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Old 08-14-2006, 09:33 AM   #1
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Racial Profiling Or Legitimate Grounds For Suspicion And Arrest?

Were they targeted because they are of Arab descent, or is it just based upon their behavior? Or both? Would anyone buying that many cell phones be targeted, be a suspect, be arrested? I would certainly hope so, but honestly I don't know for sure.

"Tuscola County prosecutor Mark E. Reene told the Saginaw News in Michigan that investigators believe the men were targeting the Mackinac Bridge, which connects Michigan's Upper and Lower peninsulas. He declined to say what led investigators to that belief."

I would assume they have evidence to back up this belief.

By Jamie Stengle, Associated Press | August 14, 2006

DALLAS -- The wife of one of three Texas men arraigned on terrorism-related charges in Michigan says her husband and his relatives are not terrorists, but are simply trying to make money by reselling cellphones.

``They're locked up in jail for something that they didn't do," said Lina Odeh, 20.

Her husband, Louai Abdelhamied Othman of Mesquite, his brother, Adham Abdelhamid Othman of Dallas, and their cousin, Maruan Awad Muhareb of Mesquite, were arraigned Saturday on charges of collecting or providing materials for terrorist acts and surveillance of a vulnerable target for terrorist purposes.

Police found about 1,000 cellphones in the men's minivan. Authorities have not said what they believe the men intended to do with the phones, most of which were prepaid TracFones.

But the police chief in Caro, Mich., where they were arrested, said cellphones can be used as detonators, and prosecutors in a similar case in Ohio have said that TracFones are often used by terrorists because they are not traceable.

The arrests in Michigan came three days after two men were arrested in Marietta, Ohio, where police said they aroused suspicions when they acknowledged buying about 600 phones in recent months at stores in southeast Ohio.

Odeh said the men arrested in the Michigan case were buying the phones to sell to a man in Dallas for a profit of about $5 per phone. She said they were in Michigan because so many people in the Dallas area are doing the same thing that the phones are often sold out.

Odeh said she thought her husband and her relatives were targeted because of their Arab descent. The men's families hail from Jerusalem, she said.

The men were stopped early Friday about 80 miles north of Detroit after purchasing 80 cellphones from a Wal-Mart. Police said they found about 1,000 phones in their minivan. The men were arrested that afternoon.

No pleas were entered at the arraignment at a district court in Caro. A magistrate set bond at $750,000 apiece and the men were being held at the Tuscola County Jail, police said.

``All we did is buy the phones to sell and make money," Louai Othman told the magistrate. He said authorities had previously stopped the group in North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, and Wisconsin.

Muhareb told the magistrate he was selling the phones to earn money to help pay for his brother's college education.

Tuscola County prosecutor Mark E. Reene told the Saginaw News in Michigan that investigators believe the men were targeting the Mackinac Bridge, which connects Michigan's Upper and Lower peninsulas. He declined to say what led investigators to that belief.

Reene and the FBI did not return phone messages.

Odeh said the family is working to get a lawyer for the men. ``I just want everyone to know that they're innocent and they shouldn't be locked up in jail without any evidence," she said.

A pretrial hearing has been set for Friday and a preliminary exam for Aug. 24.

In the Ohio case, Ali Houssaiky and Osama Abulhassan, both 20 and from the Detroit suburb of Dearborn, have been charged with two felonies -- money laundering in support of terrorism and soliciting or providing support for acts of terrorism -- and misdemeanor falsification. A preliminary hearing on the felony counts was set for tomorrow.

Defense lawyers said Houssaiky and Abulhassan planned to resell the phones to make money. They say the men were targeted because they are of Arab descent.
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Old 08-14-2006, 10:00 AM   #2
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whatever ..i dont care
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Old 08-14-2006, 10:12 AM   #3
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The behavior while worth investigating wasn't worthy of arrest.
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Old 08-14-2006, 10:36 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally posted by AcrobatMan
whatever ..i dont care

Uh, ok. I don't know why you'd reply if you don't care

I had to fly two months after 9/11. There was a man in line directly behind me, he appeared to me to be of Middle Eastern descent. He behaved in what I deemed to be a suspicious manner-he was eyeing people in line and seemed very nervous. Was he just a nervous flier? A marshal? Did I feel guilty for being suspicious of him? Honestly I did, a bit - not at the time (to be perfectly honest), but looking back on it, maybe. It was obviously a climate of great fear on planes and in general, two months after that day. Just being on that plane I watched everyone, and anyone doing anything remotely suspicious made me nervous. It still does. So did me being suspicious of that man make me racist? Was I profiling?

Do I automatically suspect people of a certain descent after 9/11? No, I don't think so and I would definitely be ashamed of myself if that was the case. I believe however that everyone is capable of racism, that we are all prejudiced in some way (s). Do I observe behavior and the behavior makes me nervous? Yes. After the London subway bombings and the climate that existed in the US because of that, a white man made me nervous on a commuter rail train because of the way he was turning around to watch people and looking at a bag that was on the luggage rack.

I would assume sufficient evidence would have to exist for an arrest in this case, either that or they are manufacturing it or making a warrantless arrest. I guess we will have to wait and see what happens.
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Old 08-14-2006, 12:01 PM   #5
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The fact they had bought 1,000 cell phones is suspicious, and if they were going to sell them for profit, was there a way for them to prove it?
It could be racial profiling, but the cellphones raised an alarm
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Old 08-14-2006, 12:42 PM   #6
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I still don't understand why 1000 cell phones is more suspicious than 2, 5, or 10.
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Old 08-14-2006, 01:29 PM   #7
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Well perhaps anything like cell phones or fertilizer, etc. in mass quantities is deemed suspicious.

My main question would be- is everyone who is buying cell phones in large quantities being investigated? Certainly people of all racial and ethnic groups must be doing this as a business. Like the article says, the fact that most were prepaid Trac Phones was also deemed suspicious.

How can they possibly arrest them under terrorism related charges without sufficient evidence? How did they get a warrant?

http://www.wnem.com/Global/story.asp...5&nav=menu97_2

There is growing speculation as to why the Might Mac was the alleged target of these three Palestinian-American men. Tuscola County Prosecutor Mark Reene couldn't go into specific detail about what exactly was found relating to the target.

One theory is that the men weren't targeting solely the bridge itself but the people on it. The Annual Labor Day Bridge Walk has drawn over 60,000 people in the past few years. In 2000 there was an estimated 65,000 people who participated in the Annual Bridge Walk.

The two east lanes of the bridge are used by walkers until 9:30am. To keep I-75 moving the two west lanes will be used for vehicles traveling north and south across the bridge. The National Guard is present in case of an emergency.

The van driven by the men contained about one-thousand TracFones. These cell phones are often used by drug dealers because they are cheap and virtually untraceable. They have also been used to detonate IED's or improvised explosive devices.

There are usually three types of IED's, package, vehicle borne, and the suicide bomb. Because these devices are "homemade" they can very in shape and form. They all share the same components: an initiation system, explosive, detonator, a power supply for the detonator, and a container.

It is speculation that the phones where to act as both the initiation system and detonator. Tim Nausler with the Michigan State Police bomb squad says this has all the tell tale signs of using cell phones to detonate bombs.

He says you need two phones to detonate a bomb one to be with the explosive and the other to make the call to that phone. In some instances he says you can detonate with one phone using the alarm clock function. The cell phones contain three of the five ingredients needed to build an IED.

The charges against these men are 20 year felonies. We have also learned the men will face no federal charges. Each of the men was arraigned on August 12th with bond set at $750,000 cash per suspect.

The men purchased the cell phones in Caro around 1:00am which would have given them just enough time to drive directly from the Wal-Mart in Gaylord to the store in Caro. The three men purchased cell phones from the Wal-Mart store on M-81 near the corner of M-24 in Caro early morning August 11th.

Wal-Mart places a limit on the number of cell phones that can be purchased at once, that number is three. The three men allegedly bought 80 by purchasing them three at time so that an alert wouldn't be triggered by the cash register. They also paid cash.

An alert clerk grew suspicious and called Tuscola County central dispatch. The Caro Police Department sent a unit and stopped the rented van on M-81 just east of Caro. The suspects were headed towards Bad Axe on M-81 where there is another Super Wal-Mart.

One man was driving while the other two were in the back opening the phone packages with box cutters throwing the phones in one box, batteries in another and the packaging and phone charger in another container. The suspects had 1000 other cell phones in the van.

The phones were Nokia TracFones selling for $20 at Wal-Mart. For your twenty dollars you receive a phone charger and 40 minutes of airtime. The phones do not have to be registered with a name. Also discovered was a laptop with store addresses and store logos.
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Old 08-14-2006, 01:53 PM   #8
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Yes - I'm sure they were planning to place 900+ suspicious packages on the bridge, out of sight of everyone.
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Old 08-14-2006, 02:05 PM   #9
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If you only need one cell phone as a detonator, why look suspicious and buy 1000?

So even if 1000 is considered "suspicious", I don't get why they were arrested and jailed, rather than taken into custody for questioning and then released. Ten bucks says if it happened to me and I said I was going to sell them on eBay I'd get yelled at for being "suspicious" and then released. I think their raced played a big part in the decision to detain them.
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Old 08-14-2006, 05:23 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally posted by LivLuvAndBootlegMusic
I think their race played a big part in the decision to detain them.
I think you're probably right, and you made other good points as well. I didn't say they were going to place 900 packages on the bridge, obviously not. I'd say the FBI saying this raises many questions about any alleged connection to any plot against the bridge.

(AP) The FBI said Monday it had no information to indicate that the three Texas men arrested with about 1,000 cell phones in their van had any connections to a known terrorist group.

Authorities had increased patrols on Michigan's 5-mile-long Mackinac Bridge after local prosecutors said investigators believed the men were targeting the bridge.

Local authorities didn't say what they believe the men intended to do with the phones, most of which were prepaid TracFones, but Caro's police chief noted that cell phones can be untraceable and used as detonators.

The FBI issued a news release Monday saying there is no imminent threat to the bridge linking Michigan's upper and lower peninsulas and that has no information indicating that the men have any direct link to a terrorist group.

Adham Abdelhamid Othman, 21, of Dallas, and Maruan Awad Muhareb, 18, and Louai Abdelhamied Othman, 23, both of Mesquite, Texas, were stopped by police Friday outside a Wal-Mart store in Caro, about 80 miles north of Detroit after employees became suspicious when they purchased about 80 cell phones.

Local prosecutors charged them with collecting or providing materials for terrorist acts and surveillance of a vulnerable target for terrorist purposes.

Tuscola County Prosecutor Mark E. Reene said Monday that representatives of his office and Caro police had met with Sunday with officials from the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. attorney's office. He said all the agencies were working together on the investigation. He didn't say what led officials to believe the bridge might be a target.
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Old 08-14-2006, 05:42 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally posted by MrsSpringsteen

I'd say the FBI saying this raises many questions about any alleged connection to any plot against the bridge.
It was the local authorities, not the FBI, who came up with that theory.
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Old 08-14-2006, 05:54 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally posted by ntalwar


It was the local authorities, not the FBI, who came up with that theory.
Yes I understand that, I was saying that the FBI is contradicting the local authorities' theory.

I'd like to know how they were able to arrest those men.
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Old 08-14-2006, 06:00 PM   #13
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Well, the 1,000 cell phones is suspicious, but did they commit a crime? I'm a little confused.
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Old 08-14-2006, 06:07 PM   #14
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Article from cnn.com with more info

Apparently the pictures were used as some sort of evidence/reason for the allegations

http://www.cnn.com/2006/US/08/14/mackinac.ap/index.html

"William Kowalski, assistant special agent in charge of the FBI's Detroit field office, said authorities believe concern about the bridge was connected to images of the Mackinac Bridge found on a digital camera belonging to the men.

Kowalski said there was nothing illegal about buying cell phones in bulk, but that profits from that kind of activity can be suspicious."
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Old 08-14-2006, 06:18 PM   #15
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OK, the digital camera makes the whole thing more clear.
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