A 63-year-old US man who had explosives in his vehicle was arrested outside one of the US’ largest mosques in the Detroit, Michigan, suburb of Dearborn, authorities said.
Police said Roger Stockham was arraigned on Wednesday on one count of making a false report or threat of terrorism and one count of possessing explosives with an unlawful intent. Stockham had a large, but undisclosed quantity of class-C fireworks, including M-80s, which are outlawed in Michigan, police chief Ronald Haddad said.
“I was comfortable with the fact that we had taken him off the street — he isn’t going anywhere,” Haddad said on Sunday. “I think the society he wanted to impact is safe.”
Haddad said Stockham was arrested on the evening of Jan. 24 without incident in the parking lot of Islamic Center of America, while a large group was gathered inside. He said police received an emergency call from a resident.
Haddad said authorities believe Stockham was acting alone, but still take him “very seriously.”
He said Stockham has “a long history of anti-government activities,” though he declined to elaborate.
The police chief said he called the mosque leader, Imam Hassan al-Qazwini, early last Tuesday to let him know of the arrest and later met with Qazwini and mosque board members. He said members shared concerns about copycat crimes if the arrest was publicized and Haddad said he understood.
“We never want to put something out there that gives someone the ‘how-to,”’ Haddad said.
Qazwini informed worshipers about the incident during his -sermon on Friday. The Council on American-Islamic Relations’ Michigan chapter issued a news release on Saturday night and the police followed on Sunday morning.
Stockham remained jailed on Sunday on a US$500,000 bond. A preliminary examination is scheduled for Friday.
Police didn’t know whether Stockham had an attorney. A public records search did not turn up a listed number for Stockham, though Haddad said he lives in Imperial Beach, near San Diego, California.
Dearborn, located about 16km west of Detroit, is the capital of the Detroit area’s Arab-American community, which is one of the largest in the US.