News & Politics

FBI Alerted About Group of Middle Eastern Men Asking About Missouri Dam

A sheriff’s office in the Missouri Ozarks has confirmed that it forwarded a security tip to the FBI and a joint task force on terrorism regarding the area’s hydroelectric facility.

On Wednesday morning, the Camden County Sheriff’s Office verified that it had received a tip concerning a group of Middle Eastern men asking questions about Bagnell Dam.

Via Lake News:

CCSD Cpl. Scott Hines cautioned that the report does not mean that there is any reason to be scared or panicked that an attack is planned at the Lake of the Ozarks. He did advise though that people should always be aware and alert as they go about their business.

According to Hines, a Camden County deputy was out to lunch in the area last week when a staff member of the restaurant relayed an incident that occurred a few days to a week prior to the deputy’s visit that the person thought was kind of weird. A group of Middle Eastern men were apparently asking about the dam and boat tours of the dam. The reporting person thought it was kind of odd, said Hines, but didn’t call to report it at the time, only mentioning it to the deputy when he happened to be at the restaurant.

When a deputy receives a tip like that, the department has a set way to handle it, notifying several groups, said Hines. They have talked to the FBI, he added, and the intelligence has been reported to the joint terrorism task force for Missouri hosted out of the US Attorney’s Office of Missouri and through the Missouri Department of Public Safety and the Highway Patrol, which has a liaison to the Department of Homeland Security. The task force is a conglomeration of multiple law enforcement agencies that collect intelligence, allowing analysts to better look for links among raw data.

Police told KMIZ-TV that the incident happened about two weeks ago at the Golden Corral in Osage Beach, Missouri.

According to this report, the Middle Eastern men “wanted to know if they could rent a boat and tour the dam.”

The Camden County Sheriff’s Office say they are not investigating the incident, and things are “business as usual for the local agency.”

Bagnell Dam is a legitimate attraction of interest for visitors, and the Lake of the Ozarks sees tourists from around the country and the world.

It is typical for police to see a spike in these types of reports when there is a mass shooting especially those believed to be linked to Islamic extremism, said Hines, referencing the San Bernardino, Calif. shooting.

It was probably nothing, but the potential for terrorist attacks at our nations’ dams has been a concern for a long time. The destruction of a dam is considered one of the greatest acts of terrorism and can instantly generate casualties and disastrous consequences.

Al.com reported earlier this week that due to concerns about terrorism, “the days of unescorted tours of locks on the Tennessee River are over.”

Citing concerns over possible terrorist activity, the Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District has suspended unescorted access to all navigation locks on the Tennessee River, including Wilson Navigation Lock in northwest Alabama. The closures are for an indefinite period of time, the corps announced.

The Corps said there is no specific threat to any lock on the Tennessee River.

“As a result of the recent increase of terrorist attacks, the corps is again restricting unescorted access to the lock as a precautionary measure while it reviews security procedures in conjunction with the Tennessee Valley Authority, who owns and operates the dams adjacent to many of these locks,” the Corps said in a press release.

In light of recent events around the country — including some in their own backyard — Missourians have been on high alert.

There have been multiple reports of mass disposable cell phone purchases and propane tank thefts throughout Missouri in recent weeks, causing people to worry that a terrorist plot could be in the works for the holiday season.

Meanwhile, in Goldsboro, North Carolina, police arrested four men from New York on Saturday “and charged them with felony larceny after an officer spotted them leaving a Lowe’s Home Improvement store with hundreds of plumbing supplies.”

More charges are expected in the case, and police say similar larcenies may have been committed at other businesses in Virginia and North Carolina. The FBI was notified of the robbery in case there was evidence of crimes across state lines, but the agency isn’t investigating the case.

Yudesh Ruplal, 21, Shane Ali, 22, Benjamin Curtis, 18, and Alexandre Michel Regis, 20, are accused of stealing 565 plumbing supplies worth more than $5,000, according to court records.
Authorities said they believe the men planned to resell the items. Investigators are looking into the possibility that the men have hit other Lowe’s stores as well.
“Plumbing supplies” have also been used by terrorists to construct explosive devices.

Also, in recent days there have been reports of bulk purchases of Xbox 360 Kinect sensors in four states.

The owner of a game store in Arkansas told All News Pipeline:

Two middle eastern men went through Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas and Oklahoma recently and purchased over $40,000 worth of these xbox accessories from video game stores. I can not understand if these could be used in a destructive manner; but, could this have anything to do with the cell phones, remote cars, and propane tank acquisitions?

The owner of the store said she was able to discover that Kinect sensors were purchased in bulk at the other stores by contacting regional managers in other locations.

After talking to my friend with the FBI, I contacted the Bureau in Little Rock. They sent a young man to talk with us. He was given a copy of the receipt and of relevant footage from our store security cameras. I gave them contact information for the regional manager over the other stores. There was nothing said about not talking about this; but, we pretty much dropped it until the recent big purchases of other electronic devices that started me to wondering and questioning.

There are various theories as to how these sensors could be put to use, including the possibility that they could be coupled with a timer and used to detonate pre-positioned IEDS.

All of these stories combined may spell trouble — or they may not amount to a hill of beans. Time will tell.