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More Terrorist Arrests in Michigan, Ohio and Italy

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The arrest of a slew of terrorist suspects in Britain and associated members of their group in Pakistan, along with the ongoing crisis in Southern Lebanon, has overshadowed a worldwide rash of terrorism-related arrests in the last few days.

One of the most significant is the arrest of 40 terrorism suspects in Italy associated with the terrorist group Lashkar e Toiba, which operates mostly in the Kashmir region of India. The arrests are related to the highly publicized arrest of 24 Pakistanis in Britain and several more in India earlier in the week. These arrests may lead to hundreds more as the full extent of the complex funding and communications network associated with this terror group is investigated.

On Friday police arrested three men of Pakistani origins  in Michigan and on Tuesday another two were arrested in Ohio, all on charges associated with suspected terrorism and a possible plot to blow up the Mackinac Bridge. Both cases involve the purchase of enormous numbers of TracFones, many of them at WalMart stores. The purchases aroused suspicion and led to an investigation. Charges for money-laundering and acquiring materials for use in acts of terror are expected to be filed. The Michigan group had over 600 TracFones and the Ohio group had over 1000.

In addition nine out of the eleven missing Egyptian exchange students who failed to show up for class earlier this month at Montana State University have also been arrested and will be deported on visa violations. They do not face any terrorism charges, but they will be deported and returned to Egypt.

The anniversary of the World Trade Center attack is rapidly approaching, and Al Qaeda-associated groups around the world have now had time to marshall their resources for another round of attacks, so we can expect that this is just the beginning of a long, hot fall. The good news is that so far we're hearing mostly about arrests rather than successful attacks.

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About Dave Nalle

  • Bliffle

    The breadth and depth of these islamic threats tends to argue against the notion that “it’s only a few extremists, not the whole muslim ummah” that is terroristic.

  • http://absent-mind.blogspot.com/ Jet in Columbus

    Dave, good job my friend, it might be noted that those cell phones possibly were to being bought up to use as bomb detonators and that the batteries could be disassembled to make other more interesting things.

    cudos
    Jet

  • Vin

    I think the bulk tracfone buyers are most likly completely innocent. missing from the story is that apparently dozens and dozens of kids do bulk buyng, they drive around hitting all ehte lectronics box stores and walmarts etc. It has gotten so common that tracfone has begun suing the unlockers they sell too. the buyers though are not committing any illegal act.

    Jet on comment above me from columbus. are you aware you can buy cell phone batteries by the thousands lot on ebay for about $0.10 a peice?

    the industry trade papers have been discussing how subsidized handsets are commonly bought in bulk for resale. Last week’s $20 handset with included 400 minutes was a whopper of a sale.

  • JP

    Funny, given that the plot revealed last week wasn’t really ‘iminent’ as was claimed. I wonder why they’d want the arrests made the same week as the Lieberman loss? ;)

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    JP, I’d be interested to hear how your think the Lieberman loss and the activities of the current Justice Department could possibly be connected. What’s your loony theory.

    As for other uses for the cell phones, almost all of them are likely to be illegal. I agree that they may not be intended for immediate terrorist purposes, but buying such a huge number at retail prices is certainly suspicious. I especially find it questionable that they would need to buy them at a WalMart in Michigan to transport back to Texas as they’ve claimed. There are already plenty available here.

    Dave

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    Jet on comment above me from columbus. are you aware you can buy cell phone batteries by the thousands lot on ebay for about $0.10 a peice?

    Which is a great deal for those who want to use the chemicals they contain to make bombs or meth.

    Dave

  • http://www.genevasonmedia.com/BlackBox.html Benjamin

    Although I applaud the multiplicity in arrests in regards to suspected terror plots, I’m just shocked by the numbers. Just look at what you said about the large purchase of tracfones. A tracfone is generally a phone used by people who either do not want to have a name, identity, or obligation of a bill being attached to the phone, or it can be used for crime. The fact that 1,600 phones were reported to be purchased and we don’t have 1,600 suspects in custody is scary. These guys were’nt planning to switch an untraceable phone every week, and there’s reason to believe that if I’m buying 600 cellphones, I must have a network of at least half that many people to talk to. Where are the other facilitators of these terrorists acts is the question I want to ask? That’s a scary thought that a small percentage of sleeper cell individuals are captured out of what could be thousands of these kinds of individuals living here on our soil. It gives reason to believe that another terrorist attack is inevitable, and that the root cause of the training, and ideals inplanted into these young men’s minds must be destroyed. Destroying Osama Bin Laden, Ayman Al Zawarhi, and Al Qaeda would not stop terrorism, but their killings would be symbolic of our intentions of altering the terror objective.

  • Dean

    “Terrorism” is like the Hydra which had many heads, and when any of the heads were severed another two would grow in its place.

    To defeat “terrorism”, we have to start thinking outside the box.

  • Clavos

    One does wonder if these guys with the TracFones ARE indeed, only the tip of the iceberg. The sheer number of phones with which they were caught would seem to be greater than necessary to make a few bombs, but I’m no chemist.

    In any case, it’s gratifying these guys were caught. I heard on network news that the police were tipped off by WalMart employees–guess those “low” wages are high enough to attract good people.

  • http://www.diablog.us Dave Nalle

    The fact that 1,600 phones were reported to be purchased and we don’t have 1,600 suspects in custody is scary. These guys were’nt planning to switch an untraceable phone every week, and there’s reason to believe that if I’m buying 600 cellphones, I must have a network of at least half that many people to talk to.

    Actually, they do change phones once a week or even more often, in order to avoid showing up with the same number calling other suspect numbers too often. My guess would be that the 1000 phones taken in the Michigan arrests would be enough for 100 terrorists for a month, or more likely a much smaller group for a longer period of time. It does suggest a network of more than 3 people, however. Most likely the 3 who were arrested were just the telecommunications cell, acting on behalf of a much larger group. Based on the number of phones I’d guess at least 20 people, presumably based in the DFW area.

    Where are the other facilitators of these terrorists acts is the question I want to ask? That’s a scary thought that a small percentage of sleeper cell individuals are captured out of what could be thousands of these kinds of individuals living here on our soil. It gives reason to believe that another terrorist attack is inevitable, and that the root cause of the training, and ideals inplanted into these young men’s minds must be destroyed.

    If you haven’t thought another terror attack on our soil was inevitable since 9/11 you haven’t been paying attention. I’m still amazed at some of the soft targets which no effort is being made to protect.

    Dave

  • Bliffle

    Why did they throw away the chargers and batteries? How does that profit for either resale or detonation?

    Why did they get the 400 minute Tracfones when the ordinary 60 minute Tracfones are $20 everyday at Office depot? It would seem that 60 minutes is plenty for use as a detonator.

    Why would someone pay $38 for a Tracfone that’s $20 at WalMart?

    There seems to be a lot about this case that we don’t know.

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    Why did they throw away the chargers and batteries? How does that profit for either resale or detonation?

    I don’t believe that’s what they did. I believe they said they were going to keep the charges and batteries and sell the phones, or sell the two separately to increase profits.

    Why did they get the 400 minute Tracfones when the ordinary 60 minute Tracfones are $20 everyday at Office depot? It would seem that 60 minutes is plenty for use as a detonator.

    The 200 and 400 minute phones are favored by terrorists and drug dealers. the 60 minute phones are almost useless unless you add minutes to them.

    Why would someone pay $38 for a Tracfone that’s $20 at WalMart?

    Because Osama has deep pockets? These guys are the terrorist equivalent of rapacious defense contractors.

    There seems to be a lot about this case that we don’t know.

    Indeed.

    Dave

  • Will

    This story is too funny. Does everyone realize the FBI, DOJ and Dept. of Homeland Security have DROPPED this! No longer interrogating, not investigating, not charging not taking immediate custody.

    You got Jewish, Irish, African American, Korean kids doing the exact same thing — buying tracfones in the massive numbers.

    They are bought for $20 and sold for parts for $40 and it is legal.

    Some of the above comments are idiotic. EG
    1) removing the batteries proves they are terorists since you can make crystal meth with cell phone batteries (oops these are liIon batteries and you can’t)

    2) the phones will be used as detonators. oops not if the batteries are removed!

    here is what the are doing and it is totally legal and lots of people do it with hardware that is sold at a loss in order to gain future service (minutes buys) and is worth more in parts

    1) included phone card with minutes credit at current walmart promotion of 100 nationwide minutes that actually nets 360 after bonus and referals. legally fully transferable to existing tracfones, retail value fo $30 or more and easy to sell at street price of $25.

    2) Battery on ebay $9 (current)

    3) charger on ebay $3 (current)

    4) phone shell to guys who sent them to china to harvest material, $2

    The local authorities are on a witch hunt that gets obviouly more desperate every moment. first it is detonators, then it is meth (lol) the it is attacking a bridge by what throwing a hundreds of cell phones?

    How about they are college kids who are capitalists? no ethically different from investors who buy comapanies ato break them up to sell of a profit.

    Look at all the crap coming out that is confusing people:
    Why did they throw away the chargers and batteries? How does that profit for either resale or detonation?

    they didn’t throw away the batteries they removed them and had them in a seperate box in there van. that shows they were not going to beus used for detonation, but most likly for resale. there are guys in ebay selling them in large lots.

    Why did they get the 400 minute Tracfones when the ordinary 60 minute Tracfones are $20 everyday at Office depot? It would seem that 60 minutes is plenty for use as a detonator.

    They got the 360 minute tracjones at wallmart last week — just like a lot of other kids doing bulk buyuing.120 minutes on the card, 120 bonus, 120 referal.

    Why would someone pay $38 for a Tracfone that’s $20 at WalMart?

    It is a total of $38.

    Today I can go to a dozen walmarts and other box stores and buy hundreds of tracphones for cash and I am committing NO illigal act.

    I can remove the cards which contain minutes that are legally transferable to any exisitng tracfone and sell them for $25 a peice easy.

    The shell of the phone is not usable as a phone since it is now illegal to break trakfones special lock, but I won the phone outright and can sell it for material recovery (silver etc) for $2 or so to guys who send them to china.

    I take the batteries and sell myself on ebay for $10 or to a wholesaler on ebay (there are many) who buys them for $8.

    Ditto charger for a couple of bucks.

    Look at this, people noticed that tracphone walmart deal about a week ago.

    http://www.howardforums.com/showthread.php?t=705274

    Like other huge pricing differentials the big opportunity for savings was also noted on boards such as slickdeals which is populated by people looking for deep discounts and who often buy in bulk to resell.

    There seems to be a lot about this case that we don’t know.
    we do know the FBI has figured out these guys are legally hustling and is no longer involved and that says EVERYTHING we need to know.

  • Bliffle

    Thanks for the info, Will. Very interesting. Maybe this is a racket I should get into! Let’s see, I go to the HD parking lot and get a couple illegals, give them each a couple hundred, drop them off at local WalMarts, pick them up later,…

  • will

    I guess what drives me crazy is all the pundits used this as a case FOR profiling when it is an example of profiling’s dangers. I am not 100% against profiling but I wonder if as much in will be spilled in the media apologizing to these kids as was spilled defaming them?

    does it occur to everyone that the 911 guys had to be imported despite the hundreds of thousands of young men of Arab descent in the US? The UK guys were UK born in both attacks. the spanish attacks invoved people living in spain for decades.

  • http://secondvibe.blogspot.com Q Bit

    Will — thanks for the update, and clearing it up. Don’t expect the apologies though.

  • D Harvey

    Will–Thanks for a sane and informed voice. This is exactly the outcome I expected since the story broke. Just like the guys that were convicted on terrorism charges right after 9-11. Turns out they were just involved in petty theft at Detroit Metro Airport. These are the results of profiling. Maybe when the next McVeigh or Jose Padilla is actually successful folks will wake up to that.

  • Les Slater

    Much of the early thread, including the post are evidence of hysteria.

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    Les, the post was just a consolidation of what was in the media. It’s hardly hysterical.

    Like a lot of news stories later developments changed the perspective, but at the time it was written it was current and accurate.

    Dave

  • Dean

    To defeat “terrorism”, we have to start thinking outside the box.

    Fomenting hysteria is inside the box.

  • Les Slater

    Dave #19

    “the post was just a consolidation of what was in the media. It’s hardly hysterical.”

    The early media I read had denials from the suspects, family and friends, explaining that this was way of making money.

    There were two sides to the story in media before your post. You only mentioned one.

    From August 11 AP story: “The men told police they were buying the phones, which cost about $20 and come with a charger, taking them out of their packaging and selling them to a wholesaler in Texas for about $38 without the charger.”

    You not only swallowed the police side of the story but added some serious hysteria of your own. From your #10:

    “Most likely the 3 who were arrested were just the telecommunications cell, acting on behalf of a much larger group. Based on the number of phones I’d guess at least 20 people, presumably based in the DFW area.”

    From where did you consolidate that? Either it’s your own hysteria or you picked it up from some hysterical, yellow journalist.

    Les

  • Dean

    Dave says,

    “Like a lot of news stories later developments changed the perspective, but at the time it was written it was current and accurate.’

    Sounds like a real cop-out.

  • http://www.diablog.us Dave Nalle

    Les, the story is not about the specific cases so much as it is about the increase in real or perceived terrorist activity. If I had been writing a story solely on the Michigan or Ohio arrests I would have included the denials, but I was trying to touch on all the terrorist arrests of that week, so I focused on the arrests.\

    “Most likely the 3 who were arrested were just the telecommunications cell, acting on behalf of a much larger group. Based on the number of phones I’d guess at least 20 people, presumably based in the DFW area.”

    From where did you consolidate that? Either it’s your own hysteria or you picked it up from some hysterical, yellow journalist.

    Do you not read the threads you respond to? Someone previously had suggested that thousands of phones suggested hundreds of terrorists and I was merely redoing that calculation on a more realistic basis. Rather than being hystircal I was countering already existing hysteria.

    Dave

  • Joe Nguyen

    All this come down to is money.

    Prepaid Service providers are losing money if resellers buy their phones. Prepaid service providers makes money mainly by selling their prepaid phone cards. All prepaid service providers sell all their phones at the lowest profit possible to encourage buyers. Once buyers activated their phones and used them. They are hooked and will most likely continue to buy more prepaid minutes. Ka-Ching for them.

    If the resellers sell the prepaid phones as parts than the prepaid service provider can’t sell prepaid minutes. IF the resellers unlocked the phone and the end user use that phone with a different service providers—Than again the service provider can’t sell prepaid minutes so they are losing money. Too bad for them…

    What really bugs me this:
    If the prepaid service provider used the FBI, DEA, or Walmart upper managers to elimate sells to resellers than they are using tax payers money and/or misleading them for their economic gains.

    This is because they, prepaid or post paid service providers, used 911, terrorists, drug dealers, or Bin Ladin as a reason to get the FBI, DEA, or Walmart’s employees to reduce the sells of their prepaid phones. Therefore, we have innocent people arrested…therefore retailers actively limit the quantity sold per customer. So we are wasting our resources to help wireless service providers…even if innocent people are arrested.

    Shame…shame. So the cause of all these problems were the results of greed and money by wireless service providers.

    I hope the FBI figure this out and use their esource to fight real terrorists.

    That’s a shame…misleading and using government resources for their profit.

    These are my thoughts….let know if you have opinions.

  • LX

    Your cell phone number can possibly be put into “conference call” mode remotely, and then somebody can make their number the third phone, and eavesdrop/record all your calls automatically. This capability leaked out last year via a political scandal in Greece:

    “More than 100 mobile phone numbers belonging mostly to members of the Greek government and top-ranking civil servants were found to have been illegally tapped for a period of at least one year.

    :…the Greek government itself had pointed towards the US as responsible of the wiretaps by giving up the zone of listening range, in which the US embassy was included.

    “The wiretapped phone numbers were eavesdropped through… mobile phone numbers of the pay-as-you-go type. As these phones are not associated with a contract, retrieving details of their owners is very difficult…”

    From Wikipedia