radiological sensors on street, water and air patrols, and were stopping vehicles at checkpoints in lower Manhattan and around the city.
Police confirmed the increased security was in response to receiving information that a dirty bomb may go off around 34th street in Manhattan on Friday evening.
The Empire State Building, New York City's tallest building, Madison Square Garden and Macy's department store are in the 34th Street neighborhood. Deputy Police Commissioner Paul J. Browne called the measures strictly precautionary.
He said an Israeli Web site reported that online posts were made following a video released Sunday featuring an American member of Al-Qaida threatening foreign diplomats and embassies across the Islamic world.
Browne appeared to be referring to a report published on DEBKAfile, which stated that Al-Qaida communications had accused the U.S. of the "grave error of failing to take seriously the videotape released by the American Al-Qaida spokesman Adam Gaddahn last week."
According to the report, the communications said "the attacks would be carried out 'by means of trucks loaded with radio-active material against America's biggest city and financial nerve center.'"
DEBKAfile added that another message "mentioned New York, Los Angeles and Miami as targets." "We are closely monitoring the situation," said Homeland Security Department spokesman Russ Knocke.
"There continues to be no credible information telling us that there's a threat to the homeland at this time." The FBI also said there was no credible threat.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the police measures were nothing out of the ordinary. "These actions are like those that the NYPD takes every day - precautions against potential but unconfirmed threats that may never materialize," he said in a statement.
It gets funnier:
DEBKAfile editor says New York at risk
Illusions? Conspiracies? DEBKAfile editor refutes claims against his site in interview with Ynet following terror alert that put New York police in a panic; warns that Big Apple has much to fear
Jonathan Weber, YNet, 08.11.07
Be it true or false, imaginary or realistic, DEBKAfile's Giora Shamis can rest easy on Saturday, after having spun New York police into a frenzy following a Debka report that al-Qaeda might be plotting to detonate a dirty bomb in the city. Moments before updating his site with new information obtained from world-wide sources, Shamis talked with Ynet and refused to take full credit for the incident.
"The New York Police didn’t have to take my information seriously," he said. "They had other information, additional to ours."
Shamis offers all information he receives to the American authorities with open arms. "Anyone contacting us can receive the information. We have been contacted in the past and we are still contacted by US police departments and terror-investigating bodies," he said.
Claiming that New York City residents had much to fear, Shamis said, "There is always something to be afraid of, because the threat is an ongoing threat, and it's a fact that the New York Police Department has taken it seriously. We never know if the threat is real or not, but if you follow these publications for years, you can get a feel for whether the threat is serious or not. This time this threat seemed – due to the intensiveness of the exchange of messages - to be more serious than others."
Despite the fact that Debka's sources are not viewed as very credible by the Israeli reader, Shamis insisted, "Debka has a monitoring department and its main job is to follow al-Qaeda and other terror organizations' online movement. We specialize in these areas and publish everything we find – videos, messages, announcements, and all other publications that appear on the web. Sometimes we find in these guides the location of their planned attack, and we follow them."
Shamis continued to shoot down claims that the site published false information, saying, "Sometimes, it is the publication of the alert that prevents the actual attack from being carried out."
Taking pride in the fact that a Debka publication from July 2001 predicted that one of al-Qaeda's targets was the World Trade Center in New York City, Shamis said, "Our record speaks for itself. Of course there are people who are uncomfortable with this information, so they treat it as information that they don't want to accept. Is this a conspiratory site? The whole war on terror is conspiratory and is very much built on alerts. Whether the information is correct or incorrect is the real test."