A man on a federal terror watch list was reported snapping pictures of the I-80 bridge over the Delaware Water Gap this week, then released after telling New Jersey state troopers he had stopped so his wife could feed their baby.It wasn’t clear why the man, whose identity wasn’t released by police, was on an FBI list of people who bear watching for terrorism concerns.
A New Jersey State Police spokesman, Lt. Gerald Lewis, said an anonymous tipster phoned police at 10:44 a.m. Monday – the day before the sixth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks – reporting a man “of Middle Eastern descent” taking pictures of the interstate bridge, which spans the scenic Delaware River gorge about 100 miles north of Philadelphia.
A trooper found a man fitting the description sitting in a Toyota Highlander on the shoulder of I-80, stopped near Exit 1 in Warren County’s Hardwick Township.
“The man did not have a camera in his possession,” Lewis said.
The man told police he had pulled over so his wife could breastfeed the couple’s 6-week-old child.
Lewis said a trooper reported the man’s identification to a state police operations center, where it was determined that the man was a “person of interest” on a federal terror watch list.
State police intellegence officers in Trenton alerted the FBI and the Joint Terrorism Task Force, Lewis said.
“The couple’s story appeared to be valid,” Lewis said. “The trooper didn’t find a camera. And there was indeed a child and a mother in the car.”
After searching the SUV, the trooper allowed the man and his family to continue their trip to Buffalo.