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Analysis: NYC “al Qaeda” grapic appears to have U.S. origins

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Analysis of this graphic suggests that it likely originated in the U.S. or a Western country by an individual who speaks fluent English or whose primary language is English.

By Douglas J. Hagmann, Director & Research staff

2 April 2012: Investigative analysts of the Northeast Intelligence Network have been tracking the posting and propagation of a graphic of New York City with the words “Al Qaeda, coming soon again in New York” since it was first discovered last weekend. The graphic, pictured at left, has found prominent placement on a number of Arabic language websites frequented by Muslim terrorists and terrorist sympathizers.

Analysis of the image notes several inconsistencies from previous images posted in the months and years following the attacks of 9/11 that suggest this image might have domestic origins. Additionally, there appears to be a secular aspect with the posting of this image - glaring omissions of “religious” text that usually accompany aspirations of attack, even in the most general sense.

Analysts note that such text contained in Arabic language forums have been written by other forum members unrelated to the creation of this graphic.

In summary, analysis of this graphic suggests that it likely originated in the U.S. or a Western country by an individual who speaks fluent English or whose primary language is English. Based on other factors that we will not disclose, it further appears that this graphic is specifically intended for a Western and most likely U.S. audience.  While the image seems to suggest an upcoming terrorist event targeting New York City, the posting and subsequent promotion lacks certain vital elements of authenticity.

We are more troubled by the offline status of a number of intelligence-laden websites that have been apparently been taken down within the last few weeks. Our investigation suggests that the sites were taken offline by an organized, possible government sanctioned effort. The most pressing question, however, is which government and why?

Our investigation is continuing.

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