Take a close look:
Readers in the Pacific Northwest alerted me to a highly unusual FBI bulletin. Via King5-TV:
The FBI is asking for the public’s help two identify two men who have been seen acting strangely aboard Washington State ferries recently.
According to federal agents, passengers have seen the men on several occasions exhibiting unusual behavior. The FBI did not say precisely what that unusual behavior entailed.
Anyone who knows the men or there whereabouts are asked to call the FBI at (206) 622-0460.
Isolated incident? “Racial profiling?” Unfounded paranoia? Only if you haven’t been paying attention. Recall the Seattle Times investigation from 2004 on reports on jihadi probing of the ferry system:
Groups of men, including one tied to a federal terrorism investigation, have videotaped Washington ferry operations, prompting federal authorities to conclude the system has been under surveillance as a possible target for an attack.
U.S. Attorney John McKay, officials in the U.S. Coast Guard and other members of Seattle’s Joint Terrorism Task Force all share in that conclusion.
“We may well be the target of preoperational terrorist planning,” McKay said.
A confidential FBI assessment of the threat to the state ferries is partly behind an increase in security for large-capacity ferries nationwide, McKay and others say.
The state ferry system is the nation’s largest, carrying 26 million passengers last year. It began implementing new security requirements — including tripling the number of cars screened for explosives — this weekend.
For its assessment, the FBI gathered 157 incidents on or near ferries that law-enforcement officers, ferry workers and passengers have reported as suspicious since Sept. 11, 2001. The Seattle Times obtained a document detailing those incidents.
The FBI determined that 19 of the incidents “were highly likely or extremely likely to involve terrorist surveillance of the ferries, with individuals asking probing questions about ferry operations or taking photos of stairwells, car decks and workers going about their jobs. Three incidents involve one man who is a known subject in an FBI terrorism investigation.”
al Qaeda-linked operatives have targeted ferries before for mass murder and violence. In Feburary 2004, the Times noted, “a man boarded a 1,747-passenger ferry bound from Manila to Bacolod in the Philippines. He carried eight pounds of TNT in a cardboard box onto the ship, left it on a bunk, then slipped off the ferry, according to news reports. An hour after departure, an explosion ripped through the ship, starting a fire that killed more than 100 people and left the ship foundering. Authorities have arrested a man who admitted to the bombing and is a member of an Islamic separatist faction with ties to al-Qaida.” It was the world’s deadliest terror attack at sea. Muslim convert Redondo Dellosa admitted he planted the bomb.
Militant Muslims working for Abu Sayyaf were fingered in another ferry bombing in the Philippines in 2005. More on maritime-related terrorism here.
Remember: If you see something, say something. Don’t let the CAIR grievance-mongerers keep you from acting. It’s significant that the FBI has gone public with the photo. As the sixth anniversary of 9/11 draws near, take nothing for granted.
The Seattle P-I refuses to run the photo that the FBI is disseminating. A ferry employee snapped the pic. An excerpt from the paper’s report this morning:
The Seattle P-I is not publishing the photos because neither man is considered a suspect nor has either been charged with a crime.
The FBI has no information suggesting that a terrorist attack on the ferry system is imminent, Burroughs said.
For weeks, the FBI has been trying to identify the men through “normal law enforcement channels,” she said. “We get tips periodically, but we don’t get photos normally like these,” Burroughs said. “We’re hoping to use them to resolve this quickly.”
…Burroughs acknowledged that the FBI rarely publicizes information from an investigation, unless investigators are seeking a suspect wanted for a crime. The decision was made “out of an abundance of caution” and “while keeping an open mind and realizing that what some people consider suspicious or unusual behavior actually might turn out to be something completely innocuous,” she said.
Related flashback: How Diana Dean sniffed out the Millenium Plot bomber.