Twitter was abuzz with a report claiming to be from the hacker group Anonymous that says a terrorist attack on downtown Los Angeles high-rise buildings was possibly planned for later today.
The Pastebin post takes on the voice of the organization ("We are Anonymous. We do not forgive. We do not forget.") but has enough dubious assertions to make us take it with a grain of salt.
However, the viral heat it has created couldn't be ignored:
The writer claims that Citigroup Center, as well as the U.S. Bank building, the tallest skyscraper on the West Coast, could be targeted in a World Trade Center-style attack on this date.
But the post is also calling it a "false flag" event, referencing conspiracy theories about government actions posing as the acts of foreign terrorists. They're not theories we subscribe to, particularly when it comes to 9/11.
What's more, the screed suggests that local police have in recent days conducted SWAT exercises downtown in preparation for the event (because, you know, they know).
However, there has been no news of said drills: The L.A. County Sheriff's Department, which generally doesn't have jurisdiction downtown (save for Metro policing duties) conducted an active-shooter drill Nov. 5 in Cerritos, which is almost in Orange County.
We called the LAPD for its response but we were unable to get through to anyone at this late hour.
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One Twitter user asked the @YourAnonNews account if the attack story was really the work of Anonymous but got no response so far.
So, this false flag destruction of Los Angeles story by "Anonymous"- @YourAnonNews - guessing its not actually from Anon- or did I miss...?
— Jeremy C. Owens (@Sephiroth144) November 15, 2013
The self-proclaimed Anonymous member, meanwhile, goes by the moniker SLAUGHTEROTICA645 and has no history on Pastebin or the internet that we could find beyond yesterday's supposed warning.
The post notes that the Citigroup building houses the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation, a.k.a Freddie Mac. (We guess that the idea here is that the government is going to stage a 9/11 style attack on itself and blame al-Qaeda.)
The post says:
The Citi Bank building that is currently occupied by Freddie Mac just recently dropped all insurance policies except for the policy portion which contains special conditions, coverages related to terrorism ...
It warns people to stay away from the Flower and Fifth Street area tomorrow. Which means it will probably be the safest place in town.
[Added at 2:08 p.m.]: The LAPD tells us it has received numerous calls from the media about the story but has issued no official warning of its own.
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Asked about so-called SWAT drills over the weekend "unlike any completed in the past," as the Pastebin post describes them, LAPD spokesman Bruce Borihanh said his department organized no such things, but he pointed us to the L.A. Fire Department.
The LAFD indeed states it conducted active shooter drills (not counterterrorism drills) -- planned months ago -- at 725 S. Figueroa St. on Saturday and Sunday.
"I don't know how they equate that to terrorism," Borihanh said of conspiracy theorists.