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Cell Phone Cells: More Trac Phone Terror Arrests

John on August 13, 2006 at 7:07 pm

Three Palestinian men were arrested Friday in Michigan with 1000 Trac phones in the back of a rented mini-van. They had just completed the purchase of 80 more phones when they were picked up in a WalMart parking lot. The men were charged Saturday:

Maruan Awad Muhareb, of Mesquite, Texas; Adham Abdelhamid Othman, of Dallas; and Louai Abdelhamied Othman, of Mesquite, are charged with collecting or providing materials for terrorist acts and surveillance of a vulnerable target for terrorist purposes.

Recall that when the Dearborn Two were arrested last week their car contained information on US airlines including how to access their databases. According to CNN, this latest group also had a target selected:

“The targeted issue in this case was the Mackinac Bridge. That is what we have information on,” Tuscola County prosecutor Mark Reene said.

The bridge is 5 miles long and connects Michigan’s upper and lower peninsulas.

mackinac_bridge_lg.jpg
The Mackinac Bridge

For those that haven’t been following it, one of the uses of these Trac phones is as remote detonators for bombs. The other, as I noted earlier, is for use in making untraceable international calls.

Perhaps most disturbing is the detail metioned in this story about the arrests:

Caro police say that the trio has been cooperative in the investigation, saying that they are stopped frequently. They told police that they buy the cell phones for $20 and sell them for $38 without the chargers and packaging.

Which raises two questions. One, who is buying thousands of trac phones with no batteries or charger at inflated prices? Two, why are these individuals being stopped frequently and allowed to continue their mission?

For instance, two Pakistani men were detained in Wilkins Township, PA after buying 19 Trac Phones with cash. But as this story notes:

According to police, Homeland security officials determined the individuals were not on any federal watch list and were allowed to leave with the phones they purchased.

Here’s another story of trac phone purchases in Grafton, OH. This one was turned over to the FBI and there is no word on the resolution so far.

So here’s what we know.

  1. A sudden upsurge in Middle Eastern men buying phones in bulk.
  2. All of the purchases are made with cash.
  3. The men are travelling across state lines to purchase as many phones as possible.
  4. All of the men claim they are simply reselling the phones for money.
  5. At least two of these “cell phone cells” had information which seemed to indicate they had specific targets in mind.
  6. Those same two “cell phone cells” have now been charged with aiding terrorists.

Anyone else think the terror level needs to go up another notch?

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Category: Islamic Jihad |

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