Mohammed Yusef Mullawala wanted a license to transport hazardous materials and to learn how to drive commercial tractor trailers. There was nothing unusual about that, until he told his teacher that he only wanted to learn how to drive forward, and he wanted to learn fast.
Crawford said Mullawala came to the school with a Rhode Island driver’s license inquiring how to obtain a commercial driver’s license within a month. It normally takes around eight weeks for a student to go through all of the required courses before he or she obtains a permit, she said.
“We’ve been doing this for quite a long time and a lot of things just didn’t add up,” Crawford said.
Crawford started documenting suspicious activity: Mullawala lived in New York City but traveled to Rhode Island for the driving classes; he missed his first day of classes; and he was very insistent on getting his hazardous material transport license.
But the fact that he only seemed interested in driving forward was the most concerning.
“We tell them from Day One, ‘you will be backing up,’ ‘you’ll be backing up every single day,'” Crawford said, adding that it normally takes two to three weeks of practice backing up before drivers get road permits and learn how to drive forward, among other things.
After Mullawala took two classes, Crawford contacted Highway Watch, which had conducted an anti-terrorism and safety program at her school.
Two classes. That’s all it took for him to totally blow his cover.
So why don’t I get a warm and fuzzy feeling that this guy is pegged and probably getting a one-way ticket to the far side of the world? Because it seems all the potential terrorists we catch are incredibly stupid. I’m not so arrogant to believe that the average law enforcement people we have working on these sort of cases has 50 I.Q. points over the best and brightest of our enemy. I can only think of two reasons for what I see in the news.
Only the dumbest get caught. The smart ones are working on something big, keeping a low profile and haven’t been noticed by our law enforcement.
We are nabbing brighter guys but we aren’t publicizing it. The law enforcement types don’t want the brighter guys to know how we are catching them so they only report the most stupid of the bad guys. The others quietly disappear in the middle of the night and get free plane trips to Club Gitmo, Turkey, or Pakistan for further questioning by professionals.
I’m hoping it is either number 2. or there is a third reason I haven’t thought of or didn’t consider viable.