LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com/AP) — The ranking Democrat on the House Select Committee on Intelligence says the threat that shut down the Los Angeles school system is believed to be a hoax.

U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., said a preliminary investigation indicates that the threats in Los Angeles and New York City were designed to disrupt school districts in large cities.

Investigators are still gathering information about the origin of the threats, Schiff said Tuesday.

He told KNX 1070 NEWSRADIO if the reported threats are determined to be a hoax, the response will ultimately benefit the Islamic State, which has issued several threats against the U.S. homeland.

“We have to presume ISIS is watching this, and they’re learning from this, they’re seeing how we react, and they’re probably figuring, ‘Hey, we can potentially disrupt a major American city just by emailing it in, sending it in, calling it in,” Schiff said. “‘We can tie up enough of their resources that when we execute a real plot, they’re not able to tell the difference of one from the other’.”

Officials have said the threats targeted students and involved gun attacks and explosive devices. It led Los Angeles school officials to close more than 900 public schools and 187 charter schools.

New York City officials say they received the same threat as Los Angeles but quickly concluded it was a hoax.

Schiff attributed the different responses to a number of factors, including New York’s history of terrorist attacks and other public threats.

“They are the subject of far more threats, although we’ve certainly had our share in Los Angeles,” he said. “So they may have a higher tolerance for these threats and the possibility that it may or may not be genuine than cities that have less of that to deal with.”

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