Don't Fear the Falafel

FBI Hoped to Follow Falafel Trail to Iranian Terrorists Here
The FBI sifted through customer data collected by San Francisco-area grocery stores in 2005 and 2006, hoping that sales records of Middle Eastern food would lead to Iranian terrorists.

The idea was that a spike in, say, falafel sales, combined with other data, would lead to Iranian secret agents in the south San Francisco-San Jose area.

The brainchild of top FBI counterterrorism officials Phil Mudd and Willie T. Hulon, according to well-informed sources, the project didn't last long. 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.

A check of federal court records in California did not reveal any prosecutions developed from falafel trails.

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19 Responses:

  1. substitute says:

    On the plus side, they probably got many, many small marijuana busts.

  2. yosh says:

    First they came for the falafel eaters
    and I didn't speak up 'cause damn that shit is nasty!


  3. gytterberg says:

    No wonder they didn't get back to me about my idea to give away free GPS tracking devices in boxes of I Hate America-Os.

    I stand by my plans for anthrax in the frosting on Great Satan Crunch, however.

  4. bifrosty2k says:

    I think they forgot to consider how popular falafel is in the Peoples Republic of Kalifornia...

    I eat falafel at least once a month, and I'll shoot a terrorist on sight :)

  5. merovingian says:

    Eat a felafel, go to prison: it's the law!

  6. tiff_seattle says:

    and in other news, grocery stores have apparently joined the phone companies in the practice of giving up customer data to the government.

    • paisleychick says:

      I fuckin' hate it when my paranoid husband is right. ;-) I laughed at him a couple of years ago when he asked me not to use those company cards or credit cards for shopping. Ghah - that's just sick. Makes me wonder if the gov't paid for that data or just took it.

    • bikerwalla says:


      you know...



    • transgress says:

      Well to be fair, the grocery stores don't have to cooperate to get that information. All you really need is the per product shipping records, which if it was an interstate shipment, I believe is a matter of public record.

      It would actually make more sense to follow the shipments themselves then go around and try to get collection of little markets to cooperate.

  7. cavorite says:

    Funny, when I follow the Falafel trail, I'm following it for a totally different reason.

  8. slacktide says:

    I'm not worried. I had tabbouleh for lunch toda..@#$^$#G NO CARRIER

  9. azul_ros says:

    Talk about profiling!!!! I <3 falafel!

    And I'm nowhere near being Iranian!

  10. edouardp says:

    Hmm, much like the story that the army was making a database of cow deaths to track where the escaped aliens were hiding.

    Sounds like someone is selling you an idea - "there are Iranian Terrorists in your midst" - in an article that has no confirmation of any of the facts it purports. The humorous fluff in the article serves two purposes, firstly to take you mind off whether the idea being delivered is actually valid, and secondly to ensure that the article is more widely read.

    That's right - the next war's marketing campaign is viral!

  11. autopope says:

    I suppose these idiots have never heard of Falafel Dan, the Israeli fast food Falafel bar chain that's also expanded into the Netherlands?

    I can just see the headline now: "FBI apologizes for extraordinary rendition of Israeli and Dutch tourists".

  12. transgress says:

    You know, while I don't agree with the idea of putting someone on a watch list simply because of their choice in food- the idea of keeping tabs on flux of supplies consumed by an adversary doesn't seem entirely far fetched although I question how useful it would be given the adversary (are 10-20 new people going to cause enough of a jump to be noticeable?). I could see at least giving it a shot from a while to see if it yields anything though.

  13. dossy says:

    Newsflash! An increase in Norman Rockwell paintings of children combined with porn purchases leads to child pornography enthusiasts.

    Kinky art collectors be damned.

  14. phoenixredux says:

    Next thing you know, we'll be deported for eating burritos.

  15. belgand says:

    It'll probably just lead them to Bill O'Reilly anyway.