Little Green Footballs had a brief item up yesterday; it was confirmation of an earlier account with more details, sent to us by an informed reader.
A number of people are concerned about the actual day-to-day terrorism activities of Middle Easterners in the United States, both naturalized citizens of our country and those here on visas. One of our readers, whose job touches on domestic intelligence activities, has learned to keep her eyes open when traveling. This has taught her more than she wants to know.
Recently she said she encountered a situation that made her most uncomfortable: right off the interstate, in North Carolina, she stopped to get gas. The station had underpriced their product substantially, so of course it did a good business. What she noticed, though, was the existence of five or six major phone trunk lines running into the building. “ In the middle of nowhere in North Carolina”, she said.
Here’s how she thinks the operation works: say Uncle Ahmed in Pakistan calls this gas station. He speaks some code sentence — say, for example, “Aunt Khalifa is having a baby.” Or any news of a family nature. The receiver of the call places a call himself, repeating the code sentence. This message gets passed down the line who-knows-how-many-times, by landline, disposable cell phones, whatever. And by our lily-white rules, NSA may only listen to the first call. Anything else has been ruled off the turf as “invasion of privacy.”
The upshot of the whole situation is that terrorists have the perfect environment in which to operate without interference. The only help we do have is British intelligence, which is not so hamstrung as we are. Our friend says that the domestic calls — because phones use satellites to function — are vulnerable to the complex system of intercepts the British have established. Thus, they may pass information on to us and we may listen to it. Fortunately, there is as yet no law against a little help from our friends.
Now, in the past week, we have this rash of news stories, carried briefly by the MSM and then dropped in favor of the port security star stories, of various operations being brought to a halt by the FBI and other intelligence agencies. Here’s the one from Lousiana:
FBI Raids Middle Eastern Owned Convenience Stores and Service Stations
The FBI is conducting a large scale investigation into north Louisiana convenience stores with ties to the Middle East. As TV8's Gina Swanson reports the Department of Homeland Security is in on the sting operation involving stores in at least four parishes.
They seized evidence by the box full. The FBI on Wednesday searched at least a half dozen convenience stores in North Louisiana. All with ties to the Middle East. The probe led agents to stores in Tallulah, Lake Providence, Monroe and Ruston. Law enforcement sources confirm that the stores are suspected of involvement in money laundering or counterfeiting. The Department of Homeland Security has sent agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or Ice, to work the case. At each station, agents seized boxes of evidence and retrieved at least one weapon. Police sources say at least some of the gas station operators are from Yemen, an Arab country located just south of Saudi Arabia
ULM history professor John Sutherlin believes the Arab heritage of the convenience store owners could make them a convenient target for terror suspects:
"Anytime Arab or Muslim people are involved people immediately think it must be terror related or have some connection to 9-11," Sutherlin says. [when Arabs are involved in money laundering and counterfeiting rings who in their right mind doesn’t believe it’s terrorism-related?? Oh. Right. This quote is from someone at the local college…should have known —Dymphna]
The investigation reaches beyond Louisiana. TV8 news — the carrier for the previous story— confirmed the FBI and department of homeland security Wednesday also raided stores in Buffalo, New York.
Here’s another TV report, from the commenters at LGF. This one is from Little Rock:
Six people who live in Bryant have been charged by the U.S. attorney with something called money structuring. They operate two Little Rock gas stations, where officials say they were illegally sending money to the Middle East.
The three husband-wife teams are charged with sending $300,000 to dozens of people in the Middle East.
The FBI raided the Shell Station on Markham last November as part of the investigation. After the long investigation six men and women, four U.S. citizens and two legal residents, face charges that could land them in prison and cost them their businesses.
The main charge is money structuring. That's described as purchasing bank checks in amounts slightly below the $3,000 federal limit that requires having to identify yourself. “Structuring cash” transactions avoid triggering the filing of reports or record keeping by a bank.
U.S. Attorney Bud Cummins says, “The ability to track large sums of money sent overseas is a vital part of investigating crimes that may impact out national security. So, when people intentionally evade these laws, they're undercutting our safety.”
One husband-wife team is also charged with defrauding the state child welfare system. They're accused with hoarding more than $100,000 cash in their home, but lying about their income on state documents.
And to round it out, The Middle Ground has a long story about an Ohio plot:
CLEVELAND - Three Muslim men from the Middle East were charged Tuesday with plotting terrorist attacks against U.S. and coalition troops in Iraq and other countries.
Mohammad Zaki Amawi, 26, is accused of threatening in conversations to kill or injure Bush. He also is charged with distributing information about making and using bombs.
The others are Marwan Othman El-Hindi, 42, a U.S. citizen born in Jordan; and Wassim I. Mazloum, 24, who came to the United States from Lebanon in 2000…
Her story is much longer than this and has some disturbing elements regarding the manufacture and use of car bombs by one of the people she names, a car dealer in Toledo.
The Middle Ground says that Toldeo has a large Muslim population and reminds us that this was the base for KindHearts, the Hamas-front charity that was recently closed down. Then she notes this about the terrorist plotters:
It's very likely that this operation was brought to an abrupt end due to the NSA surveillance program being outed in the NYT. According to deputy director of the FBI, Joe Pistle, "enhanced surveillance" was part of the operation. Considering that the investigation efforts appear to have gone on for over six months with the man already delivering "laptops" to the "mujihadeen brothers", which would have been plenty to take him and the others in for material support, it seems that investigators were trying to discover the other connections. The issue with warrantless wire taps may have forced them to roll up the investigation earlier than planned.
Her deductions are reasonable, and it may be why those places in Little Rock, the parishes of Louisianna, and Buffalo, New York were also “rolled up.”
If Lincoln were President, half The New York Times would be where they belonged: in jail with the terrorists. With citizens like them, who needs terrorists to bring the country down?