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FBI accuses Twitter user of massacre threats

An Oklahoma City man who allegedly threatened on Twitter to turn a tax protest into a massacre has been arrested on suspicion of making interstate threats in what is believed to be the first federal prosecution based on posts made to the micro-blogging site.

The FBI arrested Daniel Knight Hayden, 52, after agents identified him as Twitter user CitizenQuasar. Using the micro-blogging site, Hayden allegedly threatened to start a “war” against the government at the Oklahoma City Capitol where a “Tea Party” tax protest was planned.

“START THE KILLING NOW! I am willing to be the FIRST DEATH!,” read a message posted at 8:01 p.m. on April 11, which was followed by, “After I am killed on the Capitol Steps, like a REAL man, the rest of you will REMEMBER ME!!!” Another post said: “I really don’ give a (expletive) anymore. Send the cops around. I will cut their heads off the heads and throw the(m) on the State Capitol steps.”

Hayden directed many of his tweets toward another Oklahoma City man he erroneously thought was an organizer of the protest. Wired tracked down Earl Shaffer, a 68-year-old retiree who Hayden allegedly tweeted about, including posts with his phone number.

“He seemed to know stuff about me, but I don’t know how or why,” Shaffer told Wired. “He called me a few days before that tea party and let me know somehow he got my name as one of the organizers. I don’t have the energy.”

Shaffer told ZDNet Asia’s sister site CNET News.com that he has never met Hayden and is unnerved by the situation.

“I have no idea who this guy is,” Shaffer said. “It is very much a concern that he mentions my being killed.”

One of the last messages posted to the site on April 15 says CitizenQuasar is “Locked AND loaded for the Oklahoma State Capitol. Let’s see what happens.”

Hayden was arraigned on April 16 and released to an Oklahoma City halfway house, according to various media reports.

The U.S. intelligence community has expressed concern that terrorists might use Twitter to coordinate attacks. A draft Army intelligence report prepared by the 304th Military Intelligence Battalion and posted to the Federation of American Scientists Web site examined the possible ways terrorists could use mobile and Web technologies such as the Global Positioning System, digital maps, and Twitter mashups to plan and execute terrorist attacks.

This article was first published as a blog post on CNET News.

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April 28, 2009 - Posted by | IT News, Security | , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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