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Probing the mystery that is Sept. 11

First, a disclaimer: I expect that the following post will draw one or more comments that state the following theme, or variations on it: "The problem with this post is that this news story really isn't an example of journalists failing to 'get religion.' This is just a messed up story. Period." When someone makes that comment I will tell them that I understand their point of view and part of me even agrees with them.

However, I am going to write the post anyway (with a strong hat tip to The Daily Caller, the website that first noted this bizarre example of what is almost certainly political correctness at the copy-desk level).

Don't get me wrong. This particular Associated Press mini-story does involve religion -- big time.

This story also contains an error linked to an infamous international network that, to say the least, is linked to religious extremism -- big time.

But the error itself? Take a look at the following, which is most of the AP report in question. If there is a longer version of the story, please feel free to share it.

NEW YORK (AP) -- A mock movie poster warns al-Qaida wants to return to New York City, but authorities say there's no evidence of an actual threat.

Investigators learned about the online amateur graphic on Monday. The graphic shows the Manhattan skyline at sunset with "Al Qaeda" in bold type followed by "Coming Soon Again in New York."

Al-Qaida has been blamed in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, which destroyed the World Trade Center and killed thousands of people.

New York Police Department spokesman Paul Browne says an overseas, Arab-language Internet site posted the graphic on its "artwork and design" page. He says the NYPD has been monitoring the site.

So, how many of you read right through that third paragraph and then paused, before zipping back to read it again? Perhaps you then said, "Al-Qaida HAS BEEN BLAMED" for Sept. 11? Say what?

That is a very strange way to state the facts that have been reported time and time again and, oh by the way, confirmed by the voices that speak for this terrorist network. As The Daily Caller noted:

Though conspiracy theorists have suggested that other entities may have been behind 9/11, even al-Qaida has mocked such theories. Shortly after the 10th anniversary in 2011, al-Qaida responded -- in an editorial in al-Qaida’s English language “Inspire” magazine -- to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s suggestion that the United States itself may have been responsible:

“Why would Iran ascribe to such a ridiculous belief that stands in the face of all logic and evidence?” al-Qaida asked. "For them, al-Qaida was a competitor for the hearts and minds of the disenfranchised Muslims around the world ... [Al-Qaida] succeeded in what Iran couldn’t. Therefore it was necessary for the Iranians to discredit 9/11 and what better way to do so? Conspiracy theories."

When asked by the Caller about this strange, passive, "has been blamed" wording, the PR pro for the Associated Press emailed back: "We don’t doubt that AQ was behind 9/11.”

Good to know.

Now, GetReligion readers, here is my question: What is a simple, short, precise, accurate, easily attributable wording that the Associated Press could have used in this case? Does anyone out there want to play copy editor on this one?

IMAGE: The fake movie poster, care of the New York City Police department.

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