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New Zealand terror threat no hoax
ABC RadioAustraliaNews ^ | March 10, 2003 | ABC RadioAustralia

Posted on 03/09/2003 9:07:06 PM PST by FairOpinion

Police in New Zealand say they are taking seriously, a letter to a newspaper containing a terrorist threat for citizens in two main cities.

The letter threatens to poison water pipes with cyanide in Auckland and Wellington.

Cinemas are also warned of the possible use of explosives or gas.

New Zealand's counter-terrorism chief, Assistant Commissioner Jon White, says the letter sent to the New Zealand Herald last Tuesday cannot be discounted as a hoax.

He says while the security alert in New Zealand remains low, the public should remain vigilant and report anything suspicious.

TOPICS: Breaking News; Foreign Affairs; News/Current Events; War on Terror
KEYWORDS: attack; auckland; biological; chemical; newzealand; poison; terror; water; weapons; wellington
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More terror threat. It is serious, they listed it in their Breaking News.
1 posted on 03/09/2003 9:07:07 PM PST by FairOpinion
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To: FairOpinion
Why would the terrorists warn?
2 posted on 03/09/2003 9:10:09 PM PST by blam
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To: FairOpinion
Aside from the ubiquity of insanity, why would anyone be targeting New Zealand?
3 posted on 03/09/2003 9:10:38 PM PST by patriciaruth
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To: blam
"Why would the terrorists warn?"

To enhance the terror, of course.

Apparently the NZ police checked it out and think it's NOT a hoax.
4 posted on 03/09/2003 9:11:20 PM PST by FairOpinion
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To: patriciaruth
Why would anybody target Bali?

Same idea. Soft targets.
5 posted on 03/09/2003 9:12:29 PM PST by FairOpinion
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To: shaggy eel
6 posted on 03/09/2003 9:13:24 PM PST by null and void
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To: FairOpinion; shaggy eel
Prayers for all of you over there, take care.
7 posted on 03/09/2003 9:13:31 PM PST by potlatch (If you want to love living - you've got to live loving...)
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To: patriciaruth
Aside from the ubiquity of insanity, why would anyone be targeting New Zealand?

I'm not sure -- aren't they by and large against the war? My wife is Australian, and she tells me that New Zealand doesn't have much of a military to speak of. I think they're part of the ANZUS treaty (like NATO, I gather), with the US and Australia. So maybe by attacking NZ, they're attacking us.

8 posted on 03/09/2003 9:15:27 PM PST by TrappedInLiberalHell (Let's Iraq and Roll!)
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To: FairOpinion
Only threat is reading the letter and taking seriously.


Dear NZ police, I poison your water. Please arrest me. I'm a kook and need meds.

9 posted on 03/09/2003 9:17:12 PM PST by Rain-maker
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To: FairOpinion
Scary stuff. Everyone says how safe it is here, but not mentioned are the kids whose faces have been torn off by pit bulls, women who have had their arms cut off by swords, and now this terror stuff. I thought I left all of that behind in Detroit when we moved here!
10 posted on 03/09/2003 9:18:30 PM PST by joonbug
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To: TrappedInLiberalHell
In case anyone is interested, here is a PDF of the ANZUS treaty, signed in 1951.
11 posted on 03/09/2003 9:19:58 PM PST by TrappedInLiberalHell (Let's Iraq and Roll!)
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To: Rain-maker
Well, Al Qaeda keeps coming out with a threat before they actually try an attack, so who knows.

I would give it a 50-50 chance of this being real vs. a hoax, except for the way the article is phrased and the statements quoted, where they seemed to have anticipated and discarded (presumably for good reason) the idea that it's just a hoax:

"New Zealand's counter-terrorism chief, Assistant Commissioner Jon White, says the letter sent to the New Zealand Herald last Tuesday cannot be discounted as a hoax. "

12 posted on 03/09/2003 9:20:15 PM PST by FairOpinion
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To: joonbug
Looks like you are in Auckland.

I just happened to come across this.

If you learn any more, please keep us posted. Your local press may have more detail.
13 posted on 03/09/2003 9:22:08 PM PST by FairOpinion
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To: Rain-maker
 Today In New Zealand News
Public Health Warnings Repeated
10/03/2003 04:42 PM

Public health officials are repeating warnings to the public to be careful about the food and water they consume.

A letter sent to the New Zealand Herald newspaper warns of cyanide in home and motel water supplies, explosives and gas in cinemas.

 Audio and Video
Preparations following further threats - 10/03/2003 11:52 AM - Assistant Commissioner Jon White talks to Paul Holmes about the preparations being made following the latest threats from the cyanide threat letter writer.
Police have linked the threat to earlier letters sent to the US embassy and Australian and British high commissions.

Deputy director general of public health Dr Don Matheson says people should be aware of the taste of what they are eating or drinking.

He says cyanide has an almond flavour and would cause a burning sensation in the mouth.

14 posted on 03/09/2003 9:23:00 PM PST by Rain-maker
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To: Rain-maker
NZ police warn of terror threats

CITIZENS in New Zealand's two main cities have been warned terrorist threats to water supplies and cinemas outlined in a letter to a newspaper last week were being taken seriously by police.

Counter terrorism Chief Assistant Commissioner Jon White said the letter referred to a demonstration of capability in Auckland and Wellington at noon on March 28, the New Zealand Herald reported today.

He said the letter sent to the New Zealand Herald last Tuesday could not be discounted as a hoax.

The security alert in New Zealand remained low, but police asked the public to remain vigilant and report suspicious activity.

White said the letter contained a number of threats, including attacking American, British and Australian interests in New Zealand, a cyanide threat to residential and motel water supplies through a tap, explosive capability and the possible use of gas in a cinema.

The letter had similar characteristics to letters sent to the United States Embassy, the British and Australian High Commissions and the Herald late last month.

"This suggests that it could have been written by the same author or someone known to earlier authors," White said.

The latest letter also had similar characteristics to one sent to the US Embassy last year when Tiger Woods was playing in the New Zealand Golf Open in Wellington.

The letter to the British High Commission last month and the one relating to Woods both contained cyanide.

White said relevant government agencies had been working to assess the latest letter in consultation with overseas experts and enforcement agencies.

Cinemas would take steps such as monitoring what people took in, being vigilant about suspicious packages and looking at evacuation procedures.

White said public health specialists had advised that introducing cyanide into a motel or home water supply through a tap would be technically difficult.

Cyanide is a deadly poison widely used in New Zealand for killing possums and making jewellery. If digested or inhaled it can cause serious breathing problems, and death.

Meanwhile mail centres in Palmerston North, north of Wellington, were on alert today after a man called earlier claiming he had sent cyanide to a financial institution in the city.

15 posted on 03/09/2003 9:25:23 PM PST by Rain-maker
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To: blam
Why would the terrorists warn?

The sociology and psychology of terrorism: Who becomes a terrorist and why? (A must read)

16 posted on 03/09/2003 9:27:47 PM PST by chance33_98 (God gave man freedom, government took it away)
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To: Rain-maker

New Zealand police criticise US embassy over release of hoax terror letter

By John Braddock
3 March 2003

New Zealand police last week asked staff at the US embassy in Wellington to explain how a letter making a terror threat against the America’s Cup yacht race in Auckland was obtained by the CNN television network despite requirements that it be kept confidential. CNN broadcast details of the letter soon after authorities revealed its existence on February 25. The release of the transcript by CNN forced the police to publicly confirm the letter’s contents.

Identical letters containing white powder were sent to the US Ambassador, the Australian and British High Commissioners and the New Zealand Herald newspaper. They were intercepted at the Auckland central mail exchange on February 21 before reaching their destinations. The powder in the letter to the British High Commissioner tested positive as cyanide. Police complained that the release of the letter compromised their investigation because few besides the author would have known the details.

A US embassy spokeswoman told the Herald that the letter had been obtained by the American media “inadvertently” and the mission “regretted” the incident. “It was a mistake. We have conferred with Washington to help ensure that this sort of thing doesn’t happen again,” she said. Police counter-terrorism chief, Assistant Commissioner Jon White, said CNN had told his officers the letter’s text was taken from a website where it had been posted by the US State Department’s Overseas Security Advisory Council. The council is set up to share security-related information between the US government and American firms working abroad. He confirmed the information had been sourced from the Wellington embassy.

The letters were purportedly from a group called “September 11”, claiming it had stockpiled 25kg of cyanide. Challenging the “great satan America”, the group said it would “resist its imperialist ambitions in the Islamic world”. It warned that the group would “fight jihad” by attacking American interests with whatever weapons it had. Australia and Britain were implicated for their foreign policies. The sender also claimed responsibility for a similar letter posted to the US embassy prior to last year’s New Zealand Golf Open at which US golfer Tiger Woods was playing. The writer claimed to have succeeded in closing the Israeli embassy as a result of the earlier threats.

The police maintained they had wanted to keep the letters out of the public domain for fear they might spark false admissions, or “copycat” letters. It appears, however, that the authorities quickly concluded that the letters were a hoax. But it suited their purposes to keep them under wraps while public warnings over unspecified terrorist threats were relayed through the media. Four days after their discovery the existence of the letters was publicly revealed, along with the presence of cyanide—but not their actual contents. Police and health officials released statements advising the public to be “vigilant” around public transport and when eating food prepared and packaged by others. They cautioned America’s Cup spectators and participants to look out for anything “out of the ordinary”, while armed members of the police Special Tactics Group were put on patrol at the Viaduct Harbour yacht base.

The deputy director of public health advised: “[M]ake sure that when you’re eating food, say in a restaurant or public place, that it hasn’t been contaminated, so in other words that the package isn’t ripped, that it hasn’t been sitting out for somebody to add something to it.” Playing down the fact that, unlike anthrax, cyanide is readily available for industrial, farming and other purposes and is not dangerous unless ingested, the media took to the issue with relish, saying it demonstrated that New Zealand was “not immune” from terrorist threats. One television current affairs program made the dire assertion that 25 kilograms of cyanide was sufficient to kill “a quarter of the country’s population”.

Once the letters’ actual contents became known, it was soon confirmed that they were almost certainly a hoax. Experts concluded that, far from originating from a terrorist cell, they were probably from someone pretending to be a foreigner to disguise his or her identity, or to create a provocation against the Muslim community. Dr Laurie Bauer, a linguist at Victoria University, said the letter contained many poor attempts at grammatical errors to fool readers, and mistakes that would not have been made by an Arabic speaker who had limited English skills. “It sounds to me as if it’s really an English speaker who’s writing this and hoping that by missing out the word ’the’ occasionally we’ll all be fooled into thinking it’s someone who can’t write English,” he said.

Auckland University lecturer Tim Behrend told the Herald that the letters seemed “very transparent and like an incredibly bad effort... They don’t appear to have been written by a non-native speaker of English or someone who is accustomed to being around non-native English speakers. What I see here is someone who is mimicking a foreign voice.” Behrend said the content was also unconvincing. There was no reason to target the America’s Cup, with Swiss and New Zealand teams competing but no Americans. It was unlikely the writer had a real political agenda—it seemed to be simply “mischievous”.

A number of Muslim leaders who spoke to the Herald—all of whom wanted to remain anonymous—doubted the writer was part of a group fighting for the rights of Islamic people because of a number of fundamental errors. Chief among them was the signature, “Abd Allah September 11”. “Abd” in Arabic means servant and “Allah” God, but the way this had been written was incorrect. As a phrase the two words are meaningless, and it could not be a name because Muslims cannot take the name “Allah”.

Nevertheless, both the government and the media seized on the hoax to whip up an atmosphere of uncertainty and anxiety. Against this backdrop, Prime Minister Helen Clark announced last Friday that unprecedented security precautions would be put in place for the forthcoming visit of Australian Prime Minister John Howard. Howard is due to arrive in New Zealand on March 8, fresh from discussions at the White House over preparations for the coming war with Iraq. According to local protest groups, he is likely to meet the most “intense” demonstrations ever mounted against a visiting Australian Prime Minister. Clark has warned of stringent security measures to prevent the disruption of official activities or the threat of Howard being personally “assaulted”.

17 posted on 03/09/2003 9:29:10 PM PST by Rain-maker
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To: Rain-maker
Monday, March 10, 2003. 16:11:33 (AEDT).

PM defends linking Iraq with 'war on terror'
Prime Minister John Howard rejects claims he is playing on the emotions of Australians by bringing up the memory of the victims of the Bali bomb attack in the context of any war against Iraq.

Mr Howard is in New Zealand on the final day of a three-day visit.

He says this will be a very difficult week for the world as the United Nations Security Council decides what to do about Iraq.

Last night, Mr Howard asked Australians to remember the those who were killed in Bali if Australia commits troops to a war against iraq.

He says he is not alleging Iraq was responsible for the bomb attacks but says disarming the rogue state is part of the wider war against terrorism, citing Iraq's past and continuing assistance to terrorist organsiasions.

Mr Howard is also concerned if chemical and biological weapons got into the hands of terrorists he says there could be much more horrific outcomes than occurred in Bali.

Opposition leader Simon Crean says Mr Howard 's comments are insensitive.

He says Mr Howard is trying to justify a war with Iraq.

"It's insensitive to those still grieving from the Bali bombings and it's wrong, because no evidence has been produced that links the Bali bombings to Iraq," Mr Crean said.

18 posted on 03/09/2003 9:31:01 PM PST by kcvl
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To: FairOpinion
Why would anybody target Bali?

Agreed. Same as why they slit the throats of defenseless people, blast children to pieces, etc. They are both evil cowards and sub-human monsters. There will come a time when they all will be dead, rotting, and forgotten.

To them: Hey vermin. Come my way. I got something for ya. Fast or slow, it doesn't matter to me.

19 posted on 03/09/2003 9:35:08 PM PST by Mad_Tom_Rackham (Let's Roll Already!)
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To: Rain-maker
Thanks for the additional detail.
20 posted on 03/09/2003 9:36:02 PM PST by FairOpinion
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