Officials dismissed a threat made to New York City’s public school system on Tuesday as a hoax that was likely inspired by the Showtime terror drama Homeland.
A New York City school official received an email from a self-described jidahist threatening to attack the city’s schools with rifles and homemade bombs.
The person behind the email also mentioned hitting schools with nerve gas.
A similar threat closed 900 schools in Los Angeles on Tuesday, causing the first systemwide shutdown since the 1994 Northridge earthquake, according to The Los Angeles Times. More than 640,000 children stayed home as a result of the decision.
New York City Police Commissioner Bill Bratton told reporters on Tuesday that the move by LA administrators was an “overreaction.”
“The instigator of the threat may be a ‘Homeland’ fan,” Bratton also said. “Basically, watching ‘Homeland’ episodes that it mirrors.”
Bratton concluded that the New York threat was not credible.
The person writing the message reportedly committed numerous errors that were highlighted as evidence that the threat was a hoax, including the misspelling of the word “Allah,” which was not capitalized.
“It was so generic, so outlandish and posed to numerous school districts simultaneously,” said Bratton. “The assumption of the NYPD and the assumption of the Department of Education were exactly the same, that in fact it would be a huge disservice to our nation to close down our school system,” he added.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and Police Chief Charlie Beck defended the decision to close schools, the Times reported, saying investigators did not know if the threats were credible.
The fifth season of the show, which stars Claire Daines as CIA counterterrorism officer Carrie Mathison, is set in Germany and tackles the topic of cyber-terrorism, per Variety.
Officials initially believed the emails sent to New York and Los Angeles Tuesday originated from Germany. The author of the LA message claimed to have joined a terror cell after he’d been bullied at an area school.
“I am a devout Muslim, and was once against violence, but I have teamed up with a local jihadist cell as it is the only way I’ll be able to accomplish my massacre the correct way,” read the email.
According to The Daily Mail, the author also warned, “Something big is going down… It will make national headlines. Perhaps, even international ones.”
The author then wrote he and “138 comrades” would carry out the attacks with pressure cooker bombs, firearms, and chemical nerve agents.
According to the LA Times recap of this week’s Homeland episode titled “Our Man in Damascus,” Allison Carr (Miranda Otto) reluctantly protects jihadi terrorists on the verge of slaughtering civilians with a chemical weapon. Authorities then begin to uncover a plot by terrorists to release deadly Sarin gas somewhere in Berlin.