Better be careful if you are in the US and want to buy a ciggy lighter. You could be arrested for conspiring to detonate the nuclear arsenal the US has been piling up over the years.
America's attitude towards anyone with a Middle Eastern origin is not too shocking. In Chinua Achebe's wonderful piece of writing 'Things Fall Apart' -- there is a passage where African tribal men sit around eating and drinking, contemptuously referring to white men, comparing their white skin to lepers’ white skin.
One can understand the ignorance of the African tribals; they thought all white men are lepers! If America as a nation is as ignorant as the African tribals were 100 years ago... it is time to salvage their souls from the dark depths of ignorance. UN should set up an Educational Aid programme to help the ignorant and ill-educated American population, which includes the President of the US.
CARO, Mich. — Three Texas men were arraigned Saturday on terrorism-related charges after police found about 1,000 cell phones in their minivan, and prosecutors say they believe the men were targeting a bridge connecting Michigan's Upper and Lower peninsulas.
But two of the men said they were only trying to buy and sell phones to make money, and one said the money was intended to help pay for his brother's college education.
A magistrate set bond at $750,000 for each of the men, who are charged with collecting or providing materials for terrorist acts and surveillance of a vulnerable target for terrorist purposes. No pleas were made at the arraignment at a District Court in Caro, about 80 miles north of Detroit.
Officials have not said what they believe the men intended to do with the phones, most of which were prepaid TracFones. But Caro's police chief said cell phones can be used as detonators, and prosecutors in a similar case in Ohio have said that TracFones are often used by terrorists because they are not traceable.
"All we did is buy the phones to sell and make money," Louai Abdelhamied Othman told the magistrate. He said authorities had previously stopped the group in North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota and Wisconsin.
"We've been checked by the FBI before," he said. "They even gave us their card and everything."
Tuscola County Prosecutor Mark E. Reene told The Saginaw News that investigators believe the men were targeting the 5-mile long Mackinac Bridge. He declined to say what led investigators to that belief.
Reene and the FBI did not return phone messages Saturday to The Associated Press.
Othman and Maruan Awad Muhareb, both of Mesquite, Texas, and Adham Abdelhamid Othman, of Dallas, were stopped before dawn Friday after they purchased 80 cell phones from a Wal-Mart in Caro. Police said they found about 1,000 cell phones in their minivan.
Adham and Louai Othman are brothers and are in their early 20s. Muhareb, 18, is their cousin. All are being held at the Tuscola County Jail, Caro police said.
Muhareb told the magistrate: "This is a misunderstanding." He said he was selling the phones to earn money to help pay for his brother's college education.
Louai Othman's wife, Lina Odeh, said the men were buying the phones to sell to a man in Dallas for a profit of about $5 per phone. She said they were in Michigan because so many people in the Dallas area are doing the same thing that the phones are often sold out.
"I just want everyone to know that they're innocent and they shouldn't be locked up in jail without any evidence," she told The Associated Press.
The arrests in Caro came three days after two men were arrested in Marietta, Ohio, where police said they aroused suspicions when they acknowledged buying about 600 phones in recent months at stores in southeast Ohio.
Ali Houssaiky and Osama Abulhassan, both 20 and from Detroit suburb of Dearborn, 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.
Defense lawyers said Houssaiky and Abulhassan planned to resell the phones simply to make money. They say the men were targeted only because they are of Arab descent.