Flashback: Cars stolen in US used in suicide attacks
by : Bryan Bender
Thursday February 23, 2006 - 22:16
The FBI’s counterterrorism unit has launched a broad investigation of US-based theft rings after discovering some vehicles used in deadly car bombings in Iraq, including attacks that killed US troops and Iraqi civilians, were probably stolen in the United States, according to senior US Government officials.
The FBI’s deputy assistant director for counterterrorism, Inspector John Lewis, said the investigation did not prove the vehicles were stolen specifically for car bombings in the Middle East, but there was evidence they were smuggled out of the US by organised criminal networks that included terrorists and insurgents.
Cracking the car-theft rings and tracing the cars could help identify insurgent leaders and shut down one of the means used to attack the US-led coalition and the Iraqi Government, the officials said.
The inquiry began after coalition troops raided a Falluja bomb factory last November and found a Texas-registered four-wheel-drive being prepared for a bombing mission. Investigators said there were several other cases where vehicles evidently stolen in the US wound up in Syria or other Middle Eastern countries and ultimately in the hands of Iraqi insurgent groups, including al-Qaeda in Iraq.
Investigators believed the cars were stolen by local car thieves in US cities, then smuggled to waiting ships at ports in Los Angeles, Seattle, and Houston, among other cities. Terrorism specialists said they believed Iraqi insurgents preferred American stolen cars because they tended to be larger, blended in more easily with US convoys, and were harder to identify as stolen.
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