Intelligence Report: Website post claims al-Qaeda is coming back to New York

April 4, 2012 5:24:00 AM PDT
The FBI and Homeland Security are investigating whether an Internet threat against New York City is bona fide. The posting on a jihadist website claims al-Qaeda is coming again to New York.

But, in this Intelligence Report, there is reason to question just how menacing the Internet post really is.

New York City Police and federal authorities said Tuesday they are trying to figure out whether the well-produced illustration is a graphic threat or just a threatening graphic. While it is posted on a popular website frequented by al-Qaeda supporters, investigators are trying to nail down the exact origin of the posting, suspected to be Egypt, and the individuals who were behind it.

It started with Tuesday morning's New York Daily News showing the alleged al-Qaeda poster under the word "sickos." From there, NYPD officials and federal agents in New York said that their terrorism task force was on the case, researching the authenticity of the Internet claim that al-Qaeda was coming soon.

The Arabic website -- favored by radical Islamists and filled with anti-Western rhetoric -- shows the backlit skyline of Manhattan offset by block letters with the supposed al-Qaeda declaration seeming to mimic a Hollywood film poster. But this portion of the jihadist website is called "department of audiovisual," a forum for supporters that appears to be intended for graphic artists.

New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said during a briefing Tuesday that the NYPD was "very much concerned."

Two years ago it was the skyline of Chicago that was used as a backdrop for an online al-Qaeda magazine article encouraging personal violence. But this was published by known al-Qaeda operatives, and included full instructions for suicide missions and bomb making, unlike Tuesday about New York.

Comments posted under New York's so-called threat seem to support the suspicion that it was a graphic arts exercise:

"Beautiful design, seems that the film began to degrade," wrote one person.

"Terrific job and integration is very well done," noted another.

"Cool design. May Allah reward you."

Of course, even more than 10 years after 9/11, authorities want to make certain those comments are not part of a some coded instructions from al-Qaeda.

But, terrorism experts and law enforcement are leaning heavily toward this being nothing more than a misguided graphic exercise and a splashy tabloid cover page.