Law enforcement officials are investigating whether the tipster who told authorities about four Chinese nationals and two Iraqis plotting an attack on Boston labeled them terrorists to exact revenge for being cheated in a smuggling or drug operation, the Boston Globe reports. “Could it be a hoax? That’s a possibility,” said U.S. Attorney Michael J. Sullivan. Sullivan and Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney said the tip remains uncorroborated and that there is no cause for alarm. “We can’t even say for certain that they’re in the country,” Sullivan said.
A tipster told the California Highway Patrol from Mexico Monday night that he had helped smuggle the four Chinese nationals, along with two unidentified Iraqis, into the U.S., and that they were expected to arrive in Boston, via New York, in four days. The caller said that “nuclear oxide” or ”nuclear fiber” was going to be smuggled to the group through a tunnel system in Mexico into lower California. The caller directed police to a package he had tossed over a border fence into California with three visas that had been issued to three of the Chinese nationals by the Mexican embassy in Beijing and a Chinese identity card for the fourth. The threat about nuclear material, with the tipster’s saying that the four Chinese are chemists, prompted fear of a so-called dirty bomb: a conventional, or nonnuclear, explosive laced with radioactive components. Romney canceled plans to attend President Bush’s inauguration to return home and show the public there’s no reason to panic. Some investigators speculated that the tipster may have been seeking revenge against the Chinese nationals after being cheated out of money for ferrying them across the border.