High-Tech Theft- Gang Stole Jeeps to Sell Across the Border:

High-Tech Theft- Gang Stole Jeeps to Sell Across the Border:

Federal Bureau of Investigation Logo                                                  FBI FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION

Map showing locations in the San Diego area where the Hooligans motorcycle gang committed 21 of their Jeep thefts, including Chula Vista, Escondido, Golden Hill, Grantville, Hillcrest, La Mesa, Lake Murray, Mira Mesa, Mission Valley, North Park, Ocean Beach, Ocean View Hills, Otay Mesa West, Pacific Beach, Point Loma, Scripps Ranch, San Diego State University, Serra Mesa, Spring Valley, University Heights, and Vista.

Nine members of a Tijuana-based motorcycle gang are facing criminal charges for their roles in a brazen high-tech scheme to steal more than 150 Jeep Wranglers and motorcycles in the San Diego, California area to sell across the border in Mexico.

According to the charges announced on May 30, members of the Hooligans motorcycle gang canvassed San Diego County looking for specific Jeeps based on the model type and accessories. The gang—a transnational criminal organization with members in the U.S. and Tijuana—was responsible for about $4.5 million in vehicle thefts dating back to 2014.

“The joy rode is over for these Hooligans,” Deputy U.S. Attorney Mark Conover said in a statement following the arrests of two of the alleged gang members. Three of the nine suspects are in custody; the rest are fugitives believed to be in Mexico.

Thieves are seen on security video stealing a Jeep from a home in Rancho Bernardo, California on September 26, 2014.

Court documents in the case read like a Hollywood script: Gang leaders selected the cars to steal, then “scouts” scoured the streets to find the desired cars and retrieve the vehicle identification numbers. With that information in hand, the leaders would get replacement keys cut. When the thieves returned at night to steal the vehicles, they arrived in groups—often two would work on the car while another stood lookout in a getaway car. One would open the hood to disable the horn and flashing lights while the other opened the driver’s door with the new key. He then plugged a handheld device into the car’s diagnostic port to program the replacement key’s microchip to turn off the alarm and operate the car. With the car now under the thief’s control, he quietly drove it away, followed by his accomplices, bound for Tijuana.

It wasn’t until September 26, 2014 that the Regional Auto Theft Task Force, which includes 14 law enforcement agencies and the FBI, caught a break when the theft of a Jeep Wrangler was captured on home security video in Rancho Bernardo. The grainy early morning footage shows three men stealing the vehicle by disabling the alarm and using a key and a handheld device to turn on the engine. The driveway theft took less than two minutes. Further investigation revealed a car dealership in Mexico provided the proprietary information for “replacement” keys in nearly 20 of the Jeep thefts.

“The FBI, along with our law enforcement partners, will continue to work day and night to stop these large-scale international crime rings,” said Eric Birnbaum, special agent in charge of the FBI’s San Diego Field Office.

In addition to laying out details of the case, court records reveal the bravado among the thieves, who coordinated their schemes and bragged on social media. In one exchange in 2015, according to court documents, one subject commented to a co-conspirator on Facebook about his prolific thefts in the U.S.

“You’ve already cleaned those poor people up,” the subject wrote.

“They don’t leave me anything outside anymore. Only garage. I have to go around jumping fences and walls,” the co-conspirator responded.

“Hahaha, even with that they can’t stop us,” the first subject wrote back.

Seven of the suspects charged on May 30 are from Tijuana; the other two are from San Diego and Imperial Beach, California. They range in age from 20 to 33. They are all charged with conspiracy to commit transportation of stolen vehicles in foreign commerce and face up to five years in prison if convicted.

Psalms Chapter 23 KJV:

Psalms Chapter 23 KJV:

(A Psalm of David.) The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.

2He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.

3He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

4Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

5Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

6Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.

1950 U.N. approves armed force to repel North Korea:

1950 U.N. approves armed force to repel North Korea:

Just two days after communist North Korean forces invaded South Korea, the United Nations Security Council approves a resolution put forward by the United States calling for armed force to repel the North Korean invaders. The action provided the pretext for U.S. intervention in the conflict and was the first time the Security Council had ever approved the use of military force.

On June 25, 1950, communist North Korea invaded South Korea. Although some U.S. military personnel were in South Korea, the North Korean forces made rapid headway. Almost immediately, the U.N. Security Council issued a resolution calling for a cease-fire and an end to North Korean aggression. North Korea dismissed the resolution as “illegal.” On June 27, Warren Austin, the U.S. representative on the Security Council, proposed a resolution. It noted that North Korea had ignored the earlier cease-fire resolution and that South Korea was pleading for assistance. Therefore, the resolution asked that “the members of the United Nations furnish such assistance to the Republic of Korea as may be necessary to repel the armed attack and to restore international peace and security in the area.” The resolution passed by a vote of 7 to 1. Yugoslavia was the only dissenting vote; Egypt and India abstained. The Soviet Union, as a permanent member of the Security Council, could have easily vetoed the resolution, but the Russian representative was boycotting Security Council meetings until the communist People’s Republic of China was admitted to the United Nations.

The Security Council vote meant that any member nation could now come to the assistance of South Korea, though it left unstated how the efforts of various nations might be coordinated. For the United States, the resolution was all that was needed to provide a foundation for American military intervention. Just three days after the resolution was passed, President Harry S. Truman dispatched land, sea, and air forces to beat back the North Korean attack. That action led to three years of U.S. involvement in the Korean War and over 50,000 U.S. servicemen were killed in the conflict. An armistice signed in July 1953 left Korea a divided nation.

Truman orders U.S. forces to Korea:

Truman orders U.S. forces to Korea:

On June 27, 1950, President Harry S. Truman announces that he is ordering U.S. air and naval forces to South Korea to aid the democratic nation in repulsing an invasion by communist North Korea. The United States was undertaking the major military operation, he explained, to enforce a United Nations resolution calling for an end to hostilities, and to stem the spread of communism in Asia. In addition to ordering U.S. forces to Korea, Truman also deployed the U.S. 7th Fleet to Formosa (Taiwan) to guard against invasion by communist China and ordered an acceleration of military aid to French forces fighting communist guerrillas in Vietnam.

At the Yalta Conference towards the end of World War II, the United States, the USSR, and Great Britain agreed to divide Korea into two separate occupation zones. The country was split along the 38th parallel, with Soviet forces occupying the northern zone and Americans stationed in the south. In 1947, the United States and Great Britain called for free elections throughout Korea, but the Soviets refused to comply. In May 1948 the Korean Democratic People’s Republic–a communist state–was proclaimed in North Korea. In August, the democratic Republic of Korea was established in South Korea. By 1949, both the United States and the USSR had withdrawn the majority of their troops from the Korean Peninsula.

At dawn on June 25, 1950 (June 24 in the United States and Europe), 90,000 communist troops of the North Korean People’s Army invaded South Korea across the 38th parallel, catching the Republic of Korea’s forces completely off guard and throwing them into a hasty southern retreat. On the afternoon of June 25, the U.N. Security Council met in an emergency session and approved a U.S. resolution calling for an “immediate cessation of hostilities” and the withdrawal of North Korean forces to the 38th parallel. At the time, the USSR was boycotting the Security Council over the U.N.’s refusal to admit the People’s Republic of China and so missed its chance to veto this and other crucial U.N. resolutions.

On June 27, President Truman announced to the nation and the world that America would intervene in the Korean conflict in order to prevent the conquest of an independent nation by communism. Truman was suggesting that the USSR was behind the North Korean invasion, and in fact the Soviets had given tacit approval to the invasion, which was carried out with Soviet-made tanks and weapons. Despite the fear that U.S. intervention in Korea might lead to open warfare between the United States and Russia after years of “cold war,” Truman’s decision was met with overwhelming approval from Congress and the U.S. public. Truman did not ask for a declaration of war, but Congress voted to extend the draft and authorized Truman to call up reservists.

On June 28, the Security Council met again and in the continued absence of the Soviet Union passed a U.S. resolution approving the use of force against North Korea. On June 30, Truman agreed to send U.S. ground forces to Korea, and on July 7 the Security Council recommended that all U.N. forces sent to Korea be put under U.S. command. The next day, General Douglas MacArthur was named commander of all U.N. forces in Korea.

In the opening months of the war, the U.S.-led U.N. forces rapidly advanced against the North Koreans, but Chinese communist troops entered the fray in October, throwing the Allies into a hasty retreat. In April 1951, Truman relieved MacArthur of his command after he publicly threatened to bomb China in defiance of Truman’s stated war policy. Truman feared that an escalation of fighting with China would draw the Soviet Union into the Korean War.

By May 1951, the communists were pushed back to the 38th parallel, and the battle line remained in that vicinity for the remainder of the war. On July 27, 1953, after two years of negotiation, an armistice was signed, ending the war and reestablishing the 1945 division of Korea that still exists today. Approximately 150,000 troops from South Korea, the United States, and participating U.N. nations were killed in the Korean War, and as many as one million South Korean civilians perished. An estimated 800,000 communist soldiers were killed, and more than 200,000 North Korean civilians died.

The original figure of American troops lost–54,246 killed–became controversial when the Pentagon acknowledged in 2000 that all U.S. troops killed around the world during the period of the Korean War were incorporated into that number. For example, any American soldier killed in a car accident anywhere in the world from June 1950 to July 1953 was considered a casualty of the Korean War. If these deaths are subtracted from the 54,000 total, leaving just the Americans who died (from whatever cause) in the Korean theater of operations, the total U.S. dead in the Korean War numbers 36,516.

This is the Muslim tradition of sci-fi and speculative fiction:

This is the Muslim tradition of sci-fi and speculative fiction:

Flying Over Istanbul and the Galata Tower on the Magic Carpet from the 1001 Nights, Turkish miniature, 19th C. <em>Photo by Rex</em>

Flying Over Istanbul and the Galata Tower on the Magic Carpet from the 1001 Nights, Turkish miniature, 19th C. Photo by Rex

Think invisible men, time travel, flying machines and journeys to other planets are the product of the European or ‘Western’ imagination? Open One Thousand and One Nights – a collection of folk tales compiled during the Islamic Golden Age, from the 8th to the 13th centuries CE – and you will find it stuffed full of these narratives, and more.

Western readers often overlook the Muslim world’s speculative fiction. I use the term quite broadly, to capture any story that imagines the implications of real or imagined cultural or scientific advances. Some of the first forays into the genre were the utopias dreamt up during the cultural flowering of the Golden Age. As the Islamic empire expanded from the Arabian peninsula to capture territories spanning from Spain to India, literature addressed the problem of how to integrate such a vast array of cultures and people. The Virtuous City(al-Madina al-fadila), written in the 9th century by the scholar Al-Farabi, was one of the earliest great texts produced by the nascent Muslim civilisation. It was written under the influence of Plato’s Republic, and envisioned a perfect society ruled by Muslim philosophers – a template for governance in the Islamic world.

As well as political philosophy, debates about the value of reason were a hallmark of Muslim writing at this time. The first Arabic novel, The Self-Taught Philosopher (Hayy ibn Yaqzan, literally Alive, Son of Awake), was composed by Ibn Tufail, a Muslim physician from 12th-century Spain. The plot is a kind of Arabic Robinson Crusoe, and can be read as a thought experiment in how a rational being might learn about the universe with no outside influence. It concerns a lone child, raised by a gazelle on a remote island, who has no access to human culture or religion until he meets a human castaway. Many of the themes in the book – human nature, empiricism, the meaning of life, the role of the individual in society – echo the preoccupations of later Enlightenment-era philosophers, including John Locke and Immanuel Kant.

We also have the Muslim world to thank for one of the first works of feminist science fiction. The short story ‘Sultana’s Dream’ (1905) by Rokeya Sakhawat Hussain, a Bengali writer and activist, takes place in the mythical realm of Ladyland. Gender roles are reversed and the world is run by women, following a revolution in which women used their scientific prowess to overpower men. (Foolishly, the men had dismissed the women’s learning as a ‘sentimental nightmare’.) The world is much more peaceful and pleasant as a result. At one point, the visitor Sultana notices people giggling at her. Her guide explains:

‘The women say that you look very mannish.’
‘Mannish?’ said I, ‘What do they mean by that?’
‘They mean that you are shy and timid like men.’

Later, Sultana grows more curious about the gender imbalance:

‘Where are the men?’ I asked her.
‘In their proper places, where they ought to be.’
‘Pray let me know what you mean by “their proper places”.’
‘O, I see my mistake, you cannot know our customs, as you were never here before. We shut our men indoors.’

By the early 20th century, speculative fiction from the Muslim world emerged as a form of resistance to the forces of Western colonialism. For example, Muhammadu Bello Kagara, a Nigerian Hausa author, wrote Ganďoki (1934), a novel set in an alternative West Africa; in the story, the natives are involved in a struggle against British colonialism, but in a world populated by jinns and other mystical creatures. In the following decades, as Western empires began to crumble, the theme of political utopia was often laced with a certain political cynicism. The Moroccan author Muhammad Aziz Lahbabi’s novel The Elixir of Life(Iksir al-Hayat) (1974), for example, centres on the discovery of an elixir that can bestow immortality. But instead of filling society with hope and joy, it foments class divisions, riots, and the unravelling of the social fabric.

An even darker brand of fiction has emerged from Muslim cultures today. Ahmed Saadawi’s Frankenstein in Baghdad (2013) reimagines Frankenstein in modern-day Iraq, among the fallout from the 2001 invasion. In this retelling, the monster is created from body parts of different people who have died because of ethnic and religious violence – and eventually goes on a rampage of its own. In the process, the novel becomes an exploration of the senselessness of war and the deaths of innocent bystanders.

In the United Arab Emirates, Noura Al Noman’s young adult novel Ajwan (2012) follows the journey of a young, amphibious alien as she fights to recapture her kidnapped son; the book is being made into a TV series, and touches on themes including refugees and political indoctrination. In Saudi Arabia, Ibraheem Abbas and Yasser Bahjatt’s debut science-fiction novel HWJN (2013) explores gender relations, religious bigotry and ignorance, and offers a naturalistic explanation for the existence of jinns who reside in a parallel dimension. The Egyptian writer Ahmad Towfiq’s bleak novel Utopia (2008), meanwhile, envisions a gated community in 2023, where the cream of Egyptian society has retreated after the country’s wholesale economic and social collapse. And in post-Arab Spring Egypt, the novelist Basma Abdel Aziz conjures a Kafkaesque world in The Queue(2016) – a book set in the aftermath of an unsuccessful uprising, in which helpless citizens struggle to get by under the thumb of an absurd and sinister dictatorship.

Speculative fiction is often lumped in with European Romanticism and read as a reaction to the Industrial Revolution. But if this gallop through the centuries of Muslim endeavour shows anything, it’s that pondering fantastical technologies, imagining utopian social arrangements, and charting the blurry boundaries between mind, machine and animal, are not the sole preserve of the West.


Muhammad Aurangzeb Ahmad