More Middle Eastern men were caught buying large quantities of Tracphones:
From WNEM in Michigan:
Around 1:00am August 11th the three men purchased cell phones from the Wal-Mart store on M-81 near the corner of M-24 in Caro. 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.
The three men are described as being of Palestinian descent but live in Texas. Police say the three, ages 19, 22, and 23 appear to be naturalized citizens.
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. There was also a bag of receipts showing that someone was in Wisconsin the day before.
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.
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.
From WBOY in West Virginia:
Last week, the Grafton police pulled over 24-year-old Hashem Sayed for a routine traffic stop. But what they found in his car was far from routine. Patrolman Daniel Laymon recalls the scene, “There were multiple cell phones, roughly 150 to 200 cell phones from multiple retailers,” he said.
Buying that many pre-paid phones is not a crime, but the police say it is unusual.
Less than a week later, the authorities in Marietta, Ohio, arrested 20-year-old Osma Sabhi Abulhassan and 20-year-old Ali Houssaiky. Washington County Sheriffs deputies seized several pre-paid cell phones and thousands of dollars in cash. Because of the incidents, Grafton police believe the events are connected.
“The department feels that there are a lot of similar circumstances and there are a lot of similarities between the activity there and the activity experienced here,” said Patrolman Laymon.
The activity seems to be more than just a coincidence. All three men are from Dearborn, Michigan and all three gave similar reasons for buying the phones. Sayed said he was buying them to ship to California to sell for a profit. But Washington County’s sheriff says that may not be the whole truth. “They are digital for detonating car bombs and they have a particular digital frequency and that’s what they’re using them for,” said Sheriff Larry Mincks.
Mincks says the men also had instructions on how to obtain private flights and airplane passenger information.
“It also had some information concerning airport security and check points.”
Interesting how they’re going to small towns to make their purchases. Perhaps they think they’re less likely to be caught, but in reality, they’re more likely to stand out.