Huttonian offers the following item from a (deadly serious) academic web site to which he makes the odd (but not odd as this) contribution on Middle East mattersBay Area FBI agents wanting to find Iranian secret agents data-mined grocery store records in 2005 and 2006, hoping that tahini purchases would lead them to domestic terrorists, according to Congressional Quarterly's Jeff Stein. The head of the FBI's criminal investigations unit - Michael Mason - shut down the Total Falafel Awareness program, arguing it would be illegal to put someone on a terrorist watch list for simply sticking skewers into lamb, Stein reports.
Like Hansel and Gretel hoping to follow their bread crumbs out of the forest, the FBI sifted through customer data collected by San Francisco-area grocery stores in 2005 and 2006, hoping that sales records of Middle Eastern food would lead to Iranian terrorists.
The idea was that a spike in, say, falafel sales, combined with other data, would lead to Iranian secret agents in the south San Francisco-San Jose area.
The brainchild of top FBI counter terrorism officials Phil Mudd and Willie T. Hulon, according to well-informed sources, the project didnt last long. It was torpedoed by the head of the FBI's criminal investigations division, Michael A. Mason, who argued that putting somebody on a terrorist list for what they ate was ridiculous and possibly illegal.
A check of federal court records in California did not reveal any prosecutions developed from falafel trails.
It's not clear how the FBI got the records to sift through in the first place - did grocery stores volunteer the data or get served with national security letters or the dread Section 215 of the Patriot Act.
The FBI need a bit more grooming on Middle Eastern cuisine. If they were after Iranians they were targeting the wrong food. Tahini and Falafel are Lebanese/Levantine dishes-not Iranian! Rather like the item in the Fishwick Special Branch files when in the 1980s Berwickshire shops were targeted in similar way-any one buying excessive amounts of potatoes were suspected of 'Irish sympathies' and liable for a spell in the Maze.** (Operation Market Garden Revise
Or so one of my informants was told by a certain Pa**ick Fl**n* not far from the Cross Inn late Friday night
(* full name concealed at the request of the informant)
No, confused of Coldingham, Maze as in detention centre near Lisburn, not as in Amazing Maize Maze as in Fishwick
IMAGE is of a Felafel Trap set by FBI agents-thanks to our mole.
Labels: FBI, Fishwick Special Branch, Irish Terrorism, Middle East