Schools in Los Angeles reopened Wednesday following a terror hoax that prompted officials to cancel classes for 640,000 students.
“We believe that our schools are safe and we can reopen schools in Los Angeles Unified School District tomorrow morning,” school board President Steve Zimmer said on Tuesday evening during a news conference.
The shut down of the nation’s second largest public education system cost the state of California $29 million.
An email sent to Los Angeles and New York school officials on Monday threatened the use of nerve gas and pressure cooker bombs. The mention of nerve gas is believed to be a reference to a recent episode of “Homeland,” a Showtime television series about an al-Qaeda prisoner of war and a CIA officer suffering from bipolar disorder.
New York declined to shut down its school system in response to the email, which warned students “at every school in the New York City school district will be massacred, mercilessly. And there is nothing you can do to stop it.”
NYPD Police Commissioner Bill Bratton dismissed the threat as implausible. “It was so generic, so outlandish and posed to numerous school districts simultaneously… that in fact it would be a huge disservice to our nation to close down our school system,” he said.
Rep. Brad Sherman, a Los Angeles Democrat, said the 350-word message was not credible. It did not capitalize the word “Allah” or cite from the Koran, a hallmark of previous Islamic terror threats.
“There isn’t a person on the street who couldn’t have written this,” with a basic level of knowledge of Islam, Sherman said. “Everybody in Nebraska could have written this.”
The FBI also determined the email was a hoax.
The incident reveals how easily officials can overreact to unsubstantiated and questionable terror threats in the wake of the murders in San Bernardino attributed to two Muslims.
Despite the fact the Department of Homeland Security has stated there is at present no credible threat, President Obama addressed “the nation from the Oval Office about the steps our government is taking to fulfill his highest priority: keeping the American people safe.”
Obama rolled his gun agenda into this promise, stating he would make “sure no one on a No Fly List is able to buy a gun or buy powerful assault weapons.” He also said the government would protect Americans by authorizing military force against the Islamic State in Syria.
Obama has yet to gain congressional approval for military involvement in Syria. Article I, Section 8, Clause 11 of the Constitution states “Congress shall have Power… To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water.”