This story was written by CBS News producers Robert Hendin and Hoda Osman for CBSNews.com.
"Nuclear Jihad, The Ultimate Terror" is a pretty scary movie title. Especially if that movie is reportedly an Al Qaeda video calling on jihadists worldwide to carry out attacks causing unfathomable disaster against targets in the West. The only problem, it was too good to be true. The tape is not from Al Qaeda, does not call for these attacks and in reality, is some jihadist home movie.
The message and accompanying 39-minute video was posted on a popular jihadi Internet forum on Monday by a new member of al Ekhlaas forum who identified himself as "p2l0a0g8u9e." The post, which was the member's first post ever to the forum, was quickly picked up by media. On Tuesday, reports said the FBI was warning of a new "al Qaeda" tape that will urge militants to use chemical, biological and nuclear weapons to attack the West. The reports indicated the information was coming from "groups that monitor Islamic militant Web Sites."
As there were no visible announcements about an upcoming al Qaeda tape, the reports were referring only to the tape produced by the volunteer forum member. The video and message did not carry the logos of al Qaeda's media wing al Sahab - as is usually the case with official releases by the terror group. As-Sahab puts out over 80 "sanctioned" videos a year.
Today, IntelCenter, a U.S.-based intelligence group, dismissed the video threat. "It is a jihadi supporter video compilation and not from an official group. Supporter videos are made by fans or supporters who may not have ever had any contact with a real terrorist. These videos almost always are comprised of old video footage that is edited together to make a new video. The material in these types of videos do not qualify as an official message from al-Qaeda or any other group. Considering them so would be the equivalent of considering a 10-year-old's homemade fan video of his favorite sports team to be an official team message."
The effort put into producing the video, including use of graphics, music and editing clips by different militant leaders and groups, may have given the wrong impression that it was an official release. Al Ekhlaas' decision that the production was worthy of a spot at the top section of the page - usually reserved for official and important tapes and statements - may have added to the confusion.
FBI sources say that there is no known credible threat associated with this tape. They say that claims by terror groups of weapons of mass destruction are not new. They say that it is known that Al Qaeda desires a weapon of mass destruction, such as a nuclear device, but that it is highly unlikely that the group has obtained such a weapon.
In response to the message and the media reports, there were several posts on the jihadi forums today about nuclear weapons and attacks against the U.S. One member posted a message entitled "The next strikes in the heart of America. When? When? When? And How?" He explained that this section will be dedicated to "wild imaginations" and "predictions" about the coming strike. Another member asked whether Al Qaeda is capable of attacking the U.S. with nuclear weapons and posted his own analyses about the subject. The legitimacy of using weapons of mass destruction was the subject of another post.
By: Robert Hendin and Hoda Osman
Copyright 2008 CBS. All rights reserved.