GADI ADELMAN

COUNTER-TERRORISM EXPERT & ADVISOR

[Gadi Adelman is] "Leading in the movement in the study of counter-terrorism", Dr. Walid Phares, Advisor to the Anti-Terrorism Caucus in the US House of Representatives

I Knew I Should Have Made That Left Turn At Albuquerque

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A Day of Feasting and Gladness. - Esther 9:17Three Middle Eastern men make hateful comments and terroristic threats towards Marines before driving onto Camp Pendleton without authorization. They claim they were just lost…

I have said it and written about it before. There is a difference between “profiling” and good law enforcement. The statistics tell us that most terrorists will be male, aged 18-35, Muslim and of Middle Eastern descent. This is not profiling, this is good law enforcement, period.

Over the last 12 months we have seen the arrest of over 50 “homegrown terrorists” right here on American soil and the numbers of attempts are rising month in and month out. All of them were either Muslims who were born in to the Islamic faith, or those that have converted to Islam.

According to my friend and colleague, counter terror expert Dr. Walid Phares who was a guest on my radio show not that long ago,

“We know that between 2001 and 2008, U.S. agencies prevented roughly one or two terror cases (either by individuals or cells) a year. But since the beginning of 2009, the United States has stopped one attack a month and over the past few months, we're learning about one jihadi operation every two to three weeks!”

Our government has warned that homegrown terrorism plots are on the rise and they have redoubled efforts to root them out.

Just last week on March 26/27 we had what can only be called “curious” activity at the Camp Pendleton U.S. Marine Corp Base in California.

The Camp Pendleton website gives us some insight to the base,

Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, the Corps' largest West Coast expeditionary training facility, encompasses more than 125,000 acres of Southern California terrain.

Located approximately 38 miles from downtown San Diego in North County and 82 miles south of Los Angeles, Camp Pendleton has been the largest employer in North San Diego County for more than 60 years.

Camp Pendleton is one of the Department of Defense's busiest installations and offers a broad spectrum of training facilities for many active and reserve Marine, Army and Navy units, as well as national, state and local agencies.

According to KGTV, ABC 10 San Diego news,

10News learned three men (pictured L-R) -- 40-year-old Afghani Ahmad Rahmani Naeem, 41-year-old Iranian Vahik Petrossian and 27-year-old Iranian Sengekdi Norvik Avanosian -- attempted to get into Camp Pendleton last weekend under what was considered suspicious circumstances.

According to a Be On the Lookout (BOLO) alert issued to high-ranking Camp Pendleton officials, someone reported hearing hateful comments and terrorist threats from three men at a gas station in Oceanside Saturday.

Investigators at Camp Pendleton said the men asked the attendant for directions on how to get to Camp Pendleton before they left the gas station.

According to the alert, shortly after midnight Sunday, a rented silver Toyota Corolla driven by Naeem attempted to enter Camp Pendleton through the main gate. As it was being searched, Petrossian and Avanosian drove up in a black Mercedes, but were told to wait. Instead, they continued past the gate and onto the base. Following a short pursuit, the Mercedes was stopped and searched.

No weapons or contraband were found in the Mercedes, but base security noticed the air bag in the steering wheel of the Mercedes had been pulled out and re-attached with duct tape and had wires hanging free, the alert said.

According to the alert, Naaem told base security he was lost and was trying to go to Glendale. When interviewed, Petrossian and Avanosian said they were lost and trying to go to Glendale. The three men claimed not to know each other, the alert said.

Naaem, Petrossian and Avanosian were photographed and released after questioning, and a warning about the trio was posted to law enforcement.

However, later that morning about 8:30 a.m., Naeem returned in the Toyota and tried to get on the base again, saying he made a mistake and was trying to enter Interstate 5, the alert said. After his vehicle was searched, Naeem was issued a letter of debarment from the base and escorted to the freeway.

Well, there you have it. The story could end there, but...

Call me paranoid, but I didn’t believe the story these three individuals gave the authorities so I decided to do some digging.

Let’s start with the actual BOLO (Be On the LookOut), this was posted by a spouse whose husband is on active duty at Camp Pendleton and she explained her reason for posting it in the beginning of the post,

Just rcvd an email about this from my husband. E-mail included pics, but I cant figure out how to copy and put them on here. Typing in all CAPS are the subject's names. Ask your active duty spouse about the e-mail so you can see pics!

This posting is not intended to scare anyone just to keep our families safe.’

On 26Mar11, three Middle-Eastern males were overheard making hateful and terroristic threats towards Marines at a gas station in Oceanside, CA. One of the men asked an attendant for directions to Camp Pendleton, CA, and left driving the below mentioned silver Toyota.

At 0010/27Mar11, NAEEM approached the Main Gate, MCB CPC, driving a vehicle which matched the description provided by the Gas Attendant. While MP’s were searching NAEEM and his vehicle, PETROSSIAN and AVANOSIAN approached the Main Gate in the below mentioned black Mercedes. After MP’s signaled the vehicle to stop, the vehicle slowed and then continued through the gate. A hot stop was initialized by MP’s adjacent Pacific View Housing.

A physical inspection of the black Mercedes revealed the steering wheel airbag was tampered with and had duct tape securing it in place with wires hanging out.

All vehicles were searched by MWD and EOD, which was negative in locating any explosive materials.

NAEEM was interviewed and claimed not to know PETROSSIAN or AVANOSIAN.

NAEEM stated he was lost and was trying to get to Glendale, CA.

PETROSSIAN and AVANOSIAN were interviewed and also stated they were lost attempting to reenter Hwy-5 and were trying to get to Glendale, CA.

A criminal background history of the above mentioned persons’ identities was conducted by the Department of Homeland Security which failed to identify any derogatory records for the men.

US Border Patrol confirmed the above individual’s immigration status and confirmed the men were not on any Terrorist watch databases.

All men were released on their own recognizance.

At 0830/27Mar11, NAEEM again approached the Main Gate in his silver Toyota. NAEEM was questioned and stated after he was released he drove to the nearby Denny’s Restaurant washed his face and hands and worked on “paperwork”. NAEEM stated he made a mistake by reentering the base and was attempting to access the highway.

NAEEM’s vehicle was searched again by MWD and MP’s and was met with negative results in locating anything of evidentiary value.

NAEEM was issued a Temporary Letter of Debarment from MCB CPC and was escorted off MCB CPC and onto Hwy-5 by MP’s.

VEHICLE:

NAEEM: 2011 silver Toyota Corolla 4-door sedan, Ca lic plate, Rental from Enterprise Rent-A-Car

VEHICLE:

PETROSSIAN & AVANOSIAN: 2001 black Mercedes CL 506, 2-door Ca/6PRK028

Three men that all fall into the “good law enforcement” stats. Stories don’t jive, all Middle Eastern, and lastly, all Muslim.

Don’t let the last names fool you, it is common that any surname with “ian” at the end is Armenian; however, many are also Iranian Muslims, as with two of these.

They claimed not to know one another even though they arrived at the gate at the same time in separate vehicles, not to mention witnesses saw them speaking (making threats) at the local gas station minutes before.

They had to drive past large signs for the Interstate 5 highway they claimed they were looking for and missed.

One was in a rental car and the other, well, wires and duct tape on the airbag? Where have we heard this before, wires sticking out of objects? That’s not unusual, right?

Here is a schematic of a Mercedes driver’s side airbag

Are there wires in an airbag? Yes, leading to the crash sensor well below the bag and inflator itself. Did this Mercedes have any front end damage perhaps explaining why the steering wheel was taped up? Would this not have been mentioned in the BOLO with the vehicle description?

One of the men, Naeem returns to the gate again 8 hours later but claims that he was lost again after sitting at a Denny’s Restaurant for 8 hours doing “paper work”. Yeah, I often sit at a diner all night doing paperwork. Was he asked to show this paperwork?

I had read a report that Camp Pendleton base officials issued a statement, saying in part,

"After further investigation, it was determined that the individuals involved were not a threat to MCB Camp Pendleton or any other military installation in the area. MCB Camp Pendleton officials are not investigating these incidents further."

This was due to the fact that the Department of Homeland Security determined that none of these individuals were on the ‘Terror Watch List’. The report stated,

“A criminal background check on the trio conducted by the Department of Homeland Security found no "derogatory records" for the men. Additionally, the U.S. Border Patrol said the immigration statuses for the three men were confirmed and they did not appear on any terrorist watch databases.”

Really? How many people involved in the past thwarted attempts of terror over the last few years were not on the Terror watch List? That is why it is called “Home Grown”. What if these men are part of a sleeper cell, would they be on a watch list?

I had to get more info on this. First, I contacted Camp Pendleton Public Affairs, Media Relations Department.  The Marine I spoke with told me to fill out a media query form on the website and they would send me a press release.

I explained that I was not only on a deadline, but wanted to speak to someone that could answer some questions. He asked me again for my name and credentials and placed me on hold. When he returned to the line he gave me the name and phone number of someone I could speak with.

Although my conversation was not “off the record”, I gave my word to the person I spoke with that I would not release their name or rank.

I asked why, after entering the base without authorization these men were not detained,

“I understand that you don’t know if these men understood or spoke English, but once the vehicle was stopped and it was determined that these men did speak English, why were there no charges filed and why were they just released”?

The answer I got was almost more surprising than the incident itself. I was told,

“That I don’t know, a lot of people run the gates for different reasons. So, I really can’t answer that question”.

What? Are you kidding me, a lot of people run the gates? What kind of security is that? I then asked,

“If you enter a Federal installation, be it a military base or otherwise, after being told not to by a Federal employee and then you have to be pulled over by Military Police or law enforcement is that not grounds for arrest, is that not a Federal offense”?

The answer was a simple “I don’t know”.

When I questioned the story they gave that they didn’t know one another and claimed to be lost I was told,

“I would just be careful about making blanket statements because, you know, people get lost. We’re not saying they got lost or anything like that, I can’t speculate on anything like that, but the roads are tricky sometimes”.

Of course people get lost, especially after stopping at a gas station, making threats and then asking for directions to the base, yeah, they were lost.

Knowing that I was going to receive a press release that according to this person would answer my questions about the BOLO, I ended the interview with this question,

“As far as you know these men were never detained for any period of time other than the vehicle being searched”.

Once again, the answer was simple, “that’s correct”.

The press release from Camp Pendleton I received was as follows:

Mr Adelman,

Below are the statements which we have released:

Investigation Concluded Concerning Recent "Be On The Look Out" (BOLO) Memo.

MCB Camp Pendleton officials have concluded their investigation into a recent "Be On The Look Out" (BOLO) memo issued to local Marine Corps law enforcement agencies. The investigation promptly determined that the individuals identified in the BOLO posed no threat to the public. Base officials are no longer looking in to this matter.

To answer your question regarding base security:

Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton Military Police takes a very comprehensive approach in ensuring the protection of life and property, enforcing laws and regulations, and preserving the good order and discipline throughout the base. Such an approach includes perimeter security, access control at each of the seven entry gates, perimeter patrols, interior patrols, traffic enforcement, physical security, crime prevention, military working dogs, investigations, and community relations.

However, in order to maintain and safeguard operational security aboard the base, Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton cannot divulge specific information about tactics, techniques, or procedures involving on-going installation security operations.

Please attribute to base officials.

I hope this answers your questions.

I would like to say that each and every person I spoke with from Camp Pendleton was polite, professional and eager to help and I am sure that they are following their orders and guidelines as they should. I am not surprised at what was contained in this press release and I am sure we can all understand base officials not wanting to give out too much information on matter such as this.

Having said that I was far from done, I wanted to find out what exactly was stated at this Chevron gas station. I tracked down the gas station from the news report that had been on ABC Channel 10 and contacted them by telephone.

After identifying myself, I asked if I had the correct gas station citing the incident, the young lady said,

“I don’t know anything about that”.

I again explained who I was and stated,

“I just want to know if I have reached the right place”.

She again said, “I don’t know anything about that” and then hung up.

I don’t take lightly to being hung up on, so I of course called back. This time a different woman answered and I again asked if I had the right station. She confirmed that I did but that they could not discuss it.

I asked if I could speak to the owner and she said he was only there until about 2pm daily. Okay, so I’ll call back, who should ask for? She said, (you’ll love this) “ask for Omar”.

OMG! Really? Omar? And you have been told not to discuss this? Wow, I mean what a shocker!

At this point I contacted Preston Phillips from KGTV, the reporter that did the story and had been to the Chevron in question.

Preston confirmed my story. He explained that he was speaking to the attendant at the Chevron when the owner, Omar, “caught wind of it” and instructed his employee to not say anything more. Hmmm, could this be that Omar just didn’t want any negative publicity towards Muslims?

Preston and I spoke at length and are on the same page with this one. He plans to follow up on this story; I for one look forward to it.

Preston’s original video report can be seen here.

I contacted the “Denny’s” in question as well and spoke to the Manager. No surprise here, he told me “this is the first I’m hearing about this”. Well given the massive media coverage on this story… As I said, no surprise.

What did surprise me is this. How well did investigators check Naeem’s story, did anyone check to see if that is where he had actually been for the last 8 hours? Why was the waiter/waitress that helped this man that was supposedly sitting there for 8 hours not questioned and if they were why did the manager not know about this?

Now the latest news is that the Federal authorities maybe looking into this matter further. There’s a novel idea, you think that might be in our nation’s best interest given things like Ft. Hood? Major Nidal Hassan wasn’t on any watch lists either.

I would think, like many others, that this is being further investigated. What worries me is if that is the case, why did the manager of the Denny’s not know anything when I spoke to him on April 2? Any investigator knows that time is of the essence, any investigation should be immediate or as soon as humanly possible.

People who may not think they know anything may have valuable information, those that should be interviewed forget things, stories change and memories get foggy. If this is being investigated why would we, the American public not be told?

Over a year ago I wrote an article asking the question “Why is our government hiding the truth about our safety?” We the people not only have a right to know, we need to know.

The American public is the first line of defense, this case itself proves that point. Who notified the authorities that caused the BOLO? The person or persons who overheard these men making threats at the Chevron gas station.

Does our DHS really believe that these 3 men buy in to the story that it is all over and done with? Does DHS or the FBI really think that these men aren’t taking precautions at this point?

Are they hoping these men lead them to others? We already know that sleeper cells, if that’s what this is, don’t communicate or even know anyone outside their own cell. As I have said before, terrorists are many things, but stupid is not one of them. Did we not learn anything at all from 9/11?

A very interesting side note, this all occurred on March 26 and 27. While looking over the Camp Pendleton website I found that the Commander (CO) of base Security was transferred out and replaced on April 1. The article states,

Security Bn welcomes new CO

Col. Gino P. Amoroso takes command of Security Battalion, Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton from Colonel Hal J. Sellers, April 1. Security Battalion is home to military police, fire and emergency services responsible for the safety of the installation. Colonel Gino P. Amoroso, was commissioned a military police officer in 1988 and recently transferred from Naval Warfare School where he graduated March 1. Amoroso served in numerous military police command billets and locations throughout his career including Operation Desert Shield/Storm. Sellers was commissioned an infantry officer in 1988, and will be transferring to Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, Twentynine Palms.

The U.S. Military acts quickly when things happen, one can only speculate about this replacement of the base security CO occurring within days of this incident.

Authors note: As a follow up to last week’s story of “Social Media Urging a Third Intifada”, on the same day this article was published, Facebook released a statement that the page would not be shut down. I am pleased to announce that just one day after the article, the page was closed by Facebook. Thank you to all who reported this page and complained to Facebook.

Comments (2)
  • Reese

    Great footwork/reporting Gadi, looking to find out more to this story as we move forward. As you know, I was very disturbed with the ease these drivers had getting through and let go, and blase' attitude (seemingly) from Camp Pendelton. I would venture to bet that the families on that base are not at ease with with their security right now.

  • Anonymous

    :)

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