Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Arrest Made in Martin Luther King Day Bomb Incident In Spokane

A suspect has been arrested in the foiled bombing of a MLK Jr. parade in Spokane Washington. FBI and law enforcement were converging on a home near Spokane.
The bomb had a remote detonator and the ability to cause mass casualties, according to officials.

The bomb was defused without incident but unnerved residents of Spokane, especially those who took part in a parade whose theme was steeped in peace and nonviolence.

The attempt raised the possibility of a racial motive in a region that has been home to the white supremacist group Aryan Nations.

In addition to the bomb, the backpack contained two T-shirts that authorities analyzed for clues.

Officials praised as heroes the three city workers who spotted the backpack about an hour before the parade was to start on Jan. 17. They looked inside, saw wires and immediately alerted law enforcement.

The bomb was carefully placed on a metal bench with a brick wall behind that would have directed shrapnel toward Main Street, where marchers were expected to pass, investigators said.
Kudos go not only to investigators who broke the case, but the alert individuals who found the backpack and informed law enforcement in time to defuse the bomb before it could detonate to deadly effect.

KHQ6, which made the initial reports, indicates that at least one person was arrested in connection with the case.
Viewers in Stevens County told KHQ at least nine FBI vehicles sped towards a house near Highway 395 south of Colville. At least two counter-assault vehicles were also at the house, according to the viewer.

City workers found a suspicious backpack along a parade route on Martin Luther King day where thousands of people were scheduled to march.
Additional photos of the device are also at the KHQ6 site.

Perhaps not surprising, the Seattle Times is reporting that the person arrested has connections to a white supremacist group. White supremacists were considered likely suspects given the target and proximity to the haunts of many white supremacist and hate groups in Washington and nearby Idaho.

We have a name:
A magistrate clerk at the U.S. District Court in Spokane tells The Associated Press that Kevin William Harpham, who was arrested Wednesday, is scheduled to make an initial appearance Wednesday at 3:30 p.m. Pacific time.
He's 36 years old. He's being charged with one count of attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction and one count of knowingly possessing an improvised explosive device.

The SPLC has more on Harpham's background (HT: Stanley Sea at LGF), which includes membership in the neo-Nazi National Alliance in late 2004. It isn't known whether he continued to be a member or joined with any other hate groups since then.

More details about the takedown:
Records indicate Harpham is a registered voter, which suggests he has no prior felony convictions, and could explain why it took so long for a suspect to be identified.

Agents are in rural Stevens County searching Harpham’s home near Addy, which is south of Colville. Witnesses reported hearing a loud explosion that agents used to breach the front door.

Kevin Coy, who lives near the house being searched, said law enforcement took one of his neighbors into custody this morning as he drove across a bridge over the Colville River. In an interview with KHQ News, Coy described the suspect’s house as a trailer, and said there were lots of dogs around. He also said a blue four-door Honda was put on a trailer and removed by the federal agents.

Previously, federal officials had called the bomb a thwarted attempt at domestic terrorism and said the investigation would likely turn on forensic testing of the bomb, which had been sent to the Federal Bureau of Investigation lab in Quantico, Va.

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