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Found: The men on the Washington ferries

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By Michelle Malkin  •  May 6, 2008 04:08 PM

Remember the FBI alert last summer over these two men? They caused quite a stir in the Pacific Northwest after ferry officials observed the men engaged in unusual behavior aboard Washington ferries. Ignoring the very real threat of ferry-based terrorism, the Seattle P-I refused to run the FBI photos in a politically correct pique and instead made light of the matter by holding an idiotic haiku contest about the alert:

ferryfbi.jpg

Well, after nearly a year, two men came forward and the FBI has cleared them:

The FBI has called off a global manhunt for two men who looked Middle Eastern and were spotted snapping pictures and demonstrating “suspicious behavior” on a Washington ferry last summer.

The men appeared at a U.S. Embassy two weeks ago and identified themselves as European business consultants who were on a trip to Seattle, FBI officials said Monday.

Special Agent in Charge Laura Laughlin said the men took a couple of days off in the middle of the July visit and decided to ride a car ferry. They took photos to show relatives back home, she said.

FBI agents have seen the photos and found them to be innocuous, as were the pair’s business activities, Laughlin said.

The consultants came forward to clear their names, stating that they feared getting arrested if they returned to the United States. They gave U.S. Embassy officials documentation of their identities, jobs and the reason for their trip to the U.S. last summer.

The men, described as residents of a European Union country, were not identified.

Strange that it took so long. Strange that their country of residence was not identified. But in the end, the FBI made the right call. If “better safe than sorry” is the standard for global warming alarmists, it’s the proper standard for homeland security.

Anticipating a backlash and wishing to avoid “misrepresenting these people in any way,” Laughlin said it was a difficult call.

“We reached a point in the investigation where we were stymied, could get no further,” she said.

“This was the last resort — to try and identify these individuals and have them explain their apparently suspicious behavior.

“Our opinion now is that it worked,” she said. ” Excellent outcome. What happened is exactly what we had hoped would happen — that either the men in question would identify themselves, which occurred, or someone would recognize them.”

For once, the jihadi apologists at CAIR are refraining from criticizing the FBI. As usual, they’re attacking the rest of us for doing the job that the likes of the Seattle P-I refused to do–taking homeland security seriously:

Ibrahim Hooper of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a Washington, D.C.-based civil rights and advocacy group, had no criticism of the FBI’s handling of the incident.

“The authorities handled this situation quite well,” he said Monday. “I have no indication that the authorities went beyond what they are allowed to do. Reports were brought to them and they checked them out the best they could.”

But Hooper wasn’t happy with some other responses: “Anti-Muslim Internet hate sites; the bloggers; the ones that routinely say ’round up the usual Muslim suspects’; the extremist commentators that would be willing give up the rights of others to create a false sense of security for themselves.

“Media outlets that chose not to pander to this type of hysteria made the right choice and indeed protected the reputation of people who were doing nothing more than sightseeing,” Hooper said.

“At the time, there was a hue and cry that it was justified to single these people out merely based on their appearance and the perception that they may have been Middle Eastern or Muslim, and that perception was used to justify profiling them for security concerns,” he added.

“Once there is a perception that the individual is Muslim or Middle Eastern, every subsequent act becomes suspicious in the eyes of the onlooker.”

The FBI, in a statement issued Monday, thanked “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.”

UPDATE (See-Dubya): Meanwhile, what happens when an infidel dares to take a photograph of a mosque in Brooklyn? Very alarming things.

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Categories: Feature Story, Homeland Security, Immigration, Islam