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College Student Finds GPS On Car, FBI Retrieves It

Soulskill posted about 4 years ago | from the everybody-gets-one-in-the-tailpipe dept.

Government 851

mngdih writes with this excerpt from Wired: "A California student got a visit from the FBI this week after he found a secret GPS tracking device on his car, and a friend posted photos of it online. The post prompted wide speculation about whether the device was real, whether the young Arab-American was being targeted in a terrorism investigation and what the authorities would do. It took just 48 hours to find out: The device was real, the student was being secretly tracked and the FBI wanted their expensive device back ... His discovery comes in the wake of a recent ruling by the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals saying it's legal for law enforcement to secretly place a tracking device on a suspect's car without getting a warrant, even if the car is parked in a private driveway. ... 'We have all the information we needed,' they told him. 'You don't need to call your lawyer. Don't worry, you're boring.'"

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Finders Keepers? (5, Interesting)

Archangel Michael (180766) | about 4 years ago | (#33835960)

How about a bit of "finders keepers" and disassemble and report of the technology. Followed up by a "Does it Blend" episode !

What happens if you destroy it? (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33836032)

If you just find one of these and don't realize that it belongs to the FBI, and think "doesn't belong" and destory it (or just toss it in a dumpster), are you liable to pay for it when the FBI comes to get it back?

Re:What happens if you destroy it? (4, Insightful)

clone53421 (1310749) | about 4 years ago | (#33836116)

Take a wild guess.

Re:What happens if you destroy it? (1)

Pojut (1027544) | about 4 years ago | (#33836198)

With your life, Anon. With your life.

Re:What happens if you destroy it? (1)

BrokenHalo (565198) | about 4 years ago | (#33836200)

Hmmm. If I had found such a device (and if I were confident that it was not a bomb), I would simply "drop" my 60-pound hammer on it. Oops.

Re:What happens if you destroy it? (5, Interesting)

Grizzley9 (1407005) | about 4 years ago | (#33836202)

B/C they found the one they wanted him to find...

Re:What happens if you destroy it? (5, Insightful)

larry bagina (561269) | about 4 years ago | (#33836244)

The article is a good read and a little creepy. We're here to recover the device you found on your vehicle. It's federal property. It's an expensive piece, and we need it right now...We.re going to make this much more difficult for you if you don't cooperate"

Summary: not illegal/unconstitutional for the government to track your car, probably a crime if you find tracker and do anything with it.

On One Hand... (1)

sycodon (149926) | about 4 years ago | (#33836064)

On the one hand,

if you are up to no good, and you're smart, being boring is the way to go.

On the other hand,

he should have put it up for sale on eBay.

Re:Finders Keepers? (4, Insightful)

Iphtashu Fitz (263795) | about 4 years ago | (#33836092)

How about the FBI throws you in jail for destruction of government property, obstruction, and any other charges they decide to toss your way (rightfully or not)? Is the amount of time spent sitting in a cell, the money lost in lawyers fees, and the hassle of going to court really worth it?

Re:Finders Keepers? (5, Insightful)

X0563511 (793323) | about 4 years ago | (#33836148)

... and how about they kiss his ass, seeing as they left their property inside his for surveillance?

He's got every right (IMO) to do what he damn well pleased with it.

Re:Finders Keepers? (4, Informative)

adolf (21054) | about 4 years ago | (#33836272)

Recall the recent "found" iPhone 4 debacle:

The finder of a thing usually seems to have to make a reasonable attempt at finding the owner of an item (and "reasonable" varies quite a lot from place to place), and if it is unclaimed after 30 days, then they are entitled to keep it.

Generally speaking, YMMV, IANAL, so on, so forth.

But since the FBI asked for their widget back within 30 days, I guess that it's theirs to recover.

(Whether or not I think this is morally right is a different discussion entirely. Personally, I'd like to think that if I find a tracking widget on my car, that it's henceforth mine. However...)

Re:Finders Keepers? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33836154)

Yes, dumbass.

Re:Finders Keepers? (5, Insightful)

powerlord (28156) | about 4 years ago | (#33836172)

Yes, but how does he know that it is actually theirs?

Perhaps they are just trying to get their hands on other people's property.

Are they prepared to provide a receipt for returning the item, or some proof of ownership that he can retain a copy of to protect himself from liability.

-- Menachem

Re:Finders Keepers? (5, Insightful)

Archangel Michael (180766) | about 4 years ago | (#33836214)

So what you're saying is that we've gone from "give me liberty or give me death" to "don't throw me in jail because it will make me uncomfortable".

As to your last question. YES IT IS WORTH IT. Liberty is always worth the penalty for it, the other option is to acquiesce to slavery. This is no different. Tyranny must be fought with everything we have, because the other options aren't pretty.

Re:Finders Keepers? (1)

dougmc (70836) | about 4 years ago | (#33836102)

The technology is pretty mundane. Here, you can buy one for $100 --

http://www.dealextreme.com/details.dx/sku.25332 [dealextreme.com]

(I imagine the FBI's version would be fancier, might include some velcro, a 12v power input (or a much bigger battery) and maybe an external antenna, but the gist is the same.)

Usually the FBI hides things like this pretty well. I wonder if he had a reason to go looking for it?

Re:Finders Keepers? (1)

X0563511 (793323) | about 4 years ago | (#33836166)

... and you can make one for between $30 to $50.

Re:Finders Keepers? (1)

clone53421 (1310749) | about 4 years ago | (#33836222)

Usually the FBI hides things like this pretty well. I wonder if he had a reason to go looking for it?

RTFA...

Afifi ... took his car to a local garage for an oil change. When a mechanic at Ali’s Auto Care raised his Ford Lincoln LS on hydraulic lifts, Afifi saw a wire sticking out near the right rear wheel and exhaust.

Re:Finders Keepers? (1)

Whyte Panther (868438) | about 4 years ago | (#33836224)

If you read TFA, you will notice that he didn't find it himself. His mechanic did during a routine oil change. And only because he noticed an extra loose wire.

Re:Finders Keepers? (1)

MyLongNickName (822545) | about 4 years ago | (#33836254)

Wow. They did a great hiding job then...

Re:Finders Keepers? (1)

clone53421 (1310749) | about 4 years ago | (#33836336)

Actually, they did. The wire was the antenna, and antennae have the peculiar tendency to not work when they’re hidden really well inside metal structures. He said he’d have never found it if it wasn’t for the antenna sticking out.

Re:Finders Keepers? (2, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | about 4 years ago | (#33836338)

What's interesting is that they said newer models are placed in the engine compartment. It would seem wise to bug your own engine compartment so you know when the hood has been raised.

Re:Finders Keepers? (1)

Forge (2456) | about 4 years ago | (#33836110)

The technology can't be all that interesting considering that the device in the picture is bigger than my "TomTom". And my commercial GPS had to make additional room for a touch screen and battery. Why wasn't the FBI device seriously tiny?

Unless it's like those giant pieces of Armor some ancient army discarded to intimidate the enemy? I.e. This was a not so subtle hint that: "We are watching you so you better not try any $#!!7"

Re:Finders Keepers? (1)

X0563511 (793323) | about 4 years ago | (#33836188)

Extended battery, extended storage, -large- antenna (hard to pick up a GPS with all that aluminum around you otherwise), as well as toughening. Try using your tomtom without a clear view to the sky - it doesn't work very well!

Re:Finders Keepers? (1)

omnichad (1198475) | about 4 years ago | (#33836208)

Does your TomTom TRANSMIT any data? Long range? That takes a whole lot more battery power and a lot more size. GPS location works by passively receiving signals. GPS trackers add transmitting location to that.

Your TomTom is a GPS receiver not a GPS tracker. (5, Informative)

anUnhandledException (1900222) | about 4 years ago | (#33836248)

Your TomTom is a GPS receiver not a GPS tracker.

A GPS receiver knows where the GPS receiver is but doesn't have a mechanism to send that information to a remote location.
It doesn't do the FBI any good.

A GPS tracker contains a GPS receiver but also some communication method (cellular, sat, other wireless technology) to periodically or continually send location information to a remote location.

Re:Finders Keepers? (1)

GrumblyStuff (870046) | about 4 years ago | (#33836282)

It's an older model. In TFA, they mention newer models that they wire up to the car battery and forgo the need for their own. No battery = much smaller

Re:Finders Keepers? (4, Insightful)

Asic Eng (193332) | about 4 years ago | (#33836156)

Well they told him "It's federal property. It's an expensive piece, and we need it right now. [...] We're going to make this much more difficult for you if you don't cooperate." If you want to pick a fight with these thugs then call the ACLU - trying to piss them off might not be such a great idea.

Re:Finders Keepers? (2, Interesting)

JWSmythe (446288) | about 4 years ago | (#33836234)

    How about a theft of government equipment charge, followed by a tampering with evidence charge?

    The report on the technology would be pretty boring. Oversized antenna? Check. Battery pack? Check. COTS tracking hardware and software? Check.

    I know I've had law enforcement follow me, and eavesdrop on my phone calls occasionally. Well, not randomly occasionally. They were following particular, perfectly legal, events.

    They've never told me that I was boring. Judging by the fact I was never taken in for further questioning or charges, they discovered my day to day life is ... well ... boring. :)

    Yup, he went to work. Yup, he went home. Yup, he called a few friends, all of whom were just as boring. Oh listen! He's joking about how boring his calls are, and how he feels sorry for us listening to the conversation. Oh it's friday, he went to a bar with his girlfriend. Yup, he drank a little. Nope, he didn't contact anyone nefarious. Yup, he went home.

Re:Finders Keepers? (1)

Pvt_Ryan (1102363) | about 4 years ago | (#33836270)

If I'd found it I'd have had the bomb squad out..

OUCH (4, Funny)

ArhcAngel (247594) | about 4 years ago | (#33835968)

When the FBI tells you that you are boring...just WOW!

Re:OUCH (2, Funny)

MyLongNickName (822545) | about 4 years ago | (#33836000)

Yeah... makes me doubt the story... i might be reduce to R'ing TFA.

Re:OUCH (4, Funny)

mrsteveman1 (1010381) | about 4 years ago | (#33836140)

Yeah... makes me doubt the story... i might be reduce to R'ing TFA.

I did that once, Slashdot was never the same again. Please don't make the same mistake, you have your whole life ahead of you still.

Re:OUCH (2, Funny)

skuzzlebutt (177224) | about 4 years ago | (#33836036)

No kidding...especially the same day they raided an auction house [csmonitor.com] to recover the fingerprint card of a guy who has been dead for like 25 years

Re:OUCH (1)

chemicaldave (1776600) | about 4 years ago | (#33836080)

Didn't you know that g-men spend most of their days chasing after bad guys on helicopters and spend their lunch breaks training white-lotus kung-fu with Chuck Norris' beard? ...you don't think they really go through hours of paperwork do you?

Re:OUCH (1)

mngdih (1918052) | about 4 years ago | (#33836096)

Is it not a good thing, though, in respect to what could've happened?

Re:OUCH (1)

durrr (1316311) | about 4 years ago | (#33836132)

It means they actually planted another new and smaller device in a harder to find spot, they then encourage you do that cross contentintal trip to the secret Terrorist sleeper cell hideout in the local mountain range by telling you you're boring and pretending to be wholeheartedly disinterested in you.

Re:OUCH (1)

OhHellWithIt (756826) | about 4 years ago | (#33836180)

I've watched too much television, I guess, but being told I am boring would not put me off my guard.

Re:OUCH (1)

xtracto (837672) | about 4 years ago | (#33836252)

Ahh... I saw this on Reddit some days ago.

A friend of the guy actually asked in Reddit to know what the device [reddit.com] (the fact that he didn't asked here in /. shows...)

And yesterday this news broke [reddit.com] .

And there is an update on the issue now. [reddit.com]

Re:OUCH (5, Insightful)

dcollins (135727) | about 4 years ago | (#33836286)

Also: Don't believe it. Call the fucking lawyer.

Re:OUCH (4, Interesting)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | about 4 years ago | (#33836298)

grandstanding.

99.9% of us are boring.

so what? people just want to live their lives. terror is over-rated and over-reported.

how much is wasted chasing boogeymen? how many of these chases end up bothing innocent people under a dragnet?

sickening. I hate this aspect of how my country is now acting. its like a child who has not learned from the past and keeps repeating the same 'wolf!' call over and over again.

America (5, Funny)

InsertWittyNameHere (1438813) | about 4 years ago | (#33835970)

Land of the free*




* Some conditions apply. See in-country for details. Void where prohibited. No cash value. Offer expires September 11, 2001.

Re:America (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33835980)

Bravo

Re:America (3, Informative)

emj (15659) | about 4 years ago | (#33836034)

Freedom is just a state granted regulated monopoly on your own free will.

Re:America (1)

denis-The-menace (471988) | about 4 years ago | (#33836070)

So true.
The hypocrisy that politician perpetual is really sick.
But what can you do? The media and politicians are now liking each other's large intestines, not just their butt holes.

And... oh boy, a story about one of those Palin kids (Politics) on *Entertainment Tonight* (Media)...

Re:America (1)

hedwards (940851) | about 4 years ago | (#33836290)

And until 51% of the voters in at least 60% of the districts grow a pair and stop voting for fascism, it's not going to happen. I swear, America has become a nation of wusses that vote red whenever somebody suggests that they might possibly at some future time have to worry about dieing.

Re:America (1)

osgeek (239988) | about 4 years ago | (#33836352)

But what can you do?

Vote against the establishment every chance you get. The only time you leave an incumbent in office is when they're a real trouble-maker for their peers like Kucinich, Ron Paul, or Nader. Lean towards politicians who follow through on decreasing the power of government since power begets corruption and the insidious military-industrial-corporate slime that covers everything around it.

we should profile Arabs and kick the illegals out! (-1, Troll)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | about 4 years ago | (#33836114)

we should profile Arabs and kick the illegals out!

Re:we should profile Arabs and kick the illegals o (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33836262)

OK, so when are you leaving?

Re:America (1)

mngdih (1918052) | about 4 years ago | (#33836122)

love it.

Re:America (1)

Barny (103770) | about 4 years ago | (#33836312)

Land of the free

Oblig: "whoever told you that is your enemy".

Re:America (1)

Stipe (35684) | about 4 years ago | (#33836318)

From the fine article:

> The agents told Afifi they had other agents outside Khaled’s house.
>
> “If you want us to call them off and not talk to him we can do that,” Afifi said they told him. “That was weird. [...] I didn’t really believe anything they were saying.”

So it was worth covertly monitoring Khaled, but OK to mention it to his friend? And then ask if they wanted them to stop?

Dear FBI, who are presumably listening, neither myself nor any of my friends are terrorists, so you don't need to monitor us or infringe any of our rights. We're boring. Thanks.

Re:America (1)

GrumblyStuff (870046) | about 4 years ago | (#33836350)

Home of the brav-

Oh hehe! AHAHHAHA! I can't finish the line...

they should bug the ground zero mosque site as wel (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33835986)

they should bug the ground zero mosque site as well and do a wiring job so it can burn down on command

SCOTUS (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33835988)

Where the hell is SCOTUS on a ruling when you really need them?

Boring = FBI off the hook? (1)

rs1n (1867908) | about 4 years ago | (#33835994)

So now it's ok to be tracked with this sort of device simply because the target is boring? While I can appreciate the increased efforts to deal with terrorism, I can't say I agree with the methods. He should have just destroyed it after posting about it. Since he didn't know what it was, how could he be held legally responsible for destroying the device?

Re:Boring = FBI off the hook? (1)

omnichad (1198475) | about 4 years ago | (#33836190)

Now THAT I would love to see make it to court. The anonymous party (FBI) "abandoned" or disposed of the device. There's no way one should know that it should be preserved or even that it's owned by the "good guys."

Dont' call your lawyer? (5, Insightful)

chad.koehler (859648) | about 4 years ago | (#33835996)

When the FBI tells you "Not to worry" and "Don't call your lawyer", do you want to guess who the very next person you should call is?

Hint:  It's not your mom.

Re:Dont' call your lawyer? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33836062)

Dad's at work though

Re:Dont' call your lawyer? (5, Funny)

Mazzie (672533) | about 4 years ago | (#33836068)

Unless your mom is your lawyer... and if that is the case, you have bigger problems than the FBI like having to sign a 12 page lease for the basement, and getting sued for leaving the seat up.

Re:Dont' call your lawyer? (3, Funny)

The MAZZTer (911996) | about 4 years ago | (#33836078)

What if she's also your lawyer?

Re:Dont' call your lawyer? (0, Redundant)

batkiwi (137781) | about 4 years ago | (#33836098)

Your mom?

Re:Dont' call your lawyer? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33836118)

Is it Ghostbusters?

Re:Dont' call your lawyer? (5, Funny)

daid303 (843777) | about 4 years ago | (#33836126)

Ghostbusters?

Wasted opportunity (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33836002)

What a wasted opportunity to attach it to a bus.

Re:Wasted opportunity (5, Funny)

Tablizer (95088) | about 4 years ago | (#33836086)

What a wasted opportunity to attach it to a bus.

Or to the chief's car

Re:Wasted opportunity (1)

anUnhandledException (1900222) | about 4 years ago | (#33836280)

Or mail it to China via Fedex.

Re:Wasted opportunity (5, Funny)

chad.koehler (859648) | about 4 years ago | (#33836306)

Or mail it to Pakistan via Fedex.

posted on reddit (1)

ltcdata (626981) | about 4 years ago | (#33836008)

I readed about it on reddit about 1 week ago.. that's were the student itself posted the pictures... all the communinty helped and discovered that it was from the FBI... and now i read this... It seems the guy decided to talk to the press,

Re:posted on reddit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33836058)

ACLU called him up too.

Re:posted on reddit (1)

hedwards (940851) | about 4 years ago | (#33836330)

Probably a smart move, talk to the press before the FBI goes to court an obtains a gag order. It might not keep him out of court, but at least it gives people the idea that this is happening.

Retribution? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33836020)

There will be no retribution, of course. When has government ever given retribution for their own crimes? This isn't as horrible as the many cases of false imprisonment (or worse) with little to no retribution, but the concept is the same. If you can't understand why, all you have to do is imagine the tracking device being planted by a private citizen, one who holds no more or less power than yourself. Now what makes you think government should be held to a different standard?

Re:Retribution? (1)

silverglade00 (1751552) | about 4 years ago | (#33836326)

Now what makes you think government should be held to a different standard?

The answer to this lies in the answer to another question: You and what army?

Power source. (3, Interesting)

Timmmm (636430) | about 4 years ago | (#33836022)

Apparently it is powered by batteries, but I always wondered if you could power one by attaching a peltier module to the exhaust...

Re:Power source. (1)

omnichad (1198475) | about 4 years ago | (#33836106)

They said that they now use one connected directly to the car battery. While a battery powered one is shady but ruled legal, I'd expect that one drawing off the car's current (or exhaust) would be considered theft by any competent judge.

As for a peltier version, you'd have to have a pretty large and decent insulator. Otherwise, both sides would be hot. It still might not create enough current on a hot day.

Re:Power source. (1)

omnichad (1198475) | about 4 years ago | (#33836136)

As a side note, imagine the FBI putting up surveillance cameras around your house and then plugging them into your own AC outlets where you have to pay for the current that runs them.

Re:Power source. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33836342)

they would probably hate me, I turn off the circuit breakers when I leave even for a short weekend trip, i was even turning the power to the house off when i left for the daytime

Re:Power source. (1)

JWSmythe (446288) | about 4 years ago | (#33836346)

    It'd be a lot easier just to tap into some live wires under the hood. There are plenty of good places to stash a piece of equipment up there on most cars.

Not hard to guess why he was being looked at (4, Interesting)

Dancindan84 (1056246) | about 4 years ago | (#33836090)

Not saying it's right, but "Afifi said he often travels for business and has two teenage brothers in Egypt whom he supports financially." Frequent traveling along with sending (presumably) large amounts of cash to the middle-east has to raise some red flags.

Re:Not hard to guess why he was being looked at (4, Insightful)

toQDuj (806112) | about 4 years ago | (#33836356)

And? I travel often for business, have family in Indonesia (in-laws), and often send large sums abroad (which is where I live). Does that warrant people investigating me? No. Not everyone with money who travels is suspect.

Replant the device (4, Insightful)

RichMan (8097) | about 4 years ago | (#33836094)

Now that we have pictures we can identify future devices.
When you find one, wander over to a freeway gas station and replant it on an interstate truck. At least make them work to recover it.

Re:Replant the device (1)

omnichad (1198475) | about 4 years ago | (#33836162)

Truck? You're not being creative enough. Throw it onto a river barge. Track that!

Re:Replant the device (5, Interesting)

literaldeluxe (1527087) | about 4 years ago | (#33836236)

Or drop it off at the police station or mail it to the FBI. An unmarked box containing electronics that sends out transmissions? They'll get the bomb squad to deal with it. Then it ends up on the news, and people will actually hear about it.

Re:Replant the device (3, Interesting)

ravenscar (1662985) | about 4 years ago | (#33836310)

Interstate truck? That's far too easy. I'm thinking something like slip it in some meat and feed it to a gator in the Everglades.

In Soviet America... (4, Funny)

digitaldc (879047) | about 4 years ago | (#33836108)

...hidden GPS device tracks you!

Re:In Soviet America... (1)

MozeeToby (1163751) | about 4 years ago | (#33836296)

Wait... so in Capitalist Russia... you track hidden GPS devices?

I'm so confused.

GPS in a jam (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33836130)

For everyone out there who doesn't want their liberties trampled on, someone want to comment on the effectiveness of GPS jammers? Of course, the most practical and friendly would be short-range ones that don't bother other people.

Re:GPS in a jam (2, Informative)

stewbacca (1033764) | about 4 years ago | (#33836240)

someone want to comment on the effectiveness of GPS jammers?

Most likely prohibited by the FCC.

Could have been interesting (5, Interesting)

OhHellWithIt (756826) | about 4 years ago | (#33836146)

It would be really interesting to see what would have happened had he disposed of it in a lake before the FBI showed up. There's nothing in the photo to indicate that it belongs to the government; it could have been placed by a private detective. As far as I'm concerned, if you attach something to my car without my permission, it's mine.

Re:Could have been interesting (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33836220)

But as far as the government is concerned, it is not, and they have a lot more guns and lawyers than you do.

Re:Could have been interesting (2, Interesting)

omnichad (1198475) | about 4 years ago | (#33836258)

And if putting an FBI sticker made you liable for not destroying it, wouldn't everyone start putting FBI stickers on them?

Re:Could have been interesting (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | about 4 years ago | (#33836358)

As far as I'm concerned, if you attach something to my car without my permission, it's mine.

Interesting theory. So if A has something B doesn't want him to have, then B just has to attach it to your car without your permission, and then it's yours and therefore no longer A's ...

so what.... (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33836150)

what's that? u want it back? sorry Mr FBI. I already disassembled it and destroyed it. what? u want to charge me with destruction of federal property? was there a tag on it that said it belonged to the FBI? it was in my car, it's my property. suck it!

In Soviet America... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33836168)

...FBI tracks ... oh, wait a second.

Private driveway (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33836194)

But if the private driveway is located in Texas, couldn't the car owner just shoot the FBI agent that installs the device?

it's okay if the car is/was in your driveway? (4, Funny)

cindyann (1916572) | about 4 years ago | (#33836250)

What if it's in the driveway of my fenced, gated (and gate closed) house, possibly with a guard dog or three roaming the premises?

I think if I found someone crawling under my car in my unfenced, ungated driveway, placing some device on my car, I'd be cueing up the track of a shotgun being pumped on my MP3 player, then playing it real loud for the perp under my car.

From the article (1, Flamebait)

wiredog (43288) | about 4 years ago | (#33836294)

he was planning a short business trip to Dubai in a few weeks... has two teenage brothers in Egypt whom he supports financially. ...

Afifi's father, Aladdin Afifi, was a U.S. citizen and former president of the Muslim Community Association here, before his family moved to Egypt in 2003. Yasir Afifi returned to the U.S. alone in 2008, while his father and brothers stayed in Egypt, to further his education he said. He knows he's on a federal watchlist and is regularly taken aside at airports for secondary screening.

Fits the profile of someone you want to keep an eye on pretty well, actually.

Friend "wrote something stupid" (5, Informative)

martyros (588782) | about 4 years ago | (#33836302)

If you look further in the article, you can reconstruct a hypothetical scenario which, from the FBI's point of view, looks completely normal:

  • Young Arab American named Khaled writes a blog post hinting at something violent: (TFA: "When he later asked Khaled about the post, his friend recalled “writing something stupid,” but said he wasn’t involved in any wrongdoing.")
  • FBI gets warrants to track whereabouts of Khalid and his friends, one of whom is Afifi (TFA: "[A former FBI agent] said he was certain that agents who installed it would have obtained a 30-day warrant for its use.")
  • FBI plants device on Afifi's car.
  • Afifi finds the device during a routine check-up
  • FBI notices the thing isn't moving, and/or notice the photos online, and decide to show their cards; especially since they're convinced he's not important anyway.

It's of course a bit scary to have people tracking you when you didn't do anything wrong; and it sounds like there was some annoying bullying (TFA: "[The FBI agent] told Afifi, “We’re going to make this much more difficult for you if you don’t cooperate.”) But it sounds like there's an explanation of how this could have happened by-the-book, and the FBI is doing their job.

Golden opportunity lost (1, Interesting)

RogueWarrior65 (678876) | about 4 years ago | (#33836304)

This guy missed a golden opportunity to mess with the FBI. Like maybe taking the thing up in a plane and throwing it out the window. Or tie it to a giant helium balloon.

Relocate it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33836308)

Wouldn't it be great if we could find a Supreme Court Justice's car to attach it to!

What if he had simply thrown it in the trash? (1)

mark-t (151149) | about 4 years ago | (#33836348)

While they did ultimately tell him that they wanted it back, what if he had thrown it out before then? Could they have held him responsible for the loss of their property when they never informed him in the first place that he was not supposed to discard it?
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