Rep. Brad Sherman of Los Angeles, the former chair of the House Subcommittee on Terrorism and a senior member of House Foreign Affairs Committee, has put out a statement analyzing the differences in language between the email threats received by Los Angeles and New York school officials. Here, LA Unified officials deemed the threats credible and closed all schools for the day yesterday, throwing 700,000 students abruptly out of class. In New York, officials quickly concluded the threats were not credible but had the advantage of seeing the LA threat before making the judgement.
Sherman says "there are important differences between the email received by school officials in Los Angeles and those received by school officials in New York City."
1. The Los Angeles email claims that the author had 32 accomplices ready to strike on Tuesday. In the New York email the author claims to have 138 accomplices. To think that there would be a conspiracy in the Los Angeles involving 33 individuals, including the email author, without the federal government having at least heard enough to raise the threat level is somewhat unlikely. To think that there would be a conspiracy in the New York area involving 139 active shooters ready to act on a single day, all without the federal government at least raising the threat level, is not credible at all.
2. The email author claims to be a student of the “Los Angeles Unified district.” This is terminology that someone familiar with the Los Angeles schools would use. In the other email, the author claims to be a student of the “New York City School District.” Someone who is actually familiar with the New York would use the term “New York City Schools” or “DOE” (Department of Education).
3. The email was received at roughly 10 pm Monday night in Los Angeles, meaning that Los Angeles officials had enough time to announce the closure of schools before they opened the next morning, thus forcing L.A. School Officials to make a decision. Apparently the New York email was received at 5am local time (and may not have been read until later) when it was too late to close the New York City Schools. A few hours later, New York City became aware that a near identical email had been sent to Los Angeles, thus indicating that both emails were not credible
There are at least three reasons to believe that the author of the email may not be a Muslim:
1. The Los Angeles email says it is “from”an email name that includes an obscene word for a body part. No devout Muslim, nor a Muslim extremist claiming to be devout, would use such an email name.
2. The email contains several typos but most significantly fails on one occasion to capitalize the word “Allah.” A devout Muslim, or an extremist Muslim claiming to be devout, would be careful to capitalize the word “Allah.”
3. The email does not read like any of the missives from Islamic extremists. It does not quote any portion of the Quran nor allude to any incident in the life of Muhammad. The author of the email does not demonstrate any understanding of Islam.
The following are comments on the credibility of the threats made in the attack:
1. The claim by the author to have nerve gas agent is not credible.
2. The claim by the author to have “32” Los Angeles accomplices in a conspiracy in which the federal government had not even detected an increase in chatter is not credible. The claim in the New York email to have a 138 accomplices is fanciful.
3. Just because some portions of each email appear to be false does not mean that school officials could conclude that all of the assertions in the email are false, nor could they assume there was not some plot to kill some students at some schools.