Cellphones bought in Missouri Walmart stores are being deemed suspicious by the FBI primarily because they were bought in bulk. Reports have noted how prepaid phones have been used in the past for remotely detonating terrorist bombs. The separate incidents of large cellphone purchases by Middle Eastern men has also been linked in some reports to propane tanks stolen in Missouri in large quantities. Spokespeople for the FBI have yet to comment on their investigation, but some fear the possibility of an ISIS bomb plot.
In a related report by the Inquisitr, an ISIS terror cell in New Jersey was arrested by the FBI, and they recently revealed plans for bombing New York’s Times Square and the One World Trade Center.
Fortunately, the cellphones bought in Missouri may have been deemed suspicious, but they have not been linked to any terrorist cell. An earlier report from the Inquisitr notes that the FBI was notified about several suspicious purchases where “foreign-speaking” men purchased prepaid cellphones in bulk.
“I’m not going to say just because they’re different religion or 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 about it because it doesn’t hurt to check on it. You’re not being racist or anything like that, you’re just protecting yourself,” explained Laclede County Sheriff Wayne Merritt.
The reason that people were concerned was that so-called “burner” cellphones can be used by criminal organizations and terrorist cells. Law enforcement reports also note that such cellphones have been used in the past to detonate bombs remotely in both London and Madrid.
Newer reports have linked the cellphones bought in Missouri to several incidents where many propane tanks have been stolen within the state. According to Fox 2, the “FBI would not comment on the cell phone purchases or propane thefts,” but retired FBI agent Michael Taubman believes the stolen propane tanks are probably not part of a larger terrorist plot.
“The good news is this is probably not part of terrorist planning for a number of reasons,” said Taubman. “One is they wouldn’t steal these items because they know that would attract law enforcement’s attention. Also, this would not be a tool of choice.”
According to a news release from the Ava Police Department, the man who purchased the cellphones in bulk was not arrested or detained since he did not commit a crime.
“Officers spoke with the male subject who was of Middle Eastern decent and asked for identification which was provided. After speaking with the subject, officers did not have any legal reason to detain him, so they allowed him to leave.”
The other men were not detained for similar reasons, but Paul Fennewald, the former Missouri Homeland Security Coordinator, claims it’s not unreasonable to link the incident to ISIS or terrorism in general.
“I think on the surface that is suspicious. If I had seen the same thing, I probably would have called somebody also,” he said.
Law enforcement officials say that purchasing prepaid cell phones in bulk can be done for multiple reasons not related to terrorist activities. For example, it is possible these cellphones could be given as stocking stuffers as Christmas gifts, or it is possible they are being resold for a profit. Police also said the man who came from Michigan “gave a false tax exempt waiver form to the store and bought the phones without sales taxes.”
“I see a lot of people that have a lot of fear out there, and I wanted to just try to let people know that there actually is a legitimate reason as well,” said Shannon Flood, general manager for Choose Your Own Wireless, according to KY3. “These people will purchase the phones while they’re on sale, and when the sale’s overwith, they’ll resell them at manufacturer’s retail cost online.”
[Image via Inert Product LLC]