Halloween, 2001 Rumors of planned terrorism at malls-Fiction!
A Foreign Boyfriend Disappears, Warns not to Fly on September 11, Then Issues Other Warnings of Terrorism–Fiction!
Summary of eRumor:
There are several versions of this one circulating.
Version #1: An email from a woman in California who claims that a friend of a friend had an Afghan boyfriend who disappeared shortly before the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. She received a letter from him on September 10 begging her not to fly on any commercial airliners on September 11 and to stay away from shopping malls on Halloween.
Version #2: Similar story except that it originates from someone who says the message came from a cousin in Pennsylvania. That message says the information came in a fax from a brother in Philadelphia whose co-worker dated an Afghan.
Version #3: Same story about the warnings of September 11 and Halloween, except that it’s a letter from a brother who has a friend whose friend dated a person of Arabian descent.
Version #4: Same story, but the originator’s brother is from Princeton, New Jersey.
Version #5: Same story, but the FBI came to a shop that does facials to interview a girl whose friend was dating a person of Arab descent.
Version #6: The wife of an Afghan receives a letter from her husband saying he loves her and the kids, but that he’s on a mission and will never see them again. He warns them not to eat at any fast-food restaurants for the next 3 weeks.
Halloween in 2001 came and went and there was no terrorist activity at malls.
Still, this was one of the most widely circulated of the post-September 11 eRumors.
No law enforcement authorities found credibility in the rumor and despite massive visibility none of the wives or girlfriends described in the stories surfaced.
One interesting aspect of this story was that it produced an unintentional eRumor celebrity.
There were many versions of the Halloween scare eRumor, but one of the most widely circulated was one with a person’s name, email address, and office phone number attached. That person was Laura Katsis in California. She was listed as an Implementation Specialist for an office of Volt Information Services. She had been told of the warning by a girlfriend of hers and considered it credible. Because she was real and assessable by email and phone, many people considered the eRumor authentic. Laura did not know the originator of the story, however. She was one of multitudes of people who was told of it by someone she trusted, thought it was real, and forwarded it. When an uproar happened at her office because of all the response, her company notified the FBI and gave the message to them.
Last updated 12/06/2001
A real example of the eRumor as it has appeared on the Internet:
Hi All –
I think you all know that I don’t send out hoaxes and don’t do the reactionary thing and send out anything that crosses my path.
This one, however, is a friend of a friend and I’ve given it enough credibility in my mind that I’m writing it up and sending it out to all of you.
My friend’s friend was dating a guy from Afghanistan up until a month ago. She had a date with him around 9/6 and was stood up. She was understandably upset and went to his home to find it completely emptied.
On 9/10, she received a letter from her boyfriend explaining that he wished he could tell her why he had left and that he was sorry it had to be like that. The part worth mentioning is that he BEGGED her not to get on any commercial airlines on 9/11 and to not to go any malls on Halloween.
As soon as everything happened on the 11th, she called the FBI and has since turned over the letter. This is not an email that I’ve received and decided to pass on. This came from a phone conversation with a long-time friend of mine last night.
I may be wrong, and I hope I am. However, with one of his warnings being correct and devastating, I’m not willing to take the chance on the second and wanted to make sure that people I cared about had the same information that I did.