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Alert: Halloween Terror Attacks on Malls, 10/31/01

Netlore Archive: Friend-of-a-friend rumor circulating via forwarded email claims there may be terrorist attacks on malls on Halloween, Oct. 31, 2001.

Description: Email rumor
Circulating since: Oct. 2001
Status: False


Example:
Email text contributed by Eva Madison, Oct. 8, 2001:

Subject: FW: Malls on 10/31

Hi All -

I think you all know that I don't send out hoaxes and don't do the reactionary thing and send out anything that crosses my path. This one, however, is a friend of a friend and I've given it enough credibility in my mind that I'm writing it up and sending it out to all of you.

My friend's friend was dating a guy from Afghanistan up until a month ago. She had a date with him around 9/6 and was stood up. She was understandably upset and went to his home to find it completely emptied. On 9/10, she received a letter from her boyfriend explaining that he wished he could tell her why he had left and that he was sorry it had to be like that. The part worth mentioning is that he BEGGED her not to get on any commercial airlines on 9/11 and to not to go any malls on Halloween. As soon as everything happened on the 11th, she called the FBI and has since turned over the letter.

This is not an email that I've received and decided to pass on. This came from a phone conversation with a long-time friend of mine last night.

I may be wrong, and I hope I am. However, with one of his warnings being correct and devastating, I'm not willing to take the chance on the second and wanted to make sure that people I cared about had the same information that I did.

Laura Katsis
Implementation Specialist


Analysis: A terrifying rumor indeed, but it's crucial to remember that in the absence of substantiating evidence or confirmation from authorities it is only that: a rumor.

The FBI says it has received no such letter as the one described above. Does it even exist? We doubt it.

This is one of those rare cases where the name and contact information of the original author appears intact on copies of a widely forwarded email. We have spoken to that author, Laura Katsis, who told us she passed the information on to friends because she believes it to be true.

However, in classic "I heard it from a friend of a friend" fashion, Ms. Katsis admits she is not personally acquainted with the woman the information originally came from and cannot vouch for its authenticity. This by no means proves the claims false, but it does give us very good reason to be skeptical until information from more credible sources is available.

More versions: Whom to believe?

'My friend Colleen...'
"My friend Colleen arrived for a facial when FBI agents were leaving Murad on Sunday, October 7, 2001. They were there to interrogate a girl who worked there to find out if she knew anything. The reason for their lead was she was best friends with a girl who was dating an Arab man, who disappeared and was involved in the terrorist attacks on the WTC...."

'My friend Jill...'
"My friend Jill was here today and her brother works down in Princeton with a girl who had been going out with an Arab man for about a year. They had a date on 9/6/01 and he never showed up. She went to his apartment and it was emptied out. A few days later on 9/8 or 9/9, he sent her an email...."

'From someone here at Sprint...'
"This is from someone here at Sprint that has a longtime friend. They were talking on the phone last night and this friend told her of a good friend of hers that was dating someone from Afghanistan. Anyway... to make a long story short... he never showed for a date w/her (which was on 9/6) and when she went to his house to find him the place was completely empty. Then on 9/10 she rcvd a letter from him...."

'Her friend that lives right here in Baltimore...'
"Five minutes ago sitting here in my office at work one my employees came in and said she had something important to tell me. She told me about her friend that lives right here in Baltimore with us - I won't share names. She told me that her friend that works in a hospital down here was dating a Muslim that was from afganistan. Suddenly he broke up with her..."


Sources and updates:

FBI Press Release
15 Oct 2001

FBI Debunks Warning of Halloween Attack
Alleged Halloween threat "not credible," says FBI. From the New York Times News Service, 11 October 2001

Attack Rumor Has Local Roots
Orange County Register, 12 October 2001

Parody: 'Don't Go to the Bathroom on Oct. 28!'
Circulating since mid-October 2001


Related:

Suspicious Halloween Candy Purchases at Costco
Partly true but misleading - incidents in New Jersey have been investigated by the FBI and found not to be a threat

Terror Attack Rumors & Hoaxes
Coverage of rumors associated with the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon

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