MILWAUKEE (AP) – Internet threats of “dirty bomb” attacks at NFL stadiums this weekend were a hoax inspired by a writing competition between two men trying to come up with scary threats, a law enforcement official said Thursday.

The threats, which were posted on a Web site last week and mentioned stadiums in seven U.S. cities, were deemed to be false by the FBI on Thursday after agents questioned a 20-year-old Milwaukee man.

“This is a hoax,” said Special Agent Richard Kolko, a spokesman at the FBI’s Washington headquarters. A joint statement from the FBI and Homeland Security said fans “should be reassured of their security as they continue to attend sporting events this weekend.”

An FBI official in Washington, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the case is still under investigation, said the Milwaukee man acknowledged posting the phony stadium threat as part of a “writing duel” with a man from the Brownsville, Texas, area to see who could post the scariest threat.

The Texas man corroborated the story during questioning Thursday by FBI agents, the official said. Investigators also searched the Milwaukee man’s computer, the official added.

No decision has been made yet on whether charges will be filed, the official said. In Houston, FBI spokeswoman Shauna Dunlap said officials are not investigating any connections to the NFL scare in that jurisdiction.

Milwaukee police contacted the FBI about the 20-year-old man Wednesday night.

“From the information we have, we believe he was involved to some extent, but we don’t know at what level,” said FBI agent Douglas E. Porrini. He added, “That person was released, but we’re not saying that he won’t be charged.”

The threat, dated Oct. 12, appeared on a Web site, The Friend Society, that links to various online forums and off-color cartoons. Its author, identified in the message as “javness,” said trucks would deliver radiological bombs Sunday to stadiums in New York, Miami, Atlanta, Seattle, Houston, Cleveland and Oakland, Calif., and that Osama bin Laden would claim responsibility.

“The information posted on this Web site we viewed with strong skepticism and there was no credible intelligence to suggest there was a threat,” said Russ Knocke, a spokesman at the Department of Homeland Security.

The agency alerted authorities Wednesday in the cities mentioned, as well as the NFL and the National Collegiate Athletic Association. But the FBI and Homeland Security said there was no intelligence indicating such an attack might be imminent.

“I don’t think it was put out there to be real,” said FBI agent Linda Krieg in Milwaukee. “Whoever put it out there is not in a position to actually carry through on it.”

The man questioned did not appear to have any ties to terrorist groups, according to the official who spoke on condition of anonymity.

NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said stadiums are well protected through “comprehensive security procedures” that include bag searches and pat-downs.



Associated Press writers Lara Jakes Jordan and Hope Yen in Washington and Gretchen Ehlke in Milwaukee contributed to this report.

AP-ES-10-19-06 1813EDT


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