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News, documents and analysis on violent extremism

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Web Post Claims al Qaeda Bombed Texas Refinery

By J.M. Berger

Two postings on Arabic-language message board used by Islamic extremists today appeared to claim responsibility for a fatal oil refinery explosion in Texas.

The postings could not be immediately verified and seem likely to be the latest in a series of Internet-based hoaxes centering around Web sites used by terrorist networks to disseminate information.

A posting reported first on INTELWIRE/INTELFILES claimed the blast was executed by the Organization of al Qaeda for Jihad in the United States. The "al Qaeda" posting claimed that details of the attack and related photographs would be posted soon.

Although it seems likely the posting is falsified, the profile of the case could change dramtically if the promised details appear later.

A separate posting also claimed responsibility for the blast under a different name, according to wire reports.

Several senior members of the Web forum, which is known to be frequented by terrorists linked to al Qaeda and other groups, immediately expressed skepticism about the "Al Qaeda" claim and challenged its authenticity. The forum members did not know the individual user who posted the claim.

At least 15 people were killed in the blast at a Texas City, Texas, oil refinery run by British Petroleum. An executive today said there was no sign of terrorism behind the blast, but confirmed that FBI agents had investigated the scene as a routine precaution.

The "al Qaeda" Web posting in Arabic was made by a very recently registered member of the forum, which also suggests a possible hoaxer, whether a terrorist sympathizer or simply a prankster.

A hoax hostage photo was recently posted on several Web sites. The photo turned out to have been taken by an Iraqi child, as exclusively reported on


Views expressed on INTELWIRE are those of the author alone.



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INTELWIRE is a web site edited by J.M. Berger. a researcher, analyst and consultant covering extremism, with a special focus on extremist activities in the U.S. and extremist use of social media. He is a non-resident fellow with the Brookings Institution, Project on U.S. Relations with the Islamic World, and author of the critically acclaimed Jihad Joe: Americans Who Go to War in the Name of Islam, the only definitive history of the U.S. jihadist movement, and co-author of ISIS: The State of Terror with Jessica Stern.


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