In an appalling attempt to hype terrorist fears on the anniversary of 9/11, a Central Florida news station is informing its viewers and readers that four men who were taking photos of the Daytona International Speedway more than a year ago were on a terrorist watch list.
However, none of the police departments they interviewed confirm this. And no arrests were ever made. And the names of the individuals are unknown.
All we are told is that they were “Arab-looking.”
The men were taking pictures of the speedway before the Coke Zero 400 in July 2008, which apparently is one of the biggest race events of the year, so I would imagine they were not the only ones taking photos that day.
In fact, a quick glance on Flickr shows more than 700 photos taken during this event.
So why report the story now, 14 months after the incident?
Central Florida News 13 only cites “sources” in stating that the men were on a terrorist watch list:
Sources told News 13 the names of the men turned up on a terror watch list, and that a memory card contained pictures of the speedway.
When contacted by the Orlando Sentinel, Daytona Police Chief Stephen Beres said he had never heard of the terrorist angle until now.
Daytona Beach police Deputy Chief Stephen Beres said he was aware of the traffic stop by Florida Highway Patrol troopers, but only learned of the terrorist angle when contacted by a reporter for the television station.
“I have no idea where he got that,” Beres said. “It’s a non-story.”
Beres did tell the Sentinel that the men were “Arab-looking” and therefore “raised a little bit of suspicion.”
This is what Beres told Central Florida News 13 for its sensationalistic story:
“Florida Highway Patrol saw a suspicious vehicle with four gentlemen taking pictures of the speedway. Now normally that wouldn’t be an issue but they were taking pictures as they were driving past the track,” said Deputy Chief Stephen Beres from Daytona Beach Police Department.
“Anytime there’s a large crowd, anytime there’s any kind of suspicious activity reported, again, we’re more vigilant now than we were prior to 9/11,” Beres said.
So it was a typical case of profiling. The men were not breaking laws. And if they were indeed on a terrorist watch list, you know they would have been arrested. And you know the cops would have held press conferences on the arrests.
Besides, what is a terrorist watch list anyway?
I wouldn’t be surprised if I was on one.