A prepaid cell phone might make a nice Christmas gift for someone who doesn’t have one, but when bulk purchases totaling 200 of them are made at seven separate Walmart locations within a week, the “If you see something, say something” flag is raised.
Prepaid cell phones are a common tool for terrorists, as the calls are generally untraceable, as are the phones, when paid for in cash. More dastardly, they can be used to detonate bombs.
Missouri law enforcement agencies are investigating the mass purchases of prepaid phones in the cities of Columbia, Jackson, Cape Girardeau, Lebanon, Ava, Jefferson City and Macon . They were alerted by astute employees who found the purchases suspicious. FBI agents in Missouri were contacted and are investigating, and nowhere in the story can you find out the ethnicity of the people involved.
All we know is that in Lebanon, (ironic) Missouri, two men who purchased 60 prepaid phones were questioned by authorities. Police did not have any legal reason to detain them and they were let go. As reported by Fox2Now in St Louis:
“’Somebody went in and bought 60 cell phones from Walmart that’s not normal for this area. I’m not going to say just because they’re different religion or just because they’re Muslim–but these people were they were foreign speaking then you need to take notice and you need to let us know because it doesn’t hurt to check on it. You’re not being racist or anything like that you’re just protecting yourself.’ Laclede County Sheriff Wayne Merritt tells KYTV.”
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Combine the prepaid cell phone bulk purchases with the theft of 48 propane tanks in the same time period and you have a very real concern of a terrorist attack. Terrorists have been known to use propane tanks to make improvised bombs. Four propane tanks were used as part of the explosive device in the thwarted 2010 attempted terrorist attack in NYC’s Times Square.
In the aftermath of the radical Islamic terrorist attack in San Bernardino, it was learned that a neighbor of the two killers feared reporting suspicious activity, because she didn’t want to be labeled as a racist or an Islamophobe. Many Americans feel this way, since the Obama administration has gone through great lengths to warn Americans against profiling Muslims, just last week were warned by Attorney General Loretta Lynch that she would prosecute anyone who she deemed incited violence against Muslims through hateful rhetoric.
Just to be clear, actual violence against Americans takes a back seat to perceived hate-speech against Muslims?
As former Missouri Homeland Security Coordinator Paul Fennewald said in an interview with ABC17 News:
“If we’re going to prevent that next terrorist attack, especially the next terrorist attack in Columbia, Missouri, or Boone County, it’s not going to be the FBI, it’s not going to be law enforcement, it’s going to be the viewers of this broadcast that are probably going to be the key to preventing.”
Kudos to the alert Walmart employees for not succumbing to political correctness, and thinking about the many people who might be at risk should another group of Muslim terrorists attack.
Follow James on Twitter @NY_2_Carolina