A research facility at the University of Texas in Austin that houses an active nuclear reactor has been evacuated after a man with a Middle Eastern accent claiming to be a member of Al-Qaeda warned authorities the campus had been booby-trapped with explosives.
“The university received a call from a male with a Middle Eastern accent claiming to have placed bombs all over campus. He said he was with Al Qaeda and these bombs would go off in 90 minutes. President Powers was notified and it was decided to evacuate all of the buildings out of an abundance of caution,” reports We Are Austin.com.
UT’s JJ Pickle Research facility in North Austin was also evacuated. The facility houses a fully functional nuclear reactor operated by the Nuclear Engineering Teaching Lab department.
The Pickle campus is protected by a guard shack that visitors have to pass through to enter the building.
As we highlighted earlier this year, the nuclear reactor was started in the 60”²s and is hidden beneath the monolith of the LBJ Library.
There was no incident 90 minutes after the call was made, suggesting the bomb threat was a hoax. However, it does coincide with attacks on U.S. embassies by radical Islamists as well as protests across the Middle East in response to a dubious film said to insult the Prophet Mohammad
A campus-wide email has been sent to all students, according to the Dallas News. “Evacuation due to threats on campus immediately evacuate all buildings get as far away from the buildings as possible. Further information to come,” the email reads.
Students at North Dakota State University in Fargo were also evacuated this morning. A text message was sent to students telling them to evacuate campus buildings by 10:15 a.m. because of a bomb threat that had been called in.
Threats were also made to Valparaiso University in Indiana today, though officials there said the threats were made via graffiti messages and were not specifically “bomb threats.”
Valparaiso posted an alert this morning to its website noting that an “unspecific threat” that alluded to dangerous and criminal activity to be carried out during chapel break, around 11:15 a.m., Friday. The university is affiliated with the Lutheran church.
Authorities aided by dogs searched Valparaiso campus and found nothing suspicious. The campus is now operating as normal but remains on alert, according to police.
FBI officials said they did not yet know if the threats among the universities were connected.
Source: ABC News