Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Strange currency

In the fall of 2000, I randomly met a Dutch guy in a remote canyon in Morocco. Some time after that, not long after 9/11, the guy called me out of the blue to warn of a planned terrorist attack on New Orleans. He claimed to be a Dutch intelligence agent who'd infiltrated a North African terrorist organization, and said he'd been rebuffed by his supervisor when he revealed his discovery, and decided to contact me because I was a journalist. It was weird.

I had no idea if the guy was legit, but reported what I'd been told to the local sheriff, who called the FBI, who contacted the Dutch intelligence agency, who questioned the guy, who denied having spoken with me and subsequently disappeared, after which the FBI asked ME to submit to a lie detector test, which got bungled. A few days later a 60 Minutes reporter who happened to be passing through town contacted me on an unrelated subject, and as I was explaining to him what had happened with the Dutch guy and the FBI, a group of secretaries at the next table overheard us and phoned in a tip to the FBI, which resulted in two agents being dispatched to investigate, one of whom said, when he arrived, "I thought it might be you."

So it was that I ended up being accused of being a terrorist in my own home town due to a random meeting with a Dutch guy in Morocco. I wrote about it in the Washington Post. You can read the article here:

It was a strange story, to say the least, and it came to mind this morning when I received an email, again out of the blue, from the Dutch guy, who I hadn't heard from since, which included an attachment titled "happy day." I opened the email, which said only "hope you enjoy this" or something to that effect, but I did not open the attachment, which appeared to have been sent to a group of email recipients. I tried to forward the email to an account I don't use as much, so that I might save it for future reference without running the risk of accidentally opening the attachment, but it was refused; the error message blamed an "illegal attachment."

Something tells me the FBI wasn't particularly happy about the Washington Post article, in that it revealed a nascent, inexact system for investigating terrorism, and I doubt they'd be interested in a redux now. So the question is: What to do with the email, which in all likelihood is nothing at all, or could be a stupid email forward from a crazy guy, or perhaps a virus?

I'm open to ideas. Which may be the reason I get into such strange situations.