'Tis the Season for Terror Threat Warnings

A "write in" threat pulled down off the Internet prompted the Department of Homeland Security to advise law enforcement of a "low credibility" threat to "malls and Jewish schools" in New York, sources tell ABC News.

The threat, specific to New York, is based on fragmentary information that someone in France is teaching young men to use explosives and encouraging these attacks, sources say.

It comes one week after an FBI intelligence report warned of threats to malls in Los Angeles and Chicago.


Both reports come at a time of year when it has become traditional since September 2001 for both federal and regional law enforcement to issue a series of alerts, bulletins and awareness heightening reports.

And federal officials caution that they have sent the reports, despite a lack of credibility, simply to keep local and regional law enforcement informed.

The information circulated today was titled "Virtual Write In Warns of Unsubstantiated Threat to Malls and Jewish Schools in New York."

The source of today's information is significantly different than that of last week's threat information.

That information came from a human source with "indirect access" to al Qaeda who was known to the U.S. intelligence community for several years and deemed reliable in the past. The information, however, was deemed uncertain because it came through a sub-source and may have been obtained "under duress," according to persons familiar with a classified version of that report.

In the aftermath of media accounts, the FBI and DHS noted that they were not able to establish the credibility of the report.

"Al-Qa'ida messaging has clearly stated they intend to attack the U.S. or its interests; however, there is no information to state this is a credible threat," an FBI spokesman said at the time.

In the bulletin issued today, DHS noted, "This threat is deemed non-credible. The author, possibly located in Argentina, likely provided the threat information to create additional hysteria on the heels of last week's media coverage of a threat to malls in Chicago, Illinois and Los Angeles, California."

This post has been updated.

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