Monday, August 14, 2006

Pre-paid Cellphones And The Texas Trio

Lately, the media has been buzzing with the news of the Texas Trio who allegedly planned a terrorist plot targeting Michigan's Mackinac Bridge. After 9/11, any suspicious acts have been taken seriously by the American authorities and citizens. I don't blame them. We generalize about Arabs the same way Iraqis generalize about the American troops in Iraq and Arabs generalize about the Jewish community around the world.

In case you missed the news, here's what happened:

Some or all of the three Dallas-area residents arrested in Michigan last week on terrorism-related charges also had made "unusual purchases" of prepaid cellphones in Mesquite earlier this year, officials said Sunday.

In May, a Wal-Mart employee grew suspicious when several men made the unusual phone purchase. That information was given to Mesquite police, who reviewed it and then passed it along to federal authorities, said Mesquite police Lt. Shannon Greenhaw.
They face state terrorism-related charges of collecting or providing materials for terrorist acts and surveillance of a vulnerable target for terrorist purposes. A Michigan prosecutor told The Saginaw News that the men had set their sights on the five-mile-long Mackinac Bridge, which connects Michigan's Upper and Lower peninsulas.
The trio attracted law enforcement attention early Friday by purchasing 80 prepaid mobile phones from an all-night Wal-Mart Super Center in Caro, Mich. Authorities say the men had about 1,000 cellphones in their rented van.


The purchases were made with cash which raised suspicions combined with number of pre-paid cellphones that were found in their rented car. These factors contributed to their arrest in a week that raised red alarms everywhere because of the terrorists arrest in England.

Like any country, some people in America take short cuts to make money. Some people sell social security numbers to illegal immigrants. Some people sell fake driver licenses to illegal immigrants and for teens to use at bars. Others sell fake brand name purses to women. Other people work cash and don't report the income to the IRS so they could benefit from the Medicare system. People get arrested for such acts, but they rarely make the headlines. The reason is simple. We live in different times.

Arabs are social people and love to talk on the phone. It doesn't surprise me that the Texas trio dealt in the pre-paid cellphone business to make cash. There are many people who have bad credit or don't even have a bank account. So, their only way to get a cellphone is to buy one of these pre-paid cellphones. It seems like Wal-Mart has some good deals and the trio decided to take advantage of it. They didn't know their purchase would land them in prison.

Terrorists don't go around purchasing a large amount of any product from one shop. It would bring too much attention to themselves. If those guys wanted to do any harm, they would have purchased one pre-paid cellphone at a time from different Wal-mart centers in Dallas and on their way to Michigan. As it is, they were doing it for the money. The FBI thinks so too.

UPDATE SEP. 5, 2006
The judge has dropped the charges against the Texas trio. The Dallas Morning News reports:

A federal judge threw out conspiracy and money laundering charges Tuesday against three Mesquite men who originally were accused of planning terrorism.

After a preliminary hearing, U.S. District Court Magistrate Charles Binder in Bay City, Mich., said there was too little evidence to try Louai Othman, 23, his brother Adham Othman, 21, and their cousin Maruan Muhareb, 18.

"I guess their ordeal is done," said the men's attorney, Abed Ayoub of Dearborn, Mich. Terrorism charges against the men were thrown out last month.


I'm glad they were found not guilty.

Labels: , ,

Links to this post:

Create a Link


<< Home