An update to this story about the young Muslim who wanted to learn to drive a truck containing hazardous materials, but not to back up. “Investigation of would-be truck driver widens,” by Karen Lee Ziner in the Providence Journal, with thanks to Peg:
Antiterrorism officials have widened their investigation of Mohammed Yousuf Mullawala, a 28-year-old Indian national arrested last month after his behavior drew attention at a Smithfield tractor-trailer school. Authorities say Mullawala’s “problematic” cell-phone records and his apparent guise as an international student prompted the now-national probe.
“We”ve tied some of his cell-phone records to people of interest nationally” whose behavior points to “terrorist indicators,” said state police Maj. Steven O”Donnell. “They”re not your typical person’s cell-phone history “¦ the volume of contacts obviously raises the level of suspicion.”
“We don’t know whether he’s a major player, a minor player, or any type of player” in the world of terrorism. “But the indicators lead us to believe that his behavior is not normal,” O”Donnell said.
“We are working with wherever the phone numbers take us, and to whatever cities,” said O”Donnell. That includes New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and elsewhere in the country. “We are interviewing everybody and anybody that may have a relation to him.”
Investigators are still studying Mullawala’s laptop computer for possible leads, and following his paper trail.
Mullawala’s interest in purchasing software on hazardous materials and his lack of interest in learning to back up a rig drew the attention of the trucking-school owners, and eventually, the federal Department of Homeland Security….
“We”re clear that he was here under the guise of being a student. He was not a student,” O”Donnell said. “Whatever his motives were, he applied to be a student, left school, went to another school, he left school. Not only did he sign up, but never went to school.”
Mullawala signed up for computer technology and/or English immersion classes at Johnson & Wales University in Rhode Island, the University of Bridgeport in Connecticut, and the City University of New York, but apparently attended either briefly or not at all, according to school administrators and law enforcement authorities.
“He got accepted, signed up, and moved on,” said O”Donnell. The first time may not have signaled anything unusual, “but a second time, third time, that doesn’t make sense.”
The succession of driver’s licenses and addresses are also questionable, O”Donnell said, “but the coup de grÃ¢ce is the truck driver’s school. It’s so blatantly obvious. Even a novice “” a person who has no knowledge of terrorist activity “” would think this is strange behavior.”
Strange, O”Donnell said, in that Mullawala attended a 30-day school and left after the second day; was not especially concerned about learning how to back up a rig, and sought a commercial driver’s license that would allow him to transport hazardous materials.
The school’s owners told The Journal last month that Mullawala also came to class wearing business clothes and asked fellow students about the process for gaining FBI clearance for the HAZMAT license. He was also an inept driver, according to instructor Ed Mowry….