Bomb scares led to thousands of students and university staff in Texas and North Dakota being ordered off campus yesterday, though no suspicious devices went off following the emergency evacuations.
A spokeswoman for the University of Texas at Austin said a man with a Middle Eastern accent telephoned its offices at 8:35am, and issued the threat.
“He said he was with Al Qaeda and that bombs would go off across campus in 90 minutes,” a spokeswoman told AFP, prompting the university’s president to order everyone off campus as a precautionary measure.
But the 90-minute deadline passed without incident and the university said in a statement posted on its website that normal operations would resume, though all Friday classes were cancelled.
Local and national law enforcement agencies are investigating the bomb scare.
Separately, North Dakota State University ordered all students and employees to leave campus by 10:15am after it also received a bomb threat.
However, university police reopened the campus at 1pm and all classes resumed one hour later, a spokeswoman told AFP.
Neither university disclosed if the bomb threats were possibly related to anger over an anti-Islam film that has provoked fatal violence and protests in Muslim countries in northern Africa and the Middle East this week.
The low-budget movie Innocence of Muslims, in which actors have strong American accents, is highly offensive to Muslims.