THE POLITICS OF PHONY ALERTS
07 January 2003
The alert of a 'terrorist plot' by 'five Arabs' who had entered the US was broadcast by the US police on 29 December 2002. Their names, ages and photographs were posted on the FBI web site. On 7 January 2003 the authorities admitted that all this had been based on hearsay: "U.S. law enforcement authorities are no longer searching for five Middle Eastern men who they feared had entered the United States to commit terrorist acts, in part because of doubts about the veracity of the tipster who told them of the supposed plot from a Canadian jail".
04 January 2003
US politics and phony alerts
A Pakistani jeweler, Mohammed Asghar, tracked down in Pakistan by The Associated Press was alleged by US intelligence agencies to have tried to infiltrate the country from the US as part of a group of 'five Arabs' (sic). Asghar told reporters there he'd never been to the U.S., though he said he tried once – two months ago – to use false documents to get into Britain to find work. "We have very, very little to support the notion that these five represent any more of a threat than any of the other thousands of people who enter this nation every day," terrorism expert Ronald Blackstone said. "It's a fishing expedition." Reporter John Docherty of WorldNetDaily added that "Intelligence pros say the White House is manufacturing terrorist alerts to keep the issue alive in the minds of voters and to keep President Bush's approval ratings high".