Following the Falafel Trail: FBI Mined Bay Area Food Sales

falafel_menu.jpg

Hoping that spikes in falafel and tahini purchases in the Bay Area would blaze a trail to Iranian secret agents, in 2005 and 2006, the FBI mined grocery store records for Middle Eastern food sales in the South San Francisco-San Jose area. According to Congressional Quarterly, the project didn't last long and didn't lead to any falafel-related prosecutions.

"It was torpedoed by the head of the FBI’s criminal investigations division, Michael A. Mason, who argued that putting somebody on a terrorist list for what they ate was ridiculous — and possibly illegal ... As ridiculous as it sounds, the groceries counting scheme is a measure of how desperate the FBI is to disrupt domestic terrorism plots."

pic from vegeteria.co.uk

-- Brian Bernbaum

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