Apr 1 2011
SECURITY ALERT CAMP PENDLETON: DRY RUN? 3 Middle Eastern men try to enter Marine base after making terror threats
One of the nation’s largest military bases is reportedly under tighter security after three Middle Eastern men tried to enter without proper authorization.
10NEWS – learned the three men — 40-year-old Afghani Ahmad Rahmani Naeem, 41-year-old Iranian Vahik Petrossian and 27-year-old Iranian Sengekdi Norvik Avanosian — attempted to get into Camp Pendleton last weekend under what was considered suspicious circumstances.
According to a Be On the Lookout (BOLO) alert issued to high-ranking Camp Pendleton officials, someone reported hearing hateful comments and terrorist threats from three men at a gas station in Oceanside Saturday. Investigators at Camp Pendleton said the men asked the attendant for directions on how to get to Camp Pendleton before they left the gas station.
According to the alert, shortly after midnight Sunday, a rented silver Toyota Corolla driven by Naeem attempted to enter Camp Pendleton through the main gate. As it was being searched, Petrossian and Avanosian drove up in a black Mercedes, but were told to wait. Instead, they continued past the gate and onto the base. Following a short pursuit, the Mercedes was stopped and searched. (Why weren’t they arrested?)
No weapons or contraband were found in the Mercedes, but base security noticed the air bag in the steering wheel of the Mercedes had been pulled out and re-attached with duct tape and had wires hanging free, the alert said.
According to the alert, Naaem told base security he was lost and was trying to go to Glendale. When interviewed, Petrossian and Avanosian said they were lost and trying to go to Glendale. The three men claimed not to know each other, the alert said. Naaem, Petrossian and Avanosian were photographed and released after questioning, and a warning about the trio was posted to law enforcement.
However, later that morning about 8:30 a.m., Naeem returned in the Toyota and tried to get on the base again, saying he made a mistake and was trying to enter Interstate 5, the alert said. After his vehicle was searched, Naeem was issued a letter of debarment from the base and escorted to the freeway. (Why weren’t they arrested?)
Since the incident, 10News learned high-ranking Camp Pendleton officials have notified other military bases and law enforcement of a potential threat. He told 10News the Camp Pendleton incident sounds like a possible probe or dry run and said their visits raise a few red flags.
“Number one: they went on base twice. Their stories didn’t stick, kinda wishy washy. Number two: the vehicle, the condition of the vehicle,” said John. “They could have been probing the security, not just cameras, sensors, individual security from MPs. Three: [they] could have wanted to know what background checks would have produced.”
A criminal background check on the trio conducted by the Department of Homeland Security found no “derogatory records” for the men. Additionally, the U.S. Border Patrol said the immigration statuses for the three men were confirmed and they did not appear on any terrorist watch databases. (Neither was Major Nidal Hasan)