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Monday, October 11, 2010

Tracking Device Found on Santa Clara College Student's Car -- FBI Wants It Back

Posted By on Mon, Oct 11, 2010 at 11:02 AM

click to enlarge Hey! The college kid's getting some pizza!
  • Hey! The college kid's getting some pizza!
Hey! The college kid's getting some pizza!
Yasir Afifi, a 20-year-old college student from Santa Clara, was surprised to discover a GPS tracking device on his car a week ago during an oil change. We can bet he was even more surprised when, after a friend posted photos of the device on, FBI agents showed up to claim it back. The FBI's San Francisco office didn't immediately return calls Monday.

Afifi is the son of a Bay Area community leader, according to a release from the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) in Santa Clara, which is representing him. CAIR indicates that the FBI had no evidence of wrongdoing by Afifi, who is a business marketing student at Mission College in Santa Clara, according to reports. Still, after the device was outed online, "San Jose-based FBI agents" visited Afifi at his Santa Clara apartment complex to ask for the device back, Afifi says.

The agents questioned the young man about his travels to the Middle East and his friends, and at the end of the conversation, told him he was "boring," according to the press release. (In FBI terms, that's probably a good thing.) According to a detailed post at, the conversation was less "you got us bro, now give us our GPS back," than the stuff of movie scripts.

The agent who initially spoke with Afifi identified himself then as Vincent and told Afifi, "We're here to recover the device you found on your vehicle. It's federal property. It's an expensive piece, and we need it right now."

Afifi asked, "Are you the guys that put it there?" and the agent replied, "Yeah, I put it there." He told Afifi, "We're going to make this much more difficult for you if you don't cooperate."

Also according to the Wired story, the ACLU is interested in using Afifi's case to challenge a recent 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling allowing law enforcement to place a tracking device on your car while on your property without a warrant.

Brian Alseth from the American Civil Liberties Union in Washington state contacted Afifi after seeing pictures of the tracking device posted online and told him the ACLU had been waiting for a case like this to challenge the ruling.

It seems very frightening that the FBI have placed a surveillance-tracking device on the car of a 20-year-old American citizen who has done nothing more than being half-Egyptian," Alseth told

Well, until the challenge is decided, you might want to take a look under your car.

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Lauren Smiley


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