John on August 11, 2006 at 11:04 pm
[Welcome Hot Air readers.]
Authorities say terrorist groups are illegally modifying the pre-paid cell phones to place untraceable international calls.The Marietta Times in Marietta, Ohio has a story written by Brad Bauer on the Dearborn men arrested on terrorism charges. There are some interesting bits of information in this article that I’ve not seen anywhere else. It appears these come directly from the county Sheriff handling the case:
“We also found instructions detailing how to access certain airline databases,” said Washington County Sheriff Larry Mincks. “We passed all that information along to the FBI, and they’re reviewing it as we speak.”
Very troubling, but here’s the real money quote:
Authorities say terrorist groups are illegally modifying the pre-paid cell phones to place untraceable international calls.
It’s not clear which “authorities” are saying this or how they know, but it seems unlikely to me that a Sheriff in Ohio would have this type of specific information about terrorist activity. Look again at that first paragraph. Since Sheriff Mincks is interacting with the FBI heavily on this case. It’s very possible this is second-hand information from the FBI itself.
All of these large sales came RIGHT AFTER the NYTIMES NSA leak (12/15/05). Though this is circumstantial, it is HIGHLY SUGGESTIVE that the leak alerted the sleeper cells HERE (and perhaps elsewhere), and that they are adapting their SOP’s as a result; thus, they are making it tougher for us to prevent an attack.
An uptick in the purchase of cell phones by Muslim men immediately after the NY Times wire-tap story. Now add to that this unnamed but authoritative source stating the phones are indeed being modified by terrorists to make untraceable international calls. It seems to me that these two pieces of information, considered together, represent a devastating critique of the NY Times decision to publish the wire-tap story.
Finally, Sheriff Mincks also notes:
“We know these cell phone chips are being used as a means for detonating roadside bombs and that people from Dearborn, Mich., are coming to this area to buy them,” Mincks said. “They’ve bought between 600 and 1,000 of these phones and they’ve giving phony names, had people poised as lookouts at businesses when they were buying them, and were evasive and lied when they were questioned about it by our officers. I think we can say for certain that something isn’t exactly right.”
Is the Sheriff suggesting these phones are being shipped overseas to make bombs or that they may have been destined for bomb-making right here in the US? Either way, a pretty scary thought.
Update 8/13: An earlier Marietta Times story has more news I haven’t seen elsewhere. Speaking of the office handling the arrests of the Dearborn Two:
Maj. John Winstanley said the sheriff’s office has received notices from homeland security warning individuals are purchasing the phones for terror related activity.
“It’s their belief that they send these TracFones overseas, and they use (the chips) against the troops, detonating bombs,” Winstanley said.
So homeland security is warning local law enforcement about this. So why isn’t this in the news? Why do we have to dig this out of the Marietta Times instead of seeing if on the front page of the NY Times? Is Homeland security trying to keep this quiet? Why?
[For more on Trac Phone arrests, see this post.]