Army veteran Roger Stockham is accused of packing the trunk of his car with explosives and driving to one of the biggest mosques in America with the intent of blowing it up. He was arrested last week outside the Islamic Center of America in Dearborn and is now in jail in Detroit on charges of making a terrorist threat and possession of bombs with unlawful intent, The Detroit News' Jennifer Chambers reports.
The FBI is investigating the incident. Stockham, a sixty-three-year-old California native, wrote an ominous note on his MySpace page, saying, "Happy with how much I've lived. Ready for it to be over, but have a policy I contend with often: So long as I am alive, I can't play dead." He also apparently made threats against the mosque while drinking in a Detroit bar; a bar employee followed him out and wrote down his license plate, then calling the cops, who found Stockham sitting in his car outside the Islamic center. Authorities kept the arrest quiet until they were sure Stockham was acting alone. The explosives in question appear to have been high-end fireworks, the super-powerful kind that, Dearborn Mayor John O'Reilly said, would cause "tremendous harm" if used indoors.
As in the wake of the Tuscon shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, many are wondering again if national politics motivated the attempted attack.
- A Long History of Problems, No More Mister Nice Blog's Steve M. observes. Jared Loughner is apparently "delusional and seems far more interested in fringe ideas than left-right politics. I was sure I was going to have a different reaction to this story," Steve says, but it turns out Stockham allegedly has a long history of mental problems. Still, a guy like this, "might also pick up messages from the media -- perhaps right-wing messages. I don't know. But I'm withholding judgment, given the complexity of the guy's story. ... Maybe his worldview is a mix of libertarian, right-wing, and paranoid -- an Alex Jones sort of stew. Or the story could be more complicated than that. But, given this guy's past, I'm not going to rush to blame wingnut demagogues. And I really want to know why the guy stayed free or so long."
- 'Easy to Connect the Dots,' Michael J. W. Stickings argues at The Reaction, even if "the news media won't do it." His take:
The right has stirred up an enormous amount of anti-Muslim sentiment in recent years. (Just think back to the Park51 or 'Ground Zero mosque' nonsense, with leading conservatives like Newt Gingrich and Sarah Palin agitating for bigotry and a willing mob of bigots targeting not just that community center but all Muslims collectively.) ... As with Jared Lee Loughner, I'm sure the right will claim that this guy's insane and that there's no connection whatsoever between its anti-Muslim rhetoric (and activity) and this planned act of terrorism. ... And I'm sure the media will treat this as an isolated event."
- 'Isolated Incident'? Digby writes at Hullabaloo. "Now where would someone get ideas like this? ... Just to show how widespread this is, this fellow hailed from my neck of the woods. Of course, it also shows just how widespread ignorance is. He traveled to Detroit because of the large Muslim population but he could have saved the gas money. LA's is the second largest."
- Here Comes the Anti-Beck Outcry, Jamie Wearing Fool predicts. "The left will be connecting him to Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin in 5 ... 4 ... 3... Naturally, the unindicted terror co-conspirators from CAIR are already milking this. Brace for yet another wave of 'Islamophobia' stories."
- Reaction from the Members of the Mosque Justin Elliott's report for Salon shows that the mosque members show they don't quite know what to think. Elliott spoke to Dawud Walid, head of the Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. Walid said, "I've heard a couple of different reactions: What they were saying is that this guy, whether he has some mental instability or not, he could have caused a lot of damage... If his name was Ali or Muhammed and he did a similar thing at a synogogue, he would have been immediately labeled a domestic terrorist."
- Wait... Fireworks? Jonn Lilyea writes at This Ain't Hell.
It’s funny how the media describes the plot in their headlines. The Chicago Tribune says 63-year-old Roger Stockham was arrested with explosives; The Denver Post, meanwhile, says it was fireworks... Of course, both articles call them 'Class C fireworks' which are the low grade commercial fireworks you can buy along the road around the Fourth of July. Scary, huh? ... Yeah, if it was a Muslim person with a truckload of pipebombs we wouldn’t know his name yet and we’d be cautioned not to jump to conclusions about terrorism. But a pensioner with firecrackers in his trunk is 'very dangerous' and worthy of involving the FBI.