Remember the ferry “mystery men”? Mystery solved

Original August report here; now here’s the new announcement just in from the FBI:

Laura Laughlin, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Seattle Division of the FBI, announced today that two European Union citizens appeared at a US Embassy two weeks ago and identified themselves as the men pictured in photographs released to the media last August by the FBI and the Washington Joint Analytical Center (WAJAC). The photographs were taken by a crew member after passengers reported that the men were exhibiting unusual behavior while riding on a Washington State Ferry. Law enforcement attempted to identify the men through investigative means but when those efforts proved unsuccessful the FBI released the photographs to the media. The decision was considered to be controversial by some but was determined to be the best way to resolve the situation and maintain the safety and security of the ferry system.

The two men, European business consultants, came forward to clear their names stating they were fearful of arrest if they traveled to the United States. They provided embassy officials with documentation to establish their identities, employment, and the reason for their US travel last summer. The men stated they were in Seattle for business in July 2007 and took a ferry ride during that time. Follow-up investigation has been conducted to verify the information provided by the men, and it appears that they were in the area for legitimate reasons. The identities of the men are being withheld to protect their privacy.

The FBI and the Washington Joint Analytical Center (WAJAC) would like to thank the many media organizations worldwide that published the photographs and ultimately played a prominent role in resolving this matter allowing the investigative resources of the multiple law enforcement agencies to be redirected to other important matters.

12 Replies to "Remember the ferry "mystery men"? Mystery solved"

  • NY Vinnie May 5, 2008 (3:29 pm)

    Guilty until proven innocent.

  • WestwoodWriter May 5, 2008 (3:58 pm)

    Yup, now that we no longer have a Constitution we’re all guilty until proven innocent. Seattle Police definitely operate under a guilty until proven innocent format.

  • frank burns May 5, 2008 (4:18 pm)

    What exactly is this “unusual behavior” besides, of course, looking Middle-Easternly in Seatle.
    Is this the new McCarthyism — just accuse someone of “unusual behavior” and then cart them off to somewhere there are no lawyers or laws. Interesting.

  • frank burns May 5, 2008 (4:20 pm)

    The FBI would like to thank those who helped in this global wild goose chase, because the FBI has other wild goose chases they need to direct their attention to.

  • Ken May 5, 2008 (6:24 pm)

    We have wild geese of our own right here in Seattle

  • Trick May 5, 2008 (6:28 pm)

    Will the last person to read the constitution please turn off the lights…Oh wait, we did that 7 yrs ago…..

  • TheHouse May 5, 2008 (8:50 pm)

    Great follow up work, WS Blog!

    To all of the people posted above, they weren’t charged with crimes. An individual reported them as acting suspicious and that is a very subjective thing in todays world.

    I believe in government staying out of my business and personal life as much as possible, but hen it comes to National Security the groups that we have dealt with over the past 10 years have proven that they will attack using unconventional means. If there are occasional instances of peoples lives being inconvenienced, then so be it. If you have nothing to hide this shouldn’t be an issue. Despite what the people above write, we do have a Constitution and we aren’t on “global goose chases”. Imagine what would happen if nobody wanted to infringe on their “civil liberties” and these guys managed to blow a ferry up. What would the people that posted above say then?

    Don’t think for a minute that I am proposing that we walk around in fear. We live in an age where White people blow up federal buildings, Asian people murder innocent college students, Middle Eastern people fly airplanes into buildings, Latino people shoot innocent people in malls and Black people shoot innocent people on Interstates and gas stations. The bottom line is that you have to be attentive and anyone could potentially be an aggressor.

    Use common sense, trust your gut instinct when you think something is wrong and don’t let your brain interfere when it tells you that you might “hurt someone’s civil liberties”.

    I’m going back to hunting wabbits.

  • Shibaguyz May 5, 2008 (10:50 pm)

    Well said…

    To the poster who said: “Seattle Police definitely operate under a guilty until proven innocent format.”

    Exactly what are you basing that inflammatory statement on and what does it have to do with the case at hand?

    I have a hard time when people use any opportunity to make a broad, sweeping statement that has no real backing and has nothing to do with the situation.

  • OP May 5, 2008 (10:52 pm)

    Will the last hyperbolist who claims the Constitution is being gutted please cite just ONE example of any of your rights being taken away before turning out the lights? I wish you luck in your fruitless endeavor.

    I’m glad the men came forward and cleared their names. I’m glad the government took the time to investigate. And no where is the word “rendition” uttered lest it fulfill any conspiracy kooks wet dreams about “innocent terrorist’ (laughable oxymoron) being unduly held of their liberties (of which they have none in this country).

    I’m glad somebody had the cajones to notice and report suspicious behavior without worrying about whether or not they were being politically correct and possibly profiling potential terrorist asshats who would love nothing greater than to see all of us obliterated.

    And for the record, it was gentlemen (a loose term) disguised as young, affluent, business-like Arabs, traveling back and forth between their “cell” in Hamburg, Germany to scout multiple strike targets, coming from affluent families and sound educations across the Arab world, who slaughtered nearly 3,000 of your countrymen 7 years ago. Caution and suspicion are warranted until proven otherwise.

  • Trick May 6, 2008 (1:40 am)

    The results are pretty clear this administration circumvented many constitutional rights.

    President Bush’s signing of a 2002 presidential order authorizing N.S.A. surveillance in the homeland without a court-approved warrant, an order that effectively circumvented the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, passed by Congress in 1978.
    Even the Congressional members that were pervy to these meetings were prohibited to even discuss it with other intelligence employee’s or other members of congress.
    Now to me, that is the “removing” of any oversight (checks and balances) which our constitution was founded on,thus preventing us from being an Oligarchy.

    They eased the definitions of torture, in fact they made a new definition of torture.

    They circumvented laws on eavesdropping on US citizens without a court order.

    We’ve held many detainee’s only to let them go after 3-4 yrs of being imprisoned with no legal representation or formal charges.

    We’ve created “Black Sites” for “suspected terrorists”, transported them, so they are no longer under US law or legal observation. Even when other intelligence officers deemed them “they have no meaningful connection to Al Qaeda or the Taliban”. They then become unaccountable.

    I could on….and on.

    These are not made up tree hugger conspiracy theories. They are direct violations of our rights to be protected under law no matter what skin color you are.

    “If you have nothing to hide….” ….until
    you are mistaken for someone being suspected of of suspicious actions, like taking photographs or pacing back and forth…of course none of us would ever do that. Like you said HOUSE, it’s subjective.

    I’m glad these men were cleared and nothing was deemed a “threat”. I’m also glad they revealed themselves properly, outside of the US or they “could” have become unaccountable innocent victims.

  • Ken May 6, 2008 (4:15 am)

    Fot those wondering what makes the fearmonger tick, here is a scholarly paper in a readable style.

    I find it fascinating that those who pretend to be the most macho and gung-ho, squeal and cry like teen ages girls at the thought that civil liberties protect everyone equally and even brown people are protected by the constitution.

    The Authoritarians

    A printable PDF or read it on line.

    “Although tyranny, because it needs no consent, may successfully rule over foreign peoples, it can stay in power only if it destroys first of all the national institutions of its own people.”
    –Hannah Arendt

  • Shibaguyz May 6, 2008 (10:25 am)

    I agree that it isn’t perfect on either side of this argument. However, when it comes to making inflammatory remarks that are broad, all encompassing and absolute in nature, it doesn’t get any point across and only makes for a more violent reaction from those who are trying to have a conversation.

    As part of a “social group” that it has been suggested we be put on our own island to die and were even blamed for 911 by certain conservative television personalities, I am all for protecting my rights as a citizen. However, in THIS CASE presented here in THIS POSTING, a citizen reported suspicious activities because two people were taking photographs of parts of the boat that were marked as not open to the public (the operations rooms and the doors marking those areas if I remember the original new coverage correctly). Sorry folks, I would have reported that as well.

    Once the police receive a report like that, they have a protocol to follow then the FBI have a follow up protocol. These men and women are doing their jobs. It is not their job to ask questions but to follow protocol to the letter. I for one, am thankful they do. Both for my safety and theirs.

    Regarding THIS SITUATION and THIS ACTION, I don’t see how a lot of this conversation applies. They were suspects in a potential terrorist activity, they could not be identified, their pictures were released for identification. Nearly a year later they come forward to prove their innocence. Period.

    Thank you to the law enforcement officers and government agencies who were doing their jobs. In this particular case, I’m glad it went the way it did and the outcome was as it was… whether I believe it or not is another matter.

Sorry, comment time is over.