The Lost and “Found ID” Oddity in Terror Cases—Stupid or Sinister?

One intriguing—if barely discussed—aspect of the Paris massacre was the quick progress authorities made in their investigation.

According to CNN, this was thanks to a staggering error—by one of the two now-dead alleged perpetrators. The man, Said Kouachi, reportedly left his identification card in the abandoned getaway vehicle. “It was their only mistake,” Dominique Rizet, police and justice consultant for CNN-affiliate BFMTV, opined.

Said Kouachi's ID card.  Allegedly found in the getaway car.

Said Kouachi’s ID card. Allegedly found in the getaway car.

2Nonetheless, it was a most curious mistake.

After all, this is the same man who went to such trouble to seemingly hide his identity by wearing a mask.

***

Intriguingly, such apparent gaffes have marked other watershed violence. Consider these examples, and draw your own conclusion:

The Bundle of James Earl Ray: The accused killer of Martin Luther King escaped from a prison shortly before the attack, and left several items on the sidewalk near the assassination site—in a bundle that included his rifle, binoculars, clothing, his prison radio, and a newspaper clipping revealing where King would be staying.

The Wallet of Lee Harvey Oswald: The alleged assassin of John F. Kennedy and killer of Officer J.D.Tippit purportedly dropped his wallet, which was found at the scene of Tippit’s murder. To some, this appeared a little too neat. In any case, original law enforcement reports with this scenario were almost immediately replaced by another version: that the police took the wallet from him after he was arrested. (See “Assignment: Oswald” by former FBI agent James P. Hosty.)

The Visa of Satam al-Suqami: This identify document of one of the alleged 9/11 hijackers somehow survived unscathed a few blocks from the twin towers, though the plane itself was virtually obliterated.

The Passports belonging to Ziad Jarrah and Saeed al-Ghamdi: The passports of two alleged hijackers of United Airlines Flight 93 supposedly survived the fiery crash in Pennsylvania that left the aircraft itself charred and widely scattered—with one passport entirely intact.

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