|Keep On Truckin'|
(10/12/2001) October 11, 2001 marked one month since the terrorist attack on symbolic targets in the United States that left more than 6,000 people dead. As a culture, we place a lot of importance on anniversaries and milestones, so it's no surprise that we started seeing a lot of rumors predicting further attacks around the eleventh.
We don't know exactly when this message started circulating, but guess it was around the weekend of October 6. Without a definitive date, the vague references to "tonight" and "the last 24 hours" are absolutely meaningless. Judging from the locations listed, the author is in New York state. The mention that the suspected renters/thieves were "people of Arab descent" seems out of place and is probably just a racial stereotype added to the letter after it started to make readers more paranoid.
Later versions of the letter have an added introduction paragraph in which the author indicates the information was confirmed and that "our internal security group" has identified other thefts as well. It also places the threats in and around Wisconsin.
It's perfectly reasonable that we are all scared. The scenario of an inconspicuous truck containing explosives sitting outside of important targets sounds familiar and feasible (and it should, it's exactly how federal building in Oklahoma City was attacked). On October 11, the U.S. Justice Department issued a statement that the U.S. should be on "high alert" for further attacks in the next few days. In the interest of national security, they've given few details, but assured that the appropriate authorities have been notified of any specific threats.
Unfortunately, when we don't have authoritative information, we give much more credence to rumors than they deserve. Some call this claim a hoax, others have called it unsubstantiated rumor. Whichever it is, chain letters about it only spread paranoia, fear and distrust - exactly what the terrorists are after. This warning could make undeserving targets out of legitimate truck users and leads us to suspect everyone who fits a profile.
It is vital that rely on and trust our government and traditional media to give us the information we need. It's also important that we make sure we only share information that is valid and has some value other than to create fear and anxiety. Break this Chain!