Terrorism Born Here On The South Plains? - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

5/9/07

Terrorism Born Here On The South Plains?

A bulk purchase of disposable cell phones across The South Plains is turning into a federal investigation. Muleshoe authorities have questioned a man, who according to police reports, confesses to buying 60 prepaid cell phones that might later be used to detonate bombs in the Middle East.

The man reportedly bought the phones from stores like Dollar General, Family Dollar and even Wal-Marts across the region. Lubbock is included in the towns he confessed to buying the phones in. Again, in police reports he admits to a store manager the cell phones would eventually be used as bomb detonators in Iraq.

There are still plenty of unanswered questions. Questions we will continue to ask in the days and weeks to come. But what we do know is that a man of Middle Eastern descent, who lives in San Antonio, was questioned by Muleshoe police a week ago this past Monday after he tried to buy more cell phones than allowed by Dollar General store policy.

"They had a gentleman trying to buy multiple phones and they've had some training from Homeland Security about multiple purchases and that if somebody were to try and buy more than the 2 phones allotted to notify law enforcement immediately," said Chief Brian Frieda of the Muleshoe Police.

Dollar General did just that, call the Muleshoe Police.

Frieda said, "He alluded to the fact that he had 60 plus phones that he had obtained over the course of about a 3 day period."

Police Surveillance Video:

     Police: "So how many phones do you have in your car?"
     Man: "60."
     Police: "60?"
     Man: "Yes. I got some of them from..."
     Police: "Odessa, San Angelo, Midland, Lubbock..."
     Man: "...Muleshoe... Each town I got like 15."

The suspect says he bought the phones to sell them to a man in Dallas named Jalel. He goes on to say, depending on the phone and the provider he makes between $3 and $8 per phone.

Police Surveillance Video: 

     Police: "What is the purpose for buying so many Tracfones?"
     Man: "For business to sell it. Buy and sell."

Once he delivers the phones to Dallas, the man who buys them reportedly takes them apart.

Police Surveillance Video: 

     Man: "He cut the battery. He cut the phone and put the phone here, the battery here and throws the charger."
     Police: "Throws the chargers away?"
     Man: "Mm hmm."

The man claims this isn't the first time this man has been questioned by police. Also telling officers his contacts in Dallas told him how to deal with authorities when questioned.

He said, "Sometime when I go out in San Antonio the police, they stop me or they follow me and ask what this for, what this for and he tell me don't worry about it. Don't worry about it, just go and buy."

In police reports, the manager of Dollar General says:

     Dollar General, Family Dollar and Alco all have an agreement that if anyone purchases two Tracfones or tries to purchase more than two Tracfones the store employees call the other stores.

Frieda added, "There are no laws prohibiting the person to buy 1 phone, 20 phones or a hundred phones for a period of time."

The man in that police video has obtained resident alien status in the State of Texas and at this point, his whereabouts are unknown to the authorities we talked to.

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