Saturday, August 12, 2006

"What I Did On My Summer Vacation"

UPDATE 3: (via Little Green Footballs)
The Pittsburgh area.


UPDATE 2: (once again from Rantburg)
This time Middle Eastern youths in Tuscon buying up the prepaid phones from Sam's Club and Wal-Mart. As an anonymous commenter wrote: "Thanks for the publishing the surveillance tip, New York Times."

Another Rantburg commenter from Australia mentions that the phone he believes TracFone is using costs $160 there. A possibility for profit, true enough.

Let's just find out where these phones are going before letting the whole thing go, eh?

UPDATE: (via Rantburg)
Apparently it is a very popular passtime this year.
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.
Or not so unusual in the peace-loving Muslim community....

From the Appleton (WI) Post-Crescent story about Dallas-area men apparently hoarding TracFone pre-paid wireless phones:
The Dearborn men, Ali Houssaiky and Osama Abulhassan, both 20, 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 Tuesday.


According to this story in The Arab American News, they were merely out buying the phones low and selling higher to a retailer. (Maybe WalMart really is the Lowest Prices. Always.) Interesting way to work your way through school.

Then there was this detail, as reported by AP: "The two had in their possession a dozen prepaid cell phones and more than $10,000. AP reported Thursday that officers also found airplane passenger lists and airport security information in the car."

Passenger lists? Where does someone go to obtain that? According to the Arab American News story: "Houssaiky's mother is an employee of Jordanian Airlines at Metro Detroit Airport," said Subhi. "It was her car that the two were riding in and the papers were related to her work."

I'm not sure that's a good answer. Isn't that sort of thing confidential? Why bring that home?

Given the ability of a mobile phone to detonate a bomb, I can see the concern that a huge number of phones being purchased with cash can raise.

The Arab American News story wanted to make sure everyone knew this:
Osama Abulhassan's father Subhi said he wanted the public to know the injustice that he believed his son is being put through..."I would say that every nationality and religion on the face of the earth has its good and bad people."
Yeah, we all do. It just happens the most notorious lot of lunatics belongs to your religion these days. Sorry about that.

I'm sure these two kids will skate once it can be shown that the phones aren't all heading to the Middle East and the cash they're using to buy them didn't come from some shadowy Al Qaeda financier. UPDATE 4: The terrorism case is not being pursued by Ohio prosecutors for lack of evidence. (Detroit Free Press)

Commonality:
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.
Am I to understand from this statement that there are no Walmarts in California? Uhh... no. There are quite a few, actually.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Perhaps Feeling Ignored, the Car Lobbies for Attention

I got in the car this morning, ready to take on the Outer Loop of the Beltway as I do each weekday morning.

I turned the key, and rather than starting in that normal, reliable Honda kind of way, the car rewarded me with a frantic, flickery dashboard light show accompanied by some pathetic clicking.

15 months old and a new battery already? We'll see.