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Pro-ISIS video includes Denver skyline; FBI says no credible threat

Threats in video targeted New Year's Eve
Posted at 9:00 PM, Jan 04, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-05 13:04:35-05

DENVER – A pro-ISIS video discovered on social media recently shows the skyline of the City of Denver and a sniper holding a long gun while standing on a Denver building.

The image is part a video that called for violence on New Year’s Eve, Denver7 Investigates has confirmed, but it is not clear where the image came from or whether it simply screen-grabbed from the internet.

The FBI determined there was no credible threat, two law-enforcement sources close to the investigation have told Denver7 Investigates reporter Jace Larson.

A Denver police spokesman said Denver Police also determined there was no credible threat.

No terrorism incident occurred in Denver on New Year’s Eve.

Many seconds of the minutes-long video discovered before New Year’s Eve are dedicated to the Denver skyline and show the Chase building in the background and an ISIS-affiliated flag that appears to be superimposed in the top right.

Investigators do not believe the image was taken recently because the skyline of Denver appears to have changed since the video was taken, two sources confirmed. At least two new buildings have gone up and appear to not have been present in the image.

A still image was given to local, state and federal law enforcement on Dec. 26 by the Department of Homeland Security Office of Intelligence and Analysis.

News of the video’s Denver connection has not been previously reported to the public.

“…The image is a possible still from a video in Somalia where militants pledged allegiance to ISIS…,” according to an alert bulletin from the Colorado Department of Public Safety’s Colorado Information Analysis Center that was sent to area law enforcement. Denver7 also obtained a copy.

“The (Colorado Information Analysis Center) is currently unaware of any specific, credible threats to Colorado during the winter holiday season,” the bulletin said.

It’s unclear whether the maker of the video knew he or she was using Denver’s skyline in the video.

“It is always about fear,” Metropolitan State University of Denver professor Norman Provizer said. He has studied terror groups for years. “It doesn't mean that something is imminent or right on the horizon, but it does mean that for some reason someone decided that was a good image to use.”

Provizer, who is not part of the law-enforcement investigation, said ISIS is known for its videos that try to inspire violent attacks.

“Groups like ISIS know they are weak and they need to use certain tactics to multiply their weakness into strength. That’s what it’s really all about,” he said. “It’s a lot easier for me to influence someone to go out and do an act of terrorism than it is for me to create an army and bring all these people together to form a fighting force.”

He said pro-ISIS groups who release similar videos take pride in causing disruption.

“One of the things terror groups intend to do is to produce an overreaction,” Provizer said. Social media has made that much easier, he added.

“In the past, it was harder to spread the word. You could make a film and bring it around to people. Now with the internet it is the easiest thing in the world to do,” he said.