Doubt Cast On NFL Bomb Threat

Seven NFL stadiums were said to be targeted for radioactive “dirty bomb” attacks on October 22nd in what turned out to be a hoax perpetrated by a Wisconsin man who admitted his involvement in an online “writer’s duel,” according to ABC News.

An Internet posting caused Homeland Security officials to alert the NFL and the stadiums in question as a precautionary measure, despite having doubts about the credibility of the threats.

An October 12th Web site posting, under the title “New Attack on America Be Afraid,” mentioned stadiums in New York, Miami, Atlanta, Seattle, Houston, Oakland and Cleveland, where games are scheduled October 22nd.

Homeland Security spokesman Russ Knocke said there was no intelligence suggesting an imminent attack, and the alert was issued “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.

No changes were made to the nation’s alert levels – which remain at yellow, or elevated, and a higher orange level for airline flights.

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.”

According to details of the posting obtained by the Associated Press, the threat was to be carried out on Sunday, October 22nd, marking the final day of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.

“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.

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

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

No mention was made of Kansas City, Mo., where the Chiefs were to host San Diego. Chiefs spokesman Bob Moore said the team had not received any warnings but noted that security around the NFL has been high since the terror attacks of September 11, 2001.

“Security measures that may go unnoticed by the general public are in effect everywhere, every week,” Moore said.