After being tipped off by an unnamed caller early Friday morning, officers with the Palm Beach Police Department reportedly found and quickly apprehended an armed Iranian national who’d been walking across the Flagler Memorial Bridge, which sits only miles from the president’s Mar-a-Lago resort.
“A man arrested by Palm Beach Police this morning had $22,000, a machete and a pick ax, in addition to knives in his possession,” the Palm Beach Daily News reported later that morning.
“The man, identified by his passport as Masoud Yareioeill Zoleh, an Iranian national, also had a car parked at Palm Beach International Airport.”
Photos of the suspect may be seen below, courtesy Twitter:
#Breaking: Masoud Yareioeill Zoleh, an Iranian national, was arrested on Friday on the Flagler Memorial Bridge, Palm beach, Florida.
Police say he had a machete, pick-ax, knives and $22,000 cash. The FBI has been notified.
Zoleh has been given a notice to appear in court. #Iran pic.twitter.com/6BZuk0t37m
— Parthiban Shanmugam (@hollywoodcurry) January 11, 2020
Masoud Yareioeill Zoleh (an Iranian national by passport) he also had a car parked at PB Airport — here’s a closer shot of alleged criminal, he was arrested, for what, not sure yet – he was VERY close to 2 schools (as in across the street) not actually near MAL when found pic.twitter.com/8QdFN42QhZ
— Palm Beach (@palmbeachpink) January 11, 2020
According to a Daily News photographer who witnessed the Iranian national’s arrest, he also appeared to be in possession of camping gear.
Local authorities told the paper that Zoleh appeared to be homeless or without a known address, though they did obtain confirmation that he’s in the states legally.
While his motive for traversing the bridge armed remains unknown, Palm Beach Police Department spokesperson Michael Ogrodnick told the Miami Herald that they do not believe his actions are linked to President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort.
Nevertheless, the Daily News notes that “the incident comes days after President Donald Trump and his family left Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate on the island after a 17-day vacation and about a week after a U.S.-issued drone attack killed an Iranian general, sparking vows of revenge in Iran against the U.S.”
The resort lies only about four miles away from where he was arrested:
Following the elimination of top Iranian general and terrorist mastermind Qasem Soleimani last week by the Trump administration, U.S. Secret Service agents reportedly began stepping up their security measures at the resort.
“No longer can anyone wander onto the Palm Beach property under false pretenses. … Depending on where members and guests are headed on the property, they now may have to pass through as many as four Secret Service security checkpoints,” the Daily Mail reported.
“Their identities are checked based on their driver’s licenses, and their vehicles are examined for explosives under the hood and in the trunk. They must pass through metal detectors or be wanded for weapons or explosives at several more check points.”
An attack by Iran “may not happen tomorrow or next week, but we do anticipate that there will be some retaliation, at some point,” Lisa Ruth, a former CIA counterterrorism analyst who now works as an international security consultant in the West Palm Beach area, said to local station WPEC.
The most recent incident in the area also comes only days after the arrest of a Broward County man who allegedly posted a Facebook Live video in which he threatened to kill the president in retaliation for Soleimani’s elimination.
In the video, suspect Chauncy Lump reportedly issued the following threats against not only the president but locals as well:
- “He killed my leader. Please tell me where is Donald Trump?”
- “I need to find the Donald because if I don’t find him, I am going to have to blow up Broward County. Please tell me where he is. I don’t want to have to blow up the Broward County tonight.”
- “Do not play with me. I have AK-47. I have it here. Do not play with me, OK. I will come to Broward County tonight. I am going to come to Broward County.”
- “I am going to come to Broward County. I’m ready for Donald Trump, OK?”
- “I am in Boca. Tell them to come get me from Boca, fifteen minutes from Palm Beach where Donald Trump is. tell them to come get me.”
- “He killed my leader, and I have to kill him. I am ready for Donald. I am ready.”
- “The Feds are watching. I am not afraid of the Feds.”
- “He was on the news earlier landing in Miami. Please take this seriously. I am going to get all of you.”
When interrogated by local authorities last weekend, he claimed to have been joking. In a complaint filed against him, however, Secret Service agent Lucas A. White expressed confidence that he’d “knowingly and willfully” threatened the president.
“Based on the above information, I respectfully submit that there is probable cause to believe that CHAUNCY DEVONTE LUMP, on January 3, 2019, in Broward County, in the Southern District of Florida, knowingly and willfully made threats to kill and inflict bodily harm upon the President of the United States, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 871,” he wrote.
Read the full complaint below:
Tensions between the United States and Iran have since abated thanks to a face-saving move by the rogue regime and the president’s willingness to let bygones be bygones.
That said, Iran is expected to eventually seek “harsher revenge” one day in the future.
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