Banks should be on the look-out for "people who normally don't come into banks"

Okay, so the Feds have received information that Al Qaeda may possibly be planning to target banks and other financial institutions in the Northeast. So, all the banks in the Northeast are supposed to raise their Threat Alert Level from Yellowish-Orange to Orange-Yellow or whatever. And the FBI Director offered a couple of practical tips to banks in the Northeast. One is to be on the lookout for “trucks parked alongside the building”. Well, that makes sense. If there’s a possible terrorist threat, it stands to reason that you might want to amble over and check up on that large rental truck that’s sitting in the No Parking Zone right outside for no particularly good reason. Sure, the terrorists may or may not use that mode of delivery; you may go over to ask the driver what he’s doing just in time to have a truck bomb go off in your face; the threat itself may or may not be real. But hey, “we think your institutions may be the subject of an Al Qaeda threat; be suspicious of trucks parked alongside the building” makes at least some sense.

But the other thing the FBI Director said was that banks should be suspicious of “individuals entering banks who ‘normally don’t come into banks’”.

Huh?

What kind of “profile” is that? What kind of individual “doesn’t normally come into banks”? Is this threat directed at teeny-tiny small-town banks, the kind where all the customers are greeted by name as soon as they walk through the door? “Oh, hi, Mr. Smithers, I reckon you’ll be needing to make a withdrawal to pay for little Timmy’s appendectomy, eh?” We’re talking banks in New York City; I rather doubt these are the sorts of places where they know all their customers on sight. So, what general type of person would I not expect to see entering a bank? Businessmen go into banks; little old ladies depositing their Social Security checks go into banks; office workers; school teachers; bicycle messengers; men; women; Orthodox Jews; black people; white people; brown people; WASPs; Asians; gays; straights…We’re kind of looking at a cross-section of humanity here. I guess you don’t see too many unaccompanied toddlers in the lobby of Chemical Bank or Chase Manhattan. However, while I might not put it past the bastards ethically speaking, I think Toddler Bombs would probably present some practical difficulties. The little tykes would be apt to wander off and blow up God knows what. I guess homeless people don’t really hang around big swank bank lobbies much–somehow, though, I can’t really see Al Qaeda operatives dressing up like homeless people in order to infiltrate bank lobbies. Hey, they’re evil, but they’re not stupid.

“Be alert for people wearing bulky overcoats.” Now that would make sense, there’s a heat wave on, but a suicide bomber might need to conceal explosives. “Be suspicious of people who seem to be very nervous.” All right. “Watch out for people attempting to light their shoes in the lobby.” Sage advice, if a little obvious at this point. “If you see Osama bin Laden himself, we at the Bureau would strongly advise that you head for the exit.” I guess “Be on guard against individuals who enter banks waving AK-47s” is probably a given; I think regarding with suspicion people who are toting firearms has been S.O.P. for banks since at least the 19th Century. I mean, it’s a total crapshoot if any warnings along those lines would actually work, but at least they’re not totally devoid of logic.

“Be on guard against Middle Easterners.” Now, that one would be legally and ethically wrong. One could make a pragmatic case that it might be effective. (One could make counter-arguments even against the case for pragmatic effectiveness.) But it’s not like “people who don’t normally come into banks” is likely to be a very good code word for “Middle Eastern-looking types” in New York City. Maybe in Des Moines–“Be on the lookout for, ah, ‘people who don’t normally come into banks’–wink-wink, nudge-nudge.” “Yep, we don’t get too many of them Ay-rabs coming into banks around here.” But I’m thinking, in New York City, banks (and every other public place) probably routinely see just about every ethnic group the human race has produced, no doubt including all sorts of Middle Eastern businessmen, Arabs in kaffiyehs, etc. “People who don’t normally come into banks” doesn’t really meaningfully describe…well, anybody. You might just as well say “Be especially wary of people who are intending to blow the place up”, for all the practical good that particular warning does.

(Pssst, should we trust this MEB guy? His text looks a bit suspicious)

Maybe they should have a bank guard at the entrance questioning customers just before they enter?

“Do you normally come to banks?”

“Has anyone else filled out your deposit slip?”

“Has anyone unknown to you asked you to wear their shoes today?”

“Have you been with your deposit slip all day?”

“Is that a bomb in your pocket or are you just happy to make a withdrawal?”

HEY! Now let’s not lose our cool and start attacking helpless Iowans. :wink:

Seriously, though – I can’t see how this alert is worse than the repeated “general alert” warnings with no further information. After 9/11, how much more on general alert can we get? At least I would have never thought of banks being attacked – so if I was a banker now, I might keep a lookout, but being under ‘general heightened awareness’ was really a waste of time, especially when it was happening every week.

Yeah, “people who don’t usually come into banks” is a pretty stupid description, but I imagine that the Powers That Be know that telling people to look out for “people who look like terrorists” is a capital V, capital B, capital I, Very Bad Idea.

Well, I tend to think that the Fed Gov is between a rock and a hard place concerning these terrorist warnings. If they get even a bit of intelligence that “something” may happen, then they have to warn the public. If they don’t warn the public, and something happens, then it’s the governments fault cause “they didn’t warn us”.

On the other hand, if they warn that something may happen and nothing happens, they get credit for being vigilant; and if something DOES happen, hey, they warned you.

Aw, Buckner, you missed the best part, dude. :smiley: The question is, who are the real dumbasses here? Nope, not the Feds.

Answer–Al Qaeda & Co., for apparently thinking that a suicide bomber blowing himself up down at the Pawtucket First National Bank is going to “disrupt American financial interests”.

:rolleyes:

Oh, yeah, that would definitely be a crippling blow to the entire economy of the Evil Satanic American Infidels, if Pawtucket First National was closed down…

…and a bunch of people died and others became apprehensive about going to banks at all.

Well, to be fair, TRM, you could say the same about a lot of things. Bombing McDonalds would probably scare people out of eating out (or going out) and thus would be a blow to the economy. The point is that there doesn’t seem to be an obvious reason to target banks above other things, unless it’s a political comment.

But is that really a concern? I haven’t stepped foot inside of a bank in years. We order checks by phone, use the ATM, etc. I think many people conduct their banking business this way.

Sheri

I, for one, am thrilled about this warning. Because now I know just what the problem is with half the people who use my bank (who are inevitably in line in front of me) – they are terrorists!

For years, I have wondered how exactly people could make it to adulthood and not know how to use a bank. But now it is clear – they don’t normally come into banks. How else could they use up 36 deposit slips and make a mistake on each one, and then throw them on the floor? Walk past fifteen signs that say “You must present an ID to cash a check” and then get to the teller and be completely suprised and indignant and demand cash for a second party check without an ID while I am patiently waiting behind them, ID in my hot little hand? Have $360 in nickels and try to roll them at the damn window? Or the person who wants to see the manager to get an explanation for why the ATM won’t give him 63 cents from his account … It’s gotten to the point where I practically have to take half a personal day to plan a visit to the bank.

But I feel better knowing they are terrorists. And boy, when it comes to banking, they have won.

PS Great OP, and absolutely true.

But the next time you use the ATM, then Boom

:stuck_out_tongue: :rolleyes: :confused: :smiley:

Well, actually…last Monday, all the banks in NorthWest DC closed because of a bomb threat (Which turned out to be a false alarm called in by this Dutch kid). While this didn’t bring down the economy, it did slow down business in DC for the day, and pissed off a lot of people who needed to get last minute tax stuff done on the 15th.

Well, being that it is highly likely that Al Queda made a bloody fortune off of some strategic index options and futures ahead of 9/11, and looks like they got away with it clean. I think they are a little more savvy about international financial markets and know that blowing up a branch of some podunk bank ain’t going to do squat.

Was this Dutch kid carrying a Dutch passport or was he Dutch-American?

From the Washington Post, 4/16, E1

Dutch as in living in the Netherlands. He called in the bomb threat from his home. The Dutch police were Not Amused.

I assume our own dear Clog Boy has given the little brat a proper smackdown :wink:

signed, flodnak, who doesn’t normally go into banks but will have to this week :eek:

you’re all missing the **real ** threat that’s being posed:

the terrorists will be attempting to make a deposit only in unwrapped pennies with a misdated slip and the **wrong account number ** and buying international money order slips and paying with 3 party checks!

(like the bitch that snaked past me in the drive through lane yesterday)

**
You know. Clowns, Engelbert Humperdinck, cabinet members, that sort of person.

Quadruple amputees, shut-ins, Michael Jackson, corpses.