Quantcast
Connect with us

Student finds tracking device on his car; FBI demands it back

Published

on

A Silicon Valley college student says the FBI confronted him and threatened to “make things difficult” for him if he didn’t hand over a GPS tracking device he found on his car, says a report at Wired.com.

Yasir Afifi, a 20-year-old marketing student at Mission College who is partially of Egyptian extraction, said he found the device last Sunday when he took his car to a mechanic, and saw wires sticking out of the underside, near the exhaust pipe.

He told Wired he had “done nothing to merit attention from authorities.”

A friend of Afifi’s, identified only as Khaled, posted pictures of the device to Reddit.com, where a user quickly identified it as a Guardian ST820 tracking unit, manufactured by Cobham, which, according to Wired, only sells the device to law enforcement agencies.

As Afifi and Khaled pondered a number of plans for the device — including selling it on Craigslist or attaching it to another car — the FBI showed up, admitted it had planted the device, and demanded it back, Afifi told Wired.

From what the FBI told him, Afifi estimates he had been under surveillance for three to six months.

ADVERTISEMENT

Wired reports:

[Afifi] was in his apartment Tuesday afternoon when a roommate told him “two sneaky-looking people” were near his car. Afifi, already heading out for an appointment, encountered a man and woman looking at his vehicle outside. The man asked if Afifi knew his registration tag was expired. When Afifi asked if it bothered him, the man just smiled. Afifi got into his car and headed for the parking lot exit when two SUVs pulled up with flashing lights carrying four police officers in bullet-proof vests.

The agent who initially spoke with Afifi identified himself then as Vincent and told Afifi, “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.”

Afifi asked, “Are you the guys that put it there?” and the agent replied, “Yeah, I put it there.” He told Afifi, “We’re going to make this much more difficult for you if you don’t cooperate.”

ADVERTISEMENT

Afifi retrieved the device from his apartment and handed it over, at which point the agents asked a series of questions – did he know anyone who traveled to Yemen or was affiliated with overseas training? One of the agents produced a printout of a blog post that Afifi’s friend Khaled allegedly wrote a couple of months ago. It had “something to do with a mall or a bomb,” Afifi said. He hadn’t seen it before and doesn’t know the details of what it said. He found it hard to believe Khaled meant anything threatening by the post.

The post in question, by “khaledthegypsy,” appeared at Reddit about three months ago. It reads:

bombing a mall seems so easy to do. i mean all you really need is a bomb, a regular outfit so you arent the crazy guy in a trench coat trying to blow up a mall and a shopping bag. i mean if terrorism were actually a legitimate threat, think about how many fucking malls would have blown up already.. you can put a bag in a million different places, there would be no way to foresee the next target, and really no way to prevent it unless CTU gets some intel at the last minute in which case every city but LA is fucked…so…yea…now i’m surely bugged : /

Since yesterday, the post has developed a lengthy thread of irreverent new comments, such as “Get hired by the FBI – Get paid to read reddit – Profit!” and “Worst job ever: being the FBI agent responsible for tracking the 4chan’s /b/.”

ADVERTISEMENT

Afifi’s story comes a few months after the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that law enforcement agencies don’t need a warrant to attach GPS tracking units to vehicles.

That prompted Time magazine to declare that, at least in the nine western states where the Ninth Circuit Court holds jurisdiction, it is now legal for police to “keep track of everywhere you go.”

The court’s decision is expected to be appealed to the Supreme Court, which will either strike it down, or make it law throughout the United States.

“It seems very frightening that the FBI have placed a surveillance-tracking device on the car of a 20-year-old American citizen who has done nothing more than being half-Egyptian,” the ACLU’s Brian Alseth told Wired.

ADVERTISEMENT

Afifi said the ACLU contacted him and told him they had been waiting for a case like this in order to challenge it in court. “This is the kind of thing we like to throw lawyers at,” Afifi quoted Alseth as saying.

According to Wired, Afifi’s father, who was a Muslim community association president in Santa Clara, died in Egypt last year. It’s not clear whether the FBI’s interest in Rafifi has to do with his father’s prominent role in the community.

Rafifi says FBI agents contacted an ex-roommate about him six months ago. He says he knows he is on a government watch list, as he is frequently pulled aside for extra screening at airports. But he said the FBI told him their investigation of him was effectively over.

“You’re boring,” they reportedly told him.

Report typos and corrections to [email protected].
READ COMMENTS - JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Continue Reading

Commentary

Why do conservatives hate Oberlin College so much?

Published

on

When I was an undergraduate at Oberlin in the mid-Aughts, there was a student in my class year who was obsessed with 19th-century British Royal Naval culture. Every Friday evening, he would host a sing-along in a dorm lounge, for which he would bring xeroxes of historical sea shanty lyrics and pass them around so that we could sing along, waving our glasses of “grog.” This was a semi-established event — he had distributed flyers around campus advertising the weekly British Royal Naval sea-shanty singalong and grog-drinking event, which would extend late into the night. Though he was not a resident of the dorm where it took place, he was welcomed into the lounge by its members, and became a fixture of sorts.Like many well-endowed liberal arts schools in rural areas, Oberlin College functions as a sort of de facto social welfare state, and is designed to encourage and cultivate one’s passions, even if they are not strictly academic. Thus, after writing up a proposal for the student-run activities board, the same student, the British Royal Navy culture guy, was able to plan, organize and execute a ticketed Royal Naval Ball, held in the atrium of the science center. The event featured 20 dishes of authentic British era-appropriate cuisine, cooked by student chefs, several courses of wine and port, and a violinist present to play period-specific music. The whole affair culminated with a traditional, British partner line dance — its sole inauthenticity the fact that we didn’t pay attention to our dance partners’ genders the way the Brits would have.
Continue Reading

World

Raptors victory: Feel-good multiculturalism masks the reality of anti-Black racism in Canada

Published

on

During what was probably one of the most exciting and gratifying moments of his professional life, moments after the Raptors’ NBA finals victory on Thursday, a California sheriff’s deputy stopped Raptors president, Masai Ujiri from walking onto the court for the Raptors’ trophy presentation The deputy carded him and asked him for his credentials.

Even though he is the president of the Toronto Raptors’ basketball team and even though it was his own team’s victory ceremony, as a Black executive, he was treated with suspicion, as if he was trespassing.

Continue Reading
 

2020 Election

Here are 5 reasons why 2020’s down-ballot races could reshape America’s future

Published

on

The political press always tends to focus mostly on the marquee race for the White House but that's especially true this cycle, as Donald Trump runs for a second term. He demands attention and his antics enrage his opponents and delight his supporters in equal measure.

But national reporters risk missing the big picture by centering so much of their reporting at the top when many of the most important political battles in 2020 will take place further down the ballot.

Trump is catnip for reporters and their editors, but the dearth of coverage of downballot races didn't begin with his election. As the news media in general faces structural changes—with print circulation declining and much of their work moving into digital spaces that are more difficult to monetize--publishers have cut back on reporters assigned to the state and local government beat. Nevertheless, Trump has arguably worsened the trend by getting so much airtime— one estimate suggested that over the past four years, Trump has taken up, on average, 15 percent of the entire daily news cycle on the three leading cable networks, nearly three times what Obama did.

Continue Reading
 
 

Copyright © 2019 Raw Story Media, Inc. PO Box 21050, Washington, D.C. 20009 | Masthead | Privacy Policy | For corrections or concerns, please email [email protected]

I need your help.

Investigating Trump's henchmen is a full time job, and I'm trying to bring in new team members to do more exclusive reports. We have more stories coming you'll love. Join me and help restore the power of hard-hitting progressive journalism.

TAKE A LOOK
close-link

Investigating Trump is a full-time job, and I want to add new team members to do more exclusive reports. We have stories coming you'll love. Join me and go ad-free, while restoring the power of hard-hitting progressive journalism.

TAKE A LOOK
close-link