BREAKING: Terrorism Angle in Massachusetts ‘Immigration’ Raids; BUMPED: ‘Very Quiet Neighborhood’; UPDATE: Mohammad Bakht Zameen; UPDATE: ‘They Paid the Rent on Time’
Posted on | May 13, 2010 | 44 Comments
12:08 p.m. ET: DaTechGuy on the scene reports by phone: The boarding house where the suspects were arrested is “next door to public housing” in an “ethnically mixed neighborhood.” Residents describe it as “a very quiet neighborhood” where “nothing ever happens — until today.”
UPDATE 12:20 p.m. ET: New England Cable News names Mohammad Bakht Zameen as one of the suspects in the case:
Federal agents roped off a Mobil station in Brookline Thursday morning, raiding the building along with a gray Honda Accord in the parking lot.
A man being questioned inside the gas station was believed to be the owner of the gray Honda, police told NECN. Police are unsure of his relation to the owner of the gas station, who is a well-known member of the Brookline community, Elias Audy. As off 11 a.m., the man under questioning had not been released from the gas station.
FBI officials were inside the Mobil station throughout the morning, pulling material out of the building’s bays — it is unclear exactly what they were doing. The focus of the investigation was on a gray Honda Accord registered to Mohammad Bakht Zameen of 39 Waverley Avenue in Watertown, Mass. That residence was also raided by FBI officials Thursday morning.
12:52 p.m. ET: In his latest update via telephone from scene, Da Tech Guy reports that the 2-story boarding house at 39 Waverly Ave. is located two doors down and across the street from Watertown Middle School (68 Waverly Ave.).
Residents in the neighborhood tell Da Tech Guy they were awakened this morning by the sound of helicopters overhead. FBI agents have been seen taking papers and computers out of 39 Waverly, and have reportedly set up a temporary headquarters in the basement cafeteria of the Watertown Housing Authority (55 Waverly Ave.).
The boarding house at 39 Waverly is owned by absentee landlords and most people in the neighborhood don’t know their neighbors. That might make it “a perfect place” for would-be terrorists to keep a low profile, as one resident told Da Tech Guy, who is continuing to interview residents, police and other people on the scene. He will be filing photos and video later today.
UPDATE 1:15 p.m. ET: The Boston Globe reports:
Baij Joshi, who manages the Watertown property for his father, Shubh, said the tenants on the first floor were several Pakistani men, who had lived there “more than two to three years.” He said some had spoken recently of taking trips to Pakistan.
“They seemed to be very good people. They paid the rent on time,” he said.
“The impression that I got is they’re working people, making their daily livelihood by driving a taxi and working in a store,” he said. . . .
FBI agents also questioned employees at another Brookline gas station, at the corner of Cypress Street and Route 9, this morning. They asked about a recently hired Pakistani employee who apparently worked Sundays for the last several months, said Hiyam Jabour, the cashier at the Mobil station, who was interviewed.
Neither she nor the mechanic from the garage said they knew the man, noting that he worked on a different shift. They referred questions to Elias Audy, the owner of the station, who also owns the gas station on Harvard Street.
Bill Audy, brother of Elias Audy, said he “wants the truth to be known.” He said he did not know the Pakistani employee but said that he worked at the gas station for “a very short time.” He said the real victim is his brother.
“This is a mess,” Audy said. “I think the media has destroyed my brother’s business. If I’m an outsider, I’ve got to wonder if the owners of the gas station are terrorists. He’s not happy about this.”
In the interest of “responsible, ethical journalism,” we must stipulate: (a) the individuals arrested are merely suspects, and their connections to Faisal Shahzad are unknown; and (b) even if the arrested suspects are involved in terrorism, neither their landlords nor their employers have been implicated in any such allegation.
It has just been reported that Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick will be holding a press conference shortly.
UPDATE 1:20 p.m. ET: Linked by Jules Crittenden, who happens to be city editor of the Boston Herald.
EXPECT FURTHER UPDATES . . .
The FBI conducted several raids in Massachusetts Thursday in connection with the failed Times Square car bombing, officials told CBS News.
Further raids are expected throughout the day.
Two people have been detained for “immigration violations,” FBI spokesperson Gail Marcinkiewicz told CBS station WBZ-TV in Boston, though she would not say whether they were involved in the plot.
“The searches are a product of evidence that has been gathered in the investigation subsequent to the Times Square bombing investigation,” said Marcinkiewicz.
Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick cancelled a planned appearance in Fitchburg today. Da Tech Guy has already blogged about this story, as has Jammie Wearing Fool. Da Tech Guy called me from the road as he was en route to the scene of the raids, and promises to have exclusive reporting soon.
UPDATE 11:22 a.m. ET: In our brief phone conversation, Da Tech Guy said the raids involve a family well-respected in the Boston suburban community where the raid took place. The Associated Press reports:
[P]olice have cordoned off a small house in Watertown, a suburb about 10 miles west of Boston where a neighbor reported seeing an FBI raid. . . .
Vinny Lacerra, 50, who lives across the street from the house raided in Watertown, said he was in his living room about 6 a.m. when he heard somebody say, “FBI! Put your hands up!”
Lacerra said he looked out his windows and saw 15 to 20 FBI agents with their guns drawn surrounding the house.
He said about 15 minutes later, the agents went inside and came out with one man handcuffed and took him down the street. He also said he saw an agent from Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
“I was surprised to see this because this is what you see on TV,” Lacerra said.
Da Tech Guy should arrive in the vicinity within minutes.
FBI agents were also seen at two gas stations in Brookline – one on Harvard Street and another on Cypress Street. . . .
Lacerra said the rental property [on Waverly Avenue], which is located across the street from Watertown middle school, is constantly turning over with new residents. Neighbors said they’ve seen police staking out the area for several days, but did not why . . .
UPDATE 11:40 a.m. ET: Just got off the phone with Da Tech Guy, who just arrived on Waverly Avenue in Watertown and reports: ”There are police all around, news cameras everywhere.”
CNN investigating anonymous reports that the men were arrested at the local tea party headquarters.