Thursday, October 19, 2006

Is This The October Surprise?

U.S. says threat to NFL stadiums not credible
By David Morgan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Department of Homeland Security warned officials on Wednesday in seven U.S. cities about a dirty-bomb threat to National Football League stadiums but does not believe the threat is credible, officials said.

The threat, posted on Monday on an Internet site, said bombs containing radioactive material known as "dirty" bombs had been smuggled into the United States and would be used to attack professional football stadiums this Sunday, the department said.

"We are looking at this with strong skepticism. We have judged that there is not a credible threat here. There is no evidence or intelligence that there is a credible threat of such attacks," said Homeland Security spokesman Jarrod Agen.

"But out of an abundance of caution, we thought it necessary to notify federal, state, local and private sector partners," he added.

The seven cities were identified as Miami, New York, Atlanta, Seattle, Houston, Oakland, California, and Cleveland in a Homeland Security notice sent to federal, state, local and private security officials in those areas.

"They have not been asked to take any security measures," Agen said. "This is to inform them that the information is out there but we don't see it as a credible threat."

The Homeland Security notice said the threat was posted to an English-language Web site at and said dirty bombs in trucks would be detonated outside the stadiums during Sunday's NFL games.

"The content of the Web site, which requires registration to post, is sometimes crude and contains none of the hallmarks of jihadist Web sites," Homeland Security advised in the notice. An attempt to connect to the site was unsuccessful.

The National Football League issued a statement saying its stadiums were "very well protected" by measures that include perimeter security, bag searches and personal searches of people entering the facilities.

The FBI said it would include the threat in its regular security discussions with NFL officials this week. "The FBI routinely maintains a working relationship with the National Football League," the bureau said in a statement.

The warning, which was quoted in the government notice, predicted 100,000 dead from the initial blasts and said "countless other fatalities will later occur as result of radioactive fallout."

It said Sunday would mark the final day of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan in Mecca and predicted al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden would claim responsibility for the attack in a video message.

"In the aftermath, civil wars will erupt across the world, both in the Middle East and within the United States. Global economies will screech to a halt. General chaos will rule," the Homeland Security notice quoted the threat as saying.