Skip to comments.New Zealand terror threat no hoax
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.
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.
Today In New Zealand News
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.
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.
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.
New Zealand police last week asked staff at the US embassy in Wellington to explain how a letter making a terror threat against the Americas 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 letters 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 doesnt happen again, she said. Police counter-terrorism chief, Assistant Commissioner Jon White, said CNN had told his officers the letters text was taken from a website where it had been posted by the US State Departments 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 years 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 cyanidebut 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 Americas 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 youre eating food, say in a restaurant or public place, that it hasnt been contaminated, so in other words that the package isnt ripped, that it hasnt 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 countrys 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 its really an English speaker whos writing this and hoping that by missing out the word the occasionally well all be fooled into thinking its someone who cant 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 dont 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 Americas Cup, with Swiss and New Zealand teams competing but no Americans. It was unlikely the writer had a real political agendait seemed to be simply mischievous.
A number of Muslim leaders who spoke to the Heraldall of whom wanted to remain anonymousdoubted 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.
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.
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