Michigan Bridge a Terror target?

Bridge photos led cops to think of bomb

If the hundreds of prepaid cellular telephones found in the minivan seemed odd, the pictures of the Mackinac Bridge were downright troubling to Tuscola County law enforcement officials who have charged three Texas men with terrorism-related crimes.

The phones plus photographs and videos of the 5-mile-long bridge led authorities to believe that the men — two brothers and a cousin, all of Middle Eastern heritage — were targeting the iconic structure linking the Upper and Lower peninsulas, according to a law enforcement official familiar with details of the case.

Cell phones, besides being used as electronic triggers for bombs by some terrorist organizations, also have been favored by criminals because they are difficult to trace or tap.

In 2004, cell phones were used to detonate bombs that terrorists planted in backpacks aboard commuter trains in Madrid, killing 191.

But relatives of the Texas men said they’re innocent entrepreneurs buying phones cheaply at discount stores, then selling them at a profit.

The “explanation” offered by the suspects relatives is weak at best. If the three had a business that flipped cell phones, why buy them from a retailer? Wholesalers would have some interest in sales in the hundreds, even to smaller operators. Paying retail for these phones makes little sense. Buying at retail prices with cash though does offer them one advantage, no paper trail.

Hats off to the Wal-Mart employee who notified authorities of the suspicious activity.

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