Of course, we’d advise everyone not to jump to conclusions, but the details of this news story that broke a little earlier today are significant enough to strongly suggest that San Antonio police may have stumbled onto a terrorism plot in progress. Five Muslim men in their twenties got arrested just before 2 in the morning today after breaking into a historical courthouse — not too long before the nearby convention center will host an “intelligence conference”:
Five men in their twenties, described as French-Moroccan Muslims, are being questioned by the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force and by officials of the Department of Homeland Security after they were arrested inside the 120 year old Bexar County Courthouse in downtown San Antonio shortly before 2 this morning, 1200 WOAI news reports.
Officials say three of the men crawled through a window to get into the 120 year old Courthouse, which is a landmark in downtown San Antonio, and theother two were found in a van parked in front of the building.
Inside the van, officials say they found “photographs of infrastructure” including photos of shopping malls, water systems, courthouses and other public buildings which they say were taken in cities nationwide.
“They got travel documents, parking passes, they have been all over the country,” one law enforcement officials who asked not to be identified told 1200 WOAI’s Michael Board on the scene. “A lot of photographic equipment, a lot of documentation equipment inside their vehicle.”
CBS has more on the case, including a bomb search of the RV and the buildings:
The downtown break-in happened blocks away from dozens of U.S. intelligence officials who are in town for an annual convention. Michael Vickers, the undersecretary of defense for intelligence, was scheduled to speak at the conference Wednesday along with Air Force Gen. Robert Kehler, chief of U.S. Strategic Command.
The intelligence conference, called the GEOINT Symposium, started Sunday and bills itself as the “nation’s largest intelligence event of the year.” Anderson said that “daily sweeps” have been conducted at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center because of the conference.
KSAT, quoting sheriff’s officers, reports that surveillance video showed the men walking into the building with an item in their hands, but they did not have it when they walked out.
The officials tell KSAT that the RV contained several documents and proof the men had been traveling across the country for some time.
KENS TV quotes investigators as saying the men spoke French and had Moroccan passports. The sources said documents found inside their vehicle show that the men had allegedly been traveling around the country to high-level security facilities.
This could be just an ordinary burglary … but somehow I doubt it. The intelligence conference would be a tempting target for terrorists, and the description of the RV tour provided by the media looks exactly like the kind of scouting trips conducted by al-Qaeda cells before and after 9/11. That’s a lot of coincidences to buy in order to avoid the obvious implications of these details, assuming of course that the media and police have them correct in the first place..
We may have gotten lucky in Texas, thanks to some good police work and a security system that functioned properly. We’ll see soon enough if this squad intended to conduct terrorist attacks — and whether they worked with other cells in the US, too.