Although Robert Mock, Houston Independent School District chief of police, described an anonymous threat to “basically destroy all our schools” as “just an email,” it was threatening enough to hold a press conference to discuss HISD's increased safety measures.
The threat was emailed to several HISD officials and educators, including Superintendent Terry Grier, around 8 p.m. Wednesday. While the email has yet to be released, Mock said authorities decided the threat was not credible based on the fact that it was nearly identical to threats sent to several other school districts across the country this week, such as in New York City and Los Angeles. “That was a big red flag there, that it's going to a lot of places—it's not specific,” Mock said. Furthermore, Mock said, “the content of the email was so over the top as to what was going to occur, and the logistics of it didn't pan out.”
The threat sent to L.A.'s school district shut down every school, while in New York, Mayor Bill de Blasio decided the threat was generic, not credible, and that it is "very important not to overreact in situations like this.” Here's a snippet of the email to L.A. school officials: "Me, and my 32 comrades, will die tomorrow in the name of Allah. Every school in the L.A. Unified district is being targeted. We have bombs hidden in lockers already at several schools. They are strategically placed and are meant to crumble the foundations of the very buildings that monger so much hate and discrimination."
Mock told the Houston Press that there was very little difference between the above threat and what HISD received last night, from the above threat were minimal (for instance, in the email to HISD officials, "Allah" was spelled with all capital letters, Mock said). Still, officials reacted with extra safety precautions, including random searches by the explosive detection K-9 unit, extra patrol—specifically at elementary schools, which normally do not have security—and the maintenance crews, which Mock said would be much more familiar with the schools than police, came in early this morning to make sure everything appeared normal. Police also monitored all schools via surveillance cameras throughout the night, and nothing was suspicious (that is, except for a burglar who was stopped after being caught on camera).
Mock said he didn't mean to downplay it as a mere email—“a threat is a threat, and we take them seriously,” he said. But he said it didn't appear that whoever sent it was trying to hide: The FBI is currently working to track down the source. He added that he has two kids in HISD, and if he really felt that they were in danger, he wouldn't be sending them to school.
Mock said the email may be released within the next 24 hours. Elaborating further on what about it was so over the top, he said that the plan to target every school and every student was too enormous and uncoordinated to be given too much weight.
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He closed by encouraging everyone to remain vigilant. “We can't be everywhere at one time, and as a group, we can help mitigate these threats,” he said. "Anything people see or think they see, please let other authorities know."
Update 3:15 p.m.: The Houston Independent School District has released the email that threatened a mass-scale jihadist attack against all schools in the district. School remained in session after administrators did not find the following to be credible:
Hello there. There is something you should know about, taking place tomorrow of 12/17/15, Thursday.
My story starts here. I have been bullied every day here, in one of the district high schools. Just because, I am 'different'. I turned to religion, to solve my problems, and found faith and comfort in Allah. He has helped me through a lot. So now, I must help him. He has called upon me and my fellow comrades to take action against you blasphemers and non-believers. You have denied Allah for too long. My 46 Jihad affiliates and I are going to unleash an massacre of epic proportion, targeting every single school and student in the district. We have an assorted collection of Kalashnikov rifles, MG240 Light machine guns, RPG Launchers, .50 Cal Sniper rifles, hand grenades, and to top it off: suicide vests. We have already planted napalm, propane, and pressure cooker explosives in multiple schools. They are set to go off in places that will cause maximum structural damage to each building: for maximum casualty. First responders will be in for quite the surprise, as we have highly trained sniper forces straight from Ar Raqqa. We will fight for our cause tomorrow, and all students in every school in the entire district will be slaughtered for their blasphemy and unbelief in the one true God, Allah. You will no longer get away with your dishonesty to our prophet.
Allah has called upon us: Quran (3:56) - "As to those who reject faith, I will punish them with terrible agony in this world and in the Hereafter, nor will they have anyone to help."
You will no longer deny the wrath of Allah. He has sent us to serve his holy army.
My name is (name redacted). You may not know this name now, but my name will be known to everyone. I will be known as the one man who truly saved this earth. For Allah. And if you think you will stop us, by canceling schools, or perhaps, adding security, it will not help. If school is canceled, then there will be bombings regardless of whether students are there or not, and mass shootings will be taken to the streets. If security is stepped up, for tomorrow's fatwa, it will not help. We will take out any police and other security by any means necessary, even if we go down with them.
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