People who say they read Playboy magazine for the articles might be telling the truth, after it published an account of an elaborate scam that had the CIA believing Al-Jazeera was sending coded messages for Al-Qaeda.

The con artist convinced the CIA and other US agencies that he could decode secret messages sent by al-Qaeda through Al-Jazeera broadcasts in 2003, Playboy magazine reported.

Duped by claims that "bar codes" on Al-Jazeera television contained targeting information for al-Qaeda attacks, former president George W. Bush's administration raised the terror alert and cancelled several transatlantic flights in December 2003, the report said, citing former CIA officials.

The swindler at the center of the scam was Dennis Montgomery, head of a small software company in Reno, Nevada.

He persuaded the Central Intelligence Agency and the Department of Homeland Security that his technology could decipher messages with flight numbers and longitudes and latitudes meant for al-Qaeda operatives.

With assistance from French intelligence, CIA officials eventually concluded there were no secret messages in Al-Jazeera television broadcasts, said the report, published in the magazine's latest edition.

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