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Not understanding this cell phone terror plot story...

by EdH / August 14, 2006 12:09 AM PDT
If the hundreds of prepaid cellular telephones found in the minivan seemed odd, the pictures of the Mackinac Bridge were downright troubling to Tuscola County law enforcement officials who have charged three Texas men with terrorism-related crimes.

Haven't found a better link.

Are cell phones so expensive (I heard they wanted to resell them in Texas) that it actully pays to buy them at retail. transport them across country and resell them? Couldn't their customers just go to Wal-Mart? Couldn't these guys get them wholesale?

Also, why would they need a thousand telephones to detonate explosives? Two or three I understand, but a thousand?

I also heard that they were taking the batteries out and discarding the chargers. What's up with that?

The story does not seem to hang together very well. What's going on?
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Agreed,
by duckman / August 14, 2006 12:11 AM PDT

I don't get it either. But then, we aren't the brightest bulbs on the string too.

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I thought maybe one of those smart PhD types...
by EdH / August 14, 2006 12:16 AM PDT
In reply to: Agreed,

could come by and help us out.

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(NT) (NT) dk where are you:)
by Mark5019 / August 14, 2006 12:23 AM PDT
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They're the ones that need the help...at least...
by Jack Ammann / August 16, 2006 11:50 PM PDT

...the ones on this forum...LOL

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Hey, be careful,
by duckman / August 17, 2006 1:16 AM PDT

When I said that, the post was zapped

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I think the phones are to be used ...
by Evie / August 14, 2006 12:17 AM PDT

... because the calls are not trackable. Particularly when purchased on the black market from someone that paid cash for them somewhere half way across the country. Use a different cell phone for each call, and patterns are FAR less likely to emerge. Find a cell phone number in the Roladex of a captured terrorist? Just dispose of the stash.

Evie Happy

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I heard that too, and it makes some sense...
by EdH / August 14, 2006 12:21 AM PDT

but these guys seem to have gone out of their way to attract suspicion.

Maybe just not that smart?

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I'm thinking maybe just not that smart
by Evie / August 14, 2006 12:45 AM PDT

And PERHAPS they were just buying the phones for resale (although the Mackinac plans kinda makes that seem unlikely). Maybe they didn't realize that buying the cell phones like they did would raise suspicion.

Evie Happy

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I wondered about that too...
by Rolway / August 14, 2006 12:24 AM PDT

Must be something to do with the batteries.

George

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Maybe
by marinetbryant / August 14, 2006 12:48 AM PDT

the batteries would be replaced by some type of mini-bomb?

Tom

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There are two cases ...
by Evie / August 14, 2006 2:03 AM PDT

... getting mixed here -- one is two Ohio men who separated the phones, chargers/accessories and batteries into three "lots", the three TX men apparently kept the phones intact w/batteries but had thrown out many of the chargers (indicating these might be useless in a foreign country?).

IAC, you may be onto something re: the batteries, that is not terrorism related:

Lithium batteries and methamphetamine labs

Unused lithium batteries provide a convenient source of lithium metal for use as a reducing agent in illegal methamphetamine labs. Some jurisdictions restrict or limit the sale of lithum batteries in an attempt to help curb the creation of illegal meth labs. However, the heavy demand for lithium batteries for use in modern, current-hungry devices such as digital cameras conflicts with such restrictions, and they remain controversial. For example, in Wal-Mart stores the limit of sale is four packages of lithium batteries (three in Missouri). [8] Rechargeable Ni-MH batteries are overtaking the disposable lithium batteries since they are more economical.


I read that in one (or both?) cases, they were looking to purchase specific phones. If this is because they are Li battery phones, then perhaps they aren't abetting terrorists, but rather drug traffickers!

Evie Happy

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IMHO
by marinetbryant / August 14, 2006 2:05 AM PDT

Drug manufacturing, selling, running is a terrorist activity no matter the nationality.

Tom

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I agree ...
by Evie / August 14, 2006 2:08 AM PDT
In reply to: IMHO

... but a different kind of terrorism. Accuse me of profiling if you will, but I suspect the "war on" kind here.

Evie Happy

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But...
by EdH / August 14, 2006 4:38 AM PDT
In reply to: I agree ...

Drug trafficking is one way terrorist activities are financed, no?

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Yes ...
by Evie / August 15, 2006 12:19 AM PDT
In reply to: But...

... in Afghanistan. Here in the US most domestic terrorism funding seems to come from "charities". Sad

Evie Happy

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Yep, it doesn't hang at all, to me
by Dragon / August 14, 2006 1:36 AM PDT

It looks completely legal. I haven't heard any evidence on the news aside from speculation. I can understand the concern but they can't be locked up just because authorities don't like it.

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Charges dropped
by Dragon / August 14, 2006 12:16 PM PDT
CARO, Mich. - 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 direct connection to known terrorist groups.

Also, a prosecutor in a separate Ohio case said he can't prove a terrorism link to two men arrested after buying large numbers of cell phones and will drop terrorism charges against them.
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(NT) (NT) I guess it's OK to put the rope away, til next time.
by JP Bill / August 14, 2006 12:37 PM PDT
In reply to: Charges dropped
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(NT) (NT) I hope they will be watching these guys
by Evie / August 15, 2006 12:20 AM PDT
In reply to: Charges dropped
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Big Boom
by sbrasch99 / August 15, 2006 12:34 AM PDT

Is it possible they have knowledge how to reduce the NI-MH Batteries to a metal Hydride for absorption and storage of Hydrogen, Thus making an explosive device ???.

I am just an EE Engineer not a Chemist, this thought just came to mind. Maybe a Chemist Could confirm this is possible.

Marc

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Not entireley up on the specific chemistry ...
by Evie / August 15, 2006 6:19 AM PDT
In reply to: Big Boom

... of NiMH batteries, but they can explode under certain conditions. Still, if larger quantities were wanted for that purpose, there are many sources of larger such batteries that wouldn't raise any flags.

Evie Happy

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Evie second choice
by sbrasch99 / August 15, 2006 8:59 AM PDT

You maybe correct, however they may have selected the lesser of two evils. Since explosive chemicals are very difficult to purchase now a days. The second choice could have been process your own chemicals form products that are readily available on the market.

Marc

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I wasn't suggesting purchasing the chemicals ...
by Evie / August 15, 2006 11:02 PM PDT
In reply to: Evie second choice

... just less "alerting" purchases of larger batteries.

My Li ion laptop battery is ~4"x6"x1" so if someone were to be buying batteries for the meth lab purpose I mentioned elsewhere in this thread, buying one or two of those, vs. probably 20 or 40 cell phones for the batteries, would be less likely to raise suspicion.

I'm thinking hybrid car for example. Big NiMH batteries there. Many power tools use these batteries. Rechargeable AA - thru - D cells as well. These would all be a whole lot less suspicious to buy a few of.

Evie Happy

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We must be observant these are not good times.
by sbrasch99 / August 16, 2006 1:13 AM PDT

Evie it was not my intention to create an argument chain on this message board. It was only a thought that came to mind to see if a Chemical Engineer may agree to the possibility that Hydrogen storage cells could be made.

However a thought that I did not mention in the original post was. Why would anyone remove the batteries and chargers and then sell the phones to make a $ 5.00 profit ???. This makes no sense. However Instead of selling, a further use of these phones could be accomplished by strapping low cost easy to get alkaline batteries to them for use as detonators.

We may be very lucky that the only true reason why these people purchased these phones was to turn a dollar. But we are living in perilous times and credit should be given to the police for their surveillance.

Marc

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Laptop batteries exploding on this afternoon's TV news...
by John Robie / August 15, 2006 8:59 AM PDT
In reply to: Big Boom
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Unfortunately, the charges have NOT been dropped,
by Dave Konkel [Moderator] / August 15, 2006 11:21 PM PDT
In reply to: Charges dropped

Dragon, at least as of this morning. While the FBI says there's no evidence they're involved to terrorism, the local Michigan prosecutors are sticking by their charges for now (heard on the Today show; not worth looking up a link). One wonders if that would be the case if the two guys involved were named Smith and Jones.

BTW, I agree that reselling phones w/o chargers is odd, but I suspect the users are illegal immigrants calling home to Mexico; paranoia about the INS may explain the one-time use of throwaway phones.

-- Dave K, Speakeasy Moderator
click here to email semods4@yahoo.com

The opinions expressed above are my own,
and do not necessarily reflect those of CNET!

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Why "unfortunately"?
by EdH / August 15, 2006 11:47 PM PDT

If there's nothing to it they will get off. But what if there IS something to it? Definitely something fishy going on here and I don't think it's just illegals calling home.

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It?s ok for an out of control prosecutor
by duckman / August 16, 2006 1:21 AM PDT
In reply to: Why "unfortunately"?

To go after Tom Delay and a bunch of rich white guys at Duke, but don?t do it to an ethnic. Oooooh, I could spit

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Because when the FBI says there's nothing to it,
by Dave Konkel [Moderator] / August 17, 2006 10:55 PM PDT
In reply to: Why "unfortunately"?

they should be released, Ed. Their being held despite any evidence against them is a clear violation of their civil rights, and highly likely to be racially motivated. The good news for them (and bad news for Michigan taxpayers) is that a false arrest/false imprisonment suit will be a slam dunk for them.

-- Dave K, Speakeasy Moderator
click here to email semods4@yahoo.com

The opinions expressed above are my own,
and do not necessarily reflect those of CNET!

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Are we missing the obvious?
by duckman / August 16, 2006 1:19 AM PDT

How many cell phones would you have to throw at the supports of the bridge to knock it over?

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