Police in New York City are scrambling to locate the producers of a YouTube video that depicts a stolen replica of the Statue of Liberty blindfolded, beheaded and smashed into pieces — a display that one terror expert says is intended to "instill fear" in everyday Americans.
The 59-second video shows the 8-foot, 200-pound replica statue, which was stolen from a Brooklyn coffee shop last month, being decapitated and pulverized — accompanied by the words "We don't want your freedom" and "Death to America."
NYPD Det. Joseph Cavitolo told FOXNews.com that investigators are searching for whoever stole the statue. That individual or individuals could face charges of criminal possession of stolen property and grand larceny or petit larceny. Computer experts are also trying to determine who posted the video, Cavitolo said.
Professor Jeffrey Addicott, director of the Center for Terrorism and Law at St. Mary's University in Texas, said the clip is an obvious attempt to "instill fear."
"That's their purpose, to show their distaste to freedom and to also show that the movement of jihadists is alive and well," Addicott told FOXNews.com.
"Part of terror is propaganda. They're trying to instill fear. And it is a form of terrorism; it's just not using violence, but fear, to instill doubt and worry in Americans."
Addicott said the people behind the video would not likely be subject to hate crime charges since the clip is not directed toward a specific individual or group.
"But it certainly would ensure these individuals would get the maximum sentence," he said. "But they've engaged in free speech. They're not telling people to go out and kill people, they're simply expressing their views that they hate America.
"They haven't crossed a line, but they’re getting close."
The video, which was dated July 4, was sent anonymously to the New York Daily News and to Debi Ryan, owner of Vox Pop, a coffee shop known for left-wing-leaning political debate and poetry readings. The clip had been viewed at least 2,500 times as of midday Thursday.
"I'm scared," Ryan told the New York Post. "I'm hoping I don't have to fear for my life, but I feel very nervous … This was clearly politically motivated. Whoever did this is trying to shut us up. They were targeting what we represent."
A $250 reward has been offered for the statue's return, the Post reported.
Calls to the FBI in New York were not immediately returned.