Hundreds of cellphones bought in Missouri Walmart stores by persons of Middle Eastern descent may seem suspicious at first glance, but then reports began connecting the so-called “burner” purchases to the theft of large numbers of propane tanks. Some on social media claim the two unrelated events may hint at an American ISIS bombing plot. The FBI had previously not commented on such rumors, but now FBI spokespeople have confirmed that they are investigating the reports.
In a related report by the Inquisitr, a video message by Florida Sheriff Wayne Ivey went viral because he claims Americans need guns, not political correctness, in order to combat terrorists in the United States.
The threat of another ISIS attack in America has been feared ever since the San Bernardino shooting took the lives of several Americans. This tragedy was followed by a report from Homeland Security which indicated that ISIS had generated fake Syrian passports and it believed foreign members of ISIS had already entered the United States.
Unfortunately, it is already known that homegrown ISIS members have begun to spring up in recent years. Recently, an ISIS terror cell in New Jersey was arrested by the FBI, and their members revealed in court plans for bombing New York’s Times Square and the One World Trade Center. A new report from George Washington University also showed a map detailing where the American ISIS threat is greatest.
But could there also be ISIS in Missouri? Some became suspicious when hundreds of cellphones were bought in Walmart stores located in Macon, Lebanon, Jefferson City, Columbia, Cape Girardeau, Jackson, and Ava. According to Snopes, ever since the reports about the cellphones and stolen propane tanks went viral, some Americans have begun to claim that police and the FBI have not done enough to investigate the matter.
“Once causalities start coming in due to your blatant disregard and obvious knowing of those Muslim extremists buying those burner phones, we the people will blame you. There was more than enough reasonable suspicion to arrest those foreigners on a probable threat of terrorism. They are not US citizens, they don’t need due process like Americans,” claimed one Facebook post, according to Snopes. “Now they are gone….and we have NO IDEA what they are planning, whether it’s suicide bombing or something else.”
— Trickdarter (@Trickdarter) December 5, 2015
A news release from the Ava Police Department did in fact confirm that the “male subject” was of “Middle Eastern descent,” but “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, and a report from Fox 2 indicated that the “FBI would not comment on the cell phone purchases or propane thefts.”
According to The Kansas City Star, the only link between the stolen propane tanks and the bulk cell phone purchases is the timing. With the increasing public scrutiny over the cellphones bought in Missouri, FBI spokespeople decided to issue answers to some questions.
“The local authorities are investigating the propane tanks,” said FBI spokeswoman Bridget Patton, who confirmed that the FBI is investigating the cellphones bought in Missouri. “You have local law enforcement acting out of an abundance of caution. We have seen similar purchases of bulk cellphones in the past, and it has been concluded that these transactions were unrelated to terrorism.”
The reason that the cellphone purchases can be related to terrorism is because previous bombing attacks have used the cellphones as triggering mechanisms in homemade explosive devices. It is possible to use the explosion from a propane tank to send shrapnel flying into densely-packed crowds.
But so far the FBI believes these so-called “burner” phones are not connected to ISIS, or terrorism in general.
“In the past, we have seen similar activity,” said Rebecca Wu, a spokeswoman for the St. Louis FBI office. “Most people are now concerned about the terrorism aspect. In the past, what we have seen is not related to terrorism.”
Jeff Lanza, a retired FBI agent, also said it would not make any sense for any American terrorist to draw attention to themselves by buying the cellphones in such an obvious fashion. As for the propane tanks, Lanza agrees with the other two FBI representatives.
“These two events are probably totally unrelated,” he said. “If the FBI is not involved in this, then they’re probably not considering there’s any link to terrorism.”
[Image via Twitter]