Daily Alert subscribers alerted to fake transcript

Readers of the Daily Alert, a daily news digest prepared by the Jerusalem Center of Public Affairs, were in for a treat this morning.

The website’s top story covered the news that the United States had intercepted a conference call between Al Qaeda leaders, gleaning information about attack plans and the hierarchy of the terrorist organization that led to the temporary shuttering of American diplomatic posts across the Middle East. A U.S. intelligence officer likened the call to a “meeting of the Legion of Doom.”


Directly underneath was a link to a supposed “transcript” of the call but was in fact a satire by New York magazine’s Dan Amira, describing the terrorists’ intent to plant bombs inside adorable baby ducks.” Amira envisioned a conference call plagued by technical difficulties and casual mockery. “Ooohh, I’m Abdul, I like to read British newspapers. I’m sooo fancy,” proclaimed one fictitious Al Qaeda leader.

In Amira’s piece, at least one Al Qaeda operative displayed a surprising degree of self-awareness: “It seems pretty clear to me that some U.S. intelligence agency or another is spying on pretty much every form of communication at this point. Holding a conference call in which the world’s top Al Qaeda leaders discuss their terror plots just seems like an incredibly bad idea,” says ‘Abdul.’

Perhaps a comparable degree of awareness might have been useful for the Daily Alert, too. Though in fairness, they caught themselves. The link was taken down sometime this morning. Thank God for screen captures.

Talia Lavin Talia Lavin is an intern at JTA. A recent Harvard graduate and aspiring novelist, she recently returned from a Fulbright grant in Ukraine, where she studied early 20th-century Hebrew literature.