Russia fakes an ISIS terrorist attack in Louisiana on anniversary of 9/11

The Trump Timeline

Sources linked at end of page.


Related Topics

The Russian Internet Research Agency lets loose on a well-concocted plot to fake a terrorist attack in Centerville, Louisiana.

According to social media, clones of mainstream U.S. news sites, and even emergency alert texts sent to some Louisiana residents, a chemical plant exploded. The cause? ISIS.

The scheme is so strategic that doctored videos of ISIS taking credit for the explosion and security footage of the explosion from a nearby gas station are shared around the internet throughout the day.

Dozens of journalists, media outlets and politicians, from Louisiana to New York City, found their Twitter accounts inundated with messages about the disaster. “Heather, I’m sure that the explosion at the #ColumbianChemicals is really dangerous. Louisiana is really screwed now,” a user named @EricTraPPP tweeted at the New Orleans Times-Picayune reporter Heather Nolan. Another posted a screenshot of CNN’s home page, showing that the story had already made national news. ISIS had claimed credit for the attack, according to one YouTube video; in it, a man showed his TV screen, tuned to an Arabic news channel, on which masked ISIS fighters delivered a speech next to looping footage of an explosion. A woman named Anna McClaren (@zpokodon9) tweeted at Karl Rove: “Karl, Is this really ISIS who is responsible for #ColumbianChemicals? Tell @Obama that we should bomb Iraq!” But anyone who took the trouble to check would have found no news of a spectacular Sept. 11 attack by ISIS. It was all fake: the screenshot, the videos, the photographs…

The Columbian Chemicals hoax was not some simple prank by a bored sadist. It was a highly coordinated disinformation campaign, involving dozens of fake accounts that posted hundreds of tweets for hours, targeting a list of figures precisely chosen to generate maximum attention. The perpetrators didn’t just doctor screenshots from CNN; they also created fully functional clones of the websites of Louisiana TV stations and newspapers. The YouTube video of the man watching TV had been tailor-made for the project. A Wikipedia page was even created for the Columbian Chemicals disaster, which cited the fake YouTube video. As the virtual assault unfolded, it was complemented by text messages to actual residents in St. Mary Parish. It must have taken a team of programmers and content producers to pull off.

Adrian Chen, The New York Times Magazine


Photo: Rob Rex – Photo is from a separate event and was not part of the Russian propaganda

Get More Trump Secrets in Your Inbox


Related Topics

Also On Trump File