Internet discussion board says dirty bombs will explode at seven stadiums
The Oakland Raiders and security authorities say an Internet threat that seven National Football League stadiums, including the home of the Silver and Black, would be hit with a dirty bomb this weekend is not credible, and fans should feel safe to go to the games.
Security is already tight at McAfee Coliseum in Oakland, where the Raiders will play the Arizona Cardinals this weekend, according to officials. More than 50,000 Raider Nation fans are expected to be in attendance. Security procedures at the stadium, which include fan pat-downs and bag searches, will remain the same. The Oakland Police Department also will continue to patrol the exterior of the stadium.
“Everything is going to remain the same,” Raiders spokesman Artie Gigantino said. “In our society today — since the tragedies of five years ago — all venues that have a large amount of people in it have increased security.”
He said specific security details could not be discussed because “it wouldn’t be increased if wetold everyone about it.”
A warning posted on an Internet discussion board Oct. 12, titled “New Attack on America Be Afraid,” said seven National Football League stadiums, in New York, Miami, Atlanta, Seattle, Houston, Oakland and Cleveland, would be attacked with dirty bombs sneaked into the country.
Jarrod Agen with the Department of Homeland Security in Washington, D.C., said a dirty bomb “is intended to do maximum damage in an open environment.”
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.”
Officials were made aware of the Web posting Monday. The threat was timed to be carried out Sunday, marking the final day in Mecca of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month.
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, “Later, through al-Jazeera, Osama bin Laden will issue a video message claiming responsibility for what he dubbed ‘America’s Hiroshima.’”
Gil Duran, press secretary for Oakland Mayor Jerry Brown, said security in Oakland is already high, and the mayor has no plans to increase patrols in direct response to the latest threat.
“There is certainly no cause for alarm,” he said. “The last thing you want to do if there is a serious threat is to alert people about exactly how you are going to respond.”