Mehlman being arrested outside his Washington, DC home
Washington, DC (APE) - FBI agents early today surrounded the Washington, DC suburban home of Republican National Party chairman Ken Mehlman and took him into custody without incident. FBI sources stated that Mehlman will be charged with airing a composite video of Al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden and his lieutenants threatening America. The video suddenly appeared on multiple television stations throughout the United States earlier this week, and the FBI immediately suspected a hoax after last week's Internet dirty bomb threat.
"They just began following the paper and money trail," stated US Attorney Christopher J. Christie. "It was astounding, the millions of dollars that were poured in to finance the perpetration of this hoax. It was an arrogant and stupid thing to do."
Ken Mehlman booking photo
Christie refused to comment on suggestions that the conspiracy did not end with Mehlman and possibly reached higher, even into the White House.
"These types of hoaxes scare innocent people, cost business resources and waste valuable homeland security resources," Mr. Christie said. "We cannot tolerate this mass media version of yelling fire in a crowded theater in the post-9/11 era."
US Attorney Christie addresses press
Mehlman's arrest comes on the heels of the arrest of Jake J. Brahm, a Wisconsin grocery store worker, who late this week admitted to authorities that he was responsible for the recent internet hoax of threatening to detonate radioactive dirty bombs in seven NFL stadiums. Brahm has maintained that his actions were the result of a bet with a friend. FBI and Justice Department officials refused to state if Mehlman might have been involved in the first hoax as well. Brahm currently faces the possibility of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine if convicted.
Mehlman had not as yet issued a statement and remained in custody. The White House refused to comment, citing the fact that the investigation was ongoing, but stated that it was confident in Mr. Mehlman and felt the entire incident was likely a huge misunderstanding. An anonymous high ranking Bush administration official stated that meetings were underway to come up with new tactics, but that their overall strategy would remain the same. The White House also cautioned that "the stakes remain high", and that America should not drop its guard on the war against terror.
Osama Bin Laden appearing to take credit for hoax
Al-Jazeera late today released a transcript of a message purportedly from Al-Quaeda mastermind Osama Bin Laden in which he responded to the hoax. Bin Laden reportedly said simply, "My name is Osama Bin Laden and I approve of these messages."