A series of disturbing tweets from an account bearing the ISIS flag under the name of “Jafar Saleem” and “Brendan” unnerved people on the campus of Lafayette College, and the FBI and other agencies are investigating the legitimacy of the threats. You can read the tweets below, as well as a pastebin letter linked in one of them, but be aware that they are disturbing.
One of the troubling tweets used the hashtags #ISIS and #Death. The posts threatened to “destroy Christianity in the school” by “any means necessary.” The pastebin letter states that the writer has pledged allegiance to ISIS and plans to “unleash” an attack on Lafayette. The manifesto type letter on pastebin threatened: “I have set up several pipe bombs, pressure cookers and nail bombs around the campus and plan to inflict the utmost damage possible.”
Lafayette College searched the university after becoming aware of the threat and found nothing harmful. “After an extensive room by room search of the campus there were no malicious or hazardous materials found. Public Safety/Easton Police will continue to work with the FBI (lead) on this investigation,” the college wrote on Twitter on the morning of May 6, 2018. Some parents and students expressed upset on social media that the school did not provide more detailed communication right after news of the threat broke. The college sent out a letter on May 6 that says law enforcement did not find evidence that the threat was credible and is working to identify the source of it. You can read that letter here.
“The threats from ‘Jafar Saleem’ are the ones being investigated,” Lafayette College’s spokesman, Mark Eyerly, confirmed to Heavy, of the Saleem tweets. “Officers from Lafayette Public Safety, Easton Police Department, and the FBI are inspecting each building on campus.” Asked whether there was an arrest, he did not respond to that question and said the college had nothing more to say at that time.
The Twitter page carried a profile cover photograph of a firearm and said, “Studying at Lafayette. Following in the steps of the true God Allah.” It links to a pastebin letter that reads like a manifesto and says:
My name is Jafar but I used to go by Brendan. I’m enrolled in Economics at Lafayette, and my year has been awful. Starting in early 2018 my grandfather passed away, my girlfriend broke up with me due to complications and I was lost. I found faith and healing in Allah, and I learned that in this life that natural selection is a beauty that Islam embraces. I’ve pledged my allegiance to ISIS and have been planning to visit Syria for some time but I have been in contact with several other supporters of the caliphate through apps on my cellphone and they have helped me coordinate and orchestrate the attack I’m going to unleash on Lafayette.
I’ve been mocked and ridiculed for taking up my faith in Islam, this school is liberal to an extent, however it’s Christianity liberalism that I cannot stand. I’m going to kill all of those who mocked me, my faith, Muhammad my savior and Allah. By the time you read this, my attack will already be putting into effect, and when word spreads and students attempt to evacuate, they’ll be playing right into my plan. I have set up several pipe bombs, pressure cookers and nail bombs around the campus and plan to inflict the utmost damage possible. I am sorry to my family, and my loved ones as I will go down with a fight. I love you all. Allah will show the world that Christianity is the devil.
The college did not mention ISIS or Jafar Saleem’s tweets in its social media posts, and some parents and students took to social media to express upset that they weren’t receiving more details from Lafayette officials. The threatening tweets were still available on Twitter until shortly before the college sent out the message and the tweets mentioned Lafayette College specifically. The tweets were posted between 1-2 hours before the college announced there was a threat. Twitter suspended the account on the evening of May 5, 2018 as news of the threats broke just minutes before the announcement by the college. However, before it was suspended, Heavy was able to save copies of the content on the Twitter page, which also linked out to a disturbing letter on pastebin. You can see more of the content below, but be aware that it’s troubling.
The string of tweets in the name of “Jafar Saleem (Brendan)” were published in the evening of May 5, 2018 on an account with the ISIS flag as its profile picture. “Allah will prevail and Christianity will be destroyed. My mission at Lafayette college will be the start of a new world for everyone,” read one post. It linked to Lafayette public safety, football and the Twitter page of the college itself. It linked to the pastebin manifesto/essay type article.
The second tweet read, “Allah will be the new God the students at Lafayette College will understand. I will destroy the Christianity within the school and make Allah proud.” It was copied to news organizations in Philadelphia. “Allah has graced us with these weapons of destruction to carry out his needs,” the page also tweeted with a picture of guns.
“Goodbye to my friends and family. I am sorry that I have gone against everything that you have taught me, but I have learned the real truth and will help the world be saved from this horror. I’ll see you in the afterlife,” the Twitter page tweeted. Another tweet: “Allah is the one true god and Christianity must be defeated by any means necessary.”
Here is a copy of the pastbin article linked by the Twitter page as it appeared online:
Here’s a close-up of it that’s easier to read:
Lafayette College, which is located in Easton, Pennsylvania, tweeted confirmation of the threat on the evening of May 5, 2018, writing, “Lafayette College has received a threat this evening. We are in conversation with various law enforcement agencies to determine the legitimacy of this threat. At this time, we encourage everyone to remain calm.”
The college also wrote: “We are asking those on campus to stay where they are and asking those off campus to stay away while the threat is assessed.”
“Active investigation continues with DPS, EPD, FBI. Officers from each agency will be inspecting each building on campus,” wrote the college.
Lafayette College’s public safety page tweeted, “DPS working with law enforcement agencies. If off-campus stay offcampus. Remain calm. Report suspicious activity to 4444.” The page later tweeted, “Clarification and Update: Campus not on lockdown. We continue to search bldgs. Stay alert. Report suspicious activity (610) 330-4444.”
The FBI is still investigating, writing on Twitter, “The Easton Police Department, Lafayette College Police Department, and FBI are investigating a threat made against Lafayette College this weekend. Out of an abundance of caution, a thorough search of the Lafayette campus has been conducted, with nothing hazardous found. As we continue to assess the nature of this threat, we’re asking anyone with information that may be helpful to investigators, or who sees something suspicious, to contact the FBI at 215-418-4000.”
On social media, people expressed anxiety and were looking for additional information. One Connecticut man wrote on Twitter, “According to reports, students are currently being told to shelter in place while authorities look for student who made ISIS inspired threats to the campus.” He added, “Awaiting update from Lafayette College @LafCol about ongoing and alleged ISIS threat made against the campus. Please update both on and off campus communities.”
A student wrote: “My college is currently under lockdown because of a Terrorist threat. This is scary.” Lafayette College is located in Easton, Pennsylvania and calls itself a “tradition-rich liberal arts college” that overlooks “the historic Delaware River.”
People wrote messages of concern under the Lafayette College tweet on the threats. “Students are afraid to open their doors if there’s a room check,” wrote one. Another person wrote, “I’m extremely concerned for the safety and sanity of everyone on and off campus. I’m not a parent, and believe me, I understand the outrage. Let’s continue to support and keep each other informed. I’m just so, so anxious as to what’s going on over there. Praying for everyone.”
One parent expressed upset that more details were not being released, writing on Twitter, “As a parent of a freshman at Lafayette College, I am very concerned and upset by this news and the fact that my son has very little information is really upsetting and disturbing to me.”
A student wrote on the college’s Facebook page that she was also upset by a lack of information. She wrote that she “called the Public Safety emergency number as soon as I heard about the threat and wasn’t put through to anyone. I was only informed that police, FBI, etc., was on campus after calling 911. After informing a professor that I was too anxious about the threat to make a deadline, she responded with ‘bomb threat?’ There is clearly zero communication in place if the STUDENTS are the ones telling one another to stay in place, lock doors, and turn off location services, an hour and 45 minutes before the school makes any statement with ZERO details about the situation. Highly disappointed.”
The college president released a statement. It reads:
To the Lafayette Community:
I know that of course there is a great deal of concern regarding the public safety alerts we have sent out this evening, and other information and rumors that are circulating.
Here is what I can tell you.
At 8:24 this evening a threat to the Lafayette community was made via an unidentified email. Within minutes of receipt of the threatening email Lafayette Public Safety was alerted. An investigation was initiated that involving Easton Police Department and the FBI as well as Public Safety.
Public Safety advised those on campus to remain where they are, and those off campus to remain off campus. They did not initiate a ‘lockdown,’ and students are not being prevented from leaving buildings if they wish. Everyone is asked to inform Public Safety of any suspicious activity.
As noted in the recent alert, police officers are now inspecting campus buildings.
We cannot give details that may impede the ongoing investigation, but will keep you informed of any information that may be helpful to you.
I know that many parents are concerned, and encourage students to stay in touch with your families.
Thanks for your understanding.
President Alison Byerly
This post will be updated as more information is learned about the threat and the person who wrote the messages.