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At around 1:30 a.m. on Wednesday, October 19, five foreign Muslims were arrested at a historic courthouse in San Antonio. They were found with pictures of “infrastructure” around the country including malls, government buildings and water systems. After the media reported on the bomb scare, officials reacted quickly to downplay a possible link to terrorism and the media followed suit. Now, the group of five is being depicted as a harmless group of pranksters.
Law enforcement arrived at the Bexar County Courthouse after an alarm went off. The police found that two individuals had entered the 120-year-old facility through a fire escape, while three others were inside a rented RV in front of the building. The five suspects are French-Moroccans, all in their early 20s. Their names are being withheld. The group’s photographs showed they had traveled around the country, snapping photos of sites including shopping malls and public buildings, as well as water systems, which are not exactly a typical tourist attraction.
The group had legal 90-day visas and told the authorities they arrived in New York on September 11 from London. At least three of the suspects are on an FBI watch list. The four that arrived in New York then went to New Jersey and rented an RV. They then met with the other that flew into Miami. The RV had plates from California at the time of the incident.
Another fact that is being treated as a coincidence is that the GEOINT Symposium, the “nation’s largest intelligence event of the year,” was behind held only blocks away. Dozens of intelligence officials, including the chief of the U.S. Strategic Command and undersecretary of defense for intelligence, attend and speak.
The suspects’ explanation for their illegal entry into the Bexar County Courthouse is that they wanted “to get a better view of the city”—at 1:30 in the morning. Deputy Chief Dale Bennett confirmed that they had beer bottles in their possession and two of the men acted intoxicated. He also confirmed that three of the men’s names showed up on the watch list and that their names are uncommon, making it unlikely that all three are cases of mistaken identities.
They were interviewed by the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force, Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Department of Homeland Security. Bexar County Sheriff’s Deputy Louis Antu tried to calm the media storm about the suspects being terrorists, saying, “We don’t have any indication that’s what they were.” The five are being prosecuted on charges of burglary.
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